Do have ancestors from Scotland that fell on hard times? Explore this collection of records for those receiving poor relief.
Each record includes a transcript and original record where available, the amount of information listed varies, but the records usually include a combination of the following information:
Date of minute of parochial board authorising brief
Wholly or partially destitute
Wholly or partially disabled
Description of disablement
Name and age of wife and children
Name, age and weekly earnings of husband, children
Amount and description of relief
Nature of settlement
In the mid-19th century Scotland, the plight of the poor was intolerable. The assistance the poor received was minimal, the support system required to change to alleviate the poor’s suffering and in August 1845, The Poor Law Act (Scotland) was introduced.
Prior to The Poor Law Act (Scotland) 1845 Responsibility for administering funds for the poor lay initially with the church. Funding for poor relief was provided from church service collections, fines on offenders and fees for carrying out sacraments and services, like the use of mortcloths at funerals. Some parish poor funds were endowed by mortifications (bequests by wealthy parishioners or former parishioners).
Each parochial board had to keep a roll of the poor to whom it gave relief. To begin with record keeping did not change much and there was quite a lot of overlap between the records of parochial boards and kirk sessions.
The boards administered funds for the poor, this was determined by those who were unable to support themselves and eligible for help could apply. To be eligible for relief, claimants had to meet certain criteria, they had to be destitute and disabled either through age or incapacity. They included orphans, the sick, disabled or the insane. Able-bodied unemployed were classed as vagrants and told to seek work. If they were found begging they could be sent to correction centres. Applicants had to be residents of the parish by birth or marriage or resident and working within the parish for three years.
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