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. "
Notes of Cases of Paupers visited at Pathhead, Parish of Dysart, 10th October 1843.
1. Jane Lockhart aged about seventy. Allowance 8s. a month. Rent £1, but she is three years in arrears, and the rent is not to be exacted. She is entirely helpless; is a cripple, and sits in a chair in the street. She lives in a garret. She sleeps on a bedstead, with straw, and no bedding, but with sheets and blankets. A neighbour, the wife of a sawyer, attends upon her occasionally, and is very kind to her. Jane Lockhart gets assistance by begging. She had a good fire, and had tea things ready for her. The old woman is said to be fond of drink.
2. James Thompson, aged seventy-one. A cripple with crutches. Has received a great-coat from the parish of Dysart, but no regular relief. Rent 30s. Has a wife, aged fifty-two, and has a son in the town married, with two children, aged fifteen and twelve respectively, and an unmarried daughter, aged twenty, living with him. She is a weaver. He does not work at all, but he begs, sitting on the road between Kirkcaldy and Pathhead. His wife has a bad hand, but she can work at stockings. He has not applied to the session of Dysart, because he says he would not like to be a burden to them, as long as he can live by "seeking" where he is (begging.)
3. Widow Grizzy Kenly, aged seventy. Allowance 1s. 6d. a month. Rent 18s. a year. The allowance is retained for the rent. She winds bobbins, by which she earns 1s. 6d. a week. She has two grown-up sons, and three daughters, but says they do not help her. The daughters are all married, but they live in the town. Furniture - a chest of drawers, three chairs, a bed and table.
4. Thomas Davy, aged twelve; Mary, aged ten; Lilly, aged eight. Three orphans, boarded with Jane Campbell, aged sixty. Allowance for each of them 2s. a week. The two eldest are at Philp’s institution. The three children sleep in the same bed with Jane Campbell. The latter seemed an active person for her age. The only orphan at home was tidy, but the room was not kept clean. Dorothy Lilly, and Margaret Philp (see next case) live in the same room.
5. Dorothy Lilly, aged about seventy-five is boarded with Jane Campbell for 2s. 6d. a week. She is palsied, and has been so four years. She was sitting dressed before the fire, with a blanket over her.
6. Margaret Philp, aged fifty. Allowance 5s. a month - to Jane Campbell for her bed. She is an object, and somewhat palsied. She lives by begging during the day. The session at first allowed her 3s. 6d. a week, but she would not remain in the house, and would beg, so the session reduced her allowance. Jane Campbell cooks into broth any meat which she may bring in from begging. She was afterwards met begging in Dysart.
Notes of Cases of Paupers visited in Dysart, 16th October 1843.
1. Grizel Dick, aged eighty. Allowance 3s. 6d. a month. She lives with two unmarried grandsons. They are weavers, and pay £3 10s. rent for two rooms and loom steading. They maintain their grandmother, who, in turn, winds pirns for them. Room tolerably clean and decently furnished.
2. James More, aged forty. Allowance 5s. a month. He is fatuous, and lives with his father, John More, aged seventy, who is a cripple, and almost blind. Rent £3. An unmarried daughter, aged forty, who weaves, lives with him, and a grandson, aged twelve, who has just begun weaving. John and James More are chiefly maintained by their daughter and grandson. Room decently furnished – an old press, dresser, crockery, &c.
3. Walter More, aged seventy-eight. Allowance 2s. a month. Rent £3 for room and loom-stead. He lives alone, but is in the same house with John More. He is a weaver, but sometimes is not strong enough to work, and sometimes cannot get work. He lost his wife two months ago. Room decently furnished.
4. Widow Bett, aged sixty-six. Allowance 2s. a month. Rent £1. She broke her arm three years ago, but she has an unmarried daughter, aged forty, a weaver, who lives with her. Her daughter is now in a spinning mill, where her wages are 4s. a week. Room small but decently furnished - a press and chest of drawers.
5. Eliza Reekie, aged above twenty. Allowance 2s. 6d. a month. She has been bedridden ten years. She lives with her father, a wright, aged seventy, and her unmarried sister, aged twenty-five, who keeps house and attends to her. Two rooms very decently furnished - chest of drawers and clock - and kept clean.
