Parochial Boards would meet regularly to consider the state of Poors Funds in their parish, and to discuss applications for relief. Poor relief was paid by Parochial Boards, which were always keen to minimise their expenditure. Liability was determined by the long-established - and often contentious - system of settlement. While in theory the rules of settlement were relatively clear, there was always room for disputes between Parochial Boards keen to avoid spending their limited resources. As with Kirk Sessions determined to find someone to pay for illegitimate children, it was all about the money.
In most instances, determining the parish of settlement of a pauper or applicant for relief was fairly straightforward - after all, most people didn't move around all that much. That was not, however, always true, as the case of George Thomson shows.
The first time we come across George is in the Treasurer's Accounts of Drumoak parish, in Aberdeenshire:
1847, June 13
By Cash to George Thomson in need, £1
1847, July 4
Cash to George Thomson, 6/-
1847, July 25
Cash to Widow of George Thomson, 12/-
Friday 13 August 1847
Widow Thomson, 6/-
Church of Drumoak 13 August 1847
It was reported that on 12 June last George Thomson, labourer at Burnside in this Parish, had applied for temporary relief to himself, wife, and four children, which had been granted. That he died on 11 July, and that his wife had since become chargeable as a Pauper in this Parish. That some time previous to his death the Inspector had taken in writing a declaration of the different places in which he had resided – which was to the following effect
That George Thomson, late husband of Ann Gillespie, was born at Little Mill of Cairney, that his father George Thomson is still alive and is resident at Foggy-Moss in said Parish. That he left his father’s when 13 years of age to be servant to Joseph Horne in Netherton of Cairney, with whom he resided six months; that he then went to serve John Christie in Busswarney in the Parish of Cairney, where he resided 2 ½ years; that he afterwards was in the service of Isaac Robertson, Banks of Cairney, 6 months; that he then went to Alexander Christie, Gangdurnas, parish of Cairney, with whom he resided 6 months; and thence to Charles Bruce in Broadland of Cairney, whom he served six months. That he then removed from his native Parish and entered the service of James Pirie, Culithie of Gartly, with whom he remained for 2 ½ years; that he afterwards went to the Revd Mr Leslie, assistant to the Minister of Rathven, where he remained 6 months; that he then went to James McCulloch, Cleffes in the parish of Grange, and continued with him 6 months; that he thence went to work with a contractor in whose service he worked in different parishes for short periods, and then removed to Fyvie for 6 or 8 weeks, and then to the parish of Belhelvie where he resided with a William McDonald for about 15 months; that he then resided six months with William Stronach carpenter in the parish of Nigg; that he thence removed to the parish of Fordoun and lived with Deacon Bruce innkeeper, Auchinblae about a month; that he then resided with Peter Laing in Banchory Ternan a month, and went to Kincardine O’Neil, where he lodged in the house of William Cooper for about six months. That he then removed to Banchory Ternan and was married 20 June 1840 to Ann Gillespie. That from Martinmas 1841 to the month of September 42 he earned his livelihood by working at Countesswells in the Parish of Peterculter or Banchory Devenick, visiting his family every Saturday night and continuing with them till Monday morning, as long as they resided in Banchory Ternan. That on the 7th of June 1842 his wife and family removed from said Parish of Banchory Ternan to this parish (Drumoak), he himself continuing to earn his livelihood at Countesswells, residing first in the house of Archibald Leslie and then in that of Alexander Watt, crofters in Loanhead of Countesswells. That he continued as before visiting his family every Saturday night and continuing with them until Monday morning till the month of September 1842 when he took up his regular residence in this parish, and resided till his death on 11th July 1847.
The Board taking the matter under consideration were of opinion that his widow and family had no claim upon this parish, but that Cairney was the parish of settlement, and instructed the Inspector to forward a statement of the case to the Inspector of said parish of Cairney.
