This paper will attempt to provide an overview of Bentham’s fundamental thinking with regard to the relief of indigence. The manuscripts on which it draws form the texts of unpublished works, namely a set of ‘Three Essays on the Poor Laws’, which were completed by Bentham, and ‘Pauper Systems Compared’, which remains in a comparatively unfinished state. In the ‘Essays’, Bentham considers first the question of whether the relief of indigence should be a public responsibility, and, having concluded that it should, moves on to consider what conditions should be attached to that relief. In ‘Systems Compared’, Bentham analyzes different systems of provision in terms of their compatibility with these conditions.