Isle of Man Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

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History[edit | edit source]

The care of the poor and needy on the Isle of Man was not regulated by the government until the late 19th century. Unlike England, which instituted parish relief to the poor in the 16th century, the Isle of Man relied on the moral conscience of individual families (backed by the ecclesiastical court), money left in wills to the poor of the parish, and contributions collected at church on Sunday to care for the poor.

Various charitable societies and committees were created in the late 1700s and early 1800s to help the poor in individual towns and parishes. These poor relief entities never had enough to adequately help the poor in each town. In 1869 a questionnaire was sent to all clergymen asking about the poor in each parish. These questionnaires indicated that much needed to be done to help the poor; however, nothing was actually done. In 1878, the Governor created a committee to report on the poverty situation on the island.

In 1889 an Act of Tynwald was passed that established a Home for the Poor. This home was open to all; payment was given by the district where the applicant came. Despite this new effort, poor relief on the island was still inadequate and inconsistent. An old-age pension was instituted to alleviate some of the responsibility of the public to care for the poor. This pension, modeled after the English, was funded by an estate duty.

Although the government did not establish poor houses until the late 1800s, individual towns set up their own poor relief committees and houses to help the poor.[1]

For more information about poor relief on the Isle of Man, visit A Manx Note Book and Workhouses.org.uk.

Accessing the Records[edit | edit source]

Some poor law records are available online. Workhouses.org.uk has indexed entries in the 1881 census of those who were living in various alms or poor houses.

Some poor law records are only available at the Manx National Heritage Library. These records include: daily return books, Board of Guardians' minute books, building and repairs minute books, and account books.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Coakley, Frances. "Poor Relief," A Manx Note Book, 2006, http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/contact.htm, accessed 25 July 2018.