This week we've been looking at the records of the Board of Supervision, a body established under the Poor Law (Scotland) Act of 1845 to implement the reformed system of poor relief in Scotland, and to act as an appeals body. The Board of Supervision lasted for 50 years until it was replaced when poor relief was transferred from Parochial Boards to local authorities.
We came across one noteworthy case which illustrates several aspects of the operation of the Board of Supervision and the workings (or, in this case, failings) of the poor relief system. The case first appears with no mention of the name of the poor man:
Thursday 30th November 1871
The Board were usually fairly scrupulous about gathering evidence, and as such many cases dragged out for extended periods. The next mention of the case is nearly two months later.
Thursday, 11th January 1872
Four weeks later, the Board again considered the evidence
Wednesday, 7th February 1872
When it came, the Chairman's verdict was devastating
Thursday, 15th February 1872
Even through the bureaucratic politeness, it's clear that the Board believed that the Inspector's actions were a factor in the death of poor Alexander Macdonald. They didn't however go so far as to dismiss him - something that in other cases they were willing to do.
The Board of Supervision had a dual role - providing guidance to the local officers responsible for the operation of the Poor Law, and acting as an appeals body for applicants dissatisfied with the amount of support they received. We are currently indexing the appeals cases considered by the Board from its inception in 1845 to its abolition in 1895, and will be publishing the index in the next few months. Watch this space!
The National Library of Scotland has a growing collection of digital resources of great interest to family historians. We've blogged before about their amazing map collection, which we use all the time for our own and client research. The NLS also has a superb collection of historic directories available, which we will write about in a future post.
On Friday, the NLS announced the latest additions to their digital library, this time of nearly 400 printed items relating to the histories of Scottish families - so right up our street! The individual books can be read online or downloaded to read offline. You can even search the text of the books for particular words. I think the text has been produced by OCR (optical character recognition), but the NLS is usually very good at digitising text. That said, if you can't find what you're looking for by searching, you can browse through each book page by page.
To help you find any books you may be interested in, we've grouped all the titles currently available by family. Bear in mind though that many of the books cover multiple families, so even if your family name's not listed here, it's worth checking the site anyway.
Genealogy and Family History - A mix of our news, curious and intriguing discoveries. Research hints and resources to grow your family tree in Scotland from our team.