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            Every culture and every society from biblical times to present day has been forced to confront poverty through the implementation of methods or programs designed to alleviate, reduce, or even completely end poverty. Men and woman in every discipline have designed these policies, programs, and theories. One of the most common methods is the idea of wealth distribution, which is the concept of equally distributing income amongst workers of an area, state, or even a nation. .
             Although other societies in history had tried wealth distribution England in the late seventeen hundreds was the first with a well-documented case of true wealth distribution. The act has come to be known as the Speenhamland project, which was a direct result of poor laws known as the Elizabethan poor laws which also led to many other acts such as the Settlement act, Gilbert's act, and the Roundsmen system. (Morales 87-91).
             To understand the implementation of the Speenhamland project one must understand the history of England during the Elizabethan period. During that time most people were employed as servants or farmers. The number of people who were unemployed was growing at a substantial rate. It was estimated that in rural areas 10% of the population was unable to sustain themselves and over 20% in towns. The poor mostly included children, widows, abandoned wives, elderly and the infirm. But many able bodied men displaced by economic conditions were adding to those growing numbers of unemployed. Many people became beggars and vagrants. According to a proverb that was current in Elizabethan times, England was "the Hell of horses, and Purgatory of Servants."(Singman 17-24).
             In the 17th century an understanding came about that Society as a whole had a responsibility for the destitute and the disabled that led to the Poor Law Act in 1601. Overseers of the poor were appointed annually by each Parish Committee they were responsible to ensure the sick, needy poor and aged were assisted either in money or in kind, distribution of which took place in the Vestry of the Parish Church.

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