Version classiqueVersion mobile

Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

Christian Auer

IX. The poor and the Scottish poor law

55. Annual Report of the Board of Supervision, 1851

Texte intégral

1The (Scottish) Poor Law Amendment Act of 1845 brought into being central control of poor relief through a Board of Supervision (also see introduction to chapter 9, p. 165).

2Parliamentary Papers, 1851, XXVI, Fifth Annual Report of the Board of Supervision for the Relief of the Poor in Scotland, List of Appendix, Appendix A, Circulars issued by the Board of Supervision, 2nd February 1850, p. 2-3; 10; 12.

So long as relief to the poor was looked upon, both by the givers and recipients, as the fulfilment of a charitable, rather than a legal, obligation, poorhouses were naturally regarded merely in the light of almshouses for the reception of the more deserving amongst the aged, infirm or friendless poor. The inmates were therefore, generally speaking, of but one class, consisting wholly of persons whose destitution and disability were beyond a doubt, and by whom admission to the poorhouse was held to be a favour or indulgence of which they might at any time be deprived by their own misconduct. The whole establishment was managed in a corresponding spirit. The inmates had regular liberty—days once a-week, when they went to visit their friends, or to amuse themselves; and it was not uncommon to find some of them begging on the streets or highways. In like manner, once a-week their friends were freely admitted to visit their inmates in the poorhouse, which, on such occasions, exhibited a promiscuous throng of paupers and their visitors mingled together. The friends of the paupers were permitted to bring to them, in the house, tobacco and such other articles of luxury (excepting ardent spirits) as they were able to procure. The inmates were induced to engage in some kind of industrious occupation, by a weekly payment of part of the proceeds of their work, to be expended as they might think proper on their liberty-days; and one of the first petitions presented to the Board of Supervision was from the male inmates of a poorhouse, complaining that the weekly sum allowed them as pocket-money was unreasonably small. It was deemed unnecessary to enforce strictly any system of rules or discipline where flagrant breaches of order or decorum were punished by expulsion from the house. But, while poorhouses ought always to afford a fit and safe asylum for helpless and friendless paupers, they must now be prepared to receive a new and wholly different class of inmates.

The altered feelings of the poor in regard to parochial relief, their more perfect knowledge of their rights, and the facilities which the law now affords for enforcing these rights have caused a strong pressure on parochial boards from a class, whose claims it would be unsafe to admit without testing the truth of allegations on which these claims are founded. For this purpose a well regulated poorhouse is the best of all tests. While it furnishes sufficient, and even ample, relief to the really necessitous, it affords the only available security that the funds raised for the relief of the poor are not perverted to the maintenance of idleness and vice. But a poorhouse will be wholly useless as a test, or rather it will not be a test at all, unless it is conducted under rules and regulations, as to discipline and restraint, so strict as to render it more irksome than labour, without such discipline and restraint to those who are not truly fit objects of parochial relief. Hence the necessity which has arisen for placing the management of poorhouses upon a footing essentially different from that on which it formerly stood. It is with the view of meeting this necessity that these rules have been issued.

RULES and Regulations for the Management of Poorhouses

XIV. The Poorhouse shall be visited once at least in every week, by a committee of two or more members of the Parochial Board. The Visiting-Committee shall carefully examine the Poorhouse—shall satisfy themselves as to the quantity and quality of the provisions issued to the inmates—shall ascertain whether the house is kept clean, well ventilated, and sufficiently warm, and whether the inmates are properly attended to and accommodated […]

Punishments for Misconduct of Inmates

LV. Any inmate who shall neglect to observe such of the Rules and Regulations of the Poorhouse as are applicable to, and binding upon him;
Or who shall make any noise when silence is ordered to be kept;
Or who shall use obscene or profane language;
Or shall, by word or deed, revile or insult any person;
Or shall threaten to strike or assault any person;
Or shall not duly cleanse his person;
Or shall refuse or neglect to work, having been required to so do;
Or shall pretend sickness;
Or shall play at cards, or other game of chance;
Or shall enter, or attempt to enter, without permission, the ward or part of the premises appropriated to any class of inmates other than that to which he belongs;
Or shall behave improperly at public worship, or at prayers;
Or shall not return till after the appointed time, when allowed to quit the Poorhouse on temporary leave of absence;
Or shall wilfully disobey any lawful order of any officer of the Poorhouse; shall be deemed DISORDERLY, and the House-Governor may punish any such inmate by requiring him, for a time not exceeding two days, to perform one or two hours of extra work each day, and by withholding, for the like time, all milk or butter-milk which such inmate would otherwise receive with his meals. […]

LXVII. (Diet of the Inmates. Class C: Adult persons, of either sex, who are working)

Breakfast… Meal, four ounces, and milk, three-fourths pint imperial.

Dinner… Bread, eight ounces; broth, one-and-half pint imperial; and boiled meat, four ounces.

Supper… Meal, four ounces; and milk, three-fourths pint imperial.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2013

Conditions d’utilisation :

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search