POOR HOUSES & TOWN FARMS: The Hard Row for Paupers with Steve Taylor

From its earliest settlements New Hampshire has struggled with issues surrounding the treatment of its poor. The early Northeastern colonies followed the lead of England’s 1601 Poor Law, which imposed compulsory taxes for the maintenance of the poor but made no distinction between the “vagrant, vicious poor” and the helpless, and honest poor. This confusion persisted for generations and led directly to establishment in most of the state’s towns of almshouses and poor farms and, later, county institutions which would collectively come to form a dark chapter in New Hampshire history.

A Center Meeting House and Newbury Public Library collaborative speaker program.

New Hampshire Humanities to Go.


Steve Taylor is a farmer, newspaperman and longtime public official. He has studied, written and spoken for many years about New Hampshire’s rural culture and the state’s agricultural history. With his three sons, he operates a livestock and maple farm in Meriden Village. He has been a newspaper reporter and editor and was founding executive director of the New Hampshire Humanities Council. He served 25 years as the state’s commissioner of agriculture.


Jul 30 2023


4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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