Arguing Disability: Ex-Servicemen’s Own Stories in Early Modern England, 1590–1790

  • Geoffrey L. Hudson

Abstract

Englishmen who survived the havoc war wrought on their bodies needed and demanded relief. Over 400 years ago the English Parliament responded, creating Europe’s first state system of benefits for the rank-and-file disabled in 1593. This pension system, administered by county justices in the seventeenth century, was in the eighteenth replaced by the Royal Hospitals of Greenwich and Chelsea. The emergence and workings of these two early systems, and the ways in which their would-be beneficiaries worked them, offer a useful perspective on the history of disability and social relations.

Keywords

Eighteenth Century Pensionable Disability Pension System Royal Hospital Humoral Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    E. M. Leonard, The Early History of English Poor Relief (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1900);Google Scholar
  2. G. R. Elton, ‘An Early Tudor Poor Law’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., VI (1953), pp. 55–67;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. V. Pearl, ‘Social Policy in Early Modern London’, in H. Lloyd Jones, V. Pearl and B. Worden, eds, History and Imagination: Essays in Honour of H. R. Trevor-Roper (London: Holmes and Meier, 1981);Google Scholar
  4. J. C. D. Clark, English Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), esp. p. 76, n. 11;Google Scholar
  5. B. and S. Webb, English Poor Law History, Part I: The Old Poor Law (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1927);Google Scholar
  6. C. Hill, ‘Puritans and the Poor’, Past and Present II (1952), pp. 32–50;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. A. L. Beier, Masterless Men: The Vagrancy Problem 1560–1640 (London: Methuen, 1985);Google Scholar
  8. K. Wrightson, English Society (London: Hutchinson, 1982);Google Scholar
  9. Examples: K. Wrightson, English Society, p. 181; K. D. M. Snell, Annals of the Labouring Poor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 104–5;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. S. Rappaport, Worlds within Worlds: Structures of Life in Sixteenth-century London (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 195–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 3.
    A. Borsay, ‘Returning Patients to the Community: Disability, Medicine and Economic Rationality before the Industrial Revolution’, Disability and Society 13(5) (November 1998): 645–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 4.
    G. Schochet, ‘Patriarchalism, Politics and Mass Attitudes in Stuart England’, Historical Journal XII(3) (1969): 413–41, 414;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. J. C. D. Clark, English Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 80.Google Scholar
  14. 5.
    T. Wales, ‘Poverty, Poor Relief and the Life-cycle: Some Evidence from Seventeenth-century Norfolk’, and W. Newman Brown, ‘The Receipt of Poor Relief and Family Situation: Aldenham, Hertfordshire, 1630–90’, in R. M. Smith, ed., Land, Kinship and Life-Cycle (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 351–404 and 405–22 respectively;Google Scholar
  15. P. King, ‘The Parish State’, paper delivered at the History of Poverty seminar, Oxford University, 6 May 1990;Google Scholar
  16. S. Macfarlane, ‘Studies in Poverty and Poor Relief in London at the End of the Seventeenth Century’ (unpublished DPhil thesis, Oxford, 1983), 198;Google Scholar
  17. P. Slack, Poverty and Policy in Tudor and Stuart England (London: Longman, 1988), 104–7 and 191–2;Google Scholar
  18. G. Walker, ‘Crime, Gender and Social Order in Early Modern Cheshire’ (PhD thesis, University of Liverpool, 1994), ch. 5; for discussions of the role of negotiation in social relations,Google Scholar
  19. see A. Strauss, Negotiations: Varieties, Contexts, Processes, and Social Order (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1978);Google Scholar
  20. J. Fiske, Understanding Popular Culture (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989), 56–68;Google Scholar
  21. T. Hitchcock, P. Kind and P. Sharpe, Chronicling Poverty: The Voices and Strategies of the English Poor, 1640–1840 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 1997);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. L. Davison, T. Hitchcock, T. Keirn and R. Shoemaker, eds, Stilling the Grumbling Hive (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1992);Google Scholar
  23. M. J. Braddick and J. Walter, Negotiating Power in Early Modern Society (Cambidge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 6.
    N. Z. Davis explores this approach in depth in her Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century France (Stanford, CA: California University Press, 1987), pp. 20–1.Google Scholar
  25. For another discussion of the strategic aspects of the petition, see J. C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990), pp. 94–5.Google Scholar
  26. 11.
    T. Wales, ‘Poverty, Poor Relief and the Life-cycle: Some Evidence from Seventeenth-century Norfolk’, in R. M. Smith (ed.), Land, Kinship and Life-Cycle (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 351–404;Google Scholar
  27. M. Pelling, ‘Healing the Sick Poor: Social Policy and Disability in Norwich 1550–1640’, Medical History 29 (1985): 115–37;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. M. Pelling, ‘Illness among the Poor in an Early Modern English Town: The Norwich Census of 1570’, Continuity and Change 3(2) (1988): 273–90;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. M. Pelling, ‘Old Age, Poverty, and Disability in Early Modern Norwich’, in M. Pelling and R.M. Smith, eds., Life, Death and the Elderly (London: Routledge, 1991), pp. 74–101, 77. See also W. Newman Brown, ‘Receipt of Poor Relief and Family Situation: Aldenham, Hertfordshire, 1630–90’, Land, Kinship, pp. 405–21, 411.Google Scholar
  30. 13.
