chapter  5
17 Pages

Wage labour and capital

Perhaps it is this which helps to explain why Quarry, though ‘rough’ by the standards of more regulated communities, seems to have escaped the kind of destitution so familiar in the late Victorian countryside and so rampant in the towns. Subsistence never gave out, however severe the season, nor was charity ever called upon to take its place - there was little available save that which the working population of the village provided for themselves. ‘Practically but very few of the Parishioners are Paupers,’ runs a note in the archives of Holy Trinity, probably written in the 1870s, ‘seldom more than \ dozen or so in receipt of Parish relief.’125 The MS. census returns for Headington workhouse bear this out - there is a remarkable paucity of Quarry names - and so do older villagers: in all the hardships which they speak about, no mention is made of those two great standbys of the out-of-work elsewhere: the workhouse and parish relief.