halesworth

A history of Halesworth, Suffolk, UK, through the ages.

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Volume 3



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The Poor of Halesworth

Several Halesworth Charities were concerned with the plight of the poor, and the bequests cover sums of money, the supply of food and the provision of housing for the elderly.

In 1611 Robert Launce left a sum of 60 for the use of 'the most needy poor' which was used to purchase land for which an annual rent could be expected. In a similar manner John and Richard Phillips left sums of 60 and 30.5s (30.25p) in 1700 which was used to buy a cottage and land at Mells. Both these charities, together with another of 1589, given by Matthew WaIter, was used to purchase penny loaves of bread to be distributed to the poor after the morning service on Sundays.

James Keble left land for the purchase of corn for bread to be distributed on St Thomas's Day. This was known as St Thomas's bread and the Town Crier with his bell would go around the town to announce the coming event a few days before, to give time for those who were needy to make application for it.

Although some sums of money were expended in this way, much of the expense for the relief of the poor fell on the inhabitants of Halesworth through the Poor Rate. This grew considerably as the population increased:-

1776     296.5s.6d    (296.27p)     spent on Poor Relief

1803     589.0s.7¾d  (589.3p)           "          "       "

1818     1398.7s       (1398.35p)      "          "       "

Other money was given to the poor, not in the way of an annual arrangement, but more as a 'once off'. This is the case with John Bedingfield who died in 1680, leaving 'to the poor of Halesworth 5'.


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