British Widows of the South African War and the Origins of War Widows’ Pensions

British Widows of the South African War and the Origins of War Widows’ Pensions Abstract The South African War of 1899–1902 cost the lives of 22,000 British and colonial soldiers and created almost 5,000 British war widows. It was in this context that the first state pensions for the widows of rank and file soldiers were introduced in 1901. Triggered by unexpectedly high casualty rates and widespread dissatisfaction with charitable provision, the introduction of state pensions also reflected changing public attitudes towards soldiers and their dependants in the context of an imperial war. Dismissed in the historiography as insignificant because of its low rates and restrictive eligibility clauses, the 1901 scheme in fact delivered pensions to the majority of war widows and made the Edwardian state their most important source of financial support. This article, after discussing the social and political context in which widows’ pensions were developed, analyses the economics of the scheme and how key eligibility rules were formulated, before investigating significant changes in the scheme to 1920, the point at which Boer War widows were finally granted full maintenance. Strongly influenced by the practices of Victorian armed forces charities and by contemporary ideologies of gender and class, the South African War pension regulations created precedents which would continue to shape pensions for military widows to the end of the twentieth century. I know full well how great is the sympathy of the House for the men who have lost their lives in the war, and for those whom they have left behind them. The Government has for the first time in our history recognized the claims of these widows by giving pensions to the widows of non-commissioned officers and men. In taking that step they have been fully justified by the feeling of the country.1 With these words on 29 March 1901 the secretary of state for war, St John Brodrick, announced a significant shift in national policy. Henceforth the widows of ordinary soldiers and sailors killed fighting for their country—previously assisted only by charity—would be eligible for state-funded pensions. The catalyst for this development was the South African War, Britain’s biggest war since the Crimea, involving nearly 450,000 British and colonial regular soldiers, reservists and volunteers. Initially expected to be a short war with minimal casualties, the South African War lasted from October 1899 to May 1902, took the lives of some 22,000 imperial troops, and ultimately created almost 5,000 British war widows.2 Widows’ pensions are barely mentioned in the historiography of the South African War.3 Studies of war widowhood either ignore these pensions or dismiss them as insignificant because of their low rates and restrictive eligibility criteria.4 Yet, as this article will demonstrate, 1901 marks the decisive point at which war widows’ pensions were transformed from a narrow, status-based, privilege restricted to the widows of officers to a broader entitlement available to all ranks and most categories of widows. As Brodrick’s reference to ‘the feeling of the country’ suggests, this development also testifies to a substantial change in Britain’s relationship with its army in the context of the South African War. Concern to meet public expectations regarding the welfare of soldiers’ families runs like a thread through the War Office files on widows’ pensions. Increasingly public opinion insisted not only that military widows had a right to financial support, but that this was a duty properly belonging to the state. The 1901 pensions thus form part of the broader history of social welfare, as a responsibility formerly entrusted entirely to voluntarism became a state-voluntary partnership in which the state took the leading role. In the development of British military survivors’ benefits the 1901 scheme—and the ideologies of gender and class which underpinned it—maintained an enduring influence. As Kristin Collins has argued for the American case, war widows’ pensions offer an example of marriage-based entitlement to state funds for women in an age when such entitlements were rare.5 Behind the provision of such benefits—in Britain as in America—lay assumptions of female dependence upon a male breadwinner.6 Moreover, these benefits were viewed as owed to the serviceman, rather than to the widow in her own right. As Susan Pedersen argues in her study of First World War separation allowances, the state positioned itself as ‘surrogate’ for the soldier-husband whose rights as a male citizen were now seen to include the financial dependency of women and children. Widows gained entitlement to pensions only at second-hand ‘as the residual legatees of their citizen-husbands’.7 Studies of First World War widows’ pensions have revealed the consequences for women of this gendered understanding, particularly in terms of eligibility restrictions, the insistence on ‘good character’, and the withdrawal of the pension on remarriage.8 It was during the South African War, however, that many of the most significant elements of Great War pensions—including their basic gender framework—were laid down.9 Indeed, the 1901 scheme has shaped military widows’ pensions across the twentieth century, and almost to the present day. This article begins by examining the context in which the first state pensions for war widows were developed, and the shifts in public opinion which helped to bring them about, before discussing the convoluted political and official processes through which they finally emerged. Drawing on official files, it then investigates how the scheme for widows’ pensions was shaped, focusing especially on its finances and eligibility clauses. Finally, it discusses changes made to the original 1901 regulations through the Edwardian period to 1920, the point at which British widows of the South African War finally received full maintenance from the state. Throughout their history state pensions for war widows have been strongly influenced by precedent: the article traces both the impact of previous provision on the crafting of South African War pensions, and the longer-term impact of the 1901 scheme on military widows of twentieth century wars. I Before 1901 entitlement to war widows’ pensions was limited and class-based, restricted to the dependants of ‘gentlemen’. Only the widows of the officers (and warrant officers) of Britain’s army and navy received state pensions. Other ranks widows were eligible only for assistance from service charities, and then only if they could demonstrate both respectability and need. The key source of support for army widows was the Royal Patriotic Fund, founded in 1854 during the Crimean War.10 By the late nineteenth century it was a controversial institution, persistently accused both of inefficient management and of hoarding funds while practicing parsimony towards widows and orphans—allegations confirmed by an 1896 parliamentary committee and widely repeated during the South African War.11 The widows and orphans of ordinary sailors and marines ‘killed or drowned in the service of the Crown’ were from 1883 paid small pensions from the funds of Greenwich Hospital.12 An 1883 War Office committee proposed introducing a similar scheme for the army, but the suggestion was not adopted.13 Since 1881 soldiers’ widows had technically been entitled to a gratuity equal to a year’s pay from army funds, but this regulation was ‘practically inoperative’ because it applied only if the Patriotic Fund was unable to award a pension.14 The absence of state support for military widows reflected the Victorian army’s attitude towards soldiers’ wives. Always hostile to marriage for other ranks, the army further tightened restrictions on marriage after the introduction of short service in 1870. By 1890, the proportion of the rank and file allowed to marry had been reduced to 3 per cent. Many soldiers married without permission (‘off the strength’): these families received no official assistance; depended on the wife’s earnings to supplement the soldier’s meagre pay; and in illness or unemployment were abandoned to the poor law.15 For the families of soldiers authorized to marry, however, the late Victorian army introduced certain limited benefits, including accommodation, schooling, and a separation allowance payable when soldiers were sent abroad without their families.16 During the South African War this allowance was extended to the families of British non-regular troops mobilized for the conflict: some 80,000 reservists plus 100,000 volunteers serving through the militia, the Volunteer forces, and the Imperial Yeomanry.17 By the end of the war over 17,000 British other ranks soldiers were dead. Largely because of the involvement of reservists and volunteers, almost one-quarter of these were married, many with young children.18 (Many more ex-servicemen would die prematurely in the immediate post-war years from combat-related causes.) Before 1901 their widows and orphans could look for assistance only to charity. The Patriotic Fund, as the ‘official’ charity for military widows, received £440,000 in public donations through the central war fund, the Mansion House Fund. It gave widows a £5 lump sum plus £1 per child, then a weekly allowance on a flat rate according to the soldier’s rank. Privates’ widows received 5 shillings a week plus 1/6 per child—well below the Fund’s professed aim of ‘moderate maintenance’.19 The second biggest widows’ charity, the Daily Telegraph Shilling Fund, set up in October 1899, became explicitly an alternative to the Patriotic Fund. Run in conjunction with the Scotsman, the Shilling Fund raised over £250,000 from a wide cross-section of society before winding up in 1901 as state pensions came in. It gave widows a lump sum, originally £20 though this was reduced as numbers rose, plus £3 per child. To 731 widows it also gave a life annuity, originally of £15 a year, but for later widows only £10.20 A third national charity, the Imperial War Fund, founded during the 1882 Egyptian War, gave widows lump sums of £10 plus £1 per child. It spent about £8,500 (including £2,600 from the Mansion House Fund) in assisting around 550 widows and 300 other dependent relatives before expiring in mid-1900.21 Many counties and cities set up large independent funds for the dependants of local soldiers; but most began to run out of money as the war dragged on. The multiplication of funds led to charges of ‘overlapping’, but a parliamentary committee concluded that this was actually ‘desirable’ because the Patriotic Fund’s allowances were so low.22 More serious was the growing inequality of treatment between women widowed early in the war, who might receive assistance from three separate national charities, and those widowed later, dependent upon the Patriotic Fund alone. Increasingly this situation was deemed unacceptable and calls arose for soldiers’ widows and orphans to be assisted from state funds. As the War Office expressed it, new state pensions were required to ‘meet the demands of public sentiment’.23 How did this ‘public sentiment’ manifest itself, and what had brought about this new ‘demand’ that the state provide support to military widows? Underlying this shift was the unprecedented public sympathy for servicemen—and thus their dependants—generated by the South African War. The Telegraph, launching its own fund for war widows, hailed a new ‘feeling of fellowship and pride and trust … between the people at large and the soldiers of the QUEEN’.24 Rooted in the valorization of the ordinary soldier as hero of empire in the popular and literary culture of late Victorian Britain, this feeling was intensified by the all-pervasive and romanticized press reporting of what became Britain’s first ‘media war’.25 Newspaper images both of gallant Tommies dying for the empire, and of weeping wives seeking news of them at the War Office, highlighted the war’s human costs.26 The enlistment of thousands of volunteers from all classes created a more concrete bond between the army and wider society, particularly at local level. Elaborate civic ceremonies marked the departure of these citizen-soldiers to the front and welcomed them home. Enormous public demonstrations celebrated British victories.27 In a new ‘democratization of memory’, the war dead—regulars and volunteers alike—would be commemorated by name on memorials across the country.28 War charities, especially those supporting soldiers’ dependants, profited to the tune of millions of pounds from a huge cross-class fund-raising effort (the Telegraph’s widows’ fund collected its first £50,000, mostly in shillings and pennies, in less than a month).29 As part of this wider trend, a novel public attitude developed that war widows were entitled to financial support and compensation. This partly reflected a new view of soldiers’ wives. Traditionally stereotyped as drunken and disreputable, soldiers’ wives—and especially the wives of reservists and volunteers—came increasingly to be represented instead as ‘respectable’, pitiable and ‘deserving’. It also reflected a new view of the soldier as a citizen to whom his fellow citizens owed obligations, including the obligation to take on his presumed role as breadwinner for his widow and orphans. The Patriotic Fund continued to insist, as it had done since the Crimean War, that its allowances to widows were not a ‘right’ but ‘a charity’.30 Now, though, this insistence was met by indignant protests that support for war widows was an ‘honourable debt’ owed by the nation to its fallen warriors. Early in the war this national ‘debt’ was most commonly framed as one to be paid by ‘active citizens’ through voluntary contribution.31 Soon, however, the argument came to be made that this was a responsibility that properly belonged not to voluntarism but to the state. From early December 1899 poor law guardians across the country passed resolutions demanding that ‘adequate maintenance’ be provided to soldiers’ widows and orphans from national funds.32 In parliament a growing and increasingly cross-party chorus called for state pensions on a variety of grounds: that widows were experiencing penury and hardship; that charitable support was inadequate and the Patriotic Fund unsatisfactory; that assisting the dependants of the nation’s heroes was a ‘public duty’; and that so doing would provide ‘consolation’ to soldiers and acknowledgement of their sacrifice.33 Also important in shaping this new understanding was the recently established legal duty (embodied in the 1897 Workmen’s Compensation Act) of a civilian employer to compensate financially men injured at work or, if they were killed, their dependants. As parliamentarians demanded, if the widows of these ‘wounded soldiers of industry’ received financial recompense, how could the widows of those who had died for their country be denied compensation from their husband’s employer, the state? On 1 May 1900 a Commons resolution to extend the Act to the armed forces, proposed by Liberals Reginald McKenna and David Lloyd George, was passed ‘amid cheers’.34 Reporting the vote, the Daily Telegraph gave its editorial view that the ‘duty of the State’ to compensate war widows was ‘as clear at the sun at noonday’.35 A new consensus had emerged that war widows (and orphans) had a right to support and that it was the responsibility of the state to supply it—both as a moral debt owed by the nation to soldiers as a reward for their service and sacrifice, and as compensation owed to servicemen by the state as their employer. The first represented an extension to all soldiers of an obligation previously admitted only in relation to officers; the second, exclusive to other ranks, classified soldiers as workers to whom employment rights should apply. Both understandings positioned widows’ pensions as a benefit owed not to the widow herself, but to the soldier-husband. Despite this developing consensus in favour of state pensions, however, their introduction was a prolonged and tortuous process. Key figures within the War Office, feeling the winds of ‘public sentiment’ behind them, were discussing a widows’ pension scheme as early as December 1899. By January 1900, Frank Marzials, accountant-general of the army, George Wyndham, under-secretary of state for war, and the war secretary Lord Lansdowne had drafted a proposal to set before the Treasury.36 In early February, however, responding to parliamentary attacks on the Patriotic Fund, the government appointed a committee to investigate all the war relief funds. Ministers postponed any decisions regarding servicemen’s dependants until the committee reported. Meanwhile political pressure to introduce state pensions mounted,37 peaking in the late spring of 1900 as an outbreak of epidemic disease sent the army’s death rates soaring.38 The beginning of May saw not only the Workmen’s Compensation Act resolution but also the presentation to the First Lord of the Treasury, Arthur Balfour, of a memorial calling for war widows’ pensions signed by almost 100 MPs from all parties.39 The crucial turning point came on 14 June 1900 with the War Relief Funds Committee’s report. Public confidence in the Patriotic Fund, it declared, had been ‘rudely shaken’; without urgent reform ‘to make it at once more businesslike and more elastic’ the Fund would ‘cease to exist’. Moreover, the Fund’s current allowances to widows were inadequate and its chances of providing them with ‘moderate maintenance’ long-term were slim. The committee therefore moved beyond its remit to recommend state pensions, freeing charitable funds to provide supplementary assistance where required. ‘If no such action is taken’, it warned, ‘there must not only be very many cases of distress, but also great inequality in the relief given to widows’.40 To adopt Geoffrey Finlayson’s framework for the ‘moving frontier’ between voluntarism and the state in this period, there was now both a broad understanding that the support of war widows should not be left to voluntarism (because the obligation belonged to the state) and a clear statement that it could not be (because voluntarism, in the shape of the Patriotic Fund, was both widely distrusted and lacked the resources to do the job).41 In this case could not was perhaps the decisive factor. In contrast, though a similar consensus emerged during the war that the separation allowance paid to soldiers’ wives should be raised to full maintenance, the government was able to resist because the main charity aiding soldiers’ families, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association, succeeded in maintaining public trust and therefore a (just) sufficient income from public donations.42 The War Funds Committee’s damning of the key war widows’ charity as both unfit for purpose and seriously under-resourced left the government little choice but to adopt its proposal for widows’ pensions—the more readily since the idea had already been endorsed by the War Office. Four days after the report’s publication Balfour promised ‘immediate steps to frame a scheme’.43 In fact, perhaps because of the autumn general election, the scheme remained in limbo for several months. By October Marzials was warning that the War Office would ‘cut a sorry figure if nothing has been done by the time Parliament meets … every day’s delay takes from the grace & usefulness of the grant’.44 In November the Treasury (decidedly the dominant partner), the War Office Finance Department, and the new war secretary St John Brodrick, finally began to work out details. Having drafted an outline scheme the Treasury convened a four-member interdepartmental committee to examine it.45 Headed by Stephen Spring-Rice, principal clerk at the Treasury and auditor of the Civil List, the committee also included representatives from the War Office and Admiralty finance departments and the labour department of the Board of Trade. It reported on 25 January 1901, and after a final flurry of minutes between War Office and Treasury settling disputed details the scheme was formally announced to parliament in the army estimates debate on 29 March.46 Meanwhile a Joint Select Committee was considering how charitable funds could best be used to supplement government pensions.47 Pensions were paid as from 1 April 1901, but the first payment from the state was not made until 1 July: the first quarter’s pension was paid through the Patriotic Fund, subsequently refunded over £8,500 by the War Office.48 In designing the scheme for widows’ pensions, politicians and civil servants were consciously influenced by three key factors. First, a strong inclination to follow precedents from existing pension schemes—especially the scheme for officers’ widows, but also those of Greenwich Hospital and the Patriotic Fund. In this way many of the practices of Victorian armed forces charities came to be replicated in state pensions. In turn, precedents established by the 1901 scheme would influence war widows’ pensions for decades to come. Secondly, a desire for economy, especially from the Treasury. Thirdly, and to some extent counteracting this, a concern to meet the demands of parliamentary and public opinion. Less consciously, the scheme was shaped by ideologies of gender and class particularly evident in the regulations on ‘good character’. The next sections consider the economics of widows’ pensions and the 1901 eligibility clauses, before examining changes made between 1901 and 1920 expanding the scope of the scheme and, eventually, raising pension rates. II Beneath the provision of pensions to military widows lay the presumption of a male breadwinner and dependent wife. A comparison with pensions for the widowers of servicewomen (as introduced in the Second World War) is instructive: to be granted a pension, war widowers had to prove financial dependency on the servicewoman, and need, and at least partial incapacity for self-support.49 In contrast, state provision for other ranks’ widows was from the first awarded on the assumption that they were dependent, needy, and incapable of keeping themselves without assistance. Nevertheless the state’s willingness to contribute to their support was strictly limited. South African War pensions not only fell far short of full maintenance but were substantially lower than the separation allowances paid