Folios 507-508. Letter marked ‘Copy’, from the Axminster Poor Law Union containing a report from the committee appointed by the Guardians to supply them with information which will enable them to ‘form an opinion’ as to the desirability of offering able-bodied labourers receiving relief, work which is now in progress at Bridgewater, where they would be offered work at the rate of 2s 6d a day.
After careful questioning of several labourers these appeared willing to go to Bridgewater if it resulted in improved circumstances for them. The Committee had done calculations which indicated that they would not be better off by going to Bridgewater since, while there, not only would they be liable to lose occasional days’ work, but they would have to rent cottages, gardens, and also potato grounds without a ready crop, and would also have to pay for their own cider, at present supplied by the farmer employing them. The Committee included details of the wages and costs of several labourers in their present locations and what would be projected about their position in Bridgewater and showed their calculations concerning each of the following:
– John Bacon, a labourer at Seaton, aged 38, with five children under ten, and one over ten, receiving two loaves and an average wage of eight shillings a week. The committee concluded that he would be worse off at Bridgewater by at least two shillings a week.
Daniel Searle, [no origin mentioned] was described as a less hearty and vigorous man, aged 41, with six children under ten, and two older, and receiving four loaves in relief, who was calculated to be likely to be left with 1s 8d less at Bridgewater than at home.
William Moss, a labourer at Shute aged 45, who has five children under twelve and two under, receives four loaves in relief and earns in wages and ‘liquor’ [cider] supplied by the farmer employing him. The Committee thought he might be liable to lose at least tenpence a week if he took the work at Bridgewater.
Malachi Apsey, a labourer at Chardstock receives nine shillings in wages and liquor at home, pays one shilling rent, has a potato ground worth tenpence, and is left with 8s 10d, but would be likely to have only eight shillings left at Bridgewater.
The Committee observes that out of ten able-bodied labourers, receiving relief, seven would be willing to work at Bridgewater if they were equal to it, and if they would fare better there, but adds that six out of the seven would be ‘decidedly incapable of performing it’.
The report signed by A H D Acland. Annotated: ‘Copy, Report of Committee as to work offered to able-bodied paupers at the Bridgewater Dock, at 2/6-per diem’.
Annotated: to Mr Gilbert [William John Gilbert, Assistant Poor Law Commissioner]. Poor Law Union Number 76. Counties: Devon and Dorset.