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. "


Population in 1841, 530
Paupers relieved in 1842, 10
Sum distributed amongst them, £22 :7 : 3.

Rev. David Guild, Minister of the Parish of Auchtertool. 12 October 1843

I am minister of the parish of Auchtertool, and I have been so for forty-three years. There is no assessment in the parish. The funds arising from the church door collections, and other ordinary sources, have hitherto been nearly sufficient for supporting the poor. There are only two proprietors, one of whom is proprietor of nine-tenths of the parish. I have sometimes had occasion to apply to the heritors for contributions in aid of the funds. I do not believe that I have applied more than six times during my incumbency. I have sometimes experienced a little delay and difficulty in obtaining assistance from them. They never attend the meetings of the kirk-session for the administration of relief.

I know the circumstances of the paupers on the roll. There are only ten on the roll altogether.

1. One is an idiot aged under forty. His allowance is 4s. a week. He sits rent free in a house which belongs to the session. He lives in the same house, although not in the same room, with the person who takes charge of him, and receives the money for him. She is a widow, with three or four young children; but she keeps a small grocery shop, and does not require any assistance from us.

2. Another is an old woman, Margaret Porter, near seventy years of age. Her allowance is 3s. 6d. a month, and she sits rent free in a house belonging to the session: She has likewise a portion of coals supplied to her to the value of 9s. Her only other resource, besides her allowance, is now private charity. She has no relations. I rather think the people are kind to her – I know they are. She gets her dinner occasionally from some more opulent neighbours.

3. Another is an old woman, named Stevenson, about sixty-eight. She lives in the same house, and has the same allowance as Margaret Porter. This old woman is maintained just in the same way as the other. She has no relations who help her.

4. There is an old man who lives in the same house, named John Grindlay, aged above sixty. His allowance is 3s. 6d. a month. He has a free house and some coals in winters. He is lame from rheumatism, and is not able to work. He has a daughter married to a tailor in the village, and I should think he gets assistance from her.

These last four mentioned paupers all live in what may be considered the poorhouse: that is, it is a house belonging to the session. The sister of the fatuous person pays rent for the shop which she occupies: in that poorhouse.

5. Again, there is John Davidson, aged about eighty, who receives 3s. 6d. a month ; out of which, hitherto, he has paid house rent, which is 30s. a year. He has a son aged about forty living with him, who is an unmarried labourer; but he is sickly in health. The old man must be chiefly maintained by private charity. I know of no other means he has. I have myself given him some clothes. I think it will be necessary to pay his rent, because his landlord was about to turns him out, as he was unable to pay it himself.

6. Again, there is Margaret Lindsay, aged sixty. Her allowance is 2s. a month, out of which she has to pay her own rent, which may be about 25s. or 30s. a year. The fact is, she is a woman of bad character, and I have always kept her allowance lower than the rest. She has had several illegitimate children, who are all grown up. She has a son living with her, nearly thirty years of age, unmarried; he is a day labourer, and probably maintains his mother. She is able to do a very little work herself.

7. Again, there is a married woman, whose maiden name was Wilson; her husband has deserted her; she is fifty years of age. She only gets occasional relief - perhaps not above 1s. 6d. a month. She has some grown-up children living with her; but her youngest child is about twelve years of age. I do not know her rent, and all the circumstances of her case.

8. 9. and 10. Besides these, there are three other persons on the roll, the details of whose cases I am not able to state.

We do not provide medical attendance for the poor from the poor funds. In some cases I have asked the doctors to visit the poor gratuitously. They have done so sometimes, but not always. Sometimes they make a demand for attendance upon the sick poor. Such a demand I have always resisted. We never provide extra nutritious diet for the sick poor from the poor funds. Assistance of this kind is procured from private charity. We defray the funeral expenses of paupers, allowing 18s. for this purpose. There is no begging among people on the roll. The latter come into the kitchens of their more opulent neighbours, and get something as a matter of course.  We have a great many beggars from other parishes; but their number has been diminished by the county police. These beggars are generally sturdy young men, representing themselves as unemployed operatives. There are seldom women among them. The children in my parish are generally vaccinated. I do not remember one fatal case of smallpox.

My parish is chiefly agricultural. The largest farm is above 400 acres. We have three about 140 acres. Besides these, we have a good many about thirty and forty acres. We have a good many agricultural day labourers, who are not farm servants, and have no land. I never witnessed any extreme destitution amongst that class. There is poverty enough amongst them, but no destitution. Their wages are from 1s. 6d. to 2s. a day; but they are prevented by the weather from being constantly employed. It is not the practice of farmers to keep them on in wet weather.

The people in the parish are generally pretty well educated. They are generally temperate, active, and industrious in their habits, and are very anxious to have their children well educated. It is common for them to have their money in savings’ banks. They prefer this to friendly societies. They have no medical club in the parish. There is not the least disposition in the people to emigrate. The population of the parish is not redundant. Our population during the ten years previous to 1841, only increased by three individuals. I am unable in any way to state the cause of this circumstance. We have a good many empty houses in the village. The late secession from the established church will not affect materially our church collections. I should not approve of maintaining the poor from an assessment. I think this should be done merely by private contributions.