The 'sick and drooping poor' in eighteenth-century bristol and its region

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25 Scopus citations


Summary: Historians have tended to treat the eighteenth-century British infirmary in isolation from other agencies providing free health care for the poor, emphasizing the hospital's medical nature. This paper puts the Bristol Infirmary in the context of poor relief, using an analysis of patient and poor-relief populations to show that similar factors could lead an individual to seek health care from the Poor Law or from the Infirmary. In both cases, lack of local family resources shaped health-care provision. It was only in the last decades of the century that the hospital lost some of its welfare character and became increasingly influenced by its surgeons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-58
Number of pages24
JournalSocial History of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Charity
  • Family structure
  • Health
  • Hospitals
  • Old Poor Law
  • Patients
  • Poverty
  • Surgeons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • History


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