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 Kilsyth, November 4, 1843.

1. Jane Wright, aged seventy-four. Allowance 6d. a week from Kilsyth, and 8s. a month from Glasgow. Rent 28s. a year. She has a great nephew sleeping with her, aged ten. The boy lives during the day with his father, a weaver with four children. Jane Wright is decrepit, and wholly unable to work. She has a shake-down on the floor, and three chairs; a press and chest of drawers, belonging to the landlord, are likewise in the room. The room is clean.

2. Jane Smith, aged about forty. Allowance 2s. a week. She is fatuous, and lodges with Elizabeth Methven. (See next case.) She buys her own victuals; and ought to give 3d. a week for rent, but she is not regular in payment. She is totally unable to work; and was lying on a shake-down on the floor. She does not beg, but lives on the 2s. a week.

3. Elizabeth Methven, aged sixty-six. Allowance 6d. a week. Rent 30s. She winds pirns, by which, when in full employment, she could earn 1s. 6d. a week; but she says that employment of this kind is now scarce. She has four lodgers, including Jane Smith, from whom she receives 9d. a week. She sometimes goes to neighbours, and washes for them. Room poorly furnished.

4. Widow Kirkwood, aged sixty-two. She had 6d. a week for six months; but is now struck off the roll. Rent 26s. a. year. She has two sons and a daughter living with her. Matthew, aged twenty-eight, is a weaver, and in delicate health; his net earnings are 3s. 6d. a week. Thomas, aged twenty-seven, a weaver, whose net earnings are now 5s. a week; and Elizabeth, aged fifteen, who is an apprentice to a weaver; her net earnings are 2s. a week. The old woman is not able to earn any money; she merely keeps the house. Room low and damp. Furniture very poor; bedding scanty.

5. Widow Dobie, aged about forty. Allowance 1s. a week. Rent £4 10s. for house, including weaving shop with four looms. She has four children : Janet, aged thirteen, who is being taught by her mother to work at the loom, by which she earns somewhat more than 3s. a week. Andrew, aged ten, who has just begun to learn weaving, but earns nothing. James, aged eight, who is sent to school; and Margaret, aged six, who remains at home. The mother works at the loom, and earns not much more than 3s. a week net, as she is obliged to attend her family. She has a brother living in the same house with her, aged fifty-four, who is a weaver, and earns about 5s. a week. Room very barely furnished, but neat.

6. Widow James Petrie, aged seventy-five. Allowance 1s. 3d. a week. Rent.33s. a year. She has a daughter, aged fifty-two, living with her. The mother can wind pirns, by which she earns 9d. a week. The daughter tambours; by which, if in full employment, she might earn 1s. 9d. in a week; but tambouring is scarce, and she has been out of employment eight days. The old woman receives a little assistance from a small heritor in the parish. Room poorly furnished , but tolerably clean.

7. James Proven, aged seventy-nine; and Margaret his wife aged seventy-nine. Allowance 3s. 3d. a week. Rent 38s. a year. The old man is a weaver; but cannot now earn more than 1s. 6d. a week. The wife winds pirns, by which she earns about. 4d. a week. Rooms small, but tolerably clean, and decently furnished.

8. William Ternan, aged near seventy; and his wife, aged eighty-three. Allowance 1s. a week. Rent £2 a year for room and loom-stead. The old man is a weaver, by which he earns about 3s. 6d. a week. The old woman winds bobbins occasionally; but, being infirm, cannot earn more than 2d. a week. Room small. Furniture, one bed, four chairs, one table, chest of drawers and dresser.

9. Ellison Lang, a woman, aged sixty. Allowance 1s. a week. Rent 30s. a year. She winds pirns, by which, at the utmost, she does not earn more than 8d. a week. She has a son living with her, aged forty, a weaver, who earns not more than 3s. 6d. a week; he is delicate in health. Room tolerably well furnished: one bed, two chests of drawers, a dresser, one table, and a mahogany cupboard.

10. Widow Forsyth, aged sixty-six. Allowance 1s. a week. Rent £2, part of which is paid by a brother. She has a nephew living with her, an orphan, aged seven, for whom she receives 1s. 6d. a week from the session. She received, last year, leather from the parish for his shoes. She winds pirns, by which she earns on an average 6d. a week. Room decently furnished: chests of drawers, dresser and crockery; one press and chest of drawers in one room, with chairs and table. The furniture belongs to the orphan and his sister, who is in service.

11. Widow Black, aged thirty-three. Allowance 1s. 3d. a week. Rent 30s. a year. She lives alone. She spins yarn occasionally. She has a son in the town, a married labourer, with a family. Room tolerably well furnished.

