This study is a test-case of the old poor law. In its exploration of the virtually unknown world of the aged poor in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, it asks how the elderly poor managed to survive in a pre-industrial economy, and answers through focusing on the many factors that make up the experience of old age - status, health, wealth, and local culture - in two Suffolk villages. Botelho demonstrates that the poor law did not, nor did it intend to, provide complete support, and she documents the individual efforts of the poor as they made their own old age arrangements, drawing as heavily upon their own initiatives as upon charity and legislated relief. LYNN BOTELHO is Associate Professor of History, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
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