to the wives of serving soldiers.50 Like the Patriotic Fund’s allowances state pensions were scaled according to the soldier’s rank, thus echoing the army’s hierarchy. For privates’ widows the rate initially proposed was only 3/6 a week (the same as Greenwich pensions). Wyndham however insisted on 5 shillings a week (£13 a year). The public, he said, had ‘already subscribed a larger sum’ than he estimated this would cost: ‘Parliament will expect the Government to admit its obligation & on a not less generous scale’.51 Thus, very early in the process, 5 shillings was set as the minimum pension. Its significance was that this was the Patriotic Fund’s weekly allowance to Boer War privates’ widows. The scheme was built on the assumption that state pensions would be supplemented by charity: for this reason they would not be means tested. In late 1900, setting out a scale of pensions by rank identical to the Fund’s, the Treasury described the scheme’s purpose as ‘practically, to double the rates now given by the Patriotic Fund’.52 But the minimum acceptable income for war widows fell as their numbers rose. Whereas in December 1899 Wyndham had declared that ‘no widow of a soldier should have less than 15 s a week’, by 1901 the Central Council for the Organization of the War Relief Funds was recommending 7 shillings as an appropriate minimum.53 This was the standard eventually adopted by the Patriotic Fund: it would normally grant widows in receipt of state pensions only 2 shillings weekly. Widowhood entailed a sharp fall from the pre-war standard of living at which the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association sought to maintain Boer War soldiers’ families.54 It is telling that the state pension scheme included guidelines for the payment of pensions for widows on poor relief.55 The scheme did include a children’s allowance, up to the age of 14 for boys and 16 for girls, or in cases of ‘mental or physical infirmity’ up to 21. The weekly rate for the children of privates and corporals was 1/6 per child—the sum given by both the Patriotic Fund and Greenwich Hospital. The Interdepartmental Committee, though it made no comment on widows’ rates, recommended a 33 per cent rise for children. It is only because of financial exigencies that the rate is limited to 1s/6d in Greenwich Hospital cases; and the experienced Director of Greenwich Hospital is strongly in favour of a rate of 2s/-. We believe also that this would be the view of persons experienced in practical work among the labouring classes. We have considered whether any sort of a scale or limit should be set to the total amount of children’s allowances where there is more than one child: but we are satisfied that, even with a 2s/- rate, there would be no justification for this course in relation to the minimum [sic] cost of subsistence.56 Probably guided by its Board of Trade member Hubert Llewellyn Smith (a progressive Liberal with labour sympathies who had worked on Charles Booth’s survey of London), the committee in fact believed it near-impossible to maintain a child on 1/6 a week and that no economy of scale would be possible even at two shillings. This was no doubt correct: 1/6 was about the average rate paid under the poor law to the children of widows receiving out relief, and a series of Edwardian investigations established that such families could afford only the ‘barest subsistence’.57 But the Treasury insisted on retaining the 1/6 rate, ‘as settled by the Cabinet in November last’.58 (In practice this would be brought up to at least 2 shillings by the Patriotic Fund.) The lack of emphasis on child welfare is marked, given the later Edwardian interest in maternalist policies for imperialist ends.59 It contrasts strikingly, too, with the importance placed on removing mothers from the labour market and allowing them ‘to devote proper care to the upbringing of dependent children’ in the introduction of civilian widows’ pensions in 1925.60 The Edwardian War Office—like the Edwardian poor law—though it might penalize widows for significant failures in childcare, expected even those with small children to work. In 1907 it deprecated any increase in pension rates because ‘the women are still young and able to earn’.61 The rates finally agreed are set out in Table 1. Table 1 Scale of state pensions to widows and children Class  Army rank  Equivalent ranks in navy and marines  Widows per week  Each child per week  I  Quartermaster- sergeant  No equivalent  10s 0d  2s 0d  II  Colour- sergeant  Chief Petty Officer; Colour and Staff Sergeants of Marines  9s 0d  2s 0d  III  Sergeant  First Class Petty Officer; Sergeant of Marines  7s 6d  2s 0d  IV  Corporal  Second Class Petty Officer; Corporal of Marines  6s 0d  1s 6d  V  Private  Able Seaman; Private of Marines  5s 0d  1s 6d  Class  Army rank  Equivalent ranks in navy and marines  Widows per week  Each child per week  I  Quartermaster- sergeant  No equivalent  10s 0d  2s 0d  II  Colour- sergeant  Chief Petty Officer; Colour and Staff Sergeants of Marines  9s 0d  2s 0d  III  Sergeant  First Class Petty Officer; Sergeant of Marines  7s 6d  2s 0d  IV  Corporal  Second Class Petty Officer; Corporal of Marines  6s 0d  1s 6d  V  Private  Able Seaman; Private of Marines  5s 0d  1s 6d  Table 1 Scale of state pensions to widows and children Class  Army rank  Equivalent ranks in navy and marines  Widows per week  Each child per week  I  Quartermaster- sergeant  No equivalent  10s 0d  2s 0d  II  Colour- sergeant  Chief Petty Officer; Colour and Staff Sergeants of Marines  9s 0d  2s 0d  III  Sergeant  First Class Petty Officer; Sergeant of Marines  7s 6d  2s 0d  IV  Corporal  Second Class Petty Officer; Corporal of Marines  6s 0d  1s 6d  V  Private  Able Seaman; Private of Marines  5s 0d  1s 6d  Class  Army rank  Equivalent ranks in navy and marines  Widows per week  Each child per week  I  Quartermaster- sergeant  No equivalent  10s 0d  2s 0d  II  Colour- sergeant  Chief Petty Officer; Colour and Staff Sergeants of Marines  9s 0d  2s 0d  III  Sergeant  First Class Petty Officer; Sergeant of Marines  7s 6d  2s 0d  IV  Corporal  Second Class Petty Officer; Corporal of Marines  6s 0d  1s 6d  V  Private  Able Seaman; Private of Marines  5s 0d  1s 6d  As T.J. Macnamara remarked 13 years later, ‘no one in any part of the House’ took issue with the rates, either for widows or children, when the scheme was debated in the Commons.62 Indeed, the only MP who referred to the scale, the Liberal Hudson Kearley, thought it ‘as much as could reasonably be expected’ since ‘it was taxpayers’ money’.63 The Joint Select Committee, however, warned that ‘numerous cases’ would require ‘supplemental assistance’ from ‘private sources’.64 Walter Peace, organizer of Natal’s war relief fund, argued in The Times for a minimum rate of 10 shillings, amid dark predictions of crime and prostitution: On the gradated scale proposed by the Government it is absolutely impossible … to live in clean, honest, and wholesome conditions. We need not go to the policemen in a garrison town to tell us what the future of women and children dependent on such a pension would be …65 Colonel Gildea of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association endorsed Peace’s description of the rate as a ‘beggarly pittance’.66 But there was no public outcry: public opinion, though it demanded pensions for war widows, did not apparently expect the state to provide full maintenance. If Peace’s warning was a little melodramatic, widows certainly could not survive on the state pension without charitable help or paid employment. Unsurprisingly, women identifying themselves on the 1911 census as soldiers’ widows with pensions usually took lodgers and/or specified an occupation. Low-paid domestic employment (‘Charing [sic] and Get Army Pension’; ‘Army Pension Daily Cooking Sewing’) was perhaps most typical, though some utilized industrial skills for factory or putting-out work (‘Silk Picker Army Pensioner’; ‘Glover. Pension, from War Office as Soldiers Widow, Five Shillings a Week. Dent & Allcroft Leather Gloves. Worker. At Home’).67 Some also adopted ‘female clustering’ strategies, the war widow sharing accommodation and resources with her own widowed mother. As Richard Wall notes, widows traditionally maintained themselves from a combination of sources, which might include their own wages, support from children or family, charity, and the poor law.68 Boer War pensions did not liberate widows from this necessity but merely added an extra income stream to the mix. The parsimony of the widows’ pension scheme is particularly striking because early estimates assumed extremely small numbers and low costs. In early December 1899 Wyndham calculated that on ‘an outside and remarkably high estimate’, 3,000 (3 per cent) of the 100,000 British troops then fighting in South Africa might be killed or die of wounds. Estimating the proportion of soldiers married, including those married without leave, as 26 per cent, he predicted 780 widows, or 790 including ten from the Naval Brigade.69 Wyndham’s prediction for pension costs for future wars was equally low: This might run to £11,000 in a year following on a war of the first magnitude & would be a diminishing quantity thereafter, affected no doubt, but not materially, in consequence of wars against native tribes.70 Such figures for ‘a war of the first magnitude’ seem astonishing in retrospect. Even for the Boer War it rapidly became clear how badly Wyndham had miscalculated. As he penned his minute the last of the three disastrous battles of ‘Black Week’, which together cost 444 British lives, was being fought at Colenso. By the war’s end British and colonial fatalities amounted to 1,072 officers and 20,870 men; 13,250 had died from disease, a factor Wyndham had overlooked entirely.71 By late 1900/early 1901 when the Interdepartmental Committee sat the scale of the problem was clearer. At this point the Patriotic Fund had registered 2,359 widows and 2,900 orphans. With military operations still ongoing, and given that the army reserve had ‘no such complete system of information as to marriage as exists in the Navy’, the committee decided a prudent estimate for pensionable widows could not be ‘less than 3,000 with 3,600 children’. (They therefore recommended that £56,000 be allocated to the scheme in the next year’s army estimates.)72 This estimate was on the low side: by 31 May 1902 pensions had been awarded to 2,863 widows with 4,184 children, and new grants would be made for years to come as soldiers died from the belated effects of war service.73 For this reason, and because widows constantly left the roll through death and (as discussed below) particularly through remarriage, the number of widows receiving pensions continually fluctuated. The highest ‘snapshot’ figure given by the army estimates for the financial years 1902/3–1914/15 was 2,631 widows for 1903/4; from this point it fell consistently until a loosening of the eligibility regulations in 1907 produced a delayed rise in 1909/10, falling again thereafter. By the outbreak of the First World War fewer than 1,500 widows and just over 2,000 children were still receiving pensions.74 Yet, despite its low rates (and despite its exclusion of certain categories of widows, discussed below), the 1901 pension scheme made the state the main provider of financial support to war widows and orphans. According to the army estimates, between 1902/3 and 1914/15 the state paid out around £596,300 to Boer War widows and orphans. In the same period the Patriotic Fund’s Transvaal War Fund spent only about £204,500 in allowances to widows, orphans and dependent relatives of other ranks soldiers.75 Annuity payments to 731 widows from the Daily Telegraph/Scotsman Shilling Fund totalled in the region of £119,000 over the 13 years.76 Financial provision from the key charities thus amounted to around £323,500 across the period. Of the £920,000 spent on supporting dependants of the British war dead, therefore, almost two-thirds came from state funds. Designed on the basis of the ‘mixed economy of welfare’ characteristic of Victorian Britain, the scheme nevertheless foreshadowed Edwardian developments in tipping the balance from voluntarism to the state. III The scheme for widows’ pensions was ring-fenced by a series of eligibility clauses, many of which would be replicated in subsequent wars. Beneath these exclusionary criteria lay an enduring conception of pensions as Royal Bounty, a boon to be conferred ‘only … as the reward of [the husband’s] service’ and not to be ‘claimed as a right’. Already explicitly applied to officers’ widows, this stipulation would remain in force until the 1940s.77 The 1901 scheme applied only to soldiers who had been killed in action or died from wounds or disease contracted on active service after 11 October 1899, the start of the South African War.78 Entitlement to other ranks pensions was strictly marriage-based, restricted to widows and legitimate children only (whereas the mothers and sisters as well as wives of officers were eligible), and—as we will see—forfeited permanently by widows on remarriage. Additionally, the marriage had to precede the wound or disease: the wife and children of a subsequent marriage were refused a pension even when death was due to war service. Similar rules would operate in the First World War, apparently reflecting official fears that designing women might marry ex-servicemen to snare a pension.79 In contrast to the 1897 Workmen’s Compensation Act, pensions would not be paid if the serviceman’s ‘own fault or negligence’ had caused his death.80 A similar Great War ruling was criticized as punishing women and children for circumstances beyond their control, but the clause was introduced again in 1939.81 Race was also a criterion. It was generally agreed that the scheme ‘would not be suitable for any but White troops’, though the war secretary would have discretion to award pensions or gratuities to the widows of soldiers from ‘corps composed of negroes or persons of colour’. (The Interdepartmental Committee’s tentative suggestion to include the West India Regiment—composed of black Caribbean soldiers and currently fighting the Ashanti in West Africa—went unheard.) But the War Office insisted on including white ‘Colonial or Irregular Forces’, despite Treasury resistance.82 Widows of colonial officers were already entitled to British pensions, argued the War Office ‘and we shall be driving rather a hard bargain if we exclude the rank and file’. Besides, It has always been understood that the Colonial soldier was to be treated as least as well in all respects as the soldiers of the Regular Army & Mr Brodrick feels sure that if any distinction is made in this respect, it would meet grave disapproval from the Public both at Home & in the Colonies which have furnished the men. This appeal to colonial opinion and imperial sentiment settled the matter and the widows of colonial troops became eligible for British state pensions. The widows of British mobilized reservists, embodied militiamen, yeomanry, and volunteers, were all included without discussion. Whether widows of regular soldiers who had married without permission should be granted pensions was far more contentious. Reversing their usual positions, the Treasury favoured generosity while the War Office argued for exclusion on the ‘slippery slope’ principle: Anything which tends to relax in any way the existing regulations, is sure to act as the thin end of the wedge and eventually to remove the recognised restrictions with the result that the married establishment would be indefinitely increased, additional married quarters would have to be built, and the mobility of a unit would be impaired.83 Specifically, the War Office worried that if they yielded on widows’ pensions ‘an agitation would arise—which it would be difficult to resist—for the payment of Separation Allowance’.84 Accordingly, ‘off the strength’ widows were denied pensions and left dependent upon the Patriotic Fund. The Fund’s figures suggest that in fact only about a quarter of Boer War widows were ‘off the strength’ cases—an unexpectedly low proportion explained by the high numbers of non-regular British troops engaged in South Africa.85 The great majority of British war widows were therefore covered by the 1901 scheme. Nevertheless, the Treasury was right to predict that the exclusion of ‘off the strength’ widows would be hard to defend ‘in the face of public opinion’.86 Undoubtedly the most controversial aspect of the scheme, it dominated the Commons debate of 29 March 1901. Many agreed with Hudson Kearley, a long-term critic of the Patriotic Fund, that the decision was ‘inexplicable’ (‘God help them!’). When these men went away … amid the cheering crowds, everybody declared that their widows would not suffer … Now that the war fever had died out … [these] unfortunate widows and orphans … were to be cast upon the world to pick up such sustenance as they could in the day of their trouble.87 When in protest the Liberal Imperialist Captain Norton moved for a token cut to the military budget, seventy-six MPs, mostly Liberal or Irish, supported him.88 The Patriotic Fund itself deplored what it saw as a ‘very invidious … distinction’.89 But despite Kearley’s warning that the public would be ‘painfully shocked’, press comment was limited and divided, and there was no swell of public opinion to force a change in policy. ‘Off the strength’ Boer War widows were admitted to government pensions only in 1922.90 The grant and retention of pensions was conditional on the ‘good character’ of the widow. This clause would become standard in war widows’ pensions, reflecting, it has been suggested, official attitudes towards working-class women as needing ‘watching’ and towards soldiers’ wives in particular as ‘drunken slatterns’.91 The immediate precedent in 1901, however, was the existing rule on officers’ widows’ pensions, withheld or withdrawn from those ‘shown, in consequence of misconduct, to be unworthy of Our Royal Favour’.92 The concept that military widows, whatever their class status, were receiving their pension ‘at second hand’ as a reward for their husband’s service and must therefore ‘live up to his sacrifice by their exemplary behaviour’ was already enshrined in army regulations. The state, as surrogate husband, could withhold economic support if the widow failed to meet its moral or maternal standards.93 Charitable pension schemes operated on the same principle. Greenwich Hospital often investigated widows ‘confidentially through the police’ before granting pensions, and revoked them for ‘misbehaviour’.94 The Patriotic Fund also withdrew a widow’s pension if she should ‘by profligate conduct dishonour the memory of her husband’: in 1902 fifty-three Boer War widows were struck off its books as ‘unworthy’.95 While no system of enforcement apparently existed for officers’ widows, for working-class women official procedures to detect ‘unworthiness’ were deemed essential. The Interdepartmental Committee followed Greenwich Hospital’s example in decreeing that the state ‘should be free to cancel the pension not only on a public event, such as a Conviction by a Court, but on information to its satisfaction from whatever source derived’.96 Originally undefined, ‘unworthiness’ came to be classified by the state as behaviour liable to ‘create a public scandal’, particularly co-habitation without marriage, the bearing of illegitimate children, or ‘disorderly habits’ (usually involving alcohol) leading to child neglect—the same key indicators employed by the Patriotic Fund.97 The Fund was consulted as to what it considered ‘conduct … sufficiently bad to prevent the issue of an allowance’ before the War Office ruled several widows ineligible to receive state pensions on moral grounds; and the two bodies regularly shared information on individual cases.98 Like the Patriotic Fund and Greenwich Hospital, the War Office used the police to report on widows’ conduct. In all these ways practices of moral judgement and surveillance employed by Victorian service charities were transferred directly into the state pension scheme. The ‘absolute discretion’ given to the War Office to make such decisions loaded the scales against an accused widow, who stood to lose not only her pension but potentially her children too.99 The willingness to accept information ‘from whatever source’ left widows vulnerable to rumours and allegations, however ill-founded, perhaps even if anonymously made. A Colonel Malcolm in 1909 complained of soldiers’ widows being investigated by police because of reports from ‘malicious and spiteful anonymous letter-writers’, citing the case of a respectable widow ‘doing well in domestic service’ who lost both pension and job after an anonymous accusation prompted a police enquiry at her place of work.100 The war widow unjustly stripped of her pension on charges of ‘misconduct’ alleged in anonymous letters would become a familiar trope between the two world wars.101 The most important intervention made by the Interdepartmental Committee concerned the policy to be adopted towards widows who remarried. In undertaking to pay life pensions to widows typically in their mid-twenties the state was accepting a long-term liability. Already by the 1880s 52 per cent of females aged 25 survived to 65—and in 1901 the average woman aged 65 could expect to live another 12 years.102 Thus any restriction of the pension on remarriage would mean significant savings to the state, especially since it was believed that ‘soldiers’ widows re-marry more than in the higher circles’.103 Rapid remarriage to another soldier had traditionally been a necessary survival tactic for soldiers’ widows, especially those who had accompanied the regiment overseas.104 For South African War widows too remarriage might prove the best available route to financial security for themselves and their children. In 1901 the Patriotic Fund predicted that 50 per cent of widows on its Transvaal War Fund would remarry; 7 months after the end of the war 557 had already done so.105 Two possible approaches to remarriage were demonstrated by existing schemes. Both Greenwich and officers’ widows’ pensions were suspended on remarriage but restored on second widowhood—the latter ‘upon proof that she is not in wealthy circumstances’.106 The state thus acted to replace the male breadwinner: if a substitute