Faced with the famine, the British government had to act and provide some relief for the suffering population. The government of Sir Robert Peel was aware that Great Britain had spent £250,000 when Ireland suffered food shortages from 1812 to 1818. At the time, only 50,000 people had perished. The government immediately allocated £100,000 to purchase food in the United States. The government had long established the Poor Laws to provide assistance to those suffering from unemployment or poverty. Assistance in the workhouses was coupled with evidence for destitute and made into such harsh conditions that poverty stricken individuals would seek to leave the poor houses as soon as possible to find work. In Ireland, half a million were employed by public work projects. The public works projects could not provide enough relief or alleviate the suffering. In 1847, the government experiment with soup kitchens. Starvation was only one of the killers; illness was deadly among the weakened people. The government required that anybody on relief could only own a quarter acre of land to be destitute, forcing many to leave their land. The British failed to address the differences of Protestant material success and Catholic poverty, which left the latter starved. There was a perception among Irish that England purposefully botched the relief to thin out the Catholic Irish population.

Image: Robert Wilson, The Life and Times of Queen Victoria, London, UK: Cassell and Company, 1887-88. Page 208