Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet






Shortly after their appointment at the end of 1834, the Poor Law Commissioners (PLC) were approached by some eminent manufacturers in Lancashire, with the suggestion that a shortage of workers in the region's rapidly expanding manufacturing industries could be filled by unemployed labourers rural parts of the south.

In March 1835, the Commissioners wrote to a number of northern manufacturers with an offer to promote such a scheme in suitable rural areas, and also to help with the vetting of applicants.

The first trial of the scheme took place at Bledlow in Buckinghamshire, an area of high unemployment and low wages. An Assistant Commissioner visited the area and carried out personal visits to families in distress who, in a previous submission to the Commissioners, had stated that they were living on a total income of seven shillings a week. Despite being offered the possibility of work at an initial wage of 24 shillings a week (per family of four working hands), rising to 30 shillings after a year, there was little interest. However, two families finally agreed, and were followed by others, with a total of 83 individuals eventually migrating. Subsequent migrations followed from Princes Risborough, Chinnor, and other places in the county. The Commissioners trumpeted the success of the scheme in their annual report:

The head of the first family who migrated declared that not all the horses in Buckinghamshire should draw himself and family back to his parish. The employers of the workpeople have expressed themselves well satisfied with the conduct of these southern families, and have declared their intention of seeking families from the same districts in the event of their requiring additional hands.

July, 1837, around 10,000 persons had undergone relocation funded by parish poor-rates.

The agricultural county of Suffolk was one of the most prominent areas to take part in the scheme, with 275 families, amounting to 2005 individuals (20 per cent of the total), migrating by this date.

Removals were sanctioned by the Poor Law Commissioners and managed by Mr Muggeridge at Hanchester and Mr. Baker at Leeds.

Here are the arrangements for the Deeks family at Hadleigh, wages paid weekly.

Robert Deeks age 47 , wages 13/6
Wife aged 47 , no wages
Robert age 16, 5/-
John age 14, 4/-
William age 12, 3/-
Elizabeth age 11, 2/-
in addition there were 3 minors
Transport most probably by canal to the Midlands
Their new employer was "H and E, Ashworth of Turton, Lancashire", cotton spinners.


Correspondence to and from the families who migrated is especially valuable but not very common.
Here are two examples taken from the Ipswich Journal 2 April 1836

From Helmshore, Haslington, Lancs
To Jeremiah Pipe, Brundish. Suffolk

....as we came hither, we were eight days and nights without our clothes off, the way we came was by land and water, a distance of 540 miles.
We like our present situation very well, we have received as our reward for our labours Six Sovereigns and four shillings a month, flour at 4/- a stone, cheese-at 6d a lb, coal at 3d a bushel .....my own employ is wool carting, three are weavers, one presser and one dryer.
Yours etc. Richard_Hurrey and Ann Hurray'


Another letter from Farenwith, Boulton,Lancs. ended as follows:

....For I know that there is a liven to be got here and a good one, for I don't regret coming for I am wary happy and comfortable, so if you like to rite to me at Mr.Barnes Factory, Farenwith, near Boulton, Lanes.

Published 20/09/20