M Q U P S P R I N G 2 0 1 9 From the mid-eighteenth century to the early nineteenth century, the English Old Poor Law was waning, soon to be replaced by the New Poor Law and its dreaded workhouses. In Writing the Lives of the English Poor, 1750s–1830s Steven King reveals colourful stories of poor people, their advocates, and the officials with whom they engaged during this period in British history, distilled from the largest collection of parochial correspon- dence ever assembled. Investigating the way that people experi- enced and shaped the English and Welsh welfare system through the use of almost 26,000 pauper letters and the correspon- dence of overseers in forty-eight counties, Writing the Lives of the English Poor, 1750s–1830s reconstructs the process by which the poor claimed, extended, or defended their parochial allowances. Challenging preconceptions about literacy, power, social structure, and the agency of or- dinary people, these stories suggest that ad- vocates, officials, and the poor shared a common linguistic register and an under- standing of how far welfare decisions could be contested and negotiated. King shifts attention away from traditional approaches to construct an unprecedented, comprehen- sive portrait of poor law administration and popular writing at the turn of the nine- teenth century. At a time when the western European welfare model is under sustained threat, Writing the Lives of the English Poor, 1750s–1830s takes us back to its deepest roots to demonstrate that the signature of a strong welfare system is malleability. Steven King is professor of economic and social history at the University of Leicester. 4 1 A N N O U N C I N G A N E W S E R I E S States, People, and the History of Social Change series editors rosalind crone and heather shore The States, People, and the History of Social Change series brings together cutting-edge books written by academic historians on criminal justice, welfare, edu- cation, health, and other areas of social change and social policy. The ways in which states, governments, and local communities have responded to “social problems” can be seen across many different tempo- ral and geographical contexts. From the early modern period to contemporary times, states have attempted to shape the lives of their inhabitants in important ways. Books in this series explore how groups and individuals have negotiated the use of state power and policy to regulate, change, control, or improve peoples’ lives and the consequences of these processes. The series welcomes international scholars whose research explores social policy (and its earlier equivalents) as well as other responses to social need, in historical perspective. S O C I A L H I S T O R Y • B R I T I S H H I S T O R Y Writing the Lives of the English Poor, 1750s–1830s steven king Focusing on the words and experiences of the poor themselves, this book rewrites our understanding of English social policy for the period from the 1750s to 1830s. S P E C I F I C AT I O N S cror031 I096.01 o8C ru0 @t3r92f 9E c9$to. buo8:0 February 2019 -5,7a755pl7lnh-7s 4phi-l£ bAU1 4phi-l£ Dc1 kshi-- 6o602 -5,7a755pl7lnh,7l 4Ssaiaac bAU1 4Ssaiaac Dc1 k-niaa $.9ru n B - h,a66 , 6u9r931 SS roN.03 0g99T omot.oN.0