Edwin Chadwick writes to the Assistant Overseer of Alrewas

The majority of surviving overseers’ vouchers for Alrewas are from Lichfield solicitors William Bond and Sons of Dam Street dealing with issues of settlement and removal.

Contained within the bundles are a number of letters written by or on behalf of those seeking relief. One letter stands out from the others. It was written neither by a pauper nor on behalf of one, but by Edwin Chadwick (1800-90), a hugely influential figure in mid-nineteenth century health, factory and poor law reform. Committed and talented, he worked for the Board of Health but his approach to reform angered many of his opponents.

Chadwick was born in Longsight, Manchester. His father became editor of The Statesman in 1812 and in 1816 editor of The Western Times. Chadwick trained as a barrister but also wrote reports on London’s slums for newspapers.

At the time of writing in October 1824 to Samuel Taylor, Assistant Overseer of Alrewas, Chadwick was the Secretary of the Poor Law Commission. Chadwick was responding to a letter  about the establishment of a workhouse.

Poor Law Commissioners Office Somerset House 11th Oct 1824

Sir, I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th Inst and to assure you that the Board will not neglect the expressed wishes of your Vestry, for the establishment of a well regulated workhouse, and for uniting the four divisions comprehended in the Parish of Alrewas, for the purpose of parochial management.  When the Assistant Poor Law Commissioners are appointed you may expect that one will make an early visit to your Parish, and in the interim it is suggested to your Vestry to propose the way, as far as possible for the suggested union.  I am further directed to send for your information, a copy of the Report and the Extract of Evidence published by the late commission of Enquiry, and a copy of the recent Act.

I am Sir.  Your Very Obedient Servant E Chadwick, Secretary.[1]

[1] SRO, D783_2_3_14_1_1 E. Chadwick, Secretary of the Poor Law Commission to Samuel Taylor Asst Overseer Alrewas  11 Oct. 1824.

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