6. Widow Blyth, aged forty-five. Allowance 3s. a month (from Markinch parish). Rent 24s. a year. Has three children living with her. Robert, aged eighteen; John, aged fifteen; and William nearly ten years of age. She receives relief on account of pains in her wrists, which prevent her from doing hard work. Robert and John are weavers; but Robert is in delicate health. John is now working at out-door work. The mother can wind bobbins, by which she can earn 1s. 6d. a week. Room decently furnished. Handsome chest of drawers and cupboard, with a glass case. Her husband was a turner. William is not at school. She says that “she has no bawbees" to send him there. He works a little for a baker.
7. Richard Berry, aged sixty-five, and his wife aged sixty-four. Allowance 4s. a month. Rent £2. He is past work, and earns nothing. The wife winds pirns, and works at out-door labour, and chiefly maintains herself and husband. Room decently furnished, a clock and press.
8. Widow Evans, aged ninety. Allowance 2s. a month. Rent 15s. a year. Has an unmarried son, aged forty-four, living with her. He is a weaver, and chiefly maintains his mother. Furniture generally poor and broken.
9. Henry Hay, aged eighty-two, and his wife, aged eighty-four. Allowance 4s. a month. Rent free from Lord Rosslyn. A grand-daughter, aged sixteen, lives with them. The old woman is strong, and sometimes helps to ship coals. They have three grown-up sons, and two grown-up daughters, all married. One of the daughters, a very respectable well dressed person, was in the house on a visit from Edinburgh. Room tolerably well furnished. Two presses, dresser, and crockery.
10. Widow Skinners, aged seventy-five. Allowance 2s. 6d. a month. Rent 15s. a year. She lives alone in a small garret, which she keeps clean. She cleans the coal-office in the town, by which she earns £1 15s. in the year. She receives 6d. a week from the ladies’ society. Good furniture in the room; amongst other articles a large press, and a chest of drawers.
11. Widow Watson, aged sixty. Allowance 2s. a month. Rent 28s. a year. She lives alone. She receives 6d. a week from the ladies’ society. She begs a little in Kirkcaldy, and says she pays her rent by begging and scrimping herself, i.e. by living on little. She complained of her poverty. Furniture - bed, five chairs, one table, and press.
12. Eliza Murray, aged eighty. Allowance 2s. 6d. a month. She lodges with Johanna Graham, a connexion by marriage, and the house rent of the latter is paid by Eliza Murray’s brother, who sells coals in a coal yard at Edinburgh. The old woman has 9d. a week from the ladies’ society, and 6d. a week from Mr Barclay, a gentleman who used to live in the town. Room decently furnished, and clean.
13. John Miller, aged seventy-four. Allowance 5s. a month. Rent £2 a year. He was in bed, and has been disabled from work for some years. He lives with an unmarried son, aged forty, a weaver, and an unmarried daughter, aged forty-five, who winds bobbins, and washes. He is chiefly maintained by his children. Furniture good; amongst other articles a clock, a press, and chest of drawers, and a cupboard, with a glass case.
14. Agnes Law, aged seventy five. Allowance 2s. a month. Rent £2. She earns a little by sewing. Her brother, aged sixty-five, lives with her. He is a respectable person, and has an allowance of 3s. 6d. a week from a gentleman whom he formerly lived with as a servant. Two rooms decently furnished and kept clean.
16. Mary Banks, aged sixty-six. Allowance 2s. a month. Rent £1. She lives alone, and winds bobbins, by which she earns about 3s. a week when in employment. She receives 6d. a week from the ladies’ society. Room decently furnished; amongst other articles, a chest of drawers, and old clock, which was not going.
17. Widow Christie, aged seventy-six. Allowance 2s. 6d. a month. Rent £1 a year. She receives 9d. a week from the ladies’ society. She lives alone and does not work at all. She has a grown-up son in town, who is a shoemaker, and has a family of seven children. She says he does not help her. Room cold and dirty. Furniture – one bed, two chairs, one table, one press.
18. Christy M‘Leod, aged seventy-seven. Unmarried. Allowance 3s. a month. Rent £1. She lives alone. She receives 9d. a week from the ladies’ society, and otherwise subsists by begging. She was met begging in the village.
19. Widow Redpath, aged sixty-two. Allowance 1s. 6d. a month. Rent 25s. a year. She has a daughter, aged nineteen, living with her. She winds bobbins, by which she earns 2s. 6d. or 3s. a week. The daughter is a weaver. Room contained good furniture; amongst other articles, a handsome chest of drawers, and a cupboard full of crockery, with a glass door.
20 and 21. William Forsyth, aged sixty-six, and Betty, his sister, aged seventy-six. Allowance 2s. a month to each. Rent 30s. William is unwell at present; but when in health, he works at the looms. Room neat, but poorly furnished.