breadwinner was found the state stepped out; if he too died without providing for the widow the state resumed its role. The Patriotic Fund more generously gave Crimean War widows half-pensions on remarriage, because ‘it encouraged them to marry to give them something, and it prevented immorality’, with resumption of full pensions on second widowhood.107 The Treasury initially proposed adopting the Patriotic Fund’s model, but quickly switched to the less liberal policy applied to officers’ widows.108 The Interdepartmental Committee suggested a different approach altogether: there would be advantages moral, financial, and administrative, in giving a gratuity on remarriage of say a year’s pension, without any prospect of a revival of the pension on subsequent widowhood. There might be a danger in this that cases of destitution would arise in which, on sentimental grounds, appeals for the revival of the pension would be successfully pressed: but such cases ought to be rare, and if established might be specially dealt with. If on the other hand pensions were to revive on second widowhood, the cases would be few in which the revival could be refused merely on the ground that the circumstances of the widow were not such as to require it.109 Quite what those ‘moral advantages’ might be remained obscure. The administrative and financial advantages to the state were clearer. Administratively, a lump sum would replace years of regular pension payments. Financially the benefits were even more obvious: the actuaries’ estimate for expenditure over 15 years suggested a total cost of only £9,752 for gratuities on remarriage against £61,148 for pensions in second widowhood.110 (The cost to the widows is also indicated by the committee’s admission that, even if not actually ‘destitute’, few would be in such circumstances on second widowhood that renewal of the pension could be refused on grounds of prosperity.) The Treasury was predictably enthusiastic. The system of awarding a gratuity equal to 1 year’s pension on remarriage ‘in full compensation of all claims on Our Bounty’, and withdrawing pensions permanently with no resumption on second widowhood, was duly adopted. Undoubtedly the key motivation was financial: as Brodrick bluntly minuted, ‘We can hardly object to the proposal by a bonus to get rid of the Pension’.111 Over time, however, a policy dictated by economics came to be justified in cultural and moral terms: that by remarrying a military widow forfeited permanently her claim on the dead soldier ‘and hence "his" pension’.112 Marzials had noted that any restriction of the pension on remarriage would incur ‘some danger of concealment, & possibly even of encouraging concubinage’.113 There were clear incentives for both—especially since the Patriotic Fund’s Transvaal War Fund, which gave top-up grants to many widows with state pensions, also withdrew its support permanently on remarriage.114 However, sanctions were severe. Detected cases of ‘concubinage’ lost their pension under the ‘good character’ clause. Widows who concealed a second marriage could be prosecuted for fraud by the War Office. Punishment might be stiff, as it was for Phoebe White whose first husband had died at Colenso: ‘the jury convicted the prisoner, who carried a baby in her arms, and she was sentenced to six months hard labour’.115 The Interdepartmental Committee’s regulations on remarriage had a remarkably long life, remaining in place through both world wars to the end of the twentieth century. War widows have had their pensions reinstated on second widowhood only since 1995; they have been entitled to remarry or cohabit without loss of pension only since 2000. Though all armed forces survivors’ pensions have been paid for life since April 2015, campaigning continues for retrospective reinstatement of pensions to widows who forfeited them through remarriage.116 The longevity of the remarriage rules testifies both to the state’s continued parsimony towards war widows and to the persistence of the gendered assumptions underlying widows’ pensions: the concept that the state stood in the place of the male breadwinner unless or until a replacement was found,117 and the rationale that by remarriage a widow permanently surrendered rights deriving from her dead husband’s sacrifice. IV The South African War pension scheme itself, however, would undergo several important changes between 1901 and 1920. The First World War would eventually produce substantial increases in pension rates. More quickly, two important modifications significantly expanded its scope. Intriguingly, both were prompted by appeals from individual widows. Like the numerous letters to the interwar Ministry of Pensions from Great War widows judged ineligible for a pension, these appeals stressed the husband’s service to the state and the widow’s loss, respectability and need.118 Unlike the Ministry, the Edwardian War Office and Treasury proved surprisingly willing to include new categories of widows. The parameters of the scheme were still sufficiently fluid to allow easy alteration, the financial liability was comparatively small, and officials were anxious to avoid injustices which might arouse the wrath of public opinion. The first change was to include soldiers who had died through accident on active service.119 This issue was brought to the attention of the War Office in June 1901 by Josephine Downey, widow of a private killed in an accident in South Africa the previous year. Barely literate, Downey nevertheless put forward a persuasive case: [My husband] having completed nearly 16 years service I his widow been left with two children one a baby he never saw have been left wholly unprovided for only money I receive is a few shillings a week from Manchester local war fund entirely insufficient to do anything like keeping us respectable. Apparently the possibility of accidental death on active service had simply been overlooked. A review of Patriotic Fund pensioners revealed ‘a good many’ similar cases—unsurprisingly, since nearly 800 soldiers died in accidents during the war.120 The War Office was generally sympathetic, both because ‘refusal to grant pension will probably be commented upon by the public’ and because of the difficulty of drawing a logical line between death from disease on the one hand and accidental injury on the other. Deaths from injury (including fatal impacts from ‘the Great Forces of Nature’ such as sunstroke, frostbite, and lighting strike) received ‘through the performance of military duty on active service’ were accordingly incorporated into the scheme. This decision opened the door to a new phase in the history of military widows’ pensions. It had been opposed by the financial secretary to the War Office, Lord Stanley, always anxious to limit the department’s financial liabilities, because he feared it would lead to pensions for ‘all cases of accidental death whether in peace or war’.121 He was right. In January 1904 pensions were granted to the widows of soldiers dying of injury ‘received in the performance of military duty otherwise than on active service’.122 Designed to be ‘distinctly a war pension’,123 it was now also payable in cases of death in military service in peacetime. The second major change prompted by a widow’s appeal was the extension of the time period within which the soldier must die for his widow to receive a pension.124 The original regulations (as for all army pensions since 1884)125 specified a limit of 1 year from the soldier’s removal from duty due to sickness or wounds. In April 1902 the War Office received an articulate and moving plea from Edith Jeffreys, widow of a reservist sergeant who had died just outside the time period from heart disease contracted during the South African War. My late husband, who [also] saw service in Egypt, & Burma, was in a good situation and we had a most comfortable home … There is no question but his death was directly due to the hardships he underwent at the Front, and it seems very hard for me, being in delicate health, to be cast on the world without support … and to lose the War Office allowance, because my husband, through the care I bestowed on him lived for a few weeks over the twelve months. [sic] This letter evidently caused some official unease, not only because Jeffreys had enlisted the support of her MP but also on the merits of her case. The underlining noted above, apparently added at the War Office, suggests official sympathy for the justice and pathos of her plea. Moreover, as with the Downey case, investigation uncovered ‘a good many’ similar cases—‘possibly 100’ by the war’s end. Nevertheless there was disagreement on how to respond. Marzials agreed with Lord Raglan, the under-secretary of state for war, that ‘where there is a distinct history of disease from date of discharge to death … the widow should get the pension’. But both Stanley (predictably) and Brodrick insisted that rules were there to be followed. Brodrick produced the compromise solution of extending the limit to 2 years, and this was implemented in October 1902. As the War Office told the Treasury, ‘where there is no doubt that the original disease is the cause of death … the widow’s claim upon the state is, to say the least, by no means weakened by the long & probably expensive illness of the deceased husband’. It soon became evident, however, that even 2 years was insufficient. Over 14,000 soldiers received disability pensions as a result of the war,126 and men continued to die from wounds or disease contracted in South Africa well after the 24 months’ limit. In a 1903 correspondence subsequently summarized in The Times Mrs Jardine of the Liverpool Transvaal War Fund Ladies’ Auxiliary Committee told the commander-in-chief Lord Roberts, the committee have many men on their books invalided … during their recent war service, who had been kept alive mainly by the care bestowed on them by the society. By prolonging the lives of these men … the committee felt that they were doing an act of injustice towards their wives and families by depriving them of the pensions they would otherwise receive and so being the unwilling instruments of leaving them to starve.127 Roberts remained unmoved. Jardine’s follow-up letter to the new war secretary H.O. Arnold-Forster, arguing that neglecting ex-servicemen’s families undermined recruitment, did prompt an internal War Office proposal to grant discretionary pensions to ‘hard cases’—but the idea was torpedoed by the financial secretary.128 In 1907, however, the limit was extended from 2 years to 7—the point at which it would stick. In the short term this decision gave new state pensions to a significant number of Boer War widows.129 Its long-term legacy was more ambivalent, for the ‘seven year rule’ became deeply embedded in war pensions legislation. It formed part of the eligibility criteria for First World War pensions130; was again introduced into Second World War pensions131; and was echoed in the War Widows Pensions scheme which applied to death, or illness or injuries causing death, predating 6 April 2005.132 The state’s retention of 7 years as the final limit exposed many ex-servicemen’s families to the situation deplored by the British Legion’s pension expert in the 1920s: ‘Picture the feelings of a mother watching her invalid husband’s bedside on the last day of the seventh year. Imagine the feelings of the dying man! The thing would be ridiculous—if it were not tragic’.133 Yet, despite the importance the ‘seven year rule’ assumed in granting or withholding state pensions from military widows, its adoption was essentially arbitrary and accidental. The proposal originated with the Patriotic Fund—the sole source of support for most widows whose husbands died after the 2-year cut-off.134 Facing financial crisis, the Fund requested the extension to 7 years in a 1907 deputation to the war secretary, Richard Haldane, and the chancellor of the exchequer, Henry Asquith. Its rationale was ‘the certainty of a considerable number of soldiers … dying within the next few years from wounds or disease’ resulting from the war.135 In response, the War Office flirted with the idea of abolishing the time limit altogether, before pronouncing some fixed period ‘indispensable’. (‘To have no limit is to throw an undue weight of investigation and responsibility on the Medical Dept and almost to encourage fraud.’) However, there was widespread support for extension. Both War Office and Treasury favoured 5 years as ‘generous but not unreasonable’.136 But Haldane insisted on 7: he had agreed this with Asquith after the Patriotic Fund meeting; and since ‘individual members of the deputation’ might have been informed of this decision Haldane felt himself ‘personally committed’.137 Seven years was accordingly adopted.138 The ‘seven year rule’ in its origins therefore had no medical or scientific rationale. It was asked for by the Patriotic Fund on the basis that 5 years after the war it still expected new cases ‘within the next few years’, and acceded to because Haldane felt he had pledged himself publically to meeting the Fund’s request. Both War Office and Treasury preferred 5 years: given the importance of precedent in shaping pensions regulations,139 without Haldane’s insistence a ‘five year rule’ might have become equally immovable in war widows’ pensions on an equally arbitrary basis. The outbreak of the First World War brought the issue of soldiers’ widows and their pensions to the fore once again. In some ways pensions to soldiers’ dependants changed significantly in the context of the Great War. Perhaps most importantly, First World War pensions, initially paid at 1901 rates, rose across the war years to a level more nearly resembling full maintenance. A series of campaigns (spearheaded by Labour organizations but widely supported) combined with government fears about army recruitment and morale led to three rate increases between 1914 and 1917. By 1917 First World War widows received 13/9 a week (plus an extra 1/3 at age 45), along with increased allowances for children.140 Eligibility for pensions was also widened, to include ‘off the strength’ widows, soldiers’ parents, and even (at lower rates) their ‘unmarried wives’.141 Despite these changes, however, the basic structure of war widows’ pensions as laid down in 1901 and modified through the Edwardian period remained largely intact. Again the scale of pensions was based on rank, and pension rates remained lower than separation allowances. Again, the dependency of wives was assumed (whereas parents (in most cases) and women who had lived with soldiers without marriage had to prove dependency). And, as we have seen, many of the provisions of South African War pensions were transferred directly into the Great War scheme. The exclusion of dependants of a soldier whose death was judged to be his ‘own fault’; the rule that marriage must precede the fatal wound or disease; the permanent cessation of the pension on remarriage, with a one-off payment as ‘dowry’; the ‘seven year rule’; the ‘unworthiness’ clause and the moral surveillance that entailed (based on the same assumption that, as the Ministry of Pensions put it, the state stood ‘in the place of a deceased husband’)142—all these regulations to which First World War widows were subject had their origins in the scheme developed for widows of the South African War. Meanwhile, pensions for the Boer War widows themselves remained unchanged—even in their rates, despite sharp wartime increases in the cost of living. The anomaly was obvious and hard to justify. As the Duke of Connaught commented in 1917, You will constantly see now … the widow of a man who gave his life for the country in the Transvaal War, who, because her husband was killed by a Boer, only gets 7 shillings a week [including two shillings from the Patriotic Fund], while in the same street are the widows of men who have fallen in this War, who, because their husbands were killed by the Huns, get 13 shillings and 9 pence …143 As most Boer War widows would have been only in their 30s or 40s, and now without dependent children, some may have benefitted from new job opportunities and higher wages in the war economy. Others undoubtedly suffered severe hardship as their pensions became, as an MP protested, ‘inadequate to purchase the bare necessaries of life’.144 Even some of the widows themselves—hitherto almost silent, perhaps emboldened by the louder voices of the wives and widows of Great War soldiers—denounced in the press their ‘miserable and most inadequate pension’.145 Finally, on 1 May 1918, the pensions of Boer War widows were raised to equivalence with those of widows of the Great War. In 1920 they were raised again to match new increases in Great War pensions, to £1 per week, or 26/8 for widows with children or over age 40. An ungenerous 1918 proviso stipulated that these pensions would be reduced by the amount of any grant received from funds ‘raised by public subscription’, such as the Patriotic Fund or Daily Telegraph Shilling Fund.146 With only around 1,300 eligible widows remaining,147 savings to the state would have been minimal against the huge costs of First World War pensions. Yet, according to J. Hall Richardson of the Telegraph, only the ‘advent of a Labour government’ plus ‘continual protest lasting over many months’ persuaded the Ministry of Pensions to drop the policy in 1924.148 Nevertheless Boer War widows (most if not all of whom were by now over 40) benefitted enormously from a more than five-fold increase in their original 5-shilling pension. Combined with the steep drop in the cost of living between the wars it gave them a financial security most had never previously known.149 V State pensions for British widows and orphans of the South African War arose from a combination of unexpectedly high casualty rates and widespread distrust of the Patriotic Fund against a background of shifting public attitudes towards soldiers and their families. In the context of an imperial war fought by thousands of reservists and volunteers as well as regular troops, state pensions for soldiers’ widows became seen both as an ‘honourable debt’ owed to the heroes of empire by a grateful nation, and as a benefit owed to dependants of a fallen soldier by the state as his employer. Belatedly implemented, parsimonious in their rates and withheld from a substantial minority of military widows, the South African War pensions were nonetheless far more significant, both to their recipients and to subsequent widows’ pension schemes, than historians have realized. Before 1901 widows of other ranks soldiers had been wholly dependent upon charity. After 1901 the majority of war widows and orphans received a state pension. Within a few years the widows of servicemen dying in accidents on duty in peacetime were also included. Public expectations for state welfare provision were still limited: despite some criticism, no effective opposition materialized either to the low pension rates or to the exclusion of ‘off the strength’ widows. Yet, though most military widows still received additional charitable grants, the 1901 scheme transformed the state into their most important source of financial support. Over the Edwardian period war widows and orphans collectively received almost twice as much from the state as they did from charity. Widows’ pensions thus form part of the pattern of a ‘moving frontier’ between voluntarism and the state in the early twentieth century. The eventual raising of pension rates for South African War widows in 1918 and 1920 completed the transition from philanthropic to state support. The 1901 scheme laid down the gendered framework of state war widows’ pensions—in part by incorporating aspects of existing provision for military widows—in ways that would shape them for decades to come. The concept that the pension was a benefit owed to the soldier, either as a reward for his honourable service or as an employment right, rather than to the widow herself; the assumption of female dependency upon a male breadwinner; the role of the state as ‘surrogate husband’ empowered to enforce minimum standards of moral or maternal conduct: all these characteristics noted in studies of state support for soldiers’ wives and widows of the First World War can be traced to the 1901 scheme. The longevity of the scheme’s influence in concrete policy terms is equally striking. Most notably, the insistence on monitoring widows for ‘unworthiness’, copied from Greenwich Hospital and the Patriotic Fund, was replicated in the state’s treatment of First World War widows; the ‘seven year rule’, arbitrarily introduced in 1907, was applied, with some modification, in both world wars and beyond; and the regulation on remarriage—adopted in 1901 to cut costs—was finally abandoned only in 2000. The first modern British pension scheme for the widows and orphans of other ranks soldiers, it not only provided vital support to British widows of the South African War but also established crucial and enduring precedents for the state’s approach to military widows across the twentieth century. The author would like to thank the University of Leicester for providing the study leave during which this article was written, and the journal’s managing editor and referees for their comments on earlier drafts of this article. Footnotes 1Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 92, 29 March 1901, 281. 2 By 30 June 1907, 4,882 widows had been registered with the Royal Patriotic Fund’s Transvaal War Fund. The Times, 19 July 1907. 3 A. Thompson, ‘Publicity, Philanthropy and Commemoration: British Society and the War’, in D. Omissi and A. Thompson, eds, The Impact of the South African War (Basingstoke, 2002), 106, unusually acknowledges the introduction of widows’ pensions, but minimizes its importance. 4 For example, G. R. C. Thomas, ‘State Maintenance for Women During the First World War: The Case of Separation Allowances and Pensions’, DPhil thesis, University of Sussex, 1989, 25, 130–1; I. H. James, ‘“To Keep Me All My Life”: Policy, Provision and the Experience of War Widowhood, 1914-1925’, PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, 2000, 71–2; J. Lomas, ‘“Delicate duties”: Issues of Class and Respectability in Government Policy towards the Wives and Widows of British Soldiers in the Era of the Great War’, Women’s History Review, 9 (2000), 126; J. Lomas, ‘Soldiering on: War Widows in First World War Britain’, in M. Andrews and J. Lomas, eds, The Home Front in Britain (Basingstoke, 2014), 39–40; M. Shaw and H. D. Millgate, War’s Forgotten Women: British Widows of the Second World War (Stroud, 2011), 22–3. 