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The new Potterspury union in Northamptonshire, for example, ended up with only eleven member parishes, eight of which were owned entirely or in part by the Duke of Grafton.

The overall working and implementation of the new system was put into practice by means of a large volume of orders and regulations issued by the Commission which specified every aspect of the operation of a Union and its workhouse.

c.101) which enabled an unmarried mother to apply for an affiliation order against the father for maintenance of the mother and child, regardless of whether she was in receipt of poor relief.

The 1832 Royal Commission had proposed a simplification of the settlement laws so that birth in a parish would become the only means of acquiring settlement.

The Commission accumulated a mass of information, the bulk of which came in the form of reports from a team of Assistant Commissioners who visited parishes across the country, and via questionnaires which were returned from around 1500 parishes - around ten per cent of the total.

The 1834 Act was largely concerned with setting up the legal and administrative framework for the new poor relief system.

At its heart was the new Poor Law Commission which was given responsibility for the detailed policy and administration of the new regime.

The Commission got around this restriction by repeatedly issuing identical 'special' orders to multiple individual unions.

It was not until 1841 that the first General Orders were submitted for parliamentary approval.

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