the Poor Board database >>>
The Poor Law (Scotland) Act, 1845 (8 & 9 Victoria c. 83) established
parochial boards in all of the parishes of Scotland. The board in Dumfries
(variously called the Poor Board and the Parochial Board) consisted of the
heritors (those holding heritable property), representatives of the kirk
session and some members elected locally and they were entitled to impose a
poor rate on the community to pay for the upkeep of the poor of the parish.
There was an inspector of the poor who administered the poor relief. The Local
Government (Scotland) Act, 1894 (60 & 61 Victoria, c. 38) replaced the
parochial boards with parish councils.
These boards distributed welfare to the sick and needy and ran the town's
poorhouse. Their records give a great deal of information about the social
conditions of the period and are very useful for genealogists being very rich
in names and family information. An entry in the poor board records may often
be the only mention of the existence of those unfortunates at the bottom of the
social scale in Victorian Scotland.
The names of many people who were not in abject poverty also figure in these
records. Perhaps someone of modest income might be in receipt of a special
grant to educate a particularly clever child or an invalid be given financial
assistance to attend a spa. Of course, the names of those who made charitable
gifts to the inmates of the poorhouse or supplied the goods and services
required to administer parish relief also appear in these records.
The project to compile an index-cum-synopsis of the poor board books of the
parish of Dumfries is being undertaken by a three members of the Friends of the
Archives of Dumfries and Galloway, Michael Anderson, Iain Cochrane-Dyet and
Marshall Laing, with the resulting data being keyed into computer by Vivienne
Orr and Nichola Marchbank. At present the poor board volume for 1880 to 1885 is
on line with some data from the volume covering the period 1871 to 1880
included. The project, when completed, will include data from the poor board,
parochial board and parish council records from 1855 until 1895.