Famine; Speenhamland system of Poor Relief

(285 words)

Historical Context Note

The harvest of 1794 had been very poor, and agricultural prices had already been driven up by the war with France, so with the additional shortages the poor were on the brink of starvation by January 1795. By April a wholesale revolt of the militia, put in arms to defend the nation against the French and Revolutionary threat, was possible, as proved by the revolt of five hundred men of the Oxfordshire militia at Blatchington near Seaford who seized a vessel laden with flour at Newhaven. It was in this climate of public concern that the magistrates of Berkshire met on 6 May at the Pelican Inn in the village of Speenhamland and decided that, rather than just providing the workless with basic work in the workhouses and offering a bare …

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Citation:
Clark, Robert. "Famine; Speenhamland system of Poor Relief". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 May 2005
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=374, accessed 23 October 2014.]