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Armoede en armenzorg op Zuid-Beveland, 1850-1940.

 

Albert Louis Kort

 

Proefschrift
Ter verkrijging van de graad van doctor aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
op gezag van de rector magnificus
Prof.dr.ir. J.H. van Bemmel
 

en volgens besluit van het college voor promoties
De openbare verdediging
vond plaats op
donderdag 15 maart 2001 om 13.30 uur

 

Promotiecommissie
Promotor:

Prof.dr. H. van Dijk
Overige leden:

Prof.dr. J. van Herwaarden
Prof.dr. P.T. van de Laar
Prof.dr. P. Kooij
 

 

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Summary

 

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Woord vooraf

 

Inleiding

 

Hoofdstuk 1 Armoede

    1.1 DefiniŽring en meting

    1.2 Oorzaken van de armoede

 

Hoofdstuk 2 Zuid-Beveland: een schets van de belangrijkste demografische, sociaal-economische ontwikkelingen

    2.1 Algemeen

    2.2 Demografie

        2.2.1 De groei van de bevolking: natuurlijke aanwas en migratie

        2.2.2 De leeftijdsopbouw en burgerlijke staat

    2.3 De bestaansmiddelen

        2.3.1 De landbouw

        2.3.2 De nijverheid

        2.3.3 De visserij en schelpdiercultuur

        2.3.4 De overige bestaansmiddelen

    2.4 De levensstandaard van de Zuid-Bevelandse (land)arbeiders

        2.4.1 De periode 1845-1878

        2.4.2 De periode 1878-1895

        2.4.3 De periode 1895-1914

        2.4.4 De periode 1914-1940

    2.5 Samenvatting

 

Hoofdstuk 3 De armenzorg in Nederland

    3.1 IdeeŽn, wetten en organisatie

        3.1.1 Algemeen

        3.1.2 De periode tot 1854

        3.1.3 De periode 1854-1912

        3.1.4 De Armenwet van 1912

        3.1.5 De periode 1912-1940

            3.1.5.1 De inkrimping van het werkterrein van de armenzorg

            3.1.5.2 De armenzorg bleef echter van belang

            3.1.5.3 Het toenemend belang van de openbare armenzorg

            3.1.5.4 De toenemende invloed van de gemeenten op de burgerlijke armbesturen

            3.1.5.5 De beperkte speelruimte voor de gemeenten in de jaren dertig

    3.2 De gespannen verhouding tussen de verschillende gemeenten: een voorbeeld uit Zuid-Beveland

        3.2.1 Algemeen

        3.2.2 De voorzieningen in Goes

        3.2.3 De wetswijziging in 1870

        3.2.4 De landbouwcrisis

    3.3 Samenvatting

 

Hoofdstuk 4 De organisatie van de Bevelandse armenzorg

    4.1 Algemeen

    4.2 De versnipperde zorg

        4.2.1 De periode tot 1815

        4.2.2 De periode 1815-1854

        4.2.3 De periode 1854-1912

        4.2.4 De periode vanaf 1912

    4.3 Samenwerking tussen de verschillende dorpen en instellingen

    4.4 Spanningen en conflicten

        4.4.1 Conflicten tussen de kerkelijke en burgerlijke armbesturen

        4.4.2 Wantrouwen tussen de verschillende gemeenten

        4.4.3 Andere oorzaken

        4.4.4 Het toenemend belang van de openbare armenzorg

    4.5 Samenvatting

 

Hoofdstuk 5 De armenzorg op Zuid-Beveland

    5.1 De functies van de armenzorg

    5.2 De daadwerkelijke hulp

        5.2.1 Algemeen

        5.2.2 De uitgangspunten van de hulp

        5.2.3 De procedure

        5.2.4 De verschillende vormen van onderstand

            5.2.4.1 Algemeen

            5.2.4.2 Bedeling in geld en natura

            5.2.4.3 Uitbesteding

            5.2.4.4 Huisvesting

            5.2.4.5 Gestichtverpleging: bejaardenzorg

            5.2.4.6 Werkverschaffing

            5.2.4.7 Onderwijs

            5.2.4.8 Medische zorg

            5.2.4.9 Verpachting van land

        5.2.4.10Andere vormen van onderstand

    5.3 Samenvatting

 

