Poor Law records: General Register of the Poor

Last week, we saw Alexander Morrison Application for Parochial Relief under the Poor Law.  The application gave lots of information about Alexander’s personal circumstances that led to his request for help.  Notable, we saw he was added onto the General Register of the Poor as an on-going case for assistance and help from the parish.

The General register of the Poor was the formal record of a Parish’s poor and the help they received.  Some people may be on the register for a few weeks, some people for many years.  Each pauper has their own page in the Register that shows the help they received.  Below is Alexander’s entry.

Alexander Morrison's entry in General Register of the Poor

At the top of the page we see lots of information that is replicated from the last week’s Application along with lots of new information.  We learn that he sometimes takes in lodgers to earn money but more interestingly we get information about his children who do not live with him.

His children’s names and ages are listed along with their location.  Ideally, the Inspector of the Poor and Parochial Board would expect your family to look after you but we see all Alexander’s children live away and have their own families.  They have travelled to Harris and Glasgow where they have trades.  For the researcher who discovered this record, she was thrilled to find out that Colina had emigrated to Queensland, Australia.  Whilst the researcher knew she had family in Australia she had never been sure of now idea of the link.  This small piece of information opened up a whole new avenue of research to her. 

The bottom of the page lists changes in Alexander’s circumstances and a summary of decisions made by the Parochial Board in relation to him.  The summary in itself is interesting showing the changes in financial help he was given.  He had financial help and aid with his rent but we also see that his wife passes away.

Alexander was admitted to the newly opened Lewis Combination Poorhouse on 29 November 1897 as a test case but we then see his is “Off roll” 3 days later i.e. he stops getting financial help.  Why is this?  We also see he is readmitted to the poorhouse where he later dies.

As this list of events all relate to decisions of the Parochial Board, next week we’ll look at the Board’s minutes to see if this can shed further light on Alexander’s situation.

About David Powell

Project Manager and Archivist with Tasglann nan Eilean Siar
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