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In the mid-19th century Scotland, the plight of the poor was intolerable. The assistance the poor received was minimal, the support system required a change to alleviate the poor’s suffering and in August 1845, The Poor Law Act (Scotland) was introduced.
Prior to The Poor Law Act (Scotland) 1845 Responsibility for administering funds for the poor lay initially with the church. Funding for poor relief was provided from church service collections, fines on offenders and fees for carrying out sacraments and services, like the use of mortcloths at funerals. Some parish poor funds were endowed by mortifications (bequests by wealthy parishioners or former parishioners).
To be eligible for relief, claimants had to meet certain criteria, they had to be destitute and disabled either through age or incapacity. They included orphans, the sick, disabled or the insane. Able-bodied unemployed were classed as vagrants and told to seek work. If they were found begging they could be sent to correction centres. Applicants had to be residents of the parish by birth or marriage or resident and working within the parish for three years.
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