Hoofdstuk 6 De verzorgers: de burgerlijke en kerkelijke armbestuurders

    6.1 Algemeen

    6.2 De beroepen

    6.3 De inkomenspositie

    6.4 De zittingsduur

    6.5 Het raadslidmaatschap

    6.6 Samenvatting en mogelijke verklaringen voor de verschillen in beroep, welstand, zittingsduur
                        en raadslidmaatschap

 

Hoofdstuk 7 De verzorgden: de bedeelden

    7.1 Inleiding

    7.2 Het onderzoek naar de bedeelden in de literatuur

    7.3 Bronnen en werkwijze

    7.4 De uitkomsten van het onderzoek

        7.4.1 De aantallen bedeelden

        7.4.2 De identiteit van de bedeelden

    7.5 Een specifieke groep: de valide arbeiders

    7.6 Samenvatting

 

Hoofdstuk 8 De relatie tussen de armbestuurders en hun bedeelden

    8.1 De houding van de armbestuurders tegenover de bedeelden

    8.2 De houding van de bedeelden tegenover de armbestuurders

    8.3 Samenvatting

 

Hoofdstuk 9 De financiering van de zorg

    9.1 Inleiding

    9.2 Het onderzoek naar de financiering in de historiografie

    9.3 Bronnen en werkwijze

    9.4 De inkomsten

        9.4.1 De inkomsten uit bezit

            9.4.1.1 Onroerend goed: landerijen en huizen

            9.4.1.2 Rente op uitstaande kapitalen

        9.4.2 De inkomsten uit vrijwillige bijdragen

            9.4.2.1 Algemeen

            9.4.2.2 Subsidies

            9.4.2.3 Collecten

            9.4.2.4 Giften en legaten

            9.4.2.5 Motieven om te geven

    9.5 Samenvatting

 

Hoofdstuk 10 Armenzorg en armoedepreventie: de rol van de gemeentebesturen

    10.1 Algemeen

    10.2 De bemoeienis met de armenzorg

    10.3 De bestrijding van de armoede: de gemeentelijke sociale politiek

        10.3.1 Inleiding 10.3.2 Openbare gezondheid

            10.3.2.1 Algemeen

            10.3.2.2 Volkshuisvesting

            10.3.2.3 Afvalverwijdering en riolering

            10.3.2.4 Keuring van vee, vlees en waren

            10.3.2.5 Watervoorziening

            10.3.2.6 Afsluitend

        10.3.3 Onderwijs: de commissies tot wering van het schoolverzuim

        10.3.4 Sociale wetten

        10.3.5 De landarbeiderswet

        10.3.6 De zorg voor de werklozen: een taak van de gemeente?

    10.4 Samenvatting

 

Samenvatting

 

Bronnen (archivalia en literatuur)

 

Bijlagen:

    A Tabellen over de bevolking en de beroepen

    B Namen van in Goes gevestigde arbeiders in de periode 1888-1903 die onderstand genoten
                    van het burgerlijk armbestuur

    C De armenzorg op de Bevelanden

    D 1 De armbestuurders gespecificeerd naar dorp en bedelingsinstelling

    D 2 De beroepen van de armbestuurders

    D 3 De inkomenspositie van de armbestuurders

    E Aantallen bedeelden, per dorp en instelling gespecificeerd, in de tweede helft vande negentiende eeuw

    F Aantallen bedeelden uitgedrukt in een percentage van de bevolking, per dorp en per instelling
                gespecificeerd, in de tweede helft van de negentiende eeuw. Toelichting bij bijlagen E en F

    G De identiteit der bedeelden, een per dorp en instelling gespecificeerd overzicht

    H De jaarrekeningen van de burgerlijke en kerkelijke armbesturen, bewerkt volgens een
                standaardmodel en per dorp gerangschikt

    I Uitslagen verkiezingen voor de gemeenteraad, Provinciale Staten en de Tweede Kamer
                in negen Zuid-Bevelandse gemeenten in de periode 1918-1939

 

Stellingen bij het proefschrift

 

Curriculum vitae

 

 

 

Summary

 

Not a penny to spare.

 

Poverty and poor relief in the countryside:

Zuid-Beveland, 1850-1940

 

This study deals with the history of poverty and poor relief in Zuid-Beveland, a region which is situated in the province of Zeeland in the south western part of the Netherlands. Contrary to most studies, which focus on the development of poor relief in the larger towns in the pre-industrial period, this work describes the situation in the countryside during the period 1850-1940.