5 K. A. Collins, ‘“Petitions without Number”: Widows’ Petitions and the Early Nineteenth-century Origins of Marriage-based Entitlements’, Law and History Review, 31 (2013), 1–60. Pensions for war widows were established far earlier in America than in Britain, and on a far broader basis. 6 Collins, ‘Petitions without Number’, 14. 7 S. Pedersen, ‘Gender, Welfare, and Citizenship in Britain During the Great War’, American Historical Review, 95 (1990), 983–1006. 8 See esp. works by Thomas, Lomas and James cited at footnote 4 above. 9 For a discussion of the influence of the South African War in shaping First World War separation allowances, see E. Riedi, ‘Assisting Mrs Tommy Atkins: Gender, Class, Philanthropy and the Domestic Impact of the South African War, 1899–1902’, Historical Journal, 60 (2017), 745–69. 10 For the Crimean War, see M. Trustram, Women of the Regiment: Marriage and the Victorian Army (Cambridge, 1984), 175–7; D. Blomfield-Smith, Heritage of Help: The Story of the Royal Patriotic Fund (London, 1992), chapters 1–3; P. Huddie, ‘Victims or Survivors: Army Wives in Ireland During the Crimean War, 1854-56’, Women’s History Review, 26 (2017), 541–54. 11 Blomfield-Smith, Heritage, chapter 8; Report from the Select Committee on the Royal Patriotic Fund 368 (1896), xii–xiv. 12 [46 & 47 Vict] Greenwich Hospital Act, 1883. 13 Trustram, Women of the Regiment, 93. 14 The National Archives: Public Record Office, Kew, WO32/6525, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Estimated Cost, draft letter from War Office to Treasury, 9 January 1900. All War Office files cited henceforth are held at The National Archives: Public Record Office. 15 Trustram, Women of the Regiment, chapter 3, esp. 47–9, 209 ft 57. 16 Trustram, Women of the Regiment, chapter 5. For the beginnings of modern state provision for army families, see P. Y. C. E. Lin, ‘Caring for the Nation’s Families: British Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families and the State, 1793–1815’, in A. Forrest, et al., eds, Soldiers, Citizens and Civilians. Experiences and Perceptions of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1790-1820 (Basingstoke, 2009), 99–117. 17Report of His Majesty's Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Military Preparations and Other Matters Connected with the War in South Africa Cd. 1789 (1903), 34; S. Miller, ‘The South African War 1899-1902’, in I. F. W. Beckett, ed., Citizen Soldiers and the British Empire, 1837–1902 (London, 2012), 159–60. 18 L. Amery, ed., The Times History of the War in South Africa, Volume VII (London, 1909), 23, 25. In June 1902 the Patriotic Fund had registered 4,057 war widows, of which only a handful were colonial cases (TNA: PRO, PIN 96/14 Royal Patriotic Fund Executive and Finance Committee Minutes, 9 July 1902). 19Fortieth Report of the Royal Commissioners of the Patriotic Fund to Her Majesty the Queen Cd. 989 (1902); Report of the War Relief Funds Committee Cd. 196 (1900), 7–8. 20War Relief Funds Committee. Minutes of Evidence Cd. 248 (1900), 36–50 (J. Hall Richardson’s evidence); Report from the Joint Select Committee of the House of Lords and the House of Commons on Charitable Agencies for Relief of Widows and Orphans of Soldiers and Sailors (289) 1901, 71–7 (Sir Edward Lawson’s evidence); Scotsman, 23 January 1903. 21 Col Gildea, For King and Country: Being a Record of Funds and Philanthropic Work in Connection with the South African War, 1899-1902 (London, 1902), 10; Scotsman, 13 July 1900; Cd. 248, 57–62 (Lt-Col Tully’s evidence). 22 Cd. 196, 8. 23 WO32/6525, draft letter from War Office to Treasury, 9 January 1900. 24Daily Telegraph, 26 October 1899. 25 J. M. MacKenzie, ed., Popular Imperialism and the Military (Manchester, 1992); K. O. Morgan, ‘The Boer War and the Media (1899-1902)’, Twentieth Century British History, 13 (2002), 1–16; S. Badsey, ‘The Boer War as a Media War’, in P. Dennis and J. Grey, eds, The Boer War: Army, Nation and Empire (Canberra, 2000). 26 For example, ‘Loved Ones Gone. Grief-stricken Inquirers at the War Office’, Daily Mail, 24 October 1899; ‘The Dark Side of Victory, A Daily Scene at the War Office’, The Graphic, 4 November 1899—and see Thomas Hardy, ‘At the War Office, London (affixing the lists of killed and wounded: December 1899)’, first published in The Sphere, 27 January 1900. 27 M. D. Blanch, ‘British Society and the War’, in P. Warwick and S. B. Spies, eds, The South African War: The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (London, 1980), 217–18, 225–9; B. Beaven, ‘The Provincial Press, Civic Ceremony and the Citizen-soldier During the Boer War, 1899-1902: A Study of Local Patriotism’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 37 (2009), 207–28; E. Spiers, The Scottish Soldier and Empire 1854-1902 (Edinburgh, 2006), chapters 8, 9. 28 P. Donaldson, Remembering the South African War (Liverpool, 2013), 171; see also M. Connelly and P. Donaldson, ‘South African War (1899-1902) Memorials in Britain: A Case Study of Memorialization in London and Kent’, War & Society, 29 (2010), 20–46; E. W. McFarland, ‘Commemoration of the South African War in Scotland, 1900-10’, Scottish Historical Review, 89 (2010), 194–223. 29 Thompson, ‘Publicity, Philanthropy and Commemoration’, 106–13; Daily Telegraph, 22 November 1899. 30 See, for example, Cd. 248, 22 (Earl Nelson’s evidence), 247 (Appendix E, ‘Official Statement’ by the Patriotic Fund). 31 For example, Morning Post, 5 February 1900. 32 As well as for disabled servicemen and the families of living soldiers. See, for example, Northern Echo, 6 December 1899; Bristol Mercury, 6 December 1899; Cambridge Daily News, 7 December 1899; Burnley Express, 16 December 1899. 33 See, for example, Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 78, 8 February 1900, 954, 968, 972; 79, 19 February 1900, 469–70; 81, 29 March 1900, 734; 92, 29 March 1901, 280. 34 P. W. J. Bartrip and S. B. Burman, The Wounded Soldiers of Industry: Industrial Compensation Policy, 1833–1897 (Oxford, 1983), 5; Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 82, 1 May 1900, 489–93; Manchester Courier, 2 May 1900. 35Daily Telegraph, 4 May 1900. 36 WO32/6525, minutes of 13–21 December 1899; draft letter from War Office to Treasury, 9 January 1900. 37 See, for example, Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 79, 19 February 1900, 469–70; 81, 29 March 1900, 728–34; 81, 2 April 1900, 959. 38 Between 9 May and 11 July the Patriotic Fund registered 997 new widows—one-fifth of the final total. TNA: PRO, PIN 96/13, Royal Patriotic Fund Executive and Finance Committee minutes, 9 May, 11 July 1900. 39Daily Telegraph, 3 May 1900. The memorial was organised by William Allan, Liberal MP and former Royal Navy engineer. For MPs’ support for widows’ pensions see also articles entitled ‘The Nation’s Duty’, Daily Telegraph, 4 May, 5 May 1900. 40 Cd. 196, 12, 14; The Times, 15 June 1900. 41 G. Finlayson, Citizen, State, and Social Welfare in Britain 1830-1990 (Oxford, 1994), chapter 2; G. Finlayson, ‘A Moving Frontier: Voluntarism and the State in British Social Welfare 1911–1949’, Twentieth Century British History, 1 (1990), 183–206. 42 Riedi, ‘Assisting Mrs Tommy Atkins’. 43Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 84, 18 June 1900, 280. 44 WO32/6526, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Proposed Scale, minute by Marzials, 31 October 1900. 45 WO32/6526. 46 WO32/6529, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Report of Interdepartmental Committee. 47 Its main recommendation, the establishment of two pension boards, one military and one naval, to distribute both government pensions and supplementary charitable funds, was not accepted; but a similar scheme was implemented during the First World War. 48 Cd. 989, 28–9; TNA: PRO, PIN 96/14, 12 February, 16 April 1902. The scheme was extended to the Navy and Marines by Admiralty Order in Council No. 174 of 26 September 1901. 49 Royal Warrant of 12 January 1943 (Cmd. 6419). 50 The state separation allowance, originally 8 pence a day (4s 8d weekly) for privates’ wives, was raised to 13 pence a day (7s 7d a week) in January 1900—over 50 per cent higher than the 5 shillings pension paid to privates’ widows. 51 WO32/6525, minutes of 14 and 15 December 1899. 52 WO32/6526, Treasury Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men and Non-Commissioned Officers, n.d. [November 1900]; Mowatt to Brodrick, 22 November [1900]. The Patriotic Fund’s scale is given in Cd. 248, 251, Appendix G. The War Office insisted on raising the rates for all classes of NCOs (WO32/6526, minute by Brodrick, 22 November 1900; WO32/6528, Treasury minute of 24 November 1900); and also for Warrant Officers ‘to preserve a proper relation’ (WO32/6525, draft letter from War Office to Treasury dated 9 January 1900). 53 Cd. 248, 48 (Richardson’s evidence), 60 (Tully’s evidence); Joint Select Committee, 6 (George Lambert’s evidence). Rowntree in 1901 named seven shillings weekly as ‘the minimum necessary expenditure’ for a single man or woman (S. Rowntree, Poverty: A Study of Town Life (London, 1901), 110). 54 Riedi, ‘Assisting Mrs Tommy Atkins’. 55 Discussed in WO32/6529. 56 WO32/6529, Report, para 7(a). 57 R. Davidson, ‘Smith, Sir Hubert Llewellyn (1864–1945)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, online edn, January 2008 <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36147> accessed 2 September 2016; P. Thane, ‘Women and the Poor Law in Victorian and Edwardian England’, History Workshop Journal, 6 (1978), 43–4. 58 WO32/6529, Mowatt to Financial Secretary, War Office, 12 February 1901; minute by Marzials, 14th [February 1901]. Double rates were paid to children whose mother was dead. 59 For which see A. Davin, ‘Imperialism and Motherhood’, History Workshop Journal, 5 (1978), 9–65. 60 J. Macnicol, The Politics of Retirement in Britain, 1878-1948 (Cambridge, 1998), 200–1. 61 WO32/6534, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Extension of Limit for Claims, in Cases of Death from Disease or Wounds, from Two to Seven Years, memo by J. G. Ashley, 12 July 1907. As Thane notes it was only in October 1914 that the Local Government Board decisively prioritized childcare over work for widowed mothers receiving relief, and even then this guidance was largely ignored at local level (Thane, ‘Women’, 46). 62 Memorandum by T. J. Macnamara, ‘Allowances and Pensions in Respect of Seamen and Marines, and their Wives, Widows and Dependents’, Special Report and Second Special Report from the Select Committee on Naval and Military Services (Pensions and Grants) 1914-16 (53), 167. 63Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 92, 29 March 1901, 278. 64Joint Select Committee, viii. 65The Times, 20 September 1901. 66The Times, 1 October 1901. 67 1911 Census: entries for Annie Maria Irwin, Peckham; Emily Jane Caplin, Maidstone; Mary Ann Berrington, Bradford; Alice Short, Sturminster Newton. 68 R. Wall, ‘Widows, Family and Poor Relief in England from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century’, in B. Moring, ed., Female Economic Strategies in the Modern World (London, 2012), 31. 69The Times, 9 December 1899. This estimate lost the Patriotic Fund £215,760 as non-earmarked contributions to the Mansion House Fund were diverted from widows and orphans to other war charities. (Forty-First Report of the Royal Commissioners of the Patriotic Fund Cd. 1502 (1903), 8–9). 70 WO32/6525, minute of 15 December 1899. 71 Amery, ed., Times History, vol. VII, 24–5. Another 8 officers and 500 men died after being invalided home. 72 WO32/6529, Report, para 17. 73Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 109, 9 June 1902, 89. 74 Army Estimates were published annually as House of Commons Papers. 75 Calculated from Patriotic Fund annual reports (figures for calendar years 1902–14). Includes grants to officers’ families 1902–3, and additional grants made 1910–14 totalling £7,193 to the Royal Victoria Patriotic School for the maintenance of girls eligible for allowances from the Transvaal War Fund. 76 Calculated on the assumptions that 50 per cent had £15 annuities and 50 per cent £10 annuities, that all annuities were payable from 1 January 1902, and that the survival rate to 31 December 1914 was 100 per cent. Sources: Scotsman, 23 January 1903; Joint Select Committee, 72 (Lawson’s evidence). 77 James, ‘To Keep Me All My Life’, 51; Royal Warrant for the Pay, Appointment, Promotion and Non-Effective Pay of the Army 1899, 140 (Article 627); Lomas, ‘Delicate Duties’, 138; Royal Warrant of 12 January 1943 (Cmd. 6419). Except where otherwise specified, this paragraph and the next are drawn from WO32/6529. 78 Although peace was declared on 31 May 1902, for pensions purposes ‘active operations in the field’ were deemed to continue until 31 August (Scotsman, 10 July 1902). 79 J. Lomas, ‘“So I Married Again”: Letters from British Widows of the First and Second World Wars’, History Workshop Journal, 38 (1994), 220. 80 A. F. Young, Industrial Injuries Insurance: An Examination of British Policy (London, 1964, reprinted 2013), 61. 81 Thomas, ‘State Maintenance’, 135; J. Lomas, ‘War Widows in British Society 1914-1990’, PhD Thesis, Staffordshire University, 1997, 67; Royal Warrant of 15 September 1939 (Cmd. 6105). 82 Over 50,000 volunteers from South Africa and around 30,000 from Canada, Australia and New Zealand fought for the empire in the Boer War (Cd. 1789, 35). 83 WO32/6528, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Appointment of Interdepartmental Committee to Consider Scheme, minute by the adjutant-general, Sir Evelyn Wood, 9 December 1900. 84 WO32/6529, draft letter from War Office to Treasury, 18 February 1901. 85 Of the 2,583 widows on the books of the Transvaal War Fund on 31 December 1902, 552 were ‘on full rate of Allowance as having no Army Pension or Post Office [Daily Telegraph] Annuity’; another 21 were ‘in receipt of Post Office Annuities only’ (Cd. 1502, 23–7). 86 WO32/6529, Mowatt to Financial Secretary, War Office, 12 February 1901. 87Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 92, 29 March 1901, 278, 284–5. 88Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 92, 29 March 1901, 279–80, 290–3. 89 TNA: PRO, PIN 96/13, 6 March 1901. 90The Times, 6 July 1922. 91 Lomas, ‘War Widows’, 91. 92 See, for example, Royal Warrant … 1899, 140, 142 (Articles 627 and 630). This clause remained in force for the First World War. 93 Lomas, ‘War Widows’, 53; Pedersen, ‘Gender’, 1000. 94Joint Select Committee, 10–11 (Lambert’s evidence). 95 Trustram, Women, 176; Cd. 1502, 23. 96 WO32/6529, Report, para 8. 97Joint Select Committee, 107 (Spring-Rice’s evidence); Secretary of State for the Colonies to all Governor Generals, 1901, quoted in James, ‘To Keep Me All My Life’, 71. 98 TNA: PRO, PIN 96/13, 10 July 1901; for information sharing see, for example, 9 October 1901. 99 Double rates were payable to children whose mother had lost her pension by ‘misconduct’, but only if they were removed from her control. The children’s pension might also be increased sufficiently to allow them ‘to be placed in some benevolent institution’. 100Scotsman, 27 September 1909. However, during the First World War the War Office—unlike the Ministry of Pensions’ Special Grants Committee—refused to act on anonymous allegations (Lomas, ‘Delicate duties’, 136). 101 Lomas, ‘Delicate duties’, 136, and see, for example, Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 186, 23 July 1925, 2378–9. 102 Macnicol, Politics of Retirement, 20, 8. 103 WO32/6528, J. Robb, War Office, to Higgins, 3 December 1900. 104 Trustram, Women, 92; for an example see D. J. Oddy, ‘Gone for a Soldier: The Anatomy of a Nineteenth-century Army Family’, Journal of Family History, 25 (2000), 43–4. 105Joint Select Committee, 34 (Colonel Young’s evidence); Cd. 1502, 28. 106Joint Select Committee, 11 (Lambert’s evidence); Royal Warrant … 1899, 142 (Article 632). 107 Cd. 248, 16 (Earl Nelson’s evidence). 108 WO32/6526, Treasury Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men and NCOs, n.d. [November 1900]; WO32/6528, Treasury minute dated 24 November 1900 enclosed in Mowatt to Financial Secretary, War Office, 24 November 1900. 109 WO32/6529, Report, para. 9. 110 WO32/6529, Probable Cost of the Scheme for Providing for Widows and Orphans of Men Dying in the War in South Africa (Non-Commissioned Officers and Men Only) (Calculated for Mr Spring-Rice’s Committee), dated 10 January 1901, 7. Estimate assuming 2,359 widows and £10 gratuities. 111 WO32/6529, minute of 16 February 1901; draft Royal Warrant. Children retained their allowances regardless of their mother’s remarriage. 112 James, ‘To Keep Me All My Life’, 142. 113 WO32/6525, minute by Marzials, 13 December 1899. 114 This was an economy measure: see Cd. 1502, 11. 115Nottingham Evening Post, 2 December 1902; see also, for example, Leeds Mercury, 16 July 1907. 116 Steven Kennedy and Djuna Thurley, ‘War Widows’ Pensions’, House of Commons Library, Briefing Paper, Number SN-00568, 16 November 2016, <http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN00568/SN00568.pdf> accessed 26 July 2017. 117 See, for example, Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 74, 4 March 1985, 756. 118 See, for example, A. Smith, Discourses Surrounding British Widows of the First World War (London, 2013), chapter 5; for war widows’ use of both the ‘rhetoric of frailty and need’ and the language of ‘rights’ and ‘justice’ see James, ‘To Keep Me All My Life’, 282–7. 119 Except where otherwise indicated, this paragraph is drawn from WO32/6530, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Extension of Scheme to Cover Death Through Injury on Active Service, 1901. 120 Amery, ed., Times History, Volume VII, 25. 121 WO32/6530, minute of 2 July 1901. 122General Annual Report on the British Army for the Year ending 30th September, 1904 Cd. 2268 (1905), 19, and see, for example, Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 14 January 1904. 123Joint Select Committee, 111 (Spring-Rice’s evidence). 124 Except where otherwise indicated this paragraph and the next are drawn from WO32/6532, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Claim by Wife of Sergeant R. W. Jeffreys. Question of Application of 12 Month Limit in Cases of Death from Disease or Wounds. 125 WO32/6534, minute by J. G. Ashley, 23 July 1907. Previously the limit had been 6 months for disease, 12 months for wounds. 126Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 109, 9 June 1902, 89. 127The Times, 9 November 1903. Copies of the correspondence are in WO32/6534. 128 WO32/6534, letter from Annie Jardine, 28 November 1903, and minutes on the letter, December 1903. The new financial secretary was William Bromley-Davenport. 129 The extension saved the Patriotic Fund over £5,000 in the first year (Fifth Report of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation to his Majesty the King for the Year 1908 Cd. 4806 (1909), 7). 130Navy and Army. Allowances and Pensions in Respect of Seamen, Marines, and Soldiers, and their Wives, Widows and Dependants Cd. 7662 (1914–16); Royal Warrants of 29 March 1917 (1917–18 (64)); 17 April 1918 (Cd. 9040); 6 December 1919 (Cmd. 457); 21 June 1922 (Cmd. 1701). The Royal Warrant of 14 January 1924 (Cmd. 2030) gave the Minister of Pensions discretion to grant pensions to the widows of men dying after more than 7 years, but they were still denied certain benefits including the gratuity on remarriage. 131 Royal Warrant of 15 September 1939 (Cmd. 6105). 132 Army Widows’ Association, Pensions Factsheet, <http://www.armywidows.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/pensions.pdf> accessed 24 August 2016. In this case if death occurred within 7 years of service ‘the burden of disproving a link to service lies with MOD. After more than 7 years the burden of proof shifts to the claimant’. 133 Quoted in N. Barr, The Lion and the Poppy: British Veterans, Politics, and Society, 1921-1939 (Westport, CT, 2005), 122; see also Lomas, ‘Delicate Duties’, 133. 134 Between 1904 and 30 June 1907 the Patriotic Fund accepted as new cases 329 widows and 674 children (The Times, 19 July 1907). 135The Times, 19 July 1907; Fourth Report of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation to His Majesty the King for the Year 1907 Cd. 4214 (1908), 8, 9; see also Blomfield-Smith, Heritage, 104–5. 136 WO32/6534, minutes by H. de la Bere, 25 July 1907, and Sir G Fleetwood Wilson, 26 July 1907; Treasury to War Office, 23 August 1907. 137 WO32/6534, minutes by Haldane, 2, 8 September 1907. 138 WO32/6534, War Office to Patriotic Fund, 18 September 1907 (copy); Army Order 259 of 1907, dated 9 October 1907. Pensions were payable only from 1 October 1907 with no backdating. 139 Justifying the ‘seven year rule’ in 1922 the Minister of Pensions began with the (slightly inaccurate) claim that it was ‘a provision of old standing’. Ministry of Pensions. Memorandum by the Minister of Pensions on Certain Points Arising in Connection with the Administration of Pensions Cmd. 1748 (1922), 4. 140 Thomas, ‘State Maintenance’, chapter 2. 141 Royal Warrant of 29 March 1917, 5, 6. 142 Quoted in Lomas, ‘Delicate Duties’, 131. 143 Quoted in Blomfield-Smith, Heritage, 124. 144Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 91, 6 March 1917, 203. 145 Lanark Daily Record, 8 December 1917; see also, for example, Birmingham Evening Despatch, 7 February 1918. 146Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 105, 17 April 1918, 401; Ministry of Pensions. Royal Warrant for the Pensions of Soldiers Disabled, and of the Widows of Soldiers Deceased in Consequence of Former Wars Cd. 9041 (1918); Ministry of Pensions. Royal Warrant as to the Pensions of Soldiers Disabled, and of Widows of Soldiers Deceased, in Consequence of Former Wars Cmd. 1034 (1920). 147Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 103, 5 March 1918, 1810. 148 J. Hall Richardson, From the City to Fleet Street (London, 1927), 146, 147. 149 Lomas, ‘War Widows’, 85. © The Author [2017]. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Twentieth Century British History Oxford University Press

