In the agricultural township of Rigton, ten miles north of Leeds, three-quarters of labouring households had recourse to poor relief at some stage between 1815 and 1861. The chronology of this microhistory straddles the end of the French Wars, the Sturges Bourne reforms, and, due to the existence of the country's largest Gilbert Unions, the region's laggardly application of the Poor Law Amendment Act. It seeks, by source linkage, to establish the contexts of labour, welfare and the life cycle within a northern community, and place the poor and their experiences of, and strategies against, poverty within that community. A demographic overview introduces the contexts of labouring families' lives, whilst a commentary on expositions of biographical reconstitutions of two generations of a labouring family, forms a major part of this exploration. This argues that whilst relationships with, and mitigation against, poverty were fluid and complex, as the century progressed labouring families had a decreasing interface with the Poor Law, and adopted and developed new economic strategies to add to their portfolio of makeshifts.