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Beggars leaving town for their workhouses. These beggars may have left their workhouse in the morning and returned there to sleep at night, though this behaviour was discouraged. Since they were introduced in the 17th century, workhouses were intended to be grim places. This was to deter all but the desperately needy. The workhouse was run by the local parish and funded by the ratepayers. Inmates included the disabled, the chronically ill, the old, the unemployed, single mothers and orphans. People joining the workhouse wore a uniform and followed a strict schedule. They spent most of the day doing housework, gardening or harder tasks such as stonebreaking. This etching is from 'Vagabondiana or, anecdotes of mendicant wanderers through the streets of London; with portraits of the most remarkable.' by John Thomas Smith.
© Museum of London