12. Margaret Cleland, aged about eighty. Allowance 1s. 6d. a week. She resides, rent free, with an unmarried nephew, who is a carter. She is almost blind, and is not able to work. A married nephew, a quarrier, lives in a distinct room of the same house. Room decently furnished. lt contained a clock.

13. Widow Sterling, aged ninety-eight. Allowance 2s. a week. She lives with her widow daughter, aged fifty-nine. The old woman has been; blind eight years, and is very decrepit. She was sitting bent double before the fire, as she gets tired of always lying in bed; Her daughter tambours, by which, when in full employment, she earns 1s. G6d. a week; but she says she has had little to do during the last twelvemonth. She has a daughter married to a smith, from whom she receives assistance. House clean, and well- furnished, with chest of drawers, and press and chest of drawers in one room. Speaking of the diet and habits of the poor when she was young, she said, "Formerly they didna ken anything but moderateness; a bit of sour milk, and a scon of pease meal, and pease brose, and they were just as weel satisfied.” She remembers the time when potatoes were brought in ; they were reckoned quite a feast. "There was more kindness then, than there is now. They used to come into people’s houses, and talk about their souls ; now they come in, and they talk blatterations."

14. Margaret Baird, aged sixty. Allowance 1s. 9d. a week. She has been confined to bed twenty years. She lives with her brother, a weaver, aged seventy, who earns about 3s. 6d. a week. A niece, aged twenty five, lives in the same house. The latter is a weaver, and does not earn more than 3s. a week, as she attends to her aunt. Rent £4 10s. for room and loom-stand. Room tolerably furnished.

15. Widow Robert Bowie, aged eighty-one. Allowance 3s. a week. Rent 2s. 4d. a month. She is totally unable to work. She lives with an unmarried daughter, aged thirty-seven, who has four illegitimate children; Jane, aged seventeen; Gilbert, aged eleven; Jessie, aged six; and Robert, aged three. The daughter is a weaver, and earns about 3s. a week; Jane is an apprentice to a weaver, and earns 1s. 6d. a week; Gilbert is taught at the parish school gratis, but does not work. Room wretchedly furnished. The whole family of six, including the old woman, sleep in one bed. The reason assigned for this was, that they had only one pair of blankets. The bedding was filthy in the highest degree.

16. Mary Stewart, aged about sixty-eight. Allowance 1s. a week. Rent 22s. 6d. a year. She lives alone. She knits stockings, by which she earns about 6d. a week. She seemed very poor, but she was said to be helped a little by some operatives in the town. She spoke with feeling of her poverty. Room very poorly furnished. Her bedding was clean.

17. Alexander Miller, aged seventy, and his wife, aged seventy. Allowance 1s. a week. Rent £1 10s. He acts as a barber, by which he earns about 1s. 6d. a week. The wife has been confined to bed seven months from a stroke of palsy. A daughter, aged twenty-eight, who winds pirns, lives in the same house. She earns about 6d. a week. The old people have three grown-up sons, but they are all married, and have families. Room very poorly furnished.

18. William Shaw, aged sixty-five. Allowance 9d. a week. Rent 6d. a week. He works at weaving, by which he earns 1s. 10d. a week net.

19. Widow Mary Weir, aged seventy. Allowance 4d. a week. Rent 30s.a year. She winds pirns, by which she has paid all the rent, except 5s. She has a son, aged twenty-three, living with her. He is a drawer in a colliery, by which he earns 5s. for working three days in the week. Widow M‘Donald (see next case) lives with her. The two sleep together on the floor, on most filthy bedding. Furniture very wretched.

20. Widow M‘Donald, aged forty-five. Allowance 6d. a week. She has a little girl, aged nine. She lodges with widow Weir (see previous case), and has paid 2s. rent since Whitsunday. She worked at harvest for ten days, and she knits stockings or sews, but has had hardly any work since harvest: When in employment she earns 1s. 6d. a week. The little girl took care of a child for some weeks, when she earned 1s. a week. She sleeps with her daughter on a shake-down.

21. Widow Ellen Weir, aged twenty-eight. Allowance 3s. a week. Rent £1 13s. a year. She has three children under six years of age. She winds pirns, by which, when in full employment, she earns 1s. 2d. a week. All the three children have the hooping-cough. She is occasionally helped with food from an unmarried aunt, who is a weaver. Room very small. She has two sheets, but no blankets. Furniture scanty, but neat.

22. Isabella Robinson, aged sixty-seven. Allowance 10d. a week. Rent 26s. a year. She is unable to work, but she begs a little from acquaintances in the town. She has an orphan grandson, aged four, living with her, for whom she gets no allowance, and she has not asked any. The child is illegitimate. The house is low and damp. Her only furniture consisted of one table, two chairs (broken), and some straw on the ground, with two old dirty carpet covers. She had no blanket or sheet.