Pauper Narratives in the Welsh Borders: 1750-1840
thesisposted on 15.08.2016, 11:39 by Ben Richard Harvey
This thesis, Pauper Narratives in the Welsh Borders: 1750-1840, will make a substantial contribution to how narratives are used to understand the practice of relief distribution under the old poor law. It will expand investigations of poor law correspondence into the little-studied Welsh border region by advancing previous use of pauper letters, and incorporating new forms of correspondence. The thesis hopes to act as a stepping stone for future works to analyse welfare in Wales in greater detail. The nation is a potentially fruitful area for research given its ‘peripheral’ position, according to spatial welfare theories, and indications that its approaches were quite different to those in areas of England that have received more historical attention. In order to cover such an extensive geographical region, and the large corpus collected from it and other counties, the thesis will make the first detailed quantitative analysis of pauper narratives. Such a methodology allows spatial and chronological comparisons, enables the representativeness of source material to be measured, and offers a framework for spatial studies of welfare. The approach also complements current trends in the use of pauper narratives, which have moved from small scale case studies that describe the context of the letters, to broader investigations that seek to draw geographical contrasts. Consequently this work represents the next step in using narratives to consider local welfare systems. In doing so, the thesis will argue much of the border region, and Wales in particular, should be considered to have been a ‘peripheral’ welfare zone. This is based on the features identified by exploratory studies of peripheral areas, as well as more general comments on regionality from other historians. Furthermore it is argued that the significance and consistency of these characteristics were strong enough for us to reconsider how we look at poor law regionalism.