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Major Milestones during the English Rule

sean eng rule

English Rule: 1664-1783

The Act of 1703 marked the first drastic change between the Dutch and English poor relief systems. In this system the county and town were responsible for providing for the poor. Freeholders and inhabitants were to elect a Supervisor, Collector, and two Assessors in each town. The Supervisors of each town would meet to levy and collect the poor-rate, which was a tax on property for the poor. This money was then paid from the county treasury to the Overseers of the Poor who would distribute it among paupers.

The Act of 1768 dealt with the counties of Ulster and Orange specifically. The act stated, "The Poor of the said Counties of Ulster and Orange are of late much more numerous than formerly, and will become very burthensome, unless a suitable Provision be made to prevent Idleness, and relieve only such as are really indigent and helpless." These two counties struggled with the amount of paupers they were caring for. As a result, every town was to elect Overseers of the Poor at yearly meetings. A Clerk was also to be elected. At the same meeting, people of the town would decide on rules of how they would maintain the poor. This included binding out able-bodied children in poor families to work as servants or apprentices. The act also listed how the relief system worked. Initially, the town Clerk and Overseer of the Poor would agree on a sum of money needed to relieve the poor for that year. Next, a copy of the sum was given to the county Supervisors who then levied the tax upon the freeholders of the town. After the money was collected, the county Treasurer gave the money to the Overseers to give to the paupers of the town.

In April of 1775 an act was passed that alleviated the inconvenience of having the monies collected from the town poor taxes given to the treasurer and then to the Overseer. The act declared that the collector should hand over the money directly to the Overseer of the Poor. The accompanying document from April of 1775 explains the change in the law.

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