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Glossary heading
Assistant Commissioners
inspectors who travelled around the country to check that the Poor Law was being carried out according the Act.
Bank holidays
the first public holidays introduced in 1871; workers were unpaid however.
Bell pit
small coal pit near the surface and easier to mine.
Chadwick, Edwin
carried out an investigation into the state of the Poor Law in 1833; see the Find Out More section of the exhibition.
Choke damp
gas that could cause fires in the mine.
Cholera
disease caused by drinking impure water.
Corves
in Derbyshire the term means a shallow wooden box on runners like a sled used for hauling coal out of shallow mines; also refers to wicker baskets used to carry coal to the surface; the corve held about 4½ cwt of coal.
Dehydration
loss of water from the body, can sometimes be life threatening.
Football league 1888
collection of professional football teams who played against each other and played according the rules of the League.
Gallery
work area of a coal seam in the mine.
Getter
coal miner who works at the coalface breaking it down so the coal can be separated from other rock.
Great Exhibition 1851
Prince Albert’s idea to celebrate British Empire and industry; held at the especially built Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London.
Hulks
anchored ships which held prisoners awaiting transportation.
Hurrier
young person who pulled trams or wagons containing coal in the mine.
Inflammable
substance that can easily be set on fire and burn quickly.
Legal guardian
person in law who can act for somebody else, usually a child.
Less eligibility
conditions within the workhouse should never be better than those for an independent labourer of the poorest class.
Licensing Act 1872
controlled public houses by insisting they had to be licensed by magistrates; close at midnight in the town; adulteration of beer by adding salt was made illegal (this was designed to make people drink more).
Metropolitan Police Act 1829
set up the first civilian unarmed London Police force.
Miasmatic theory
disease was caused by impure air which had been polluted by rotting material.
Outdoor relief
payments given to people at home, usually the very sick or old; to be banned after 1834.
Peelers
first policemen named after Sir Robert Peel who introduced them.
Pentonville
model prison which was run on the basis of separating the prisoners, allowing them not to communicate with each other.
Pit and stall
columns of coal left intact to support the roof and prevent the mine from caving in.
Poor Law Commission
body consisting of three commissioners with Edwin Chadwick a secretary, which ran the Poor Law throughout the country, ensuring that the rules and regulations of the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 were followed.
Railways Act 1844
Government claimed the right to take control of all railways in times of national emergency; it also said that at least one train having third class carriages must stop at every station per day, charging no more than a penny per mile.
Sanitation
methods of protecting public health, especially by removing and treating waste.
Shilling days
day on which the entry charge to the Great Exhibition was one shilling.
Snow, John
doctor who worked out the link between cholera and polluted water supply; see Find out More section of the exhibition.
Speenhamland System 1795
started in Berkshire at a place called Speenhamland by a group of magistrates who came up with a plan to support those on low wages; payments were made on a scale linked to the price of bread and number of children.
Suffrage movement
demanded the vote for women.
Transportation
prisoners were sent to Australia as punishment; the last ship arrived there in 1868.
Trappers
children as young as 5 years old who opened and closed trap doors in coal mines to aid the flow of air preventing the build up of dangerous gases; they also opened the trapdoors for people with trams of coal.
Typhoid
disease known as “bowel fever” caused by poor drainage and sewage disposal; Prince Albert died from it.
Unions
groups of parishes authorised to build workhouses by the Poor Law Commissioners.
Workhouse
a place which provided board and lodging for the able bodied poor in return for employment; workhouses were intended to replace all forms of relief for the poor.