Thomas Robert Malthus(1766-1834), Political economist
Sitter in 4 portraits
The ideas of Thomas Malthus dominated social policy debates concerning poverty in the early nineteenth century and laid the foundations for scientific population studies. Malthus was an unknown curate when he anonymously published his controversial Essays on the Principle of Population (1798). He argued that progressive legislation would never succeed in bringing general happiness because poverty was a consequence of population growth. This challenged the assumptions of eighteenth century social theory which associated populousness with prosperity and national power. Malthus's opinions were instrumental in shaping the new Poor Law of 1834 though opposition to his perceived hardheartedness was great.