Evidence is growing that Wales was a distinctive ‘welfare region’ under the New Poor Law. Higher rates of out-relief, tense relations with London and a deep dislike of the workhouse system marked the Principality out as different. This article considers Welsh distinctiveness in the context of the ‘crusade against out-relief’. Launched in the early 1870s, the crusade saw out-relief numbers tumble nationally. Little is known about the crusade in Wales but it is often assumed that it was a non-event. It is argued here that this is entirely incorrect. Official statistics reveal that tens of thousands of outdoor paupers in Wales had their relief stopped. Crusaders were successful partly due to the misleading way the Poor Law inspectorate used official figures to portray Wales as a district on the brink of crisis. The turning of outdoor paupers into ‘folk devils’ by sections of the Welsh press was also pivotal. Welsh distinctiveness was not eradicated during the crusade, but it was eroded.