1847 Octr 3 Seven weeks aliment to Widow Thomson, £1 1s
Thursday 18 November 1847
Widow Thomson, £1 1s
1848 Jany 2
Widow Thomson, [5s]
Wednesday 23 Feby 1848
Widow Thomson, 15s
Drumoak 24 February 1848
The meeting proceeded to revise the Poors Roll and the Inspector having given in his report on the state of the Poor, it was agreed to continue the present allowance to all the paupers on the Roll with the exception of Widow Thomson, who gave in a claim for an increased allowance. Said Widow Thomson was called in and being examined stated that she pays thirty shillings of rent yearly for her present house and yard, that she has four children, the eldest six years of age and the youngest about two years of age, that she receives three shillings of board from her late husband’s brother who lives with her pursuing the occupation of a tailor, who also affords light. The Board having considered this case dismissed the complaint, and thereafter resumed consideration of the liability of this parish to maintain said Widow Thomson, and the Inspector having laid on the table a letter which he had received from the Inspector of the Poor of the Parish of Cairney intimating that they considered Drumoak as the parish of the woman’s settlement. The meeting agreed to refer the case to arbiters mutually chosen if the Inspector of Cairney will agree to that arrangement, and if not, they instruct their Inspector to bring a legal action against the Inspector of said parish of Cairney with a view to recover the money already advanced for relief in this case.
1848, March 26 By 4 weeks aliment to Widow Thomson, 12s
1848, April 30 By 4 weeks aliment to Widow Thomson, 12s
Friday 12 May 1848 4 weeks aliment to Widow Thomson, 12/-
Drumoak 12 May 1848
A letter was then laid on the table the tenor whereof follows
Cairney 27th April 1848
Case of Widow Thomson & Family
Before giving a final answer regarding this case I have to request that you will have the goodness to inform me in what capacity George Thomson was employed while working at Countesswells in the parish of Peterculter from the 7th of June to the month of September 1842.
I am, Sir, your ob[e]d[ien]t serv[an]t
(Signed) Wm Taylor, inspector
The meeting instructed the Inspector to write to the Inspector of Cairny that George Thomson was employed as a contractor during the period referred to in the above and instructed him farther to remind him that the application was made prior to 7 June 1847, until which time even the widow and family of said George Thomson have not acquired an industrial residence in this parish.
1848 July 30 By Widow Thomson’s 8 weeks aliment, £1 4s
1848 Septr 10 Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1848 Octr 22 Wid Thomson 8 1/3 weeks aliment, £1 5s
Drumoak 31 Oct 1848
A letter was then laid upon the table from the Inspector of the Poor of the Parish of Cairney relative to Widow Thomson & family the tenor whereof follows
Cairney 19th August 1848
Case of Widow Thomson & family
At a special meeting of the Parochial Board held to day for the purpose of considering & finally disposing of this case, I have been instructed to intimate to you that they refuse to recognise the claim.
I am, Sir, your ob[e]d[ien]t servt
(Signed) Wm Taylor, Inspector
The meeting being clearly of opinion that Widow Thomson had no claim on this parish but on Cairney instructed their Inspector to give the case into the hands of John Blaikie Esq, Advocate, Aberdeen and request him to raise an action against the Inspector of Cairney for the Recovery of the sums paid to Widow Thomson by the Parochial Board of Drumoak, and to intimate the same to the Inspector of Cairney.
Novr 19 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
Decr 17 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
Jany 21 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1849 Feby 18 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1849 March 11 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1849 April 8 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1849 May 13 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1849 June 10 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1849 July 1 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1849 July 12 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1849 Septr 2 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1849 Octr 18 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1849 Novr 8 By cash to Wid Thomson 8 weeks aliment to 17th Novr 1849, £1 4s
1849 Decr 16 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1850 Jany 13 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
Drumoak 31st January 1850
The Inspector reported that he had received an intimation from Messrs Blaikie Advocates, Aberdeen, to the effect that the Sheriff on appeal had finally decided the case of Widow Thomson (referred to in the minute of 31st October 1848) with expenses against the parish of Cairnie and that after deducting necessary expenses a balance of £13 was due to this parish.
1850 Jany 31
Received from the Messrs Blaikie balance due by them on account of Parochial Board of Cairney, £13
1850 Feby 10 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1850 March 10 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1850 March 24 By cash school coal money for Wid Thomson’s children 2/- and for a school book 1/9
1850 April 7 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1850 May 6 By cash to Wid Thomson 4 weeks aliment, 12s
1850 July 14, Received advances made to Wid Thomson by this Session on account of the Parish of Cairney, £3 15s 9d