British Widows of the South African War and the Origins of War Widows’ Pensions

Twentieth Century British History , Volume Advance Article (2) – Sep 23, 2017

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Abstract

Abstract The South African War of 1899–1902 cost the lives of 22,000 British and colonial soldiers and created almost 5,000 British war widows. It was in this context that the first state pensions for the widows of rank and file soldiers were introduced in 1901. Triggered by unexpectedly high casualty rates and widespread dissatisfaction with charitable provision, the introduction of state pensions also reflected changing public attitudes towards soldiers and their dependants in the context of an imperial war. Dismissed in the historiography as insignificant because of its low rates and restrictive eligibility clauses, the 1901 scheme in fact delivered pensions to the majority of war widows and made the Edwardian state their most important source of financial support. This article, after discussing the social and political context in which widows’ pensions were developed, analyses the economics of the scheme and how key eligibility rules were formulated, before investigating significant changes in the scheme to 1920, the point at which Boer War widows were finally granted full maintenance. Strongly influenced by the practices of Victorian armed forces charities and by contemporary ideologies of gender and class, the South African War pension regulations created precedents which would continue to shape pensions for military widows to the end of the twentieth century. I know full well how great is the sympathy of the House for the men who have lost their lives in the war, and for those whom they have left behind them. The Government has for the first time in our history recognized the claims of these widows by giving pensions to the widows of non-commissioned officers and men. In taking that step they have been fully justified by the feeling of the country.1 With these words on 29 March 1901 the secretary of state for war, St John Brodrick, announced a significant shift in national policy. Henceforth the widows of ordinary soldiers and sailors killed fighting for their country—previously assisted only by charity—would be eligible for state-funded pensions. The catalyst for this development was the South African War, Britain’s biggest war since the Crimea, involving nearly 450,000 British and colonial regular soldiers, reservists and volunteers. Initially expected to be a short war with minimal casualties, the South African War lasted from October 1899 to May 1902, took the lives of some 22,000 imperial troops, and ultimately created almost 5,000 British war widows.2 Widows’ pensions are barely mentioned in the historiography of the South African War.3 Studies of war widowhood either ignore these pensions or dismiss them as insignificant because of their low rates and restrictive eligibility criteria.4 Yet, as this article will demonstrate, 1901 marks the decisive point at which war widows’ pensions were transformed from a narrow, status-based, privilege restricted to the widows of officers to a broader entitlement available to all ranks and most categories of widows. As Brodrick’s reference to ‘the feeling of the country’ suggests, this development also testifies to a substantial change in Britain’s relationship with its army in the context of the South African War. Concern to meet public expectations regarding the welfare of soldiers’ families runs like a thread through the War Office files on widows’ pensions. Increasingly public opinion insisted not only that military widows had a right to financial support, but that this was a duty properly belonging to the state. The 1901 pensions thus form part of the broader history of social welfare, as a responsibility formerly entrusted entirely to voluntarism became a state-voluntary partnership in which the state took the leading role. In the development of British military survivors’ benefits the 1901 scheme—and the ideologies of gender and class which underpinned it—maintained an enduring influence. As Kristin Collins has argued for the American case, war widows’ pensions offer an example of marriage-based entitlement to state funds for women in an age when such entitlements were rare.5 Behind the provision of such benefits—in Britain as in America—lay assumptions of female dependence upon a male breadwinner.6 Moreover, these benefits were viewed as owed to the serviceman, rather than to the widow in her own right. As Susan Pedersen argues in her study of First World War separation allowances, the state positioned itself as ‘surrogate’ for the soldier-husband whose rights as a male citizen were now seen to include the financial dependency of women and children. Widows gained entitlement to pensions only at second-hand ‘as the residual legatees of their citizen-husbands’.7 Studies of First World War widows’ pensions have revealed the consequences for women of this gendered understanding, particularly in terms of eligibility restrictions, the insistence on ‘good character’, and the withdrawal of the pension on remarriage.8 It was during the South African War, however, that many of the most significant elements of Great War pensions—including their basic gender framework—were laid down.9 Indeed, the 1901 scheme has shaped military widows’ pensions across the twentieth century, and almost to the present day. This article begins by examining the context in which the first state pensions for war widows were developed, and the shifts in public opinion which helped to bring them about, before discussing the convoluted political and official processes through which they finally emerged. Drawing on official files, it then investigates how the scheme for widows’ pensions was shaped, focusing especially on its finances and eligibility clauses. Finally, it discusses changes made to the original 1901 regulations through the Edwardian period to 1920, the point at which British widows of the South African War finally received full maintenance from the state. Throughout their history state pensions for war widows have been strongly influenced by precedent: the article traces both the impact of previous provision on the crafting of South African War pensions, and the longer-term impact of the 1901 scheme on military widows of twentieth century wars. I Before 1901 entitlement to war widows’ pensions was limited and class-based, restricted to the dependants of ‘gentlemen’. Only the widows of the officers (and warrant officers) of Britain’s army and navy received state pensions. Other ranks widows were eligible only for assistance from service charities, and then only if they could demonstrate both respectability and need. The key source of support for army widows was the Royal Patriotic Fund, founded in 1854 during the Crimean War.10 By the late nineteenth century it was a controversial institution, persistently accused both of inefficient management and of hoarding funds while practicing parsimony towards widows and orphans—allegations confirmed by an 1896 parliamentary committee and widely repeated during the South African War.11 The widows and orphans of ordinary sailors and marines ‘killed or drowned in the service of the Crown’ were from 1883 paid small pensions from the funds of Greenwich Hospital.12 An 1883 War Office committee proposed introducing a similar scheme for the army, but the suggestion was not adopted.13 Since 1881 soldiers’ widows had technically been entitled to a gratuity equal to a year’s pay from army funds, but this regulation was ‘practically inoperative’ because it applied only if the Patriotic Fund was unable to award a pension.14 The absence of state support for military widows reflected the Victorian army’s attitude towards soldiers’ wives. Always hostile to marriage for other ranks, the army further tightened restrictions on marriage after the introduction of short service in 1870. By 1890, the proportion of the rank and file allowed to marry had been reduced to 3 per cent. Many soldiers married without permission (‘off the strength’): these families received no official assistance; depended on the wife’s earnings to supplement the soldier’s meagre pay; and in illness or unemployment were abandoned to the poor law.15 For the families of soldiers authorized to marry, however, the late Victorian army introduced certain limited benefits, including accommodation, schooling, and a separation allowance payable when soldiers were sent abroad without their families.16 During the South African War this allowance was extended to the families of British non-regular troops mobilized for the conflict: some 80,000 reservists plus 100,000 volunteers serving through the militia, the Volunteer forces, and the Imperial Yeomanry.17 By the end of the war over 17,000 British other ranks soldiers were dead. Largely because of the involvement of reservists and volunteers, almost one-quarter of these were married, many with young children.18 (Many more ex-servicemen would die prematurely in the immediate post-war years from combat-related causes.) Before 1901 their widows and orphans could look for assistance only to charity. The Patriotic Fund, as the ‘official’ charity for military widows, received £440,000 in public donations through the central war fund, the Mansion House Fund. It gave widows a £5 lump sum plus £1 per child, then a weekly allowance on a flat rate according to the soldier’s rank. Privates’ widows received 5 shillings a week plus 1/6 per child—well below the Fund’s professed aim of ‘moderate maintenance’.19 The second biggest widows’ charity, the Daily Telegraph Shilling Fund, set up in October 1899, became explicitly an alternative to the Patriotic Fund. Run in conjunction with the Scotsman, the Shilling Fund raised over £250,000 from a wide cross-section of society before winding up in 1901 as state pensions came in. It gave widows a lump sum, originally £20 though this was reduced as numbers rose, plus £3 per child. To 731 widows it also gave a life annuity, originally of £15 a year, but for later widows only £10.20 A third national charity, the Imperial War Fund, founded during the 1882 Egyptian War, gave widows lump sums of £10 plus £1 per child. It spent about £8,500 (including £2,600 from the Mansion House Fund) in assisting around 550 widows and 300 other dependent relatives before expiring in mid-1900.21 Many counties and cities set up large independent funds for the dependants of local soldiers; but most began to run out of money as the war dragged on. The multiplication of funds led to charges of ‘overlapping’, but a parliamentary committee concluded that this was actually ‘desirable’ because the Patriotic Fund’s allowances were so low.22 More serious was the growing inequality of treatment between women widowed early in the war, who might receive assistance from three separate national charities, and those widowed later, dependent upon the Patriotic Fund alone. Increasingly this situation was deemed unacceptable and calls arose for soldiers’ widows and orphans to be assisted from state funds. As the War Office expressed it, new state pensions were required to ‘meet the demands of public sentiment’.23 How did this ‘public sentiment’ manifest itself, and what had brought about this new ‘demand’ that the state provide support to military widows? Underlying this shift was the unprecedented public sympathy for servicemen—and thus their dependants—generated by the South African War. The Telegraph, launching its own fund for war widows, hailed a new ‘feeling of fellowship and pride and trust … between the people at large and the soldiers of the QUEEN’.24 Rooted in the valorization of the ordinary soldier as hero of empire in the popular and literary culture of late Victorian Britain, this feeling was intensified by the all-pervasive and romanticized press reporting of what became Britain’s first ‘media war’.25 Newspaper images both of gallant Tommies dying for the empire, and of weeping wives seeking news of them at the War Office, highlighted the war’s human costs.26 The enlistment of thousands of volunteers from all classes created a more concrete bond between the army and wider society, particularly at local level. Elaborate civic ceremonies marked the departure of these citizen-soldiers to the front and welcomed them home. Enormous public demonstrations celebrated British victories.27 In a new ‘democratization of memory’, the war dead—regulars and volunteers alike—would be commemorated by name on memorials across the country.28 War charities, especially those supporting soldiers’ dependants, profited to the tune of millions of pounds from a huge cross-class fund-raising effort (the Telegraph’s widows’ fund collected its first £50,000, mostly in shillings and pennies, in less than a month).29 As part of this wider trend, a novel public attitude developed that war widows were entitled to financial support and compensation. This partly reflected a new view of soldiers’ wives. Traditionally stereotyped as drunken and disreputable, soldiers’ wives—and especially the wives of reservists and volunteers—came increasingly to be represented instead as ‘respectable’, pitiable and ‘deserving’. It also reflected a new view of the soldier as a citizen to whom his fellow citizens owed obligations, including the obligation to take on his presumed role as breadwinner for his widow and orphans. The Patriotic Fund continued to insist, as it had done since the Crimean War, that its allowances to widows were not a ‘right’ but ‘a charity’.30 Now, though, this insistence was met by indignant protests that support for war widows was an ‘honourable debt’ owed by the nation to its fallen warriors. Early in the war this national ‘debt’ was most commonly framed as one to be paid by ‘active citizens’ through voluntary contribution.31 Soon, however, the argument came to be made that this was a responsibility that properly belonged not to voluntarism but to the state. From early December 1899 poor law guardians across the country passed resolutions demanding that ‘adequate maintenance’ be provided to soldiers’ widows and orphans from national funds.32 In parliament a growing and increasingly cross-party chorus called for state pensions on a variety of grounds: that widows were experiencing penury and hardship; that charitable support was inadequate and the Patriotic Fund unsatisfactory; that assisting the dependants of the nation’s heroes was a ‘public duty’; and that so doing would provide ‘consolation’ to soldiers and acknowledgement of their sacrifice.33 Also important in shaping this new understanding was the recently established legal duty (embodied in the 1897 Workmen’s Compensation Act) of a civilian employer to compensate financially men injured at work or, if they were killed, their dependants. As parliamentarians demanded, if the widows of these ‘wounded soldiers of industry’ received financial recompense, how could the widows of those who had died for their country be denied compensation from their husband’s employer, the state? On 1 May 1900 a Commons resolution to extend the Act to the armed forces, proposed by Liberals Reginald McKenna and David Lloyd George, was passed ‘amid cheers’.34 Reporting the vote, the Daily Telegraph gave its editorial view that the ‘duty of the State’ to compensate war widows was ‘as clear at the sun at noonday’.35 A new consensus had emerged that war widows (and orphans) had a right to support and that it was the responsibility of the state to supply it—both as a moral debt owed by the nation to soldiers as a reward for their service and sacrifice, and as compensation owed to servicemen by the state as their employer. The first represented an extension to all soldiers of an obligation previously admitted only in relation to officers; the second, exclusive to other ranks, classified soldiers as workers to whom employment rights should apply. Both understandings positioned widows’ pensions as a benefit owed not to the widow herself, but to the soldier-husband. Despite this developing consensus in favour of state pensions, however, their introduction was a prolonged and tortuous process. Key figures within the War Office, feeling the winds of ‘public sentiment’ behind them, were discussing a widows’ pension scheme as early as December 1899. By January 1900, Frank Marzials, accountant-general of the army, George Wyndham, under-secretary of state for war, and the war secretary Lord Lansdowne had drafted a proposal to set before the Treasury.36 In early February, however, responding to parliamentary attacks on the Patriotic Fund, the government appointed a committee to investigate all the war relief funds. Ministers postponed any decisions regarding servicemen’s dependants until the committee reported. Meanwhile political pressure to introduce state pensions mounted,37 peaking in the late spring of 1900 as an outbreak of epidemic disease sent the army’s death rates soaring.38 The beginning of May saw not only the Workmen’s Compensation Act resolution but also the presentation to the First Lord of the Treasury, Arthur Balfour, of a memorial calling for war widows’ pensions signed by almost 100 MPs from all parties.39 The crucial turning point came on 14 June 1900 with the War Relief Funds Committee’s report. Public confidence in the Patriotic Fund, it declared, had been ‘rudely shaken’; without urgent reform ‘to make it at once more businesslike and more elastic’ the Fund would ‘cease to exist’. Moreover, the Fund’s current allowances to widows were inadequate and its chances of providing them with ‘moderate maintenance’ long-term were slim. The committee therefore moved beyond its remit to recommend state pensions, freeing charitable funds to provide supplementary assistance where required. ‘If no such action is taken’, it warned, ‘there must not only be very many cases of distress, but also great inequality in the relief given to widows’.40 To adopt Geoffrey Finlayson’s framework for the ‘moving frontier’ between voluntarism and the state in this period, there was now both a broad understanding that the support of war widows should not be left to voluntarism (because the obligation belonged to the state) and a clear statement that it could not be (because voluntarism, in the shape of the Patriotic Fund, was both widely distrusted and lacked the resources to do the job).41 In this case could not was perhaps the decisive factor. In contrast, though a similar consensus emerged during the war that the separation allowance paid to soldiers’ wives should be raised to full maintenance, the government was able to resist because the main charity aiding soldiers’ families, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association, succeeded in maintaining public trust and therefore a (just) sufficient income from public donations.42 The War Funds Committee’s damning of the key war widows’ charity as both unfit for purpose and seriously under-resourced left the government little choice but to adopt its proposal for widows’ pensions—the more readily since the idea had already been endorsed by the War Office. Four days after the report’s publication Balfour promised ‘immediate steps to frame a scheme’.43 In fact, perhaps because of the autumn general election, the scheme remained in limbo for several months. By October Marzials was warning that the War Office would ‘cut a sorry figure if nothing has been done by the time Parliament meets … every day’s delay takes from the grace & usefulness of the grant’.44 In November the Treasury (decidedly the dominant partner), the War Office Finance Department, and the new war secretary St John Brodrick, finally began to work out details. Having drafted an outline scheme the Treasury convened a four-member interdepartmental committee to examine it.45 Headed by Stephen Spring-Rice, principal clerk at the Treasury and auditor of the Civil List, the committee also included representatives from the War Office and Admiralty finance departments and the labour department of the Board of Trade. It reported on 25 January 1901, and after a final flurry of minutes between War Office and Treasury settling disputed details the scheme was formally announced to parliament in the army estimates debate on 29 March.46 Meanwhile a Joint Select Committee was considering how charitable funds could best be used to supplement government pensions.47 Pensions were paid as from 1 April 1901, but the first payment from the state was not made until 1 July: the first quarter’s pension was paid through the Patriotic Fund, subsequently refunded over £8,500 by the War Office.48 In designing the scheme for widows’ pensions, politicians and civil servants were consciously influenced by three key factors. First, a strong inclination to follow precedents from existing pension schemes—especially the scheme for officers’ widows, but also those of Greenwich Hospital and the Patriotic Fund. In this way many of the practices of Victorian armed forces charities came to be replicated in state pensions. In turn, precedents established by the 1901 scheme would influence war widows’ pensions for decades to come. Secondly, a desire for economy, especially from the Treasury. Thirdly, and to some extent counteracting this, a concern to meet the demands of parliamentary and public opinion. Less consciously, the scheme was shaped by ideologies of gender and class particularly evident in the regulations on ‘good character’. The next sections consider the economics of widows’ pensions and the 1901 eligibility clauses, before examining changes made between 1901 and 1920 expanding the scope of the scheme and, eventually, raising pension rates. II Beneath the provision of pensions to military widows lay the presumption of a male breadwinner and dependent wife. A comparison with pensions for the widowers of servicewomen (as introduced in the Second World War) is instructive: to be granted a pension, war widowers had to prove financial dependency on the servicewoman, and need, and at least partial incapacity for self-support.49 In contrast, state provision for other ranks’ widows was from the first awarded on the assumption that they were dependent, needy, and incapable of keeping themselves without assistance. Nevertheless the state’s willingness to contribute to their support was strictly limited. South African War pensions not only fell far short of full maintenance but were substantially lower than the