Friday, 14 February 2020

North Lanarkshire Poor Law Records Added to Ancestry


In August 2019 many - but by no means all - of North Lanarkshire’s Poor Law records were made available in digitised form on Ancestry.com. This article provides an overview of which records you will be able to find and how you can use them for your family history research.  You can read an extended version of this article on: https://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/ancestry/2019/08/16/making-discoveries-in-the-north-lanarkshire-poor-law-records/

What are Poor Law records?
Poor Law records are records which were created under the Poor Law (Scotland) Act 1845 which established a secular system of distributing poor relief.  The main records of interest to family history researchers are those kept by the official appointed in each parish to investigate cases of poverty and to pay out relief, the Inspector of Poor.  These are the Registers of Poor and the Record of Applications for Relief.
North Lanarkshire Archives’ Poor Law records originate from civil parishes which existed within the former County of Lanark between 1845 and 1930.  On Ancestry you will find the digitised registers of the following parishes: Bothwell, Cambusnethan (Wishaw area), Dalziel (Motherwell area) and Shotts.

Why are these records of interest to family history researchers?
As the application and registration system involved a type of means testing which required detailed information about the person applying for relief and about their family, the resulting records can contain details of your ancestor you would not find together on one page anywhere else.  Poor Law records therefore can help take your research further at any stage of your family history journey.

 

Registers of Poor / later General Registers of Poor
Initially, each parish maintained a Register of Poor (General Register of Poor from 1865).  In this example from a General Register of Poor from Dalziel Parish (below) you can see why these are such a fascinating resource.  The example regards Mary Doyle or Slamin who first applied for poor relief when her husband was ill and then stayed in the system for several years after he passed away.  The document shows at the top her circumstances at the time of her acceptance into the system and in the bottom part what happened to her and her children while she received money from the parish.


Registers of Poor/General Registers of Poor digitised:
CO1/23 Bothwell Parish
Bothwell Parish Council. Register of poorhouse inmates. 1905 – 1909
Bothwell Parish Council. Children's separate register. 1909-1915
Bothwell Parish Council. Register of guardians. 1909-1915
Bothwell Parish Council. Register of other parish poor. 1912-1914
Bothwell Parish Council. General Register of Poor. 1894-1915
Bothwell Parochial Board. General Register of Poor. 1862-1888
Bothwell Parochial Board. Account, charge and discharge, and list of registered poor. 1892-1896
CO1/26 Cambusnethan Parish
Cambusnethan Parochial Board. Register of Poor. 1863 - 1864
Cambusnethan Parish Council. Register of other parish poor. 1885 - 1915
CO1/37 Dalziel Parish
Dalziel Parish Council. Registered poor pay roll. 1893-1912
Dalziel Parish Council. General Register of Poor. 1883-1892 and 1900-1916
CO1/54 Shotts Parish
Shotts Parochial Board. Register of Poor. 1846-1865 and 1871-1879
Shotts Parish Council. General Registers of Poor. 1870-1911

Applications for Relief
Application Registers contain more entries per year than the Registers of Poor as multiple applications from individual paupers are recorded as well as details of the so called 'casual poor', i.e. persons who received a one-off payment from the inspector without a decision by the board and therefore were not recorded on the poor roll.
The applications for poor relief recorded the main information the Inspector of Poor required to make a decision on the applicant.  These included:
·       Age
·       Religion (Prot. – R.C.)
·       Occupation
·       Average Value of Earnings per week
·       Names of Dependants and Children living with Applicant, and Ages and Earnings
·       Names of Children not living with Applicant (Ages – Residences – and Earnings)
·       Country of Birth (English, Irish, Foreign – or Parish if Scotland)
·       Condition (Married – Single – Widow – Widower – Orphan – Deserted – Separated)
·       Cause of Disablement, whether Wholly or Partially
·       Wholly or Partially Destitute
·       Name of Parents and circumstances if alive
·       Length of Residence in present House and of previous Residences (Settlement – Parishes claimed against &c.)

Application registers digitised:
CO1/23 Bothwell Parish
Bothwell index to registers of applications. 1900-1914
CO1/26 Cambusnethan Parish
Cambusnethan applications for relief. 1855-1916
CO1/37 Dalziel Parish
Dalziel application registers. 1865-1875 and 1877-1917

Poorhouse records
Only one item specifically dealing with poorhouse residents has been digitised which is the New Monkland Parish Poorhouse register of inmates, 1849 – 1862 (CO1/50/24).
There were several other poorhouses in North Lanarkshire whose specific registers have not survived.  However, you may find that your ancestor was sent to the poorhouse (indoor relief), rather than receiving outdoor relief, from their entries in the Application Registers and General Registers of Poor.

(with thanks to NL Archivist Wiebke McGhee)

Please contact HeritageCentre@culturenl.co.uk if you have any questions about the above and if you are interested in records which have not been digitised.




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