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 Stevenston, 24th November 1843, in company with Mr Peter Barclay, blacksmith, one of the elders.

1. Peter Cunningham, aged twenty-two. Allowance 2s. 6d. a week, and £1 towards house rent. Lives with his mother, who has other children, but none except him residing with her. He was a collier, and met with an accident in the pit five years ago. His leg was amputated last December. The mother is a widow, about sixty years of age, and does nothing for herself. Her rent was £1 10s. She used to live with some of the members of her family. The doctor was not paid for performing the operation; he gave his attendance and medicines gratis. Dr Ellis was the doctor. The mother gets no other assistance except what any good neighbour may give her. She said she had kind neighbours. He was very much emaciated, and had got into the habit of swallowing large doses of laudanum, taking 4d. worth at a time twice a day. House was poor, but well kept, two beds, three chairs. Invalid on a bed on the floor. It was stated that Mr Patrick and Mr Warner, and others of the neighbouring gentry, sent her provisions, soup, jelly, &c.

2. William Scott, aged seventy-five. Allowance 1s. a week, and £1 towards house rent. Rent £1. 10s. He and his wife live together. The wife’s age is seventy-eight. The old man was in bed with an accident he had met with a few days before. He had some employment in firing one of the engines at a colliery, for which he received 1s. 2d. a day. The wife sometimes knits stockings. Neighbours assist them. They get provisions from Mr Warner. House decent. They said they could not complain for want of bedclothes. Furniture tolerably good, - a clock, &c. William Scott was at one time possessed of considerable property.

3. Widow Campbell, aged seventy-one. Allowance 1s. a week. House rent-free. A daughter, who has been twelve years a widow, and is thirty-seven years of age, lives with her. She (the daughter) has two children; a boy thirteen, and a girl eleven. The boy weaves, he makes 3s. or 3s. 6d. a week; his mother sews muslin, and makes 9d. a day; the old woman knits gloves and stockings, by which she can make 2d. a day. House clean; and well kept. Not much furniture, but good of its kind, - very good clock, and two beds.

4. Widow Alison, aged forty-one. Allowance 1s. 6d. a week. Rent £2 a year. Five children; her three eldest were lads who were all doing for themselves, and employed in weaving. They all lived with her. She winds pirns for them. Fourth child is a girl, eight years old, at school; fifth, a boy, also at school. House very decent, and good furniture.

5. Widow Young, aged seventy-six. Allowance 1s. a week. Rent £2 10s., which is paid by her son, who is an engineer on board a steamboat. She lives by herself. Has no other children. Sews a little; may make 1s. a week. House very clean, and furniture good, - two clocks, two chests of drawers, seven or eight chairs, two beds, a dresser.

6. Edward Murphy, aged seventy-two. Allowance 1s. a week. Stated that he had no house, because his wife and he had quarrelled, and she had put him out of the house. His wife had one daughter living with her. His son is in the West Indies, who has sent him money: He appears to live principally by begging.

7. Francis Adam, aged sixty-seven. Allowed 2s. a week from a friendly society, and 6d. a week from the session, and £1 towards rent. Rent £2. His wife is about fifty-five years of age. She is nearly blind, and cannot see to do anything. Her husband was a collier. He has three children living with him, - three girls; the eldest, fifteen, sews muslin; the second, does odd jobs, - she is not a good sewer, she is twelve years of age; the youngest. is ten, and is at school. House very dirty, and ill kept. Furniture poor.

8. Widow Deans, aged fifty. Allowance 1s. a week. Rent £2 15s. ; but says she is not fit to pay it any longer. She has four children living with her; eldest, a lad of twenty-two, a collier; second, a girl of thirteen, she sews and works in the fields; third, a girl, aged eleven, not very strong, and not at school; fourth, a girl, aged seven, not at school. Son makes 2s. 8d. a day. She has also a grandson living with her, a little boy, the child of a son who was employed in the neighbourhood of Glasgow. She receives nothing on account of the child. Widow Deans sews a little at coarse work; she may make 2d. a day. House poor and indifferently furnished, but the children appeared to be clean and well kept.

9. Widow Hynd, aged seventy. Allowance 1s. a week, and £1 1s. of house rent. Rent £1 10s. She lives by herself; but a married daughter lives near her and looks after her. The old woman is not able for much, but can knit .a stocking or so. She has a son, a manager of a colliery; but he has a family. The house was not clean, and was ill kept: four chairs, dresser, chest. She goes to Saltcoats on Saturdays, when the colliers’ wages are paid, and receives the money for them, and they give her each a penny. She may make 3s. or more in a week in this way.

10. John Wylie, upwards of seventy years of age. Allowance 1s. a week, and 15s. towards rent. Rent £2 for the house and loomstead. His wife is sixty-six years of age. No children living with them. The wife winds pirns, by which she makes 5d. a day. He is subject to epileptic attacks; and last year fell and was burned. He may work a little at weaving between his attacks. House poor, and ill kept; but furniture pretty good.

11. Henry Macaulay, aged sixty. Allowance 1s. a week. Wife is blind - forty-nine years of age. Rent £3 5s. for room and three loom-stances. He was long in the navy; but has no pension. He works as a weaver. He has five children; two sons, who are able to work at the loom; and one son is an apprentice; one little boy is at school; and he has also a little girl aged ten, who helps to keep the house. The allowance is made to him on account of the wife; she has been seven years blind. House poorly furnished. The wife was in the habit of going out and begging.

12. Mrs Scott, deserted by her husband, aged forty-one. Allowance 1s. a week, and £1 towards rent. Rent £1 1s. She had three children; eldest, a girl aged fourteen; second, a girl aged twelve; the youngest, a boy at school. The youngest girl is at present out keeping a child; she is promised 6d. a week, and gets her victuals : the eldest draws for a weaver, and makes 2s. 3d. a week. Mrs Scott sews white seam-work; but she does not get much to do. She seemed a very decent woman. The house was very small, and not very well kept.

13. Barbara and Margaret Cowan, aged seventy and fifty-seven respectively. Allowance 1s. a week, and £2 for rent, which pays the whole rent. Two dwarfs, but apparently in good health. One tries to sew a little; one of them knits stockings, by which she earns about 6d. a week. They live by themselves. They get some help from Mrs Warner and other friends.

14. Agnes Russell, aged eighty-five, and bed-rid. Allowance 1s. a week; besides which she has 3s. a month from the secession church, and 6d. a week from Mr Warner. Her rent is £1 6s., paid by the session. 1s. 6d. a week is paid to a woman who attends her; the nurse has 6d. a week for herself from the session; and she has an unmarried daughter also residing with her in the house. House clean, and well kept. Furniture pretty good.

15. William Marshall, aged eighty; and his wife, aged eighty-four. Allowance 1s. 6d. a week, and house rent paid. The old woman goes about and begs. He was a collier. They gain their livelihood by begging. House very poor, and ill kept.

16. Kitty Barclay, an orphan, aged thirteen. Lives with her aunt, and is boarded at 2s. a week. The aunt’s husband is a weaver. They have no family. She sews muslin. House not very clean, but pretty well furnished. The orphan girl appeared to be well cared for, and was clean.