|This an image of The Middletown Alms House in Middletown CT USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The son of William Cornwall & Mary Bull, he was lame, and in 1724 was excused from the poll tax on that account.
(Jacob Cornwall is my first cousin 10 times removed. Our common ancestors are William Cornwall & Mary Bailey.)
In the early years, the American colonies would not admit people with disabilities because they believed such individuals would require financial support. Colonists enacted settlement laws whose restrictions included people with disabilities. People with disabilities who did not have the physical stamina to withstand the conditions of the day and were dependent on others were oftentimes forced to return to England. People who were part of the community received local aid; strangers were encouraged to move on.
As colonial towns increased in size, almshouses for the poor, elderly and people with disabilities were built. Parish officials were given the authority to raise taxes as needed and use the funds to build and manage almshouses; or to supply food and sustenance in their own homes for the aged and the handicapped. Almhouses became a refuge for the sick, the severely disabled, frail elderly and homeless children who were unable to work and had no one to care for them. Complicating the use of a poorhouse for the care of all destitute persons was the necessary mixing of the worthy and the unworthy poor. Often living in the same congregate setting were able-bodied adults as well as dependent persons such as children, the aged, the sick and the disabled. Eventually, separate facilities were established to care for the different populations, with the able-bodied being placed in a “workhouse” or “poor farm.”
Another popular means for caring for the handicapped and poor in early American communities using public funds was the contract system, auction of the poor, or “outdoor relief.” The contract system placed dependent persons under the care of a homeowner or farmer who offered to care for them for a lump sum. The process of “auctioning” the destitute resulted in an individual or family being placed with a local couple or family bidding the lowest amount of public funding needed to care for them.