Please forgive me for writing to you. I wonder if you can help my father-in-law by vouching for him so that he can be looked after in the Greenwich pension scheme? He’s fifty nine now and his eyesight is failing him and he can’t now do manual work.
Eastney, Portsmouth 18.11.03
Pardon me for taking the liberty of writing to you, hoping you will favour me with my request, Dear Sir my request is this:- it is on behalf of my Father-in-law who is a marine pensioner & he is now 59 years of age & his sight is failing fast & isnt able to do any laborious work. Dear Sir it is possible for him to get the Greenwich age pension if he can get some gentleman of note to intercede for him, Dear Sir my Father-in-law had two sons & myself who served in the late War Dear Sir you will remember that I am Corp[ora]l Mayne who sent you the Bearing of the armour train & if you will kindly favor me with this request I shall be most thankful to you for your kind services, hoping to have a favorable reply from you. Believe me to remain your humble servant
This extract is from a letter written to Winston Churchill by the son-in-law of a man asking for help to obtain a particular type of pension.
The letter was sent in 1903, just after the end of the Boer War in which British forces fought to keep control of South Africa. The writer had served in the war, and so had his brothers-in-law. Mayne was using this to demonstrate that his father-in-law and the rest of his family had given loyal military service to Britain (his father was a marine pensioner, which meant he’d served in the Royal Navy).
As well as the issue of pensions for servicemen, this letter touches on another issue which was beginning to come to prominence – poverty. Research by social reformers had shown the scale of poverty and also the causes of it. One major cause was old age and the lack of a pensions system. However, there were much wider discussions about poverty and how far the government should go in doing something about it.
Remember, we’re hoping that this source can be useful to us in investigating why British politicians began to see the need for welfare reforms in this period. Sources usually help historians in two ways:
Which of the inferences below can be made from this source?
|On a scale of 1-5 how far do you agree that this source supports this inference?
|Which extract(s) from the source support your argument?
|The author isn’t an experienced letter writer.
|This is a very useful source about the scale of poverty in the early 1900s.
|This is a very useful source about the causes of poverty in the early 1900s.
|The source isn’t helpful in understanding why politicians began to take an interest in welfare reform at this time.