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The Poor Law 1601

Legislation required parishes to levy a 'poor rate' to fund financial support for those who could not work, dependent on the residential qualification of living locally.

14 May 1796

Discovery of vaccination

Edward Jenner, a British scientist, discovered that vaccinations could be a way of preventing disease.

August 1834

Workhouses and the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834

Legislation limited access to assistance provided outside of workhouses and the government introduced deterrent conditions in workhouses.


1836 Registration Act

Legislation established the General Register Office and a new system of national registration of births, marriages and deaths to take effect from 1837.


The Poor Law Commission's fifth annual report

The report concluded that the prevalence of disease was directly linked to the substandard living conditions experienced by the poor in London.


1840 Act to Extend the Practice of Vaccination

Legislation permitted Poor Law guardians to appoint medical officers to vaccinate people at the public expense.


Report on the sanitary conditions of the labouring population of Great Britain

Renowned as a social reformer, Edwin Chadwick undertook an investigation into sanitation and made recommendations on improving living standards.


The Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Act 1846

Designed as temporary legislation to stem the spread of cholera, legislation set out procedures for the removal of 'nuisances' and increased the regulatory powers of the Privy Council.

January 1847

First medical officer of health

William Henry Duncan was appointed as medical officer of health in Liverpool to ensure that sanitary conditions were improved to stem the spread of disease.