1843 Poor Law Commission

Extracts from "Poor Law inquiry (Scotland.) Appendix, part III. Containing minutes of evidence taken in the synods of Angus and Mearns, Perth and Stirling, Fife, Glasgow and Ayr, Galloway, Dumfries, Merse and Teviotdale, Lothian and Tweeddale. "

Mr Charles Edmonstone, House factor in Hamilton. 4 November 1843

Has had an opportunity of being acquainted with the description of houses inhabited by the paupers in Hamilton. Most of them are very indifferent, rented from 26s. to £2. A year. The bedding and furniture in such houses is very poor. He has not found any of them without bedding of some sort or other. In visiting their houses he has found some of them very destitute. He has been obliged himself, sometimes, to give them money to buy food, of which they were in want. He has found such cases amongst decent old people, who could do no work. There are eighteen paupers now on the roll whose allowances he draws in full, in payment of their rent, and if they exceed the rent, he pays them the balance every Friday morning. There is no assessment levied upon means and substance in Hamilton, unless upon persons who are understood to have something considerable; but there is no specified rental upon which the assessment does not go. A great many people complain of being too high, but the paupers have too little to keep them, and they compute of having too little.

Notes of Cases of Paupers visited at Hamilton, November 1843

1. Ann Cowie, bed-ridden. Lives with John Moffatt. House clean and comfortable; clean comfortable bed. Every appearance of her being well taken care of. She has been seven years in the same house.

2. Widow Stewart has five children; eldest eleven years of age. Duke of Hamilton gives her a free house. Has 3s. 6d. a week from the parish. Makes 1s. a week by tambouring. Very neat clean house, consisting of two rooms.

3. Mrs ———. Has 2s. or 2s. 6d. a week for her daughter, who is silly. House clean and comfortable.

4. Widow Dykes. Has three children, and one died last night. One of the surviving children is ill. Her settlement is disputed. She has 2s. 6d. a week temporary supply.

5. Magdalene Lees, aged sixty-six. Has 1s. 3d. a week. Very clean house and bed. Good furniture and crockery. Rent £1 per annum.

6. Janet Mills, eighty-four. Widow. 2s. a week. Born in the parish of Banff. Fifty years in Hamilton. House rent £3. Very clean and decent furniture. She gets a cart of coals in winter, and makes a little by going about with a basket. She is a very cheerful woman.

7. Widow Graham. Has five children. Eldest a boy thirteen years old. Three of them are in fever. She washes and dresses clothes. Her allowance is 1s. a. week. Small house, rather dirty.

8. Ann Gemmell. A dissipated character. Dirty garret. Two very bad beds. A lodger occupies one of them. She has 6d. a week.

Visitation of Paupers at Airdrie, 6th November 1843.
The Commissioners visited a number of the paupers on the poor roll at Airdrie, in their own houses, attended by several of the managers appointed by the heritors and kirk-session of the parish of New Monkland. None of the paupers appeared in particular want of food, fuel, or clothes, and most of them had a good deal of furniture. Some of them were supplied with bacon, and other sorts of animal food; and considering the improvident habits of the mining population, to which class they chiefly belonged, they were in as good circumstances as could reasonably be expected. None of them appeared in so low a condition as some of the poor visited in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Commissioners requested the managers to prepare a return of the length of residence of the paupers before their admission on the roll, and of the wages they had been in the custom of receiving, as far as this can be ascertained.