The Philanthropist:
repository for hints and suggestions
calculated to promote
the comfort and happiness of man.

Vol. I. - For 1811.

London: 1811.

Account of an Institution for affording Employment to
Poor Women, during Winter, at West-Ham, in Essex.

To excite a spirit of industry among the poor; to keep up that independent feeling which would prompt the more deserving of them to make any lawful exertion, rather than submit to parochial relief, is one of the wisest acts of charity, and every attempt of the kind, particularly when successful, ought to be recorded for the encouragement of others : a little capital raised by subscription, and judiciously employed, may give scope to the industry of many poor persons; and when a few respectable inhabitants of a district will bestow a little of their time in the personal inspection and guidance of the concern, it can never fail of doing extensive good. The parish of West-Ham, consisting of four wards, Stratford, Longthorn, Church Street, and Plaistow, contains a large population of miserable poor, the number of which is greatly increased by a multitude of Irish labourers, who are employed during summer in the extensive potatoe plantations, which abound in this district; many of these poor people, having no parish settlement, when thrown out of employment, or disabled by disease, end a miserable existence, in extreme want: in the winter season particularly, when the labours of the field are suspended, a number of industrious poor are frequently destitute of support. The object of this institution is to supply poor women, who reside in the different wards, with wheels and flax at their own dwellings during that season, wherein the pressure of want is most severely felt: the experience of several years has proved the utility of this undertaking; the women admitted to spin, (from twenty to thirty each winter) seldom fail to work with zeal and diligence, and express themselves truly grateful to those who thus enable them to procure a trifling pittance towards the support of themselves and families.
The method hitherto adopted for disposing of the yarn, has been to get it manufactured into linen of various descriptions, which is sold to the subscribers at their annual meeting; the amount of the sales, however, cannot be expected to cover the cost, as such a society must labour under many disadvantages, which will prevent it from coming in competition with the regular manufacturer: the difference must in consequence be made up from the funds, and these can only be supported by an annual subscription. To shew more clearly the nature of the charity, as well as to assist those who may feel inclined to promote similar ones in other places, we shall insert the

Regulations for the Government of the Institution.
1st.   A committee chosen from the subscribers, manages the concerns of the society. It has the power of electing its own members, and of appointing a treasurer, secretary, and manager.
2d.   The committee is to meet at least once in each month, when the institution is open, to examine the treasurer's accounts, and see that due attention be paid to every department.
3d.   A general meeting of the subscribers is held every year of which due notice is given, when the proceedings of the committee, and the state of the charity, is laid before them.
4th.  Contributors of one guinea, and annual subscribers, may have the liberty of recommending spinners to the institution, by signing a printed ticket, addressed to the secretary; when, if possible, the person so recommended, shall be immediately admitted; but, should there be no vacancy, she shall be taken on in rotation, as soon as opportunity offers.
5th.   The treasurer is to receive all subscriptions, and monies arising from the sale of goods; to pay all demands on the institution; to keep an account of all monies received and expended, and to produce the accounts at every committee, and meeting of subscribers.
6th.   The secretary is to enter in a book, the minutes of the general meeting, and of each committee; and also in a separate book, the quantity of flax purchased and delivered out to the spinners; the names of the subscribers who may have granted recommendations; and also the names of the spinners, the number of wheels, the quantity of flax spun, and the expense of spinning.
7th.   The manager is to attend to every direction of the committee, and to apply to the treasurer for money to defray the expense of spinning ; to keep an exact account of flax received, and also of that delivered out to the poor, and of the thread when brought home, to see that it is properly spun, and that there is no unnecessary waste; and if any of the spinners behave improperly, or injure, or embezzle, either wheels or flax, she is immediately to report the same to one of the committee.
N.B. The manager's accounts to be settled monthly.
8th.   Each spinner is to purchase her wheel by small instalments, paying not less than three-pence per week to the manager; but if any poor woman decline spinning, or remove out of the parish, the secretary is empowered to re-purchase the wheel, or such proportional part as has been paid for, according to its then value, but not according to prime cost.
9th.   If at any time it should appear to the committee, that these regulations are inadequate to the end proposed, and that others would be more effectual, it is empowered to make such alterations.
It may be remarked, with heartfelt satisfaction, that notwithstanding the increasing miseries of the times, and the too prevalent taste for sensual pleasures and vain amusement, that beneficence to the poor, which the excellent Christian religion every where enjoins, is far from being extinct in this country. Happy those who can adopt the sublime and beautiful language of an inspired writer. - When the ear heard me, then it blessed me, and when the eye saw me, then it gave witness to me; because I delivered the poor that cried, and him that had none to help him: the blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.
Job, chap. xxix. 11-13.