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

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Lewis Combination Poor House

On the night of the 1901 census, the Lewis Combination Poor House returned 24 residents.

There were the 48 year-old Governor and his wife, who was employed as Matron.

A 23 year-old General Servant and a visiting 34 year-old ex schoolmistress (the need for whose presence will become clearer) completed the household.

The remaining 20 people, an equal number of males and females, were present because the Poor Law Act (Scotland) 1845, followed by the introduction of fully-elected Parish Councils in 1894, led to the rise of 