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The Poor Law had a profound impact on English society. Designed to reform the poor as much as to relieve poverty, it also shaped institutions of government and determined people's expectations and assumptions about social welfare. The English Poor Law, 1531-1782 provides a concise synthesis of recent scholarly work together with full references, explaining the origins of this unique system of welfare, and showing how it played a central role in English social and political development from the Reformation to the Industrial Revolution.