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Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 73 - 1959 page 194

Chiddingstone Early Poor Law Accounts. By June Gibbons continued

Two to four rates were levied every year and those paying rates were divided into "indwellers," people living, in the parish and "outdwellers," people who owned land in the parish; the latter were rated at id. an acre. The number of those paying rates is some indication of the size of Chiddingstone’s population in the early seventeenth century:
           1604     62 indwellers     45 outdwellers
           1624     74 indwellers     44 outdwellers
           1658     93 indwellers     53 outdwellers.
   Receipts and payments balance very closely and, unlike the earlier collectors, the overseers seldom over-estimated their needs. The amount collected from rates between 1598 and 1630 varied between £11 and £26 l0s. 0d. 1605, 1614-1616, 1621 and 1623 are years when over £20 was paid to the poor and this was probably due to either bad harvests or local outbreaks of plague. From 1631 to 1639 rates averaged about £30 a year and at the start of the Civil War in 1640 there was a sharp rise to £43 us. 8d. They rose again in 1643 to £63 l0s. 7d. and in 1645 and 1646 to over £75 a year. This was the highest figure till 1659 when the rates were £77 5s. 1d. In the intervening years they remained at between £40 and £55 a year.
    The figures given show a very similar pattern of poor relief to those of several London parishes, St. Benets Pauls Wharf among them. The economic crisis of 1621 was caused by a decline in the cloth trade and Chiddingstone

may have been affected by this. The rise in the amount paid for poor relief in the 1630’s was widespread throughout the country and was due partly to the rise in prices and partly to the vigorous efforts of the Privy Council to see that the statutes relating to the poor were enforced.
   The Civil War brought an increase in the number of poor in Chiddingstone and the big rise in rates show that the overseers had a serious problem to contend with. However, there was no breakdown in the administration of poor relief and they rendered their accounts faithfully every year.
   The most interesting constructive efforts to deal with the problem of poverty occurred early in the seventeenth century, when the overseers tried to maintain a stock and build a house for the poor. There is very little information about the house: in 1600 the overseers paid £1 5s. 6d. for repairs and in 1601 they collected £1 19s. 7d. for building a house for relief of the poor. In the same year they paid £17 5s. 8d. for building the house, but there is no record of how they raised the rest of the money and this is the last mention of the house in the accounts.
   The attempt at providing a stock to set the able bodied poor to work was short lived. In 1599 the overseers held a stock of £3 8s. 2d., but by 1601 this had dwindled to £1 15s. 3d. A special rate for stock

Page 194  

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