separation allowances paid to the wives of serving soldiers.50 Like the Patriotic Fund’s allowances state pensions were scaled according to the soldier’s rank, thus echoing the army’s hierarchy. For privates’ widows the rate initially proposed was only 3/6 a week (the same as Greenwich pensions). Wyndham however insisted on 5 shillings a week (£13 a year). The public, he said, had ‘already subscribed a larger sum’ than he estimated this would cost: ‘Parliament will expect the Government to admit its obligation & on a not less generous scale’.51 Thus, very early in the process, 5 shillings was set as the minimum pension. Its significance was that this was the Patriotic Fund’s weekly allowance to Boer War privates’ widows. The scheme was built on the assumption that state pensions would be supplemented by charity: for this reason they would not be means tested. In late 1900, setting out a scale of pensions by rank identical to the Fund’s, the Treasury described the scheme’s purpose as ‘practically, to double the rates now given by the Patriotic Fund’.52 But the minimum acceptable income for war widows fell as their numbers rose. Whereas in December 1899 Wyndham had declared that ‘no widow of a soldier should have less than 15 s a week’, by 1901 the Central Council for the Organization of the War Relief Funds was recommending 7 shillings as an appropriate minimum.53 This was the standard eventually adopted by the Patriotic Fund: it would normally grant widows in receipt of state pensions only 2 shillings weekly. Widowhood entailed a sharp fall from the pre-war standard of living at which the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association sought to maintain Boer War soldiers’ families.54 It is telling that the state pension scheme included guidelines for the payment of pensions for widows on poor relief.55 The scheme did include a children’s allowance, up to the age of 14 for boys and 16 for girls, or in cases of ‘mental or physical infirmity’ up to 21. The weekly rate for the children of privates and corporals was 1/6 per child—the sum given by both the Patriotic Fund and Greenwich Hospital. The Interdepartmental Committee, though it made no comment on widows’ rates, recommended a 33 per cent rise for children. It is only because of financial exigencies that the rate is limited to 1s/6d in Greenwich Hospital cases; and the experienced Director of Greenwich Hospital is strongly in favour of a rate of 2s/-. We believe also that this would be the view of persons experienced in practical work among the labouring classes. We have considered whether any sort of a scale or limit should be set to the total amount of children’s allowances where there is more than one child: but we are satisfied that, even with a 2s/- rate, there would be no justification for this course in relation to the minimum [sic] cost of subsistence.56 Probably guided by its Board of Trade member Hubert Llewellyn Smith (a progressive Liberal with labour sympathies who had worked on Charles Booth’s survey of London), the committee in fact believed it near-impossible to maintain a child on 1/6 a week and that no economy of scale would be possible even at two shillings. This was no doubt correct: 1/6 was about the average rate paid under the poor law to the children of widows receiving out relief, and a series of Edwardian investigations established that such families could afford only the ‘barest subsistence’.57 But the Treasury insisted on retaining the 1/6 rate, ‘as settled by the Cabinet in November last’.58 (In practice this would be brought up to at least 2 shillings by the Patriotic Fund.) The lack of emphasis on child welfare is marked, given the later Edwardian interest in maternalist policies for imperialist ends.59 It contrasts strikingly, too, with the importance placed on removing mothers from the labour market and allowing them ‘to devote proper care to the upbringing of dependent children’ in the introduction of civilian widows’ pensions in 1925.60 The Edwardian War Office—like the Edwardian poor law—though it might penalize widows for significant failures in childcare, expected even those with small children to work. In 1907 it deprecated any increase in pension rates because ‘the women are still young and able to earn’.61 The rates finally agreed are set out in Table 1. Table 1 Scale of state pensions to widows and children Class  Army rank  Equivalent ranks in navy and marines  Widows per week  Each child per week  I  Quartermaster- sergeant  No equivalent  10s 0d  2s 0d  II  Colour- sergeant  Chief Petty Officer; Colour and Staff Sergeants of Marines  9s 0d  2s 0d  III  Sergeant  First Class Petty Officer; Sergeant of Marines  7s 6d  2s 0d  IV  Corporal  Second Class Petty Officer; Corporal of Marines  6s 0d  1s 6d  V  Private  Able Seaman; Private of Marines  5s 0d  1s 6d  Class  Army rank  Equivalent ranks in navy and marines  Widows per week  Each child per week  I  Quartermaster- sergeant  No equivalent  10s 0d  2s 0d  II  Colour- sergeant  Chief Petty Officer; Colour and Staff Sergeants of Marines  9s 0d  2s 0d  III  Sergeant  First Class Petty Officer; Sergeant of Marines  7s 6d  2s 0d  IV  Corporal  Second Class Petty Officer; Corporal of Marines  6s 0d  1s 6d  V  Private  Able Seaman; Private of Marines  5s 0d  1s 6d  Table 1 Scale of state pensions to widows and children Class  Army rank  Equivalent ranks in navy and marines  Widows per week  Each child per week  I  Quartermaster- sergeant  No equivalent  10s 0d  2s 0d  II  Colour- sergeant  Chief Petty Officer; Colour and Staff Sergeants of Marines  9s 0d  2s 0d  III  Sergeant  First Class Petty Officer; Sergeant of Marines  7s 6d  2s 0d  IV  Corporal  Second Class Petty Officer; Corporal of Marines  6s 0d  1s 6d  V  Private  Able Seaman; Private of Marines  5s 0d  1s 6d  Class  Army rank  Equivalent ranks in navy and marines  Widows per week  Each child per week  I  Quartermaster- sergeant  No equivalent  10s 0d  2s 0d  II  Colour- sergeant  Chief Petty Officer; Colour and Staff Sergeants of Marines  9s 0d  2s 0d  III  Sergeant  First Class Petty Officer; Sergeant of Marines  7s 6d  2s 0d  IV  Corporal  Second Class Petty Officer; Corporal of Marines  6s 0d  1s 6d  V  Private  Able Seaman; Private of Marines  5s 0d  1s 6d  As T.J. Macnamara remarked 13 years later, ‘no one in any part of the House’ took issue with the rates, either for widows or children, when the scheme was debated in the Commons.62 Indeed, the only MP who referred to the scale, the Liberal Hudson Kearley, thought it ‘as much as could reasonably be expected’ since ‘it was taxpayers’ money’.63 The Joint Select Committee, however, warned that ‘numerous cases’ would require ‘supplemental assistance’ from ‘private sources’.64 Walter Peace, organizer of Natal’s war relief fund, argued in The Times for a minimum rate of 10 shillings, amid dark predictions of crime and prostitution: On the gradated scale proposed by the Government it is absolutely impossible … to live in clean, honest, and wholesome conditions. We need not go to the policemen in a garrison town to tell us what the future of women and children dependent on such a pension would be …65 Colonel Gildea of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association endorsed Peace’s description of the rate as a ‘beggarly pittance’.66 But there was no public outcry: public opinion, though it demanded pensions for war widows, did not apparently expect the state to provide full maintenance. If Peace’s warning was a little melodramatic, widows certainly could not survive on the state pension without charitable help or paid employment. Unsurprisingly, women identifying themselves on the 1911 census as soldiers’ widows with pensions usually took lodgers and/or specified an occupation. Low-paid domestic employment (‘Charing [sic] and Get Army Pension’; ‘Army Pension Daily Cooking Sewing’) was perhaps most typical, though some utilized industrial skills for factory or putting-out work (‘Silk Picker Army Pensioner’; ‘Glover. Pension, from War Office as Soldiers Widow, Five Shillings a Week. Dent & Allcroft Leather Gloves. Worker. At Home’).67 Some also adopted ‘female clustering’ strategies, the war widow sharing accommodation and resources with her own widowed mother. As Richard Wall notes, widows traditionally maintained themselves from a combination of sources, which might include their own wages, support from children or family, charity, and the poor law.68 Boer War pensions did not liberate widows from this necessity but merely added an extra income stream to the mix. The parsimony of the widows’ pension scheme is particularly striking because early estimates assumed extremely small numbers and low costs. In early December 1899 Wyndham calculated that on ‘an outside and remarkably high estimate’, 3,000 (3 per cent) of the 100,000 British troops then fighting in South Africa might be killed or die of wounds. Estimating the proportion of soldiers married, including those married without leave, as 26 per cent, he predicted 780 widows, or 790 including ten from the Naval Brigade.69 Wyndham’s prediction for pension costs for future wars was equally low: This might run to £11,000 in a year following on a war of the first magnitude & would be a diminishing quantity thereafter, affected no doubt, but not materially, in consequence of wars against native tribes.70 Such figures for ‘a war of the first magnitude’ seem astonishing in retrospect. Even for the Boer War it rapidly became clear how badly Wyndham had miscalculated. As he penned his minute the last of the three disastrous battles of ‘Black Week’, which together cost 444 British lives, was being fought at Colenso. By the war’s end British and colonial fatalities amounted to 1,072 officers and 20,870 men; 13,250 had died from disease, a factor Wyndham had overlooked entirely.71 By late 1900/early 1901 when the Interdepartmental Committee sat the scale of the problem was clearer. At this point the Patriotic Fund had registered 2,359 widows and 2,900 orphans. With military operations still ongoing, and given that the army reserve had ‘no such complete system of information as to marriage as exists in the Navy’, the committee decided a prudent estimate for pensionable widows could not be ‘less than 3,000 with 3,600 children’. (They therefore recommended that £56,000 be allocated to the scheme in the next year’s army estimates.)72 This estimate was on the low side: by 31 May 1902 pensions had been awarded to 2,863 widows with 4,184 children, and new grants would be made for years to come as soldiers died from the belated effects of war service.73 For this reason, and because widows constantly left the roll through death and (as discussed below) particularly through remarriage, the number of widows receiving pensions continually fluctuated. The highest ‘snapshot’ figure given by the army estimates for the financial years 1902/3–1914/15 was 2,631 widows for 1903/4; from this point it fell consistently until a loosening of the eligibility regulations in 1907 produced a delayed rise in 1909/10, falling again thereafter. By the outbreak of the First World War fewer than 1,500 widows and just over 2,000 children were still receiving pensions.74 Yet, despite its low rates (and despite its exclusion of certain categories of widows, discussed below), the 1901 pension scheme made the state the main provider of financial support to war widows and orphans. According to the army estimates, between 1902/3 and 1914/15 the state paid out around £596,300 to Boer War widows and orphans. In the same period the Patriotic Fund’s Transvaal War Fund spent only about £204,500 in allowances to widows, orphans and dependent relatives of other ranks soldiers.75 Annuity payments to 731 widows from the Daily Telegraph/Scotsman Shilling Fund totalled in the region of £119,000 over the 13 years.76 Financial provision from the key charities thus amounted to around £323,500 across the period. Of the £920,000 spent on supporting dependants of the British war dead, therefore, almost two-thirds came from state funds. Designed on the basis of the ‘mixed economy of welfare’ characteristic of Victorian Britain, the scheme nevertheless foreshadowed Edwardian developments in tipping the balance from voluntarism to the state. III The scheme for widows’ pensions was ring-fenced by a series of eligibility clauses, many of which would be replicated in subsequent wars. Beneath these exclusionary criteria lay an enduring conception of pensions as Royal Bounty, a boon to be conferred ‘only … as the reward of [the husband’s] service’ and not to be ‘claimed as a right’. Already explicitly applied to officers’ widows, this stipulation would remain in force until the 1940s.77 The 1901 scheme applied only to soldiers who had been killed in action or died from wounds or disease contracted on active service after 11 October 1899, the start of the South African War.78 Entitlement to other ranks pensions was strictly marriage-based, restricted to widows and legitimate children only (whereas the mothers and sisters as well as wives of officers were eligible), and—as we will see—forfeited permanently by widows on remarriage. Additionally, the marriage had to precede the wound or disease: the wife and children of a subsequent marriage were refused a pension even when death was due to war service. Similar rules would operate in the First World War, apparently reflecting official fears that designing women might marry ex-servicemen to snare a pension.79 In contrast to the 1897 Workmen’s Compensation Act, pensions would not be paid if the serviceman’s ‘own fault or negligence’ had caused his death.80 A similar Great War ruling was criticized as punishing women and children for circumstances beyond their control, but the clause was introduced again in 1939.81 Race was also a criterion. It was generally agreed that the scheme ‘would not be suitable for any but White troops’, though the war secretary would have discretion to award pensions or gratuities to the widows of soldiers from ‘corps composed of negroes or persons of colour’. (The Interdepartmental Committee’s tentative suggestion to include the West India Regiment—composed of black Caribbean soldiers and currently fighting the Ashanti in West Africa—went unheard.) But the War Office insisted on including white ‘Colonial or Irregular Forces’, despite Treasury resistance.82 Widows of colonial officers were already entitled to British pensions, argued the War Office ‘and we shall be driving rather a hard bargain if we exclude the rank and file’. Besides, It has always been understood that the Colonial soldier was to be treated as least as well in all respects as the soldiers of the Regular Army & Mr Brodrick feels sure that if any distinction is made in this respect, it would meet grave disapproval from the Public both at Home & in the Colonies which have furnished the men. This appeal to colonial opinion and imperial sentiment settled the matter and the widows of colonial troops became eligible for British state pensions. The widows of British mobilized reservists, embodied militiamen, yeomanry, and volunteers, were all included without discussion. Whether widows of regular soldiers who had married without permission should be granted pensions was far more contentious. Reversing their usual positions, the Treasury favoured generosity while the War Office argued for exclusion on the ‘slippery slope’ principle: Anything which tends to relax in any way the existing regulations, is sure to act as the thin end of the wedge and eventually to remove the recognised restrictions with the result that the married establishment would be indefinitely increased, additional married quarters would have to be built, and the mobility of a unit would be impaired.83 Specifically, the War Office worried that if they yielded on widows’ pensions ‘an agitation would arise—which it would be difficult to resist—for the payment of Separation Allowance’.84 Accordingly, ‘off the strength’ widows were denied pensions and left dependent upon the Patriotic Fund. The Fund’s figures suggest that in fact only about a quarter of Boer War widows were ‘off the strength’ cases—an unexpectedly low proportion explained by the high numbers of non-regular British troops engaged in South Africa.85 The great majority of British war widows were therefore covered by the 1901 scheme. Nevertheless, the Treasury was right to predict that the exclusion of ‘off the strength’ widows would be hard to defend ‘in the face of public opinion’.86 Undoubtedly the most controversial aspect of the scheme, it dominated the Commons debate of 29 March 1901. Many agreed with Hudson Kearley, a long-term critic of the Patriotic Fund, that the decision was ‘inexplicable’ (‘God help them!’). When these men went away … amid the cheering crowds, everybody declared that their widows would not suffer … Now that the war fever had died out … [these] unfortunate widows and orphans … were to be cast upon the world to pick up such sustenance as they could in the day of their trouble.87 When in protest the Liberal Imperialist Captain Norton moved for a token cut to the military budget, seventy-six MPs, mostly Liberal or Irish, supported him.88 The Patriotic Fund itself deplored what it saw as a ‘very invidious … distinction’.89 But despite Kearley’s warning that the public would be ‘painfully shocked’, press comment was limited and divided, and there was no swell of public opinion to force a change in policy. ‘Off the strength’ Boer War widows were admitted to government pensions only in 1922.90 The grant and retention of pensions was conditional on the ‘good character’ of the widow. This clause would become standard in war widows’ pensions, reflecting, it has been suggested, official attitudes towards working-class women as needing ‘watching’ and towards soldiers’ wives in particular as ‘drunken slatterns’.91 The immediate precedent in 1901, however, was the existing rule on officers’ widows’ pensions, withheld or withdrawn from those ‘shown, in consequence of misconduct, to be unworthy of Our Royal Favour’.92 The concept that military widows, whatever their class status, were receiving their pension ‘at second hand’ as a reward for their husband’s service and must therefore ‘live up to his sacrifice by their exemplary behaviour’ was already enshrined in army regulations. The state, as surrogate husband, could withhold economic support if the widow failed to meet its moral or maternal standards.93 Charitable pension schemes operated on the same principle. Greenwich Hospital often investigated widows ‘confidentially through the police’ before granting pensions, and revoked them for ‘misbehaviour’.94 The Patriotic Fund also withdrew a widow’s pension if she should ‘by profligate conduct dishonour the memory of her husband’: in 1902 fifty-three Boer War widows were struck off its books as ‘unworthy’.95 While no system of enforcement apparently existed for officers’ widows, for working-class women official procedures to detect ‘unworthiness’ were deemed essential. The Interdepartmental Committee followed Greenwich Hospital’s example in decreeing that the state ‘should be free to cancel the pension not only on a public event, such as a Conviction by a Court, but on information to its satisfaction from whatever source derived’.96 Originally undefined, ‘unworthiness’ came to be classified by the state as behaviour liable to ‘create a public scandal’, particularly co-habitation without marriage, the bearing of illegitimate children, or ‘disorderly habits’ (usually involving alcohol) leading to child neglect—the same key indicators employed by the Patriotic Fund.97 The Fund was consulted as to what it considered ‘conduct … sufficiently bad to prevent the issue of an allowance’ before the War Office ruled several widows ineligible to receive state pensions on moral grounds; and the two bodies regularly shared information on individual cases.98 Like the Patriotic Fund and Greenwich Hospital, the War Office used the police to report on widows’ conduct. In all these ways practices of moral judgement and surveillance employed by Victorian service charities were transferred directly into the state pension scheme. The ‘absolute discretion’ given to the War Office to make such decisions loaded the scales against an accused widow, who stood to lose not only her pension but potentially her children too.99 The willingness to accept information ‘from whatever source’ left widows vulnerable to rumours and allegations, however ill-founded, perhaps even if anonymously made. A Colonel Malcolm in 1909 complained of soldiers’ widows being investigated by police because of reports from ‘malicious and spiteful anonymous letter-writers’, citing the case of a respectable widow ‘doing well in domestic service’ who lost both pension and job after an anonymous accusation prompted a police enquiry at her place of work.100 The war widow unjustly stripped of her pension on charges of ‘misconduct’ alleged in anonymous letters would become a familiar trope between the two world wars.101 The most important intervention made by the Interdepartmental Committee concerned the policy to be adopted towards widows who remarried. In undertaking to pay life pensions to widows typically in their mid-twenties the state was accepting a long-term liability. Already by the 1880s 52 per cent of females aged 25 survived to 65—and in 1901 the average woman aged 65 could expect to live another 12 years.102 Thus any restriction of the pension on remarriage would mean significant savings to the state, especially since it was believed that ‘soldiers’ widows re-marry more than in the higher circles’.103 Rapid remarriage to another soldier had traditionally been a necessary survival tactic for soldiers’ widows, especially those who had accompanied the regiment overseas.104 For South African War widows too remarriage might prove the best available route to financial security for themselves and their children. In 1901 the Patriotic Fund predicted that 50 per cent of widows on its Transvaal War Fund would remarry; 7 months after the end of the war 557 had already done so.105 Two possible approaches to remarriage were demonstrated by existing schemes. Both Greenwich and officers’ widows’ pensions were suspended on remarriage but restored on second widowhood—the latter ‘upon proof that she is not in wealthy circumstances’.106 The state thus acted to replace the male