A number of important questions is central to this study into poor relief, which some researchers call both a control-strategy for the elite and a survival strategy for the poor.

Which social groups were supported by various church and public institutions and why did especially these groups receive relief? What did poor relief consist of?

From what social classes did the members of relief boards originate? How was poor relief financed? Are there any differences noticeable in these respects between the church and the public charitable institutions?

In the period 1850 - 1940 it was agriculture and especially arable farming which formed the pivot of the economy in Zuid-Beveland. Around the middle of the nineteenth century over seventy per cent of the working population was employed in agriculture. Although this figure decreased in the course of the years, in comparison to the rest of the Netherlands it remained high.

On the eve of the Second World War still nearly half of the working population in Zeeland found their subsistence in agriculture. The importance of other economic sectors, like industry trade and commerce was and remained marginal.

The larger number of villagers earned a living as a seasonal workers on one of the modern large-scale agricultural establishments of which there were many in Zuid-Beveland. Their fate was determined to a large extent by the movements of the seasons in agriculture and the price-fluctuations of the most important agricultural products.

The fact that most agricultural labourers and their families lived in bitter poverty shows from official reports and descriptions of contemporaries. In the nineteenth century poverty to them was not only a relative but mostly an absolute concept.

In spite of the fact that their material existence remained uncertain, for many agricultural labourers poverty seemed to grow less urgent in the course of the nineteenth century.

Decreasing death rates, the absolute and relative decrease in the numbers of assisted and the increasing number of labourers who worked their own plot of land were indications of this trend.

The increase in wages was on the one hand caused by better business results and on the other by the pressure applied on the farmers by the emerging labour movement. Both were undoubtedly important reasons for the decrease in poverty.

Alternative means of existence, outside the agricultural sector, as well as the growing influence of the government in the social domain were other factors which were responsible for a gradual improvement of the standard of living.

Changes like those that occurred in the social economic field in the Netherlands and to a lesser extent in Zeeland in the period 1850 - 1940 had hardly any impact in the area of poor relief. The organization of poor relief remained based on the old principles and in many respects showed great similarities to that in the time of the Dutch Republic.

As we saw in chapters 3 and 4, according to the poor-laws of 1854 and 1912 churches were in the first instance responsible for the relief of the poor. In theory the part of public charities was only supplementary. Only if churches were unable to offer relief, the public charities were bound to come to the assistance of the needy. The fact that the reality was far different and that especially the public charities, to their great chagrin had to provide the major part of poor relief, did not matter to the legislator.

The local structure of poor relief was unchanged throughout the whole period. Every local authority had to take care of its own poor. That this arrangement caused many conflicts between various authorities, which had a great interest in unloading as many poor as possible on each other, will not cause much surprise.

The change in the relief domicile in 1870, when no longer the place of birth but the place of residence became responsible for the relief of the poor, only worsened the disputes between local authorities.

Public as well as church poor relief remained in the hands of volunteers until long after the Second World War. Unpaid deacons and poor board members decided on the fate of the poor. Professionalizing poor relief, as it was taken in hand in the larger cities of the country during the Interbellum, was unknown in the villages of Zuid-Beveland.

Most deacons came from the middle classes of society. Artisans, trades people and even labourers formed the majority in church poor boards. The social gap that divided them from their customers was much smaller than that between paupers and civil poor board members. The latter were, as we saw in chapter 6, for the larger part from the higher social classes. Among them there were many well-to-do farmers, many of whom had mixed interests: those of employers in the summer and of benefactors in the winter months.

To them poor relief had collective as well as individual interests which originated from economic, social, political, religious and moral motives. Keeping up a labour reserve, preventing social unrest, transferring civil standards and values to the paupers were the main collective interests at stake.

Career prospects, gaining power and obtaining salvation for the soul were equally important considerations for the richer villagers to take a seat on a poor relief board.

Throughout the entire period poor relief was limited to fighting the worst symptoms of poverty. Fighting poverty itself was something people were unable and maybe even unwilling to tackle. For many contemporaries poverty was considered as a phenomenon desired by God or as something that was indissolubly interwoven with the way in which the labouring classes lived.

The relief the boards offered was varied and consisted of relief in money and goods, boarding out, institutionalizing, housing, medical care, education, providing work and incidentally making available pieces of arable land.

