Poor Law records: Financial scandal in North Uist!

An enquirer once contacted us about an ancestor who had been the Poor Law Inspector for North Uist.  She asked if we could help tell her some more.  As you may have guessed from previous posts we went to check the Parish Council minute books to see if we could find out more.  Sadly, these haven’t survived for North Uist but, with the bit between our teeth, we went off to look at the Poor Inspector’s cash book to see if that provided any information and got something of a surprise!  The cash book is a record of the money going in and out of the Inspector’s hands.

As you can see, the date, details of the transaction, the amount given or received and the cross reference to the ledger are all recorded.  What caught our interest though were the red crosses and notes that appeared in this 1901 period – the auditors had been in!  But why?

The following entries give some detail on payments that have been disallowed:


Them the auditor’s report summarising the problems appears.

It would appear that the Inspector had been giving away money to people he shouldn’t, claiming more than was receipted and even giving money to dead people!  This tied in with the enquirer’s family history who believed that he had been sacked.

This entry suggests that it was down to friends and family to pay back some of the money that had been taken.  £80 was a considerable sum!

Financial records can be pretty tough going but occasionally they do deliver rewards.  Our researcher was delighted!

About David Powell

Project Manager and Archivist with Tasglann nan Eilean Siar
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