Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Absent Dads- a 19th solution

The Prime Minister believes that fathers who abandon their families are as bad as drink drivers. David Cameron said recently that "runaway dads" ought to feel the "full force of shame" for their actions.

This is not a new problem as a recent document I discovered in the William Salt Library in Stafford demonstrates. I was researching poverty in the early 19th century when I found a advert in the Staffordshire Advertiser for 1813 under the headline " Runaway Husbands.

It featured a few local men who had left their wifes and children including Ralph Marsh of Penkhull a Labourer " a broad set man about 49 years old with dark coloured hair and had on when he left a dark coat, light coloured corduroy breeches and cotton waistcoat

Another was John Meigh of Hanley a collier " about 40 black hair and dark eyed with marks of bluish scars under the eyes occasioned by blows. He had on a brown jacket, washed waistcoat and dark coloured small clothes and a white painted hat worn by colliers to preserve their heads from injury in the pits".

The writer of the announcement Christopher Preston, Guardian of the Poor in Stoke, demanded to know the whereabouts of these men because their irresponsibility was placing a burden on the tax payers of the town. He was offering two guineas for their capture.

I am not sure whether the bounty hunter will become an integral part of the welfare reforms but I am sure that the modern Conservative Party it might be an attractive proposition.