#OTD in 1847 – The Passing of the Irish Poor Law Extension Act.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1847 marked a major shift in British government policy with respect to An Gorta Mór distress in Ireland. Under the new act Irish property owners and tenants would henceforth bear the full burden of fiscal responsibility for relief, which was to be administered solely by the Irish poor-law system.

The main provisions of the act accommodated these changes by allowing the poor-law authorities, for the first time, to extend relief to destitute persons without necessarily obliging them to become inmates of a workhouse. In the case of relief applicants adjudged able-bodied, this outdoor relief was to be made available only under the most stringent conditions, mainly where insufficient accommodation existed within the workhouses. One important qualification of the right to relief, however, was outlined in the Gregory clause of the act, which required that relief applicants surrender all but a quarter acre of their…

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