Chapter 3Poor Relief and Family Structures 61
Chapter 3 Poor Relief and Family Structures This chapter examines the extent to which poor relief supported families and households. While nuclear and extended families dominated house- hold structures in late nineteenth-century Ireland, at least in rural areas, it is shown that, by 1900, the majority of persons supported in workhouses were single.1 However, outdoor relief also formed an important part of the Irish poor law system, and data on the household composition of per- sons supported are not available from of ficial sources. Drawing on a data- matching exercise for a number of poor law unions, it is suggested that the household structure of persons on outdoor relief may have been more complex than the of ficial data would indicate and, in contrast to indoor relief, much more representative of overall household structures. Poor law and families in Ireland Unfortunately there is little evidence as to the forms of family and house- hold structure in nineteenth-century Ireland, due to the almost total non- survival of Census manuscripts. However, considerable analysis has been carried out for rural areas for 1901 and 1911.2 This indicates that extended 1 Household are classified according to the Laslett household classification: P. Laslett and R. Wall, (eds), Household and Family in Past Time, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1971. 2 T. Guinnane, The Vanishing Irish: Households, Migration and the Rural Economy in Ireland, 1850–1914, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1997. 62 Chapter 3 households were common but that simple (or nuclear) families dominated (table 3.1)...
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