Which form of relief a board decided on depended on a number of matters like the person of the applicant, legal directives, availability of money, the interests of the local trades people, tradition and, finally, the scale within which the boards had to work and that to a large extent limited their freedom of choice.

Relief in money and goods was by far the most important ingredient in the means of assistance of both civil and church relief boards. Sixty to eighty percent of the total relief expenditure was spent in this way. In comparison to relief in money, assistance in the form of bread, clothing and fuel did not mean much, that is, if we can trust the amounts spent. Relief only in the form of gifts was out of the question in the villages of Zuid-Beveland.

The amounts that paupers received depended on the state of the relief funds, the personal circumstances of the supplicant and the reputation he or she had. They varied considerably but were never high. Until about 1900 weekly sums of relief of É 1,-- to É 2,-- were usual. From the turn of the century the amounts increased: the average amounts of relief came to approximately É 3,-- to É 4,-- per week. Under the influence of the introduction of national support directives some boards decided to standardize the amounts of relief which lead to a less whimsical determination of the height of those amounts.

A higher amount of relief did not in fact mean that the needy could live on it. Relief was and remained meant to supplement and never to replace the income.

In the nineteenth century considerable amounts were spent on boarding orphans and the elderly. Many people who were boarded in private houses were often treated inhumanely and in the course of time this raised so much criticism that charities were looking for other solutions to the problem of housing. However, attempts to found a countryside orphanage did not succeed. Doubts about the use of such a home, rivalries between the various poor relief boards, added to financial objections, were the most important factors to prevent such a scheme.

If a home for orphans could not be realized, a different category of boarders, the elderly, could indeed be provided with a home. Old people's homes were erected in three villages, despite the fact that civil relief and church relief boards did not always join forces.

The old peoples' homes solved the disadvantages of boarding and they offered their inhabitants at the least more comfortable dwellings than the many almshouses in which some had been housed until then.

The homes were the pride of local boards. And this can easily be understood, as these showed visible poor relief in which the boards put a lot of money, money destined for housing and upkeep of a group that in the course of the twentieth century would grow to a majority in the number of paupers.

The possibilities to provide the paupers with work instead of sustenance were limited in the countryside. If relief work was decided upon, there were mostly small scale projects in which the boards had to call upon the cooperation of the local farmers. As a form of poor relief, relief work did not mean much. Not until the thirties larger scale projects would be initiated, but by that time the role of the poor boards in poor relief work had for the larger part been taken over. By that time the government and the local authority took the initiative and the part of the poor boards was mostly limited to money lending.

Money lending was also the main role in two other forms of poor relief, medical care and education, which were more and more effected without involvement of the poor boards.

Both education and medical care were of the utmost importance in the eyes of the poor boards, although they were unwilling to spend much money on them. The local councils were considered to be primarily responsible for education and so they were supposed to provide the larger part of the funds. Poor boards were on occasion willing to provide subsidies, even if they had frequent conflicts about the heights of these.

Medical care was a separate story. It confronted the poor boards with ever heavier financial burdens that in the long run could no longer be raised. Agreements with hospitals about nursing rates, covering paupers in health insurance and delegating health care to specialised institutions had to solve the problems for the poor boards. As a consequence they lost their grip on medical care.

If the above forms of poor relief mainly contributed to relieving the consequences of poverty for the stricken, leasing out plots of land to both paupers and needy was aimed at the fight against poverty and the "raising" of the poor to economic independence. Many poor boards used this means and even if leasing out land was no more than a drop in the ocean, it has certainly contributed to the diminishing of poverty.

When comparing public and church poor boards, the form of poor relief offered did not show any meaningful differences, some changes in accent at the most.

Certainly in the nineteenth century both kinds of poor boards offered a varied package of relief.

In the first part of the twentieth century this changed due to the fact that from the turn of the century church poor boards turned their attention more and more towards the needy elderly and the other categories of poor were referred to the civil boards. From then on church boards mainly limited themselves to those forms which were appropriate to the elderly, like medical and financial support. Provision of work or education were hardly suitable for these people.

Surveying the relief that the boards in the countryside offered and comparing this to that of the boards in a number of cities in this country, we are struck except for some similarities, mainly by some important differences.

First the most important similarities. In villages as well as in the cities poor relief was based on charity until the twentieth century. Relief was a favour and certainly no right, in spite of the fact that some paupers, as we saw in chapter 8, were of a different opinion and more and more considered relief as a right.

