The ‘settled poor’, those who had been born in the parish or had a steady job, received support from the vestry; in essence, early modern care for the poor was a forerunner of the welfare state. Overseers of the Poor were responsible for dispensing of the Poor Rate, which went towards the cost of housing, health care and food for paupers living in their own homes, and for funeral expenses. In return, paupers were expected to work in any way of which they were capable.
In 1722 an Act was passed authorising churchwardens and overseers to buy or rent buildings for the lodging, maintenance and employment of the poor. East Meon had its own workhouse by 1727, situated in what is now Workhouse Lane. By now, paupers were issued with gowns embroidered with ‘P’ for ‘pauper’ and were known as ‘goodmen’ or, the women, ‘goodies’. East Meon’s was well known to be a decent workhouse, with the inevitable result that migrant paupers from elsewhere tried all the harder to establish residency in the parish. The farming community both provided employment for paupers, and sold produce to the workhouse. Extracts from East Meon’s Overseer’s account books of the early 18th century show that the poor were supported according to their needs, with food and other necessities, with rent and medical expenses. In return, they were still expected to work where they could. The Overseer recorded in detail what William Pink paid for paupers to spin the wool (which he may have sold on to manufacturers in Petersfield, noted at the time for the manufacture of white kerseys).