Alloway and Southern Ayrshire FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Robert Burns Cottage, Alloway, Ayr
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Friday, 22 October 2010

19 Oct 2010 - "Poor Law Records"

This month’s talk was given by Dr Irene O’Brien, Senior Archivist at the Mitchell Library.  Dr O’Brien was speaking on the Poor Law archives from 1845.

The talk began by outlining the background to the Poor Law – the people entitled to the relief and who was responsible for the administration.  It was explained  that the applicant did not always get financial relief but could have received relief in kind.  This took the form of such things as clothing, coal, rental payments etc.

Dr O’Brien went on to explain what sort of information was contained in the application.  This included details of such things as the applicant’s current circumstances, dates of birth of children and in some cases, the applicant’s extended family.  In some cases, a note was made in the record that the applicant may not have been entirely sober.

The talk ended with examples of poor relief applications including the one for Jeremy Paxman's grandmother.  It seems that this source can provide more useful information about an ancestor's living conditions than any other, since the circumstances of the family are often recorded in detail.

Graeme Savage

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