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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Life for Poor People

Life for poor people in Tudor times was very hard. They had to work long hours everyday except Sundays. The only other days off they had were holy days, or church festivals, like Christmas and Easter. This is where the word 'holiday' comes from.

Poor people would not have had money for nice things or luxuries; all of the money they had would be used to buy food and other things that they needed, like fabric for making clothes.

Vagrants were homeless people who wandered from place to place without anywhere to live. They would often sit at the side of the road and beg for money. People didn't like vagrants in their town or village and tried to get them to move on as soon as possible.

Then there were people who could not work, perhaps because there were sick or because there were no jobs. Every church had to look after the people that lived in their area, or parish, and if the poor needed help, they had to go to the church and ask for assistance. The church would usually help the people in its parish, but not people from other parishes, who had to go to their own church for help. Let's see what we can find in Church Records about the poor.