EDWIN CHADWICK (I 8oo-90) was concerned in the growth of public health earlier than John Simon, being actively engaged in what may be described as the ante-natal stages of its development. In its post-natal stages his phenomenal driving power led to his being pushed out of official life; but ere this happened he had set in action forces which, once started, became gradually irresistible in securing reform. Prior to his retirement he had more personal influence in launching the good vessel of public health on its long voyage than any other single person. Educated for the Bar, Chadwick as a young man wrote an article on Life Assurance, which attracted the attention of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). Intimacy with Bentham and his utilitarian philosophy largely influenced Chadwick's life. His first public work was as an Assistant Commissioner on the Poor Law. His exact methods and the skill and assiduity shown by him in ascertaining the evils of poor-law administration led to his appointment as a full Commissioner, and the Report of the Commission led to the adoption of Bentham's principle of strict centralised control over the relief functions of Boards of Guardians. Throughout his life Chadwick endeavoured to attack the causal factors of each evil and not merely to administer relief. Thus destitution must be treated in such a manner as to reduce its amount; disease must be diminished, because it caused destitution and so on. To other reformers of this period and in subsequent years, non-economic motives probably appealed more potently than economic. There was a growing sense of communal responsibility for injustice and oppression, and for bad housing and insanitary defects. The two currents of motivation, the economic and the humanitarian, ran concurrently, and combined they
In 1833 Chadwick with Dr. Southwood Smith and Mr. Tooke were appointed Royal Commissioners to consider the shocking conditions under which children were employed in factories. The Commission made what in its results was a revolutionary recommendation, namely, that professional paid inspectors should be appointed to ensure the execution of the needed reforms and regulations for protecting the children's welfare. Almost contemporaneously the Poor Law Commission, of which Chadwick was also a member, recommended an equally important departure in practice-the appointment of permanent paid officials as relieving officers, to undertake the giving of relief on a fairly uniform scale. Furthermore, largely and probably chiefly under Chadwick's coercive energy, the local administration of parochial relief was made subject to rigid regulation by the Poor Law Board in London.