The 1842 Outdoor Labour Test Order
The Outdoor Labour Test Order, issued on 13th April 1842, marked a significant shift in the Pooor Law Commissioners' official policy. Resistance to the 1834 Act from unions in industrial areas, particularly in the north of England, had resulted in what the Commissioners described as a lack of "adequate workhouse accommodation". It had thus become impracticable, during periodic manufacturing downturns in such areas, to insist on the workhouse as the only form of relief offered to the large numbers of able-bodied unemployed. The Outdoor Labour Test instead offered relief in return for the performance of deterrent manual labour, often stone-breaking, usually in a labour yard attached to the workhouse. At least half of the relief dispensed had to be in the form of food, clothing, and other articles of necessity.
To read the full text of the 1842 Outdoor Labour Test Order, just click on the accompanying picture of the Order's title page.
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