Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Saturday, 6 March 2010

From Paupers to Very Poor...

Paupers recorded on censuses taken in Harris

Year       Male       Female       Total
1851       21            52              73

1861       18           49               67

1871        07          21               28

1881       09           20               29

1891       00           03               03

1901       03           11                14

I was about to begin pontificating upon these figures when I came upon a record from 1851:

Kenneth Morrison, 80, a Hearach was living in Widows Row, Stornoway with his wife, Catherine.

Occupation – Very Poor...

Very Poor – What levels of despair and destitution do those two small words define?

There are seven Paupers recorded in Stornoway in 1851 but only Kenneth has his occupation described as 'Very Poor'.

Perhaps not poor enough to qualify for State Aid and hence become a Pauper (or too proud to do so, or in some other manner denied access?) but sufficiently so for the Enumerator to use the word 'Very' to describe his and Mrs Morrison's plight.

On this very night, elsewhere in Stornoway, John McNeil, Chairman of the Board of Supervison for the Relief of the Poor in Scotland, was in the newly-built Lews Castle on one of his many information-gathering exercises.

His circumstances were certainly not 'Very Poor'...

Note: I have so far been unable to locate 'Widows Row' in Stornoway but in 1901 it appears as 'Newvalley widows Row'. Since first composing this piece, I have discovered the location of this 1851 Widow's Row in this very interesting letter: http://www.stornowaygazette.co.uk/letters-to-the-editor/Information-on-Widows39-Row.1177076.jp

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