Family History Federation

Exeter Holy Trinity Poor – 1846

This booklet was compiled by members of the Devon Family History Society in co-operation with the Devon Records Office. The booklet provides an extract of some information and further details may be obtained from the Devon Records Office. The directory was handwritten in a small notebook by the rector of Holy Trinity, the Reverend George Henry Shield MA, in 1846 and 1848. This directory was drawn up when George Shield had been rector for just over two years. It has survived in the papers of Burrow Co., a firm of solicitors in Cullompton, who were the Shield family lawyers. The late 1840s were hard times for labourers in Exeter. The building work in the city was coming to an end, the winter of 1845 was a harsh one and in 1847 the price of wheat soared, leading to the bread riots of May that year. The Corporation of the Poor had to provide relief for a far greater number of people than usual and the situation became so bad that in 1846 a Famine Fund was set up to help the destitute. The first part of George Shield’s notebook is an alphabetical index of the poor in Holy Trinity parish. The main breadwinner is listed with brief details of dependents, and then there is a street address, followed by notes on the family’s income. A second survey was carried out on 28th and 29th January 1848, when Rev. Shield made a personal visit to every house. He classified the families into five categories according to their income and their ability to work. In this second part of the book, the families are listed by street, in the order that Rev. Shield visited them. He notes the name of the breadwinner and his occupation, and brief details of the family’s personal circumstances. Lastly, there are two columns, the first for the number of loaves of bread given to the family and the second for the number of people in the family. After the two days, the total number of people relieved was 547. It is not clear who was providing the loaves and it is possible that this was a private charity of George and Ann Shield to meet the needs of the poor in their parish.


SKU : D076A

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