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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Old Virginia Customs : The Poor

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Apparently, the Virginia colony afforded a great climate and soil to produce food and there was no excuse for going without. However, there are always lazy people, regardless of the state of things. But as a general rule, Virginians were hard-working and industrious. Here is what Robert Beverley said in his book History of Virginia:

"§ 53. They live in so happy a climate, and have so fertile a soil, that nobody is poor enough to beg, or want food, though they have abundance of people that are lazy enough to deserve it. I remember the time when five pounds was left by a charitable testator to the poor of the parish he lived in, and it lay nine years before the executors could find one poor enough to accept of this legacy, but at last it was given to an old woman. So that this may in truth be termed the best poor man's country in the world. But as they have nobody that is poor to beggary, so they have few that are rich; their estates being regulated by the merchants in England, who it seems know best what is profit enough for them in the sale of their tobacco and other trade.
§ 54. When it happens, that by accident or sickness, any person is disabled from working, and so is forced to depend upon the alms of the parish, he is then very well provided for, not at the common rate of some countries, that give but just sufficient to preserve the poor from perishing; but the unhappy creature is received into some charitable planter's house, where he is at the public charge boarded plentifully."

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