Examples of the far-reaching work of charities in an historical setting have
been extensively discussed elsewhere.
Chesterman, for example, charts the
onward march of charity from the time o f the Tudors up to th e end of the las t
Additionally, social welfare research and individual oral histories have
revealed the great extent of community actions under the formalguise of charity
No doubt the full depths of the i n£uence of charitable
actions, be they formal or informal, individual or collective, through clubs, asso-
ciations, trusts or societies, have yet to be plumbed. However, what is clear is that
bound up in religiou s notions of duty, virtue and ethics, coupled with broader
conceptsof paternalism, and classvocations, charity was both a shieldand a sword
for socialchange. Itprotected againstthe worst extremes of laissez-faire statehood,
and it forged new di rections in regulatory reform. The Victorians, in particular,
managed toachieve signi¢cant attitudinal and regulatoryimproveme nts in social
welfare.The notions of service and pressure, which so characterised the Victorian
were harnessed to improve social conditions with successful inroads into
social legislation. From reformof slaverylaws
and improvement of work condi-
tions to early forms of child protection,
from contributions to Acts on artisans
cruelty to animals,
and Bills on Sunday trad-
and the health of towns,
thropy stood as a bridge co nnecting earlier religious duty and later state
responsibility. The progress that the philanthropists were able to make came as
the result of a number of factors, chief amongst them a conducive social and
legal environment. Charities were not hide-bound to contrived rules regulating
their activities, state activity was underdeveloped, regulation of everyday life was
2 Among the many, s ee in particular,F. Gladstone, CharityLaw and SocialJustice (London: Bedford
Square Press, 1982); M. Chesterman, Charities,Trusts and Social Welfare (London: Weidenfeld &
Nicholson,1979); F. K. Prochaska,Women and Philanthropy in Nineteenth-centuryEngland (Oxford:
Clarendon Press,1980);W. K. Jordan, Philanthropyin Britain 1480^1660 (London: Allen & Unwin,
1959); J. J. Clarke, Social Administration, including the PoorLaws (London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons
Ltd,1935); G. Wootton, Pressure Groups in Britain 1720^1970 (London: Allen Lane,1975); A. Kidd,
State, Society and the Poorin Nineteenth CenturyEngland (London: MacMillan Press Ltd,1999) and H.
Cunningham and J. Innes (eds), Charity, Philanthropyand Reform(London: MacMillan Press Ltd,
199 8 ).
4 n 2 above; J.Lewis,TheVoluntarySector,TheState and SocialWorkin Britain (Aldershot: E Elgar,1995).
5 Gladstone, n 2 above, 42^43.
6 See HP Debvol XVI^XVIII 3rd Series March^April,April^May and May^July1833; H.Temper-
ley,‘Anti-slavery’in P. Hollis (ed), Pressure fromWithout inEarlyVictorianEngland (London: Edward
Arnold (Publishers) Ltd,1974).
7 See especially the work of Prochaska,n 2 above.
8 HP Deb vol CLXXXI 3rd Series February^March 1866; vol CCXXII 3rd Series February^
March1875;vol CCXXIV 3rd Series, May^June 1875.
9SeeRoyal Commission upon theAdministration and Operation of the Contagious Diseases Acts, vol 1
Report C 408 (1871); HP Deb vol CCXVI 3rd Series May^July 1873; vol CCXL 3rd Series
May^June1876;vol CCLXXVIII 3rd Series April^May1883;vol CCCIII 3rd Series March 1886;
vol CCCIV 3rd Series March^April1886.
10 HP Deb vol CCXXX, CCXXXI,CCXXXIV,CCXXIX 3rd Series 1876^1877.
11 HP Deb vol CLXXXVII 3rd Series May^June 1875.
12 HP Deb vol CCXXII, CCXXIV, CCXXV 3rd Series February, June, July1875.
13 HP Deb vol CCXXXIII 3rd Series March^April 1877.
14 HP Deb vol XCI 3rd Series March^April 1847.
Charities, Regulation and the Policy Process
248 r2008 The Author. Journal Compilation r2008 The Modern LawReview Limited.
(2008) 71(2) 247^270