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, 1425
Paupers relieved in 1842, 111
Sum distributed amongst them, £222, 2d.

Mr William Trotter, Session-Clerk of Torryburn.

Has been nine years session-clerk of Torryburn. There is no legal assessment in the parish; but there has been, for a great many years, a voluntary contribution for the poor, which is paid wholly by the heritors. This contribution, for several years back, has been nearly stationary. The administration of the poor fund is by the heritors and kirk-session conjointly. The meetings are held twice a year, when the books are revised, the allowances for the paupers fixed, and the amount of the contribution required ascertained. The allowance made to an able-bodied widow, with two children under ten years of age, is 2s. 6d. a week. To an aged person, past work, but not bed-ridden, from 1s. to 2s., generally 2s. a week. There is one case of a female, who is rather imbecile, and nervously affected, and who, in consequence, requires occasional attendance, for which an allowance of 3s. a week is made. There are two orphans on the roll, children of a sea-faring man, who receive between them 2s. a week from Trinity hospital, and 1s. a week additional from the parish funds. Of the two lunatics mentioned in the return to the queries, one has been restored to health, at least partially, and is able, in the meantime, to earn his own maintenance. The other is in the Dundee asylum, and costs the parish nearly £25 a year. Witness has had opportunities of seeing the paupers at their own houses. The appearance of the houses of the paupers, in point of comfort, is very little inferior to that of the houses of the lowest class of independent labourers. Besides the allowances from the parish funds, which the witness thinks inadequate, a good deal is done for the poor by private charity and contributions are made for them also in coals, so that their condition, on the whole, is perhaps as favourable as in any other part of Scotland; but not equal to what the wants of the poor require. A soup-kitchen has been occasionally supported in the parish since 1832. It is in operation at the present season, and soup and bread are furnished to the paupers three times a week. There is no provision made for medical attendance on the paupers. The heritors pay for the education of twelve poor children; but the number is limited to this amount. Twenty-seven females, the children of paupers, or other parties unable to pay school fees, are educated at the expense of benevolent ladies in the parish. The witness does not think, however, that there is an adequate provision made for the education of poor children. He is not aware, however, that many are suffered to grow up altogether destitute of education; but he believes that a considerable number must be educated only imperfectly. The feeling of independence, or self-respect, among the lower classes in the parish, is not very strong. They are quite willing to receive parochial relief when they can obtain it; but he knows some cases where the parties must be very ill provided for, and where they struggle, nevertheless, to support themselves independently of parochial aid. Such parties are, he thinks, generally speaking, much above mediocrity in moral worth, and appear to be more under the influence of religious principle. Witness thinks that provision ought to be made for somewhat more liberal allowances to paupers. He has no other suggestion to make on the administration of the poor laws. The population of Torryburn now consists principally of hand-loom weavers; formerly they had extensive salt pans, and coal works. They have still the dregs of that population amongst them. These, and the low rate of wages paid to the weavers, have sunk the condition of the population very much.