breadwinner: if a substitute breadwinner was found the state stepped out; if he too died without providing for the widow the state resumed its role. The Patriotic Fund more generously gave Crimean War widows half-pensions on remarriage, because ‘it encouraged them to marry to give them something, and it prevented immorality’, with resumption of full pensions on second widowhood.107 The Treasury initially proposed adopting the Patriotic Fund’s model, but quickly switched to the less liberal policy applied to officers’ widows.108 The Interdepartmental Committee suggested a different approach altogether: there would be advantages moral, financial, and administrative, in giving a gratuity on remarriage of say a year’s pension, without any prospect of a revival of the pension on subsequent widowhood. There might be a danger in this that cases of destitution would arise in which, on sentimental grounds, appeals for the revival of the pension would be successfully pressed: but such cases ought to be rare, and if established might be specially dealt with. If on the other hand pensions were to revive on second widowhood, the cases would be few in which the revival could be refused merely on the ground that the circumstances of the widow were not such as to require it.109 Quite what those ‘moral advantages’ might be remained obscure. The administrative and financial advantages to the state were clearer. Administratively, a lump sum would replace years of regular pension payments. Financially the benefits were even more obvious: the actuaries’ estimate for expenditure over 15 years suggested a total cost of only £9,752 for gratuities on remarriage against £61,148 for pensions in second widowhood.110 (The cost to the widows is also indicated by the committee’s admission that, even if not actually ‘destitute’, few would be in such circumstances on second widowhood that renewal of the pension could be refused on grounds of prosperity.) The Treasury was predictably enthusiastic. The system of awarding a gratuity equal to 1 year’s pension on remarriage ‘in full compensation of all claims on Our Bounty’, and withdrawing pensions permanently with no resumption on second widowhood, was duly adopted. Undoubtedly the key motivation was financial: as Brodrick bluntly minuted, ‘We can hardly object to the proposal by a bonus to get rid of the Pension’.111 Over time, however, a policy dictated by economics came to be justified in cultural and moral terms: that by remarrying a military widow forfeited permanently her claim on the dead soldier ‘and hence "his" pension’.112 Marzials had noted that any restriction of the pension on remarriage would incur ‘some danger of concealment, & possibly even of encouraging concubinage’.113 There were clear incentives for both—especially since the Patriotic Fund’s Transvaal War Fund, which gave top-up grants to many widows with state pensions, also withdrew its support permanently on remarriage.114 However, sanctions were severe. Detected cases of ‘concubinage’ lost their pension under the ‘good character’ clause. Widows who concealed a second marriage could be prosecuted for fraud by the War Office. Punishment might be stiff, as it was for Phoebe White whose first husband had died at Colenso: ‘the jury convicted the prisoner, who carried a baby in her arms, and she was sentenced to six months hard labour’.115 The Interdepartmental Committee’s regulations on remarriage had a remarkably long life, remaining in place through both world wars to the end of the twentieth century. War widows have had their pensions reinstated on second widowhood only since 1995; they have been entitled to remarry or cohabit without loss of pension only since 2000. Though all armed forces survivors’ pensions have been paid for life since April 2015, campaigning continues for retrospective reinstatement of pensions to widows who forfeited them through remarriage.116 The longevity of the remarriage rules testifies both to the state’s continued parsimony towards war widows and to the persistence of the gendered assumptions underlying widows’ pensions: the concept that the state stood in the place of the male breadwinner unless or until a replacement was found,117 and the rationale that by remarriage a widow permanently surrendered rights deriving from her dead husband’s sacrifice. IV The South African War pension scheme itself, however, would undergo several important changes between 1901 and 1920. The First World War would eventually produce substantial increases in pension rates. More quickly, two important modifications significantly expanded its scope. Intriguingly, both were prompted by appeals from individual widows. Like the numerous letters to the interwar Ministry of Pensions from Great War widows judged ineligible for a pension, these appeals stressed the husband’s service to the state and the widow’s loss, respectability and need.118 Unlike the Ministry, the Edwardian War Office and Treasury proved surprisingly willing to include new categories of widows. The parameters of the scheme were still sufficiently fluid to allow easy alteration, the financial liability was comparatively small, and officials were anxious to avoid injustices which might arouse the wrath of public opinion. The first change was to include soldiers who had died through accident on active service.119 This issue was brought to the attention of the War Office in June 1901 by Josephine Downey, widow of a private killed in an accident in South Africa the previous year. Barely literate, Downey nevertheless put forward a persuasive case: [My husband] having completed nearly 16 years service I his widow been left with two children one a baby he never saw have been left wholly unprovided for only money I receive is a few shillings a week from Manchester local war fund entirely insufficient to do anything like keeping us respectable. Apparently the possibility of accidental death on active service had simply been overlooked. A review of Patriotic Fund pensioners revealed ‘a good many’ similar cases—unsurprisingly, since nearly 800 soldiers died in accidents during the war.120 The War Office was generally sympathetic, both because ‘refusal to grant pension will probably be commented upon by the public’ and because of the difficulty of drawing a logical line between death from disease on the one hand and accidental injury on the other. Deaths from injury (including fatal impacts from ‘the Great Forces of Nature’ such as sunstroke, frostbite, and lighting strike) received ‘through the performance of military duty on active service’ were accordingly incorporated into the scheme. This decision opened the door to a new phase in the history of military widows’ pensions. It had been opposed by the financial secretary to the War Office, Lord Stanley, always anxious to limit the department’s financial liabilities, because he feared it would lead to pensions for ‘all cases of accidental death whether in peace or war’.121 He was right. In January 1904 pensions were granted to the widows of soldiers dying of injury ‘received in the performance of military duty otherwise than on active service’.122 Designed to be ‘distinctly a war pension’,123 it was now also payable in cases of death in military service in peacetime. The second major change prompted by a widow’s appeal was the extension of the time period within which the soldier must die for his widow to receive a pension.124 The original regulations (as for all army pensions since 1884)125 specified a limit of 1 year from the soldier’s removal from duty due to sickness or wounds. In April 1902 the War Office received an articulate and moving plea from Edith Jeffreys, widow of a reservist sergeant who had died just outside the time period from heart disease contracted during the South African War. My late husband, who [also] saw service in Egypt, & Burma, was in a good situation and we had a most comfortable home … There is no question but his death was directly due to the hardships he underwent at the Front, and it seems very hard for me, being in delicate health, to be cast on the world without support … and to lose the War Office allowance, because my husband, through the care I bestowed on him lived for a few weeks over the twelve months. [sic] This letter evidently caused some official unease, not only because Jeffreys had enlisted the support of her MP but also on the merits of her case. The underlining noted above, apparently added at the War Office, suggests official sympathy for the justice and pathos of her plea. Moreover, as with the Downey case, investigation uncovered ‘a good many’ similar cases—‘possibly 100’ by the war’s end. Nevertheless there was disagreement on how to respond. Marzials agreed with Lord Raglan, the under-secretary of state for war, that ‘where there is a distinct history of disease from date of discharge to death … the widow should get the pension’. But both Stanley (predictably) and Brodrick insisted that rules were there to be followed. Brodrick produced the compromise solution of extending the limit to 2 years, and this was implemented in October 1902. As the War Office told the Treasury, ‘where there is no doubt that the original disease is the cause of death … the widow’s claim upon the state is, to say the least, by no means weakened by the long & probably expensive illness of the deceased husband’. It soon became evident, however, that even 2 years was insufficient. Over 14,000 soldiers received disability pensions as a result of the war,126 and men continued to die from wounds or disease contracted in South Africa well after the 24 months’ limit. In a 1903 correspondence subsequently summarized in The Times Mrs Jardine of the Liverpool Transvaal War Fund Ladies’ Auxiliary Committee told the commander-in-chief Lord Roberts, the committee have many men on their books invalided … during their recent war service, who had been kept alive mainly by the care bestowed on them by the society. By prolonging the lives of these men … the committee felt that they were doing an act of injustice towards their wives and families by depriving them of the pensions they would otherwise receive and so being the unwilling instruments of leaving them to starve.127 Roberts remained unmoved. Jardine’s follow-up letter to the new war secretary H.O. Arnold-Forster, arguing that neglecting ex-servicemen’s families undermined recruitment, did prompt an internal War Office proposal to grant discretionary pensions to ‘hard cases’—but the idea was torpedoed by the financial secretary.128 In 1907, however, the limit was extended from 2 years to 7—the point at which it would stick. In the short term this decision gave new state pensions to a significant number of Boer War widows.129 Its long-term legacy was more ambivalent, for the ‘seven year rule’ became deeply embedded in war pensions legislation. It formed part of the eligibility criteria for First World War pensions130; was again introduced into Second World War pensions131; and was echoed in the War Widows Pensions scheme which applied to death, or illness or injuries causing death, predating 6 April 2005.132 The state’s retention of 7 years as the final limit exposed many ex-servicemen’s families to the situation deplored by the British Legion’s pension expert in the 1920s: ‘Picture the feelings of a mother watching her invalid husband’s bedside on the last day of the seventh year. Imagine the feelings of the dying man! The thing would be ridiculous—if it were not tragic’.133 Yet, despite the importance the ‘seven year rule’ assumed in granting or withholding state pensions from military widows, its adoption was essentially arbitrary and accidental. The proposal originated with the Patriotic Fund—the sole source of support for most widows whose husbands died after the 2-year cut-off.134 Facing financial crisis, the Fund requested the extension to 7 years in a 1907 deputation to the war secretary, Richard Haldane, and the chancellor of the exchequer, Henry Asquith. Its rationale was ‘the certainty of a considerable number of soldiers … dying within the next few years from wounds or disease’ resulting from the war.135 In response, the War Office flirted with the idea of abolishing the time limit altogether, before pronouncing some fixed period ‘indispensable’. (‘To have no limit is to throw an undue weight of investigation and responsibility on the Medical Dept and almost to encourage fraud.’) However, there was widespread support for extension. Both War Office and Treasury favoured 5 years as ‘generous but not unreasonable’.136 But Haldane insisted on 7: he had agreed this with Asquith after the Patriotic Fund meeting; and since ‘individual members of the deputation’ might have been informed of this decision Haldane felt himself ‘personally committed’.137 Seven years was accordingly adopted.138 The ‘seven year rule’ in its origins therefore had no medical or scientific rationale. It was asked for by the Patriotic Fund on the basis that 5 years after the war it still expected new cases ‘within the next few years’, and acceded to because Haldane felt he had pledged himself publically to meeting the Fund’s request. Both War Office and Treasury preferred 5 years: given the importance of precedent in shaping pensions regulations,139 without Haldane’s insistence a ‘five year rule’ might have become equally immovable in war widows’ pensions on an equally arbitrary basis. The outbreak of the First World War brought the issue of soldiers’ widows and their pensions to the fore once again. In some ways pensions to soldiers’ dependants changed significantly in the context of the Great War. Perhaps most importantly, First World War pensions, initially paid at 1901 rates, rose across the war years to a level more nearly resembling full maintenance. A series of campaigns (spearheaded by Labour organizations but widely supported) combined with government fears about army recruitment and morale led to three rate increases between 1914 and 1917. By 1917 First World War widows received 13/9 a week (plus an extra 1/3 at age 45), along with increased allowances for children.140 Eligibility for pensions was also widened, to include ‘off the strength’ widows, soldiers’ parents, and even (at lower rates) their ‘unmarried wives’.141 Despite these changes, however, the basic structure of war widows’ pensions as laid down in 1901 and modified through the Edwardian period remained largely intact. Again the scale of pensions was based on rank, and pension rates remained lower than separation allowances. Again, the dependency of wives was assumed (whereas parents (in most cases) and women who had lived with soldiers without marriage had to prove dependency). And, as we have seen, many of the provisions of South African War pensions were transferred directly into the Great War scheme. The exclusion of dependants of a soldier whose death was judged to be his ‘own fault’; the rule that marriage must precede the fatal wound or disease; the permanent cessation of the pension on remarriage, with a one-off payment as ‘dowry’; the ‘seven year rule’; the ‘unworthiness’ clause and the moral surveillance that entailed (based on the same assumption that, as the Ministry of Pensions put it, the state stood ‘in the place of a deceased husband’)142—all these regulations to which First World War widows were subject had their origins in the scheme developed for widows of the South African War. Meanwhile, pensions for the Boer War widows themselves remained unchanged—even in their rates, despite sharp wartime increases in the cost of living. The anomaly was obvious and hard to justify. As the Duke of Connaught commented in 1917, You will constantly see now … the widow of a man who gave his life for the country in the Transvaal War, who, because her husband was killed by a Boer, only gets 7 shillings a week [including two shillings from the Patriotic Fund], while in the same street are the widows of men who have fallen in this War, who, because their husbands were killed by the Huns, get 13 shillings and 9 pence …143 As most Boer War widows would have been only in their 30s or 40s, and now without dependent children, some may have benefitted from new job opportunities and higher wages in the war economy. Others undoubtedly suffered severe hardship as their pensions became, as an MP protested, ‘inadequate to purchase the bare necessaries of life’.144 Even some of the widows themselves—hitherto almost silent, perhaps emboldened by the louder voices of the wives and widows of Great War soldiers—denounced in the press their ‘miserable and most inadequate pension’.145 Finally, on 1 May 1918, the pensions of Boer War widows were raised to equivalence with those of widows of the Great War. In 1920 they were raised again to match new increases in Great War pensions, to £1 per week, or 26/8 for widows with children or over age 40. An ungenerous 1918 proviso stipulated that these pensions would be reduced by the amount of any grant received from funds ‘raised by public subscription’, such as the Patriotic Fund or Daily Telegraph Shilling Fund.146 With only around 1,300 eligible widows remaining,147 savings to the state would have been minimal against the huge costs of First World War pensions. Yet, according to J. Hall Richardson of the Telegraph, only the ‘advent of a Labour government’ plus ‘continual protest lasting over many months’ persuaded the Ministry of Pensions to drop the policy in 1924.148 Nevertheless Boer War widows (most if not all of whom were by now over 40) benefitted enormously from a more than five-fold increase in their original 5-shilling pension. Combined with the steep drop in the cost of living between the wars it gave them a financial security most had never previously known.149 V State pensions for British widows and orphans of the South African War arose from a combination of unexpectedly high casualty rates and widespread distrust of the Patriotic Fund against a background of shifting public attitudes towards soldiers and their families. In the context of an imperial war fought by thousands of reservists and volunteers as well as regular troops, state pensions for soldiers’ widows became seen both as an ‘honourable debt’ owed to the heroes of empire by a grateful nation, and as a benefit owed to dependants of a fallen soldier by the state as his employer. Belatedly implemented, parsimonious in their rates and withheld from a substantial minority of military widows, the South African War pensions were nonetheless far more significant, both to their recipients and to subsequent widows’ pension schemes, than historians have realized. Before 1901 widows of other ranks soldiers had been wholly dependent upon charity. After 1901 the majority of war widows and orphans received a state pension. Within a few years the widows of servicemen dying in accidents on duty in peacetime were also included. Public expectations for state welfare provision were still limited: despite some criticism, no effective opposition materialized either to the low pension rates or to the exclusion of ‘off the strength’ widows. Yet, though most military widows still received additional charitable grants, the 1901 scheme transformed the state into their most important source of financial support. Over the Edwardian period war widows and orphans collectively received almost twice as much from the state as they did from charity. Widows’ pensions thus form part of the pattern of a ‘moving frontier’ between voluntarism and the state in the early twentieth century. The eventual raising of pension rates for South African War widows in 1918 and 1920 completed the transition from philanthropic to state support. The 1901 scheme laid down the gendered framework of state war widows’ pensions—in part by incorporating aspects of existing provision for military widows—in ways that would shape them for decades to come. The concept that the pension was a benefit owed to the soldier, either as a reward for his honourable service or as an employment right, rather than to the widow herself; the assumption of female dependency upon a male breadwinner; the role of the state as ‘surrogate husband’ empowered to enforce minimum standards of moral or maternal conduct: all these characteristics noted in studies of state support for soldiers’ wives and widows of the First World War can be traced to the 1901 scheme. The longevity of the scheme’s influence in concrete policy terms is equally striking. Most notably, the insistence on monitoring widows for ‘unworthiness’, copied from Greenwich Hospital and the Patriotic Fund, was replicated in the state’s treatment of First World War widows; the ‘seven year rule’, arbitrarily introduced in 1907, was applied, with some modification, in both world wars and beyond; and the regulation on remarriage—adopted in 1901 to cut costs—was finally abandoned only in 2000. The first modern British pension scheme for the widows and orphans of other ranks soldiers, it not only provided vital support to British widows of the South African War but also established crucial and enduring precedents for the state’s approach to military widows across the twentieth century. The author would like to thank the University of Leicester for providing the study leave during which this article was written, and the journal’s managing editor and referees for their comments on earlier drafts of this article. Footnotes 1Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 92, 29 March 1901, 281. 2 By 30 June 1907, 4,882 widows had been registered with the Royal Patriotic Fund’s Transvaal War Fund. The Times, 19 July 1907. 3 A. Thompson, ‘Publicity, Philanthropy and Commemoration: British Society and the War’, in D. Omissi and A. Thompson, eds, The Impact of the South African War (Basingstoke, 2002), 106, unusually acknowledges the introduction of widows’ pensions, but minimizes its importance. 4 For example, G. R. C. Thomas, ‘State Maintenance for Women During the First World War: The Case of Separation Allowances and Pensions’, DPhil thesis, University of Sussex, 1989, 25, 130–1; I. H. James, ‘“To Keep Me All My Life”: Policy, Provision and the Experience of War Widowhood, 1914-1925’, PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, 2000, 71–2; J. Lomas, ‘“Delicate duties”: Issues of Class and Respectability in Government Policy towards the Wives and Widows of British Soldiers in the Era of the Great War’, Women’s History Review, 9 (2000), 126; J. Lomas, ‘Soldiering on: War Widows in First World War Britain’, in M. Andrews and J. Lomas, eds, The Home Front in Britain (Basingstoke, 2014), 39–40; M. Shaw and H. D. Millgate, War’s Forgotten Women: British Widows of the Second World War (Stroud, 2011), 22–3. 