Each record includes a transcript of the original record, the amount of information listed varies, but the records usually include a combination of the following information:
Date of minute of parochial board authorising brief
Wholly or partially destitute
Wholly or partially disabled
Description of disablement
Name and age of wife and children
Name, age and weekly earnings of husband, children
Amount and description of relief
Nature of settlement
Responsibility for administering funds for the poor lay initially with the church. The Poor Law Act (Scotland) 1845 established parochial boards in rural parishes and in towns, the Central Board of Supervision was in Edinburgh, gradually removing the responsibility away from the church.
Each parochial board had to keep a roll of the poor to whom it gave relief. To begin with, record keeping did not change much and there was quite a lot of overlap between the records of parochial boards and kirk sessions
The boards administered funds for the poor, this was determined by those who were unable to support themselves and eligible for help could apply, this included the elderly, the young and those with a mental or physical disability. The able-bodied poor were not generally entitled to support and were legislated against, although many did receive some form of assistance.
The Highland Potato Famine was a period of the 19th century, from 1846 to around 1856 over which the agricultural communities saw their over-reliant potato crop repeatedly devastated.
Following the failure of the potato crop in 1846 in which crops failed in about three-quarters of the crofting region, destitution boards were set up to cope with the widespread poverty in the highlands. From 1846 to 1852 the boards would distribute meal in return for work.
Crop failure was less extensive in 1847, and death rates had returned to normal, thereafter the government left famine relief to the Central Board. Crop failures continued, but at a reduced level, and the charitable relief program only ceased upon the near-exhaustion of its funds.
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