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Poor Laws and the Legal System in New York

The laws and acts of poor relief in New York and New Paltz specifically have undergone many revisions and modifications.  During Dutch rule of New Netherland (1609-1664), orders required fines to be paid to the poor and for churches to collect donations. When the English took control over the Dutch (1664-1783), the colonies of New York adopted the English poor relief system. Many issues such as methods of poor relief, settlement, immigration, and taxes would be addressed in various acts. Following the American Revolution, most poor laws remained the same until 1788, when an act established new legislation concerning the settlement of the poor. In 1824, the state ordered that specific counties establish a poor-house to accommodate paupers. The creation of the poor-house system would be the most radical change in New York State’s poor relief system.

(Image credit: Lincoln, Charles Z., William H. Johnson, and A. Judd Northrup. The Colonial Laws of New York from the Year 1664 to the Revolution.  Albany: J.B. Lyon, 1894. Print.)