Jordan Publishes First of Series, Describes 'Philanthropy in England'
Says New Classes Led Assault on Poverty
Philanthropy in England, 1480-1660, the first of a three volume series by President Jordan of Radcliffe College, first published in England, has just been released in the United States.
In this work, Jordan shows that the beneficence of the new merchant classes and the landed gentry, not of the old nobility and high clergy, was responsible for the vigorous assault on poverty during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
In the half century preceding the Reformation, said Jordan, the public charity of the Church had become all but non-existent. When the attack on poverty came, he pointed out, it was not because of reaction to the increased poverty, but because new ideas had forced their way into the rising social classes.
In preparation for this series, Jordan examined every will or other discoverable document from the period before the Tudors until after Oliver Cromwell. Through these papers, he was able to discover almost every gift or bequest to charity and then to follow the charities launched or aided by these funds.
President Jordan showed in his book that it is possible to trace a definite pattern in this renewed attack on poverty. In the earlier part of the period that he examined, donors gave outright to the relief of the poor. As time passed, they began more and more to set up programs of massive endowment to root out the causes of poverty. They provided for wider educational opportunities, according to Jordan, and they arranged apprenticeship schemes and systematized the buildings and maintenance of hospitals and almshouses.