    The legal principle behind these practices was made explicit by two Staffordshire JPs. In a 1640 decision concerning a Poor Law matter they concluded that practices which ran counter to an Act of Parliament, even an Act passed as recently as 1601, are legal if these practices are begun and continued by the consent and agreement of the interested parties. Staffordshire Record Office, QS files, Easter 1640, cited in S.C. Newton, ‘Staffordshire Quarter Sessions: Archives and Procedures in the Earlier Seventeenth-Century’, Essays in Staffordshire History, ed. M. W. Greenslade (Collections for a History of Staffordshire, 4th ser., 6, 1970), p. 80.Google Scholar
  31. 17.
    M. Fissell, ‘Everyone Their Own Physician’, ch. 2, in Fissell, Patients, Power, and the Poor in Eighteenth-Century Bristol (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 16–36.Google Scholar
  32. For more, see V. Hutton, ‘Humoralism’, W. F. Bynum and R. Porter, eds, Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine, vol. I (London: Routledge, 1993), pp. 281–91;Google Scholar
  33. A. Wear, ‘Making Sense of Health and the Environment in Early Modern England’, A. Wear, ed., Medicine and Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 119–47;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. G. K. Paster, The Body Embarrassed (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), ‘Introduction’.Google Scholar
  35. 24.
    G. L. Hudson, ‘Ex-servicemen, War Widows and the English County Pension Scheme, 1593–1679’ (DPhil thesis, Oxford University, 1995), chs. 3 and 5.Google Scholar
  36. 25.
    Example: Michael Oliver, The Politics of Disablement (London: Macmillan, 1990).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 26.
    L. Gray, ‘The Self-perception of Chronic Physical Incapacity among the Labouring Poor, Pauper Narratives and Territorial Hospitals in Early Modern Rural Germany’ (PhD thesis, University College London, 2001); ‘Petitioning for Survival: Medical Care and Welfare Provision in Early Modern German Hospitals’, Medicina & storia: rivista de storia della medicina e della santia Anno 3, no. 6 (2003).Google Scholar
  38. 30.
    For a detailed discussion of social agency and the disabled veteran, see G. L. Hudson, ‘Ex-servicemen, War Widows’, ch. 3. For more detail on the development of the county pension system, see G. L. Hudson, ‘Disabled Veterans and the State in Early Modern England’, in D. Gerber, ed., Disabled Veterans in History (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  39. 31.
    G. L. Hudson, ‘Negotiating for Blood Money: War Widows and the Courts in Seventeenth-century England’, in G. Walker and J. Kermode, eds, Women, Crime and the Courts in Early Modem England (London: University College London Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  40. 36.
    R. Cooter, ‘The Disabled Body’, in R. Cooter and J. Pickstone, Companion to Medicine in the Twentieth Century (London: Routledge, 2003; first pub. 2000), p. 370.Google Scholar
  41. 39.
    J. Pringle, Observations on the Diseases of the Army (London, 1753). The inflammatory diseases were contrasted with the contagious diseases such as fever, smallpox and measles.Google Scholar
  42. 40.
    M. Fissell, ‘The Disappearance of the Patient’s Narrative and the Invention of Hospital Medicine’, in R. French and A. Wear, British Medicine in an Age of Reform (London: Routledge, 1991).Google Scholar
  43. 41.
    Ole Peter Grell, ‘War, Medicine and the Military Revolution’, in P. Elmer, ed., The Healing Arts: Health, Disease and Society in Europe, 1500–1800 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), pp. 257–83.Google Scholar
  44. See also L. Brockliss and C. Jones, The Medical World of Early Modern France (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997);Google Scholar
  45. G. Hudson, ed., British Naval and Military Medicine, 1600–1800 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007).Google Scholar
  46. 42.
    G. Gask, ‘A Contribution to the History of the Care of the Sick and Wounded during Marlborough’s March to the Danube in 1704, and at the Battle of Blenheim’, in G. Gask, Essays in the History of Medicine (London: Butterworth, 1950), pp. 103–15;Google Scholar
  47. P. Mills, ‘War, Medicine and the British Army in the Eighteenth Century: Reconstruction of a Hospital System’, unpublished paper delivered at the Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, 30 November 1999, 3.Google Scholar
  48. 43.
    M. J. Vogel, ‘The Transformation of the American Hospital’, in N. Finzsch and R. Jutte, Institutions of Confinement: Hospitals, Asylums and Prisons in Western Europe and North America, 1500–1950 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 39–54.Google Scholar
  49. 44.
    G. B. Risse, Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 242.Google Scholar
  50. 45.
    H. Cook, ‘Practical Medicine and the British Armed Forces after the “Glorious Revolution”’, Medical History 34 (1990): 1–26, 16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. See also P. Mathias, ‘Swords and Ploughshares: The Armed Forces, Medicine and Public Health in the Late Eighteenth Century’, in J. M. Winder, ed., War and Economic Development: Essays in Memory of David Joslin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975).Google Scholar
  52. 53.
    The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Ref: t17450116–5; T. Hitchcock and J. Black, Chelsea Settlement and Bastardy Examinations, 1733–1766 (London: London Record Society, 1999), vol. 33, p. 20.Google Scholar
  53. 62.
    I. Archer, Pursuit of Stability (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 98–9, 260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 63.
    Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, ed. Q. Hoareand G. N. Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1971), esp. ‘The Study of Philosophy’; E. P. Thompson, Customs in Common (London: Merlin Press, 1991), pp. 7, 10–11, 38, 44–6, 66, 74, 85, 300–2, 339;Google Scholar
  55. B. Sharp, ‘Popular Protest in Seventeenth-Century England’, B. Reay, ed., Popular Culture in Seventeenth-Century England (London: Routledge, 1988, lst pub. 1985), pp. 271–308, 287–9, 303.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Geoffrey L. Hudson 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey L. Hudson

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations