For those who have studied the 19th century or read the works of Charles Dickens, 'The Poor Law' might be represented by the grim illustrations of the 'Poor House' by Phiz and George Cruikshank.
The Poor Law was the means of providing food, accommodation, financial assistance and, latterly, care to those in need from the middle of the 19th century. This system replaced the parish support mechanism and recognised that the Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions had led to great population movements and drift within Scotland making the parish support no longer able to cope without assistance.
The Poor Law created a plethora of records covering details on those who applied for assistance in specific areas, case studies, details on inspectors and much, much more. In many respects it saw the beginnings of Local Government as we know it today.
When the Heritage Hub in Hawick started to digitise a number of these records for the Borders, they soon realised the scale of the work and agreed that Borders Family History Society could assist in indexing the records and transcribe the most useful data.
Apart from the obvious interest to the local historian, the publication opens up a new horizon for the genealogist, providing details on peoples' movement between the censuses, descriptions of illnesses suffered, domestic circumstances and more. Uniquely, the records provide details on people not born in the Borders but who lived or died there.
Whilst the budding genealogist may set out with high hopes of finding 'noble roots', the reality is usually different but no less fascinating. The Poor Law touched and helped people from differing backgrounds at a time of great change. These records might help you piece together the last pieces of your own family jigsaw puzzle.
You can search the index online to the volumes as they are published.
This is the first volume we've produced as a result of this huge but very interesting project. As we publish new ones, we'll add them to the list of Borders Poor Law Records volumes, and there's more information there too.
It's been published as a CD covering over 1000 named people, including images of the records so that you can discover even more, historical notes, and an index.
CD price £12.00 plus UK postage of 47p, £1.21 (Europe), £1.68 (World)
The CD can be purchased directly from us at Borders Family History Society, Whitberry, Todlaw Road, Duns, TD11 3EW, Scotland.
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