The basket of plants & packet of seeds arrived here safe on wednesday last and planted as you have directed – there was a standard purple flowered Laburnum come – which I have planted in the orchard &c the weather still continues very unfavourable for gardening – wet & windy
I have had notice from Mr Shearn, manager of the Asylum, stating that the select Vestry,<1> of last tuesday Considered, that George Heath ( My Ladys Orphan)<2> was now able to earn his own living, and that the parish allowance would not be continued beyond saturday March 14th, I made an agreement with My Lady to Board him for 2s/6 a week untill her Ladyship returned in order that he might be kept away from his companions in the village as much as possible, & I consider his labour to be worth 4s/– a week henceforth should he conduct himself properly & likewise that he ought to have food given to him to that amount & please to let me know what I am to do whether you mean to continue him or not, & what wages you would allow him should you continue him please to let My Lady know that the Parish will not allow anything towards his maintenance
Mr Awdry <3> has given me a message from you about Puttying the Greenhouse, there is no doubt but I can do it, but inferior to what Fortune could, however the first dry & calm day we have (as it will require both) I shall make a beginning and see what I can do. & should I not be able to manage it I can then employ Fortune &c –
Your Obdt Humble Servt
1. The ‘Select Vestry’ was a voting body set up to assist the poor. With the severity of depression in rural areas after the Napoleonic Wars, and the onset of industrialisation, the traditional means of supporting the poor were clearly inadequate. In 1818, the ‘Act for the Regulation of Parish Vestries’ passed, setting up a voting system based on the rateable value of property. In 1819, this was further amended to add resident clergymen. The Select Vestry elected the Guardians of the Poor and distinguished between the 'deserving' poor and those who were idle. These acts were named after their supporter, the Tory MP, William Sturges-Bourne (1769-1845). This system was completely replaced in 1834 with the passage of the ‘Poor Law Amendment Act’, which established a national Poor Law Commission. Each parish, or union of small parishes, was required to build a workhouse. Outdoor relief was permitted, but discouraged, and previous discrimination against Roman Catholics and Non-Conformists was eliminated. This forced revisions to the workhouses and practices of Select Vestry in parishes that had established a system. In the 1840s, further restrictions were introduced which compelled confinement to a workhouse as the only method of receiving aid.
3. William Henry Awdry (1778–1847), solicitor, Chippenham.