WOODWARD, Richard Bishop of Cloyne. An Argument in Support of the Right of the Poor in the Kingdom of Ireland, to a national provision.
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Dublin: Printed by S. Powell in DameStreet, opposite to Fownes’s Street, 1772. Large post octavo. pp. 55, . Quarter calf on marbled boards, title in gilt on red moroco label on spine. A very good copy.
ESTC t114767. Goldsmiths’-Kress no. 10936. OCLC 23476462.
Advocate of poor relief Bishop Woodward’s Argument in Support of the Right of the Poor in the
Kingdom of Ireland to a national provision (Dublin, 1768), with an appendix in which he contended
that the condition of the indigent could be relieved by a tax on agriculture and business of 1 per cent.
His plan envisaged the creation of a county network of poorhouses, each with fifty beds for a hundred
paupers, ten beds for the ill and infirm, and a house of correction where the vagrant and idle, branded
with the letter V, “would be kept close to some laborious work”. As this makes clear, Woodward’s
priority was the ‘deserving’ poor, who, he argued, had a moral right to relief, but he was equally
exercised by the contemporary desire to eradicate begging by the ‘idle’ poor, who, he believed, were
the main beneficiaries of the existing unregulated environment.
Woodward’s plan was well received, and it prompted the Irish parliament in 1772 to authorise every
county and city to found a corporation for the purpose of establishing a ‘house of industry’ to be
funded from subscriptions and grand jury presentments (11 & 12 Geo. III, c. 30). Opposition, borne out
of the conviction that county charges were burdensome, ensured that no more than eight such houses
were brought into being, but the Dublin House of Industry, in which Woodward played an active part,
made a significant contribution over many decades to the easing of poverty and the relief of distress in
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