22. Widow Arthur, aged sixty-eight. Allowance 4s. a month from the parish of Leslie. Rent 30s. a year. She lives alone. She maintains herself by sewing, with the aid of the allowance; but she says that “she has a great fight to maintain herself" Room decently furnished, and clean, with the head of an apostle in oil painting over her chimney.
23. Margaret Baxter, aged eighty-five. Allowance 3s. a month. Rent free, from her brother, a baker in Fisherrow. She receives 9d. a week from the ladies’ society. She has an unmarried daughter, aged forty, living with her, who works at the loom. Room clean and decently furnished.
24. Margaret Lilly, aged about sixty. Allowance 2s. 6d. a month. Rent £1. She lives alone. She has 6d. a week from the ladies’ society. She works at outdoor labour, when she can get light employment. She was not at harvest this year. She is helped by the private charity of her neighbours.
25. Mary Draper, aged thirty-three. Allowance 2s. a month. Rent £1 a year. She is weak and in bad health, and lives alone. She gets about 1s. a month from the relief church. She knits stockings, by which she earns 9d. a week. She has an unmarried cousin, aged thirty, a weaver, who lives near her, cleans her room, and looks in upon her. Room very clean. Furniture good. Amongst other articles, a handsome press, and chest of drawers, and good crockery.
26. John Taylor, aged eighty, and Janet, his wife, aged seventy-five. Allowance 2s. a month. They sit rent free, in two rooms of a house belonging to their son, a tailor, aged thirty-six, who is married with five children. The old man cannot work; his wife knits stockings; and they are helped by their son. Room not very clean, but tolerably well furnished; amongst other articles, a press and chest of drawers.
27. Widow Taylor, aged thirty-four. Allowance 2s. 6d. She has two children, Sophia, aged fifteen and Margaret, aged eight. The allowance is given for the latter. Widow Taylor winds bobbins, and lives with her father, a weaver, aged seventy. He is is a widower without any other children in the town, and he pays all the rent for the house. Sophia is in a spinning mill, and earns 2s. 6d. a week. Margaret goes to school. Room in confusion. Furniture good.
28. Peter Adamson, aged seventy-four, and Betty his wife, aged sixty-six. Allowance 2s. a month. Rent 35s. a year. She winds bobbins, by which, when in employment, she earns 3s. a week. He is kirk-officer of the free church, but has only received 3s. hitherto, and there is no bargain for the future. She chiefly maintains her husband by her labour. Room a little in confusion, but well furnished with a press, a chest of drawers, an old clock, and a cupboard, with a glass door. The wife said that although she lived very meanly “she would rather live on a potato a day than put her furniture awa’.“ The old man had been a sailor on board a man-of-war.
29. Widow Jerrard, aged forty-five. Allowance 2s. 6d. a month. Rent 18s. Has a son living with her, aged sixteen, a day servant to a gentleman in the town, and a girl, aged ten. The mother winds bobbins, by which she is no earning 3s. a week, but she says she was seven months out of work. The little girl has not been sent to school since her father dies, eleven months ago. The number of scholars whom the schoolmaster takes in without requiring fees is full, and she says she cannot afford to pay the fees. (Fee for reading only 3d. a week). Room decently furnished – press and chest of drawers.
30. Widow Alexander Thompson, aged sixty-three. Allowance 2s. a month. Rent £2. She lives alone. She has a peck of meal a week from Lord Rosslyn, for whom her late husband had worked thirty-eight years. She knits stockings, by which she earns a little more than 1s. a week. Room clean and decently furnished - press, chest of drawers, a few prints, clock, and cupboard full of crockery, with a glass door. Being praised for the neatness of her room, she said, "It is all the comfort a poor body has."
31. Grizzy Hart, aged eighty. Allowance 2s. 6d. a month. Lives with her niece, and a nephew-in-law. The latter is a quarrier, and is grave-digger of the town, with three young children. The old woman’s husband was a sailor, and she receives 9s. a quarter from the Trinity house. House decently furnished.
32. Jane Mavan, aged ten, and Isabella Mavan, aged six, two orphans. Allowance 8s. a month. They live with their grandfather, aged fifty-nine, a weaver, who has made an arrangement with the session to maintain one of the children, the session allowing 8s. a month for the other. The grandfather is a weaver, with three children at home, two sons, aged eighteen and twelve respectively, of whom one is a tinman, and the other a weaver, and a girl aged twelve, who is likewise at the loom. Rent £4. Rooms decently furnished.