Poor relief applications

This guide was last updated in 2012

After 1845, someone applying for poor relief would be interviewed in their own home by the parish’s Inspector of the Poor.

The details of the claim (whether successful or not) were recorded in a register of relief applications. This can be a particularly rich resource with details of the applicant’s name, age, birthplace, residence, marital status, occupation, religion, earnings, names and ages of dependants, disabilities, and any other relevant information including details of any previous applications.

One of the largest collections of poor relief applications is held at Glasgow's Mitchell Library which holds more than one million in its archives. These include not only those made by residents of Glasgow but also those from the counties of Bute, Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire.

The names of those granted poor relief were compiled in each parish’s General Register of the Poor which listed each claimant’s details (name, age, address, birthplace, occupation, dependants) and the amount and type of relief (cash, clothing, medicine etc) that they were awarded by the Parochial Board.


Scotland’s poor relief system
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