Both in towns and in the country poor boards were guided by the principle of efficiency: the poor had to be taken care of as cheaply as possible.

The many different forms of relief are another important similarity, these were at least as varied in the countryside as in the cities.

However there were important differences between town and country too. The most important difference was undoubtedly the scale of the poor relief. Compared to the big bureaucratic institutions in towns, many of which were turned into institutions of social care, the villages only knew small poor relief boards, peopled by volunteers, who had only limited means available and were therefore unable to grant many requests.

Initiating large-scale relief works was impossible in the villages, the same was true for founding large institutions in which the different categories of paupers could be housed.

Except for some old peoples' homes the village poor boards did not have their own institutions. All these factors severely limited the options of the country poor boards. The only option they did have and the city boards did not was the leasing of land, a modest form of poor relief and really only suitable to able-bodied paupers.

Thanks to a sound financial basis the poor boards were able to offer support. The proceeds of their capital which was mainly invested in property enabled them to help on a yearly basis large groups of paupers and at the same time build a financial reserve with which autonomy was assured until far into the twentieth century.

When, as a result of economic crises the income decreased, the poor boards decided to economize on expenditure. Using their own capital or applying for grants from a local council were means that had to be avoided. As these would threaten their independence. Not until the third decade of the twentieth century, when as a consequence of the economic crisis the number of requests for support showed a great increase and the income of the poor relief boards fell at the same time, many poor boards were no longer able to forego municipal grants. This increasing financial dependence would only grow after 1945 and would in the long run cause poor boards to become more and more integrated into the municipal organization.

The protestant and catholic poor relief boards had much less money than the civil boards. Moreover the sources they had all but guaranteed their income. The proceeds of collections and gifts on which the church had to rely to a large extent, showed a decrease in the course of the years. As a consequence the churches were forced to exclude more and more people from their support and refer them to the civil boards. Church boards focussed increasingly on a small group of paupers, who, like we concluded in our research into the identity of the people relieved, mainly consisted of widows and the elderly. The civil boards had to take care of the rest of the poor.

Although the poor boards remained very important institutions until the Second World War and their power remained considerable, their influence in the field of social welfare decreased.

First and foremost the increase in prosperity caused fewer and fewer people to be dependent on the support of the poor boards. On top of that the authorities, the government and the municipalities, increasingly took over their tasks, which limited the scope of the poor boards.

Contrary to the poor boards that limited themselves to fighting the excesses of poverty, the measures taken by government and local authorities were aimed at fighting poverty itself. The social laws we discussed in chapter 3 aimed at ending poverty itself and rendered the work of relief boards superfluous. As we saw in the final chapter, the same was true for the many diverse measures taken by local authorities in the huge field of public health, education and housing.

The resistance of poor relief boards and local authorities against the growing power of the government was strong. From the point of view of the poor boards this resistance can be understood. Not only did the boards lose power and influence, a place on the board also lost its attraction for the local elite. Poor relief was hollowed out to such an extent that as a strategy of power it lost its importance and no longer offered a guarantee for the promotion of collective and individual interests. It wasn't surprising that in the course of the twentieth century fewer and fewer people from the elite entered poor relief boards.

The results of the research into social class of the members of the board, which were presented in chapter 6, prove this.

The local authorities in Zuid-Beveland were not pleased with the increasing governmental influence on social welfare. Financial and fundamental doubts played the major part here. Nearly all board members feared that the suggested measures in this field would cost the local authorities handfuls of money. Moreover the liberal and Christian-historical politicians, who had the power in most of the villages, were convinced that local authorities should hardly be involved in social welfare. In their view the people had to look after themselves. When for whatever reason this was impossible, the poor boards should intervene, that is, if they were willing to do so. The pauper had to be grateful and subservient for the help that the boards provided. A right to support was out of the question, no matter how ardently some paupers, supported by certain local politicians and trade unions might press for this.

However, local authorities and poor boards were unable to offer much more than a rearguard struggle. In comparison to the nineteenth century their power had waned considerably and the influence of other institutions and organizations like the government and trade unions had increased substantially, certainly after the First World War. The part of the civil poor relief board, however, was hardly over at the eve of the Second World War. The most convincing evidence for this was their involvement in supporting the unemployed in the thirties.

 

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