In the mid 18th century, it was the duty of the Overseers of the Parish to ensure that nobody within the parish was destitute. However, they had very limited resourses to achieve this which was usually financed by a tax on the landowners. The Overseers would therefore take a very dim view of any father who shirked the responsibility of providing for his children. They would even go to the extreme of putting out a wanted advert such as the one below:
From the Oxford Journal, Nov 19th 1774
British Newspaper Archive © 2015 brightsolid Newspaper Archive Ltd
Whereas John Jefferies, of the Parish of Shrivenham, in the County of Berks, has lately eloped from his Family, and left his Wife and four small Children chargeable upon the said Parish: Whoever will give information to the Overseers of the above Parish, where the said John Jefferies may be found, shall, on his being brought to Justice, receive One Guinea Reward.
N.B. The said John Jefferies is a middle-aged Man, about five feet seven inches high, hard featured, with thin dark brown hair, and had on, when he went away, a Pompadour Surtout Coat.
John Frampton, Overseer.
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