John Symons gave us a talk about the trials and tribulations of his wife Julia’s Great, Great, Great Grandfather William, who was an agricultural labourer in the 19th century living in the wonderfully named Fonthill Gifford, a small village near Tisbury.
Times then were very hard as evidenced by the fact William was effectively jailed for being poor – he couldn’t afford to pay the poor tax! William had a brother who was deported for damaging a threshing machine as a protest against the reduction in the wages of farm labourers resulting from mechanisation in farming which was taking away labouring jobs.
John went on to give us a history of the poor laws in England from mediaeval times to date which showed we have always struggled with how to deal with welfare issues. At least we no longer whip the poorest or put them in the stocks. A most interesting and thought provoking session to which many of us were able to contribute with examples from our own families.
We enjoyed orange squash, coffee and some super biscuits and, in keeping with the agricultural theme, there was music from Adge Cutler and the Wurzels.
The next meeting will be Tuesday 25th January hosted by Ken Tullett. Click here for more details.
If you have any interesting skeletons in your family closet why not come along and tell us about them.