Friday photo: Poor Law Magazine

These handsome volumes are “The Poor Law and Parochial Board Magazine” held by Stornoway Library.

Poorlaw magazine volumes

These yearly publications run from 1857-1930 when the poor law system was formally abolished and were aimed at the members of the Parochial Boards and later Parish Councils, along with the Inspectors of the Poor, to help them keep up with legislation, developments in Poor Law elsewhere in the United Kingdom and wider issues that affected the way in which they dealt with the poor.

The Western Isles had eight civil parishes who administered the poor law from the 1840s onwards: Barvas, Stornoway, Lochs, Uig, Harris, North Uist, South Uist (including Benbecula) and Barra.  The parishes were responsible for looking after the poor and needy of their parishes through the granting of financial aid or in-kind payments such as providing clothing, bedding, peat or thatch.  The poorhouse was also operated by the parishes for those most at need.  

The archives hold records for all of the Parishes although the majority of the records date from the 1880s onwards and there are gaps. 

Over the next few weeks of Friday photos I’ll introduce the various poor law records available and explain their value to researchers.

About David Powell

Project Manager and Archivist with Tasglann nan Eilean Siar
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