Charity Distribution Philadelphia, 1740

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Minutes of the Common Council of Philadelhpia
Wards of Philadelphia, 1704/5

Text

The persons appointed at the last Council, now report That they had proceeded to make Collections towards the Support of the poor of this City that have no relief from the Overseers, & that inclusive of the Sum of £61 10, Subscribed by this Board, they had Collected, Vizt: from

Upper Delaware Ward £5 5 0
Lower Delaware Ward,33 3 2
Street Ward 10 12 6
Chesnut Ward 25 8 0
Walnut Ward 13 9 0
Dock Ward 61 8 0
North Ward 19 16 10
South Ward 14 10 3
Middle Ward 10 6 7
Mulberry Ward 10 14 9
Total£204 14 1

It is Ordered That the Collectors of the above money do Distribute the same to such persons as they shall find to be proper Objects of Charity, & make report of their proceedings to this Board.

Commentary

The above represents funds collected for relief of the poor in Philadelphia in the 1740. Person's in the Dock Ward contributed the greatest amount (£61 8 0) and persons in Upper Delaware contributed the least (£5 5 0). The wide disparity in giving between the different wards may reflect a) the ability of the persons in the wards to contribute to the general welfare, or b) the perception of needs by persons in these wards, c) differences in population levels among the wards. For example, persons from Dock Ward may have given more simply because

a) there were more people living in Dock Ward
b) they had a heightened awareness of the need to give because many of their neighbors were destitute
c) they had a higher level of wealth and so could give more.

Currently, we do not have sufficient data to determine which of these alternatives best fits the circumstances.

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