5 K. A. Collins, ‘“Petitions without Number”: Widows’ Petitions and the Early Nineteenth-century Origins of Marriage-based Entitlements’, Law and History Review, 31 (2013), 1–60. Pensions for war widows were established far earlier in America than in Britain, and on a far broader basis. 6 Collins, ‘Petitions without Number’, 14. 7 S. Pedersen, ‘Gender, Welfare, and Citizenship in Britain During the Great War’, American Historical Review, 95 (1990), 983–1006. 8 See esp. works by Thomas, Lomas and James cited at footnote 4 above. 9 For a discussion of the influence of the South African War in shaping First World War separation allowances, see E. Riedi, ‘Assisting Mrs Tommy Atkins: Gender, Class, Philanthropy and the Domestic Impact of the South African War, 1899–1902’, Historical Journal, 60 (2017), 745–69. 10 For the Crimean War, see M. Trustram, Women of the Regiment: Marriage and the Victorian Army (Cambridge, 1984), 175–7; D. Blomfield-Smith, Heritage of Help: The Story of the Royal Patriotic Fund (London, 1992), chapters 1–3; P. Huddie, ‘Victims or Survivors: Army Wives in Ireland During the Crimean War, 1854-56’, Women’s History Review, 26 (2017), 541–54. 11 Blomfield-Smith, Heritage, chapter 8; Report from the Select Committee on the Royal Patriotic Fund 368 (1896), xii–xiv. 12 [46 & 47 Vict] Greenwich Hospital Act, 1883. 13 Trustram, Women of the Regiment, 93. 14 The National Archives: Public Record Office, Kew, WO32/6525, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Estimated Cost, draft letter from War Office to Treasury, 9 January 1900. All War Office files cited henceforth are held at The National Archives: Public Record Office. 15 Trustram, Women of the Regiment, chapter 3, esp. 47–9, 209 ft 57. 16 Trustram, Women of the Regiment, chapter 5. For the beginnings of modern state provision for army families, see P. Y. C. E. Lin, ‘Caring for the Nation’s Families: British Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families and the State, 1793–1815’, in A. Forrest, et al., eds, Soldiers, Citizens and Civilians. Experiences and Perceptions of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1790-1820 (Basingstoke, 2009), 99–117. 17Report of His Majesty's Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Military Preparations and Other Matters Connected with the War in South Africa Cd. 1789 (1903), 34; S. Miller, ‘The South African War 1899-1902’, in I. F. W. Beckett, ed., Citizen Soldiers and the British Empire, 1837–1902 (London, 2012), 159–60. 18 L. Amery, ed., The Times History of the War in South Africa, Volume VII (London, 1909), 23, 25. In June 1902 the Patriotic Fund had registered 4,057 war widows, of which only a handful were colonial cases (TNA: PRO, PIN 96/14 Royal Patriotic Fund Executive and Finance Committee Minutes, 9 July 1902). 19Fortieth Report of the Royal Commissioners of the Patriotic Fund to Her Majesty the Queen Cd. 989 (1902); Report of the War Relief Funds Committee Cd. 196 (1900), 7–8. 20War Relief Funds Committee. Minutes of Evidence Cd. 248 (1900), 36–50 (J. Hall Richardson’s evidence); Report from the Joint Select Committee of the House of Lords and the House of Commons on Charitable Agencies for Relief of Widows and Orphans of Soldiers and Sailors (289) 1901, 71–7 (Sir Edward Lawson’s evidence); Scotsman, 23 January 1903. 21 Col Gildea, For King and Country: Being a Record of Funds and Philanthropic Work in Connection with the South African War, 1899-1902 (London, 1902), 10; Scotsman, 13 July 1900; Cd. 248, 57–62 (Lt-Col Tully’s evidence). 22 Cd. 196, 8. 23 WO32/6525, draft letter from War Office to Treasury, 9 January 1900. 24Daily Telegraph, 26 October 1899. 25 J. M. MacKenzie, ed., Popular Imperialism and the Military (Manchester, 1992); K. O. Morgan, ‘The Boer War and the Media (1899-1902)’, Twentieth Century British History, 13 (2002), 1–16; S. Badsey, ‘The Boer War as a Media War’, in P. Dennis and J. Grey, eds, The Boer War: Army, Nation and Empire (Canberra, 2000). 26 For example, ‘Loved Ones Gone. Grief-stricken Inquirers at the War Office’, Daily Mail, 24 October 1899; ‘The Dark Side of Victory, A Daily Scene at the War Office’, The Graphic, 4 November 1899—and see Thomas Hardy, ‘At the War Office, London (affixing the lists of killed and wounded: December 1899)’, first published in The Sphere, 27 January 1900. 27 M. D. Blanch, ‘British Society and the War’, in P. Warwick and S. B. Spies, eds, The South African War: The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (London, 1980), 217–18, 225–9; B. Beaven, ‘The Provincial Press, Civic Ceremony and the Citizen-soldier During the Boer War, 1899-1902: A Study of Local Patriotism’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 37 (2009), 207–28; E. Spiers, The Scottish Soldier and Empire 1854-1902 (Edinburgh, 2006), chapters 8, 9. 28 P. Donaldson, Remembering the South African War (Liverpool, 2013), 171; see also M. Connelly and P. Donaldson, ‘South African War (1899-1902) Memorials in Britain: A Case Study of Memorialization in London and Kent’, War & Society, 29 (2010), 20–46; E. W. McFarland, ‘Commemoration of the South African War in Scotland, 1900-10’, Scottish Historical Review, 89 (2010), 194–223. 29 Thompson, ‘Publicity, Philanthropy and Commemoration’, 106–13; Daily Telegraph, 22 November 1899. 30 See, for example, Cd. 248, 22 (Earl Nelson’s evidence), 247 (Appendix E, ‘Official Statement’ by the Patriotic Fund). 31 For example, Morning Post, 5 February 1900. 32 As well as for disabled servicemen and the families of living soldiers. See, for example, Northern Echo, 6 December 1899; Bristol Mercury, 6 December 1899; Cambridge Daily News, 7 December 1899; Burnley Express, 16 December 1899. 33 See, for example, Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 78, 8 February 1900, 954, 968, 972; 79, 19 February 1900, 469–70; 81, 29 March 1900, 734; 92, 29 March 1901, 280. 34 P. W. J. Bartrip and S. B. Burman, The Wounded Soldiers of Industry: Industrial Compensation Policy, 1833–1897 (Oxford, 1983), 5; Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 82, 1 May 1900, 489–93; Manchester Courier, 2 May 1900. 35Daily Telegraph, 4 May 1900. 36 WO32/6525, minutes of 13–21 December 1899; draft letter from War Office to Treasury, 9 January 1900. 37 See, for example, Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 79, 19 February 1900, 469–70; 81, 29 March 1900, 728–34; 81, 2 April 1900, 959. 38 Between 9 May and 11 July the Patriotic Fund registered 997 new widows—one-fifth of the final total. TNA: PRO, PIN 96/13, Royal Patriotic Fund Executive and Finance Committee minutes, 9 May, 11 July 1900. 39Daily Telegraph, 3 May 1900. The memorial was organised by William Allan, Liberal MP and former Royal Navy engineer. For MPs’ support for widows’ pensions see also articles entitled ‘The Nation’s Duty’, Daily Telegraph, 4 May, 5 May 1900. 40 Cd. 196, 12, 14; The Times, 15 June 1900. 41 G. Finlayson, Citizen, State, and Social Welfare in Britain 1830-1990 (Oxford, 1994), chapter 2; G. Finlayson, ‘A Moving Frontier: Voluntarism and the State in British Social Welfare 1911–1949’, Twentieth Century British History, 1 (1990), 183–206. 42 Riedi, ‘Assisting Mrs Tommy Atkins’. 43Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 84, 18 June 1900, 280. 44 WO32/6526, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Proposed Scale, minute by Marzials, 31 October 1900. 45 WO32/6526. 46 WO32/6529, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Report of Interdepartmental Committee. 47 Its main recommendation, the establishment of two pension boards, one military and one naval, to distribute both government pensions and supplementary charitable funds, was not accepted; but a similar scheme was implemented during the First World War. 48 Cd. 989, 28–9; TNA: PRO, PIN 96/14, 12 February, 16 April 1902. The scheme was extended to the Navy and Marines by Admiralty Order in Council No. 174 of 26 September 1901. 49 Royal Warrant of 12 January 1943 (Cmd. 6419). 50 The state separation allowance, originally 8 pence a day (4s 8d weekly) for privates’ wives, was raised to 13 pence a day (7s 7d a week) in January 1900—over 50 per cent higher than the 5 shillings pension paid to privates’ widows. 51 WO32/6525, minutes of 14 and 15 December 1899. 52 WO32/6526, Treasury Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men and Non-Commissioned Officers, n.d. [November 1900]; Mowatt to Brodrick, 22 November [1900]. The Patriotic Fund’s scale is given in Cd. 248, 251, Appendix G. The War Office insisted on raising the rates for all classes of NCOs (WO32/6526, minute by Brodrick, 22 November 1900; WO32/6528, Treasury minute of 24 November 1900); and also for Warrant Officers ‘to preserve a proper relation’ (WO32/6525, draft letter from War Office to Treasury dated 9 January 1900). 53 Cd. 248, 48 (Richardson’s evidence), 60 (Tully’s evidence); Joint Select Committee, 6 (George Lambert’s evidence). Rowntree in 1901 named seven shillings weekly as ‘the minimum necessary expenditure’ for a single man or woman (S. Rowntree, Poverty: A Study of Town Life (London, 1901), 110). 54 Riedi, ‘Assisting Mrs Tommy Atkins’. 55 Discussed in WO32/6529. 56 WO32/6529, Report, para 7(a). 57 R. Davidson, ‘Smith, Sir Hubert Llewellyn (1864–1945)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, online edn, January 2008 <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36147> accessed 2 September 2016; P. Thane, ‘Women and the Poor Law in Victorian and Edwardian England’, History Workshop Journal, 6 (1978), 43–4. 58 WO32/6529, Mowatt to Financial Secretary, War Office, 12 February 1901; minute by Marzials, 14th [February 1901]. Double rates were paid to children whose mother was dead. 59 For which see A. Davin, ‘Imperialism and Motherhood’, History Workshop Journal, 5 (1978), 9–65. 60 J. Macnicol, The Politics of Retirement in Britain, 1878-1948 (Cambridge, 1998), 200–1. 61 WO32/6534, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Extension of Limit for Claims, in Cases of Death from Disease or Wounds, from Two to Seven Years, memo by J. G. Ashley, 12 July 1907. As Thane notes it was only in October 1914 that the Local Government Board decisively prioritized childcare over work for widowed mothers receiving relief, and even then this guidance was largely ignored at local level (Thane, ‘Women’, 46). 62 Memorandum by T. J. Macnamara, ‘Allowances and Pensions in Respect of Seamen and Marines, and their Wives, Widows and Dependents’, Special Report and Second Special Report from the Select Committee on Naval and Military Services (Pensions and Grants) 1914-16 (53), 167. 63Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 92, 29 March 1901, 278. 64Joint Select Committee, viii. 65The Times, 20 September 1901. 66The Times, 1 October 1901. 67 1911 Census: entries for Annie Maria Irwin, Peckham; Emily Jane Caplin, Maidstone; Mary Ann Berrington, Bradford; Alice Short, Sturminster Newton. 68 R. Wall, ‘Widows, Family and Poor Relief in England from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century’, in B. Moring, ed., Female Economic Strategies in the Modern World (London, 2012), 31. 69The Times, 9 December 1899. This estimate lost the Patriotic Fund £215,760 as non-earmarked contributions to the Mansion House Fund were diverted from widows and orphans to other war charities. (Forty-First Report of the Royal Commissioners of the Patriotic Fund Cd. 1502 (1903), 8–9). 70 WO32/6525, minute of 15 December 1899. 71 Amery, ed., Times History, vol. VII, 24–5. Another 8 officers and 500 men died after being invalided home. 72 WO32/6529, Report, para 17. 73Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 109, 9 June 1902, 89. 74 Army Estimates were published annually as House of Commons Papers. 75 Calculated from Patriotic Fund annual reports (figures for calendar years 1902–14). Includes grants to officers’ families 1902–3, and additional grants made 1910–14 totalling £7,193 to the Royal Victoria Patriotic School for the maintenance of girls eligible for allowances from the Transvaal War Fund. 76 Calculated on the assumptions that 50 per cent had £15 annuities and 50 per cent £10 annuities, that all annuities were payable from 1 January 1902, and that the survival rate to 31 December 1914 was 100 per cent. Sources: Scotsman, 23 January 1903; Joint Select Committee, 72 (Lawson’s evidence). 77 James, ‘To Keep Me All My Life’, 51; Royal Warrant for the Pay, Appointment, Promotion and Non-Effective Pay of the Army 1899, 140 (Article 627); Lomas, ‘Delicate Duties’, 138; Royal Warrant of 12 January 1943 (Cmd. 6419). Except where otherwise specified, this paragraph and the next are drawn from WO32/6529. 78 Although peace was declared on 31 May 1902, for pensions purposes ‘active operations in the field’ were deemed to continue until 31 August (Scotsman, 10 July 1902). 79 J. Lomas, ‘“So I Married Again”: Letters from British Widows of the First and Second World Wars’, History Workshop Journal, 38 (1994), 220. 80 A. F. Young, Industrial Injuries Insurance: An Examination of British Policy (London, 1964, reprinted 2013), 61. 81 Thomas, ‘State Maintenance’, 135; J. Lomas, ‘War Widows in British Society 1914-1990’, PhD Thesis, Staffordshire University, 1997, 67; Royal Warrant of 15 September 1939 (Cmd. 6105). 82 Over 50,000 volunteers from South Africa and around 30,000 from Canada, Australia and New Zealand fought for the empire in the Boer War (Cd. 1789, 35). 83 WO32/6528, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Appointment of Interdepartmental Committee to Consider Scheme, minute by the adjutant-general, Sir Evelyn Wood, 9 December 1900. 84 WO32/6529, draft letter from War Office to Treasury, 18 February 1901. 85 Of the 2,583 widows on the books of the Transvaal War Fund on 31 December 1902, 552 were ‘on full rate of Allowance as having no Army Pension or Post Office [Daily Telegraph] Annuity’; another 21 were ‘in receipt of Post Office Annuities only’ (Cd. 1502, 23–7). 86 WO32/6529, Mowatt to Financial Secretary, War Office, 12 February 1901. 87Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 92, 29 March 1901, 278, 284–5. 88Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 92, 29 March 1901, 279–80, 290–3. 89 TNA: PRO, PIN 96/13, 6 March 1901. 90The Times, 6 July 1922. 91 Lomas, ‘War Widows’, 91. 92 See, for example, Royal Warrant … 1899, 140, 142 (Articles 627 and 630). This clause remained in force for the First World War. 93 Lomas, ‘War Widows’, 53; Pedersen, ‘Gender’, 1000. 94Joint Select Committee, 10–11 (Lambert’s evidence). 95 Trustram, Women, 176; Cd. 1502, 23. 96 WO32/6529, Report, para 8. 97Joint Select Committee, 107 (Spring-Rice’s evidence); Secretary of State for the Colonies to all Governor Generals, 1901, quoted in James, ‘To Keep Me All My Life’, 71. 98 TNA: PRO, PIN 96/13, 10 July 1901; for information sharing see, for example, 9 October 1901. 99 Double rates were payable to children whose mother had lost her pension by ‘misconduct’, but only if they were removed from her control. The children’s pension might also be increased sufficiently to allow them ‘to be placed in some benevolent institution’. 100Scotsman, 27 September 1909. However, during the First World War the War Office—unlike the Ministry of Pensions’ Special Grants Committee—refused to act on anonymous allegations (Lomas, ‘Delicate duties’, 136). 101 Lomas, ‘Delicate duties’, 136, and see, for example, Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 186, 23 July 1925, 2378–9. 102 Macnicol, Politics of Retirement, 20, 8. 103 WO32/6528, J. Robb, War Office, to Higgins, 3 December 1900. 104 Trustram, Women, 92; for an example see D. J. Oddy, ‘Gone for a Soldier: The Anatomy of a Nineteenth-century Army Family’, Journal of Family History, 25 (2000), 43–4. 105Joint Select Committee, 34 (Colonel Young’s evidence); Cd. 1502, 28. 106Joint Select Committee, 11 (Lambert’s evidence); Royal Warrant … 1899, 142 (Article 632). 107 Cd. 248, 16 (Earl Nelson’s evidence). 108 WO32/6526, Treasury Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men and NCOs, n.d. [November 1900]; WO32/6528, Treasury minute dated 24 November 1900 enclosed in Mowatt to Financial Secretary, War Office, 24 November 1900. 109 WO32/6529, Report, para. 9. 110 WO32/6529, Probable Cost of the Scheme for Providing for Widows and Orphans of Men Dying in the War in South Africa (Non-Commissioned Officers and Men Only) (Calculated for Mr Spring-Rice’s Committee), dated 10 January 1901, 7. Estimate assuming 2,359 widows and £10 gratuities. 111 WO32/6529, minute of 16 February 1901; draft Royal Warrant. Children retained their allowances regardless of their mother’s remarriage. 112 James, ‘To Keep Me All My Life’, 142. 113 WO32/6525, minute by Marzials, 13 December 1899. 114 This was an economy measure: see Cd. 1502, 11. 115Nottingham Evening Post, 2 December 1902; see also, for example, Leeds Mercury, 16 July 1907. 116 Steven Kennedy and Djuna Thurley, ‘War Widows’ Pensions’, House of Commons Library, Briefing Paper, Number SN-00568, 16 November 2016, <http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN00568/SN00568.pdf> accessed 26 July 2017. 117 See, for example, Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 74, 4 March 1985, 756. 118 See, for example, A. Smith, Discourses Surrounding British Widows of the First World War (London, 2013), chapter 5; for war widows’ use of both the ‘rhetoric of frailty and need’ and the language of ‘rights’ and ‘justice’ see James, ‘To Keep Me All My Life’, 282–7. 119 Except where otherwise indicated, this paragraph is drawn from WO32/6530, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Extension of Scheme to Cover Death Through Injury on Active Service, 1901. 120 Amery, ed., Times History, Volume VII, 25. 121 WO32/6530, minute of 2 July 1901. 122General Annual Report on the British Army for the Year ending 30th September, 1904 Cd. 2268 (1905), 19, and see, for example, Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 14 January 1904. 123Joint Select Committee, 111 (Spring-Rice’s evidence). 124 Except where otherwise indicated this paragraph and the next are drawn from WO32/6532, Scheme of Pensions for Widows and Orphans of Men Killed in Action or Dying on Active Service: Claim by Wife of Sergeant R. W. Jeffreys. Question of Application of 12 Month Limit in Cases of Death from Disease or Wounds. 125 WO32/6534, minute by J. G. Ashley, 23 July 1907. Previously the limit had been 6 months for disease, 12 months for wounds. 126Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 109, 9 June 1902, 89. 127The Times, 9 November 1903. Copies of the correspondence are in WO32/6534. 128 WO32/6534, letter from Annie Jardine, 28 November 1903, and minutes on the letter, December 1903. The new financial secretary was William Bromley-Davenport. 129 The extension saved the Patriotic Fund over £5,000 in the first year (Fifth Report of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation to his Majesty the King for the Year 1908 Cd. 4806 (1909), 7). 130Navy and Army. Allowances and Pensions in Respect of Seamen, Marines, and Soldiers, and their Wives, Widows and Dependants Cd. 7662 (1914–16); Royal Warrants of 29 March 1917 (1917–18 (64)); 17 April 1918 (Cd. 9040); 6 December 1919 (Cmd. 457); 21 June 1922 (Cmd. 1701). The Royal Warrant of 14 January 1924 (Cmd. 2030) gave the Minister of Pensions discretion to grant pensions to the widows of men dying after more than 7 years, but they were still denied certain benefits including the gratuity on remarriage. 131 Royal Warrant of 15 September 1939 (Cmd. 6105). 132 Army Widows’ Association, Pensions Factsheet, <http://www.armywidows.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/pensions.pdf> accessed 24 August 2016. In this case if death occurred within 7 years of service ‘the burden of disproving a link to service lies with MOD. After more than 7 years the burden of proof shifts to the claimant’. 133 Quoted in N. Barr, The Lion and the Poppy: British Veterans, Politics, and Society, 1921-1939 (Westport, CT, 2005), 122; see also Lomas, ‘Delicate Duties’, 133. 134 Between 1904 and 30 June 1907 the Patriotic Fund accepted as new cases 329 widows and 674 children (The Times, 19 July 1907). 135The Times, 19 July 1907; Fourth Report of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation to His Majesty the King for the Year 1907 Cd. 4214 (1908), 8, 9; see also Blomfield-Smith, Heritage, 104–5. 136 WO32/6534, minutes by H. de la Bere, 25 July 1907, and Sir G Fleetwood Wilson, 26 July 1907; Treasury to War Office, 23 August 1907. 137 WO32/6534, minutes by Haldane, 2, 8 September 1907. 138 WO32/6534, War Office to Patriotic Fund, 18 September 1907 (copy); Army Order 259 of 1907, dated 9 October 1907. Pensions were payable only from 1 October 1907 with no backdating. 139 Justifying the ‘seven year rule’ in 1922 the Minister of Pensions began with the (slightly inaccurate) claim that it was ‘a provision of old standing’. Ministry of Pensions. Memorandum by the Minister of Pensions on Certain Points Arising in Connection with the Administration of Pensions Cmd. 1748 (1922), 4. 140 Thomas, ‘State Maintenance’, chapter 2. 141 Royal Warrant of 29 March 1917, 5, 6. 142 Quoted in Lomas, ‘Delicate Duties’, 131. 143 Quoted in Blomfield-Smith, Heritage, 124. 144Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 91, 6 March 1917, 203. 145 Lanark Daily Record, 8 December 1917; see also, for example, Birmingham Evening Despatch, 7 February 1918. 146Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 105, 17 April 1918, 401; Ministry of Pensions. Royal Warrant for the Pensions of Soldiers Disabled, and of the Widows of Soldiers Deceased in Consequence of Former Wars Cd. 9041 (1918); Ministry of Pensions. Royal Warrant as to the Pensions of Soldiers Disabled, and of Widows of Soldiers Deceased, in Consequence of Former Wars Cmd. 1034 (1920). 147Parliamentary Debates (Commons), 103, 5 March 1918, 1810. 148 J. Hall Richardson, From the City to Fleet Street (London, 1927), 146, 147. 149 Lomas, ‘War Widows’, 85. © The Author [2017]. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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