Feeding the Poor in 18th Century: The Challenges and Solutions

TLDRPoverty was rampant in the 18th century, both in Europe and North America. In this video, we explore the struggles faced by the poor and the various methods employed to provide them with sustenance. From workhouses to soup kitchens, these solutions were aimed at addressing the dire circumstances of poverty.

Key insights

🍲Poverty affected both adults and children, with whole families struggling to make ends meet.

💰Transported criminals and indentured servants often remained in poverty even after completing their contracts.

Sailors were among the lowest-paid workers in colonial America, perpetuating a cycle of poverty.

🏢Workhouses and almshouses were institutions established to provide support and care for the destitute.

💼People in poverty often had to take on menial jobs to avoid being sent to workhouses.


Were there beggars in North American colonies?

Although not commonly documented, poverty was prevalent in colonial America, with many people struggling to make a living.

How were the poor supported in the 18th century?

Local governments implemented poor laws, which involved providing financial aid, institutional care, or indenturing the poor to community members.

Did the workhouses provide adequate care for the poor?

Workhouses often operated as hospitals as well, but conditions varied. While some workhouses offered basic sustenance, others treated inmates much like prisoners.

What were the occupations of the poor in colonial America?

The poor often had to take on jobs such as ash collectors or waste workers, performing tasks that were considered undesirable by others.

How did poverty affect healthcare in the 18th century?

Lack of access to adequate medical care or long-term illnesses often pushed families further into poverty, making it challenging to recover financially.

Timestamped Summary

00:00Poverty was a harsh reality in the 18th century for both adults and children.

04:11Local governments implemented poor laws to support the destitute, providing financial aid and institutional care.

06:00Workhouses served as both hospitals and places of employment for the poor, with varying conditions.

07:55Menial jobs were often taken by the poor to avoid becoming dependent on workhouses.

10:00Access to healthcare was limited in the 18th century, exacerbating the challenges faced by the poor.