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, 1891
Paupers relieved in 1842, 48
Sum distributed amongst them, £131, 16s.

Rev. Hugh Ralph, LL.D., Minister of the Parish of Aberdour.

Has been nearly two years minister of Aberdour. There is no assessment for the poor in the parish, but there has been for a number of years a voluntary contribution made by the heritors in aid of the poor funds. The voluntary contribution has been for some years nearly stationary. The allowance for a widow with two or three children under ten years of age, would be 2s. a week. The allowance for an old man past work, but not bedridden, would be 1s. 6d. a week. The highest weekly allowance is 2s., or, in some cases of more than ordinary distress, perhaps 2s. 6d.; such a case is, however, very rare.

There is one orphan on the roll who is boarded with a relative at the rate of 1s. per week. The school fees for this orphan are paid from the session fund. Of the two insane or fatuous persons mentioned in the return to the printed queries, one, who was resident in the parish, is recently dead; the other resides in Dalgety parish with a relative, and is allowed £2 5s. a quarter. This person is properly cared for. Witness is constantly in the habit of visiting the poor at their own houses. He considers the paupers, taking into account the provision made for them by private charity as well as from the parish funds, to be, on the whole, well taken care of. Besides the ordinary parish allowances, a collection is made for coals to the poor during the winter season, amounting, generally, to from £7 to £8. Advantage is also taken of the number of people who resort to the parish temporarily during the bathing season, and a subscription is got up among those parties, under the name of the “sick and benevolent fund," amounting usually from £25 to £30 a year, which is distributed weekly throughout the winter by the persons who have taken the chief management in raising the fund. Lord Moray gives a large distribution of coals to the village paupers; and Lord Morton, also, though not resident, has several pensioners to whom he gives meal and other necessaries.

The houses of the paupers, as to comfort, are inferior to the houses occupied by the lowest class of independent labourers, but the difference in this respect is not considerable. Witness was for a number of years a clergyman in Liverpool. He considers the condition of the poor in Aberdour as worse than the condition of the same class of persons in Liverpool. He believes that there is little feeling of independence and self-respect among the paupers in his parish; but he thinks that this state of the population may be partly owing to the peculiar circumstances in which the parish is situated, being frequented, during the summer season, by a number of persons who resort to Aberdour as a bathing station, and who scatter money irregularly among the inhabitants. Were the resources of the people of a more fixed and permanent description, he conceives that their independence of feeling would be less injuriously affected. School fees for the children of paupers, or other persons unable to pay for the education of their children, are paid from the parish funds. Witness is satisfied with the state of education in his parish. Parents are impressed with the importance of educating their children, and the children are, on the whole, well educated. When the character is under the influence of religious principle, witness has observed that a greater struggle is made to preserve independence. There is an obvious difference in this respect between different classes of the population. Witness has no suggestion to make on the administration of the poor laws. There were paupers belonging to witness’s congregation in Liverpool who received sessional relief. He has visited them in their dwellings, which were principally cellars, very unfit for being lived in, and which ought to be abolished as places of residence. The paupers in Aberdour, in the south part of the parish, are chiefly decayed labourers; and in the north part of the parish, decayed colliers, with their respective widows and children. The paupers living in cellars in Liverpool had better means of subsistence than the paupers living in Aberdour, which they derived from the sessional fund of the congregation, and from private charity; not having a settlement in Liverpool, they had no claim on any parish there.