Those who could not pay their debts were left to the care of the British Government and this meant the workhouse for many. Forced labor, horrible living conditions, parasites, disease, and cold awaited those who were unfortunate enough to have lost all their money. Widows with their children and the elderly were common inmates in these awful places, deemed more worthy of help than seemingly-able single men.
At the time being poor was associated with being lazy or immoral and so freezing dormitories infested with lice and 16-hour work days did not seem to bother the aldermen and bailiffs who oversaw this cruel system. The British institution was only finally abolished in 1948 with the institution of the National Health System after having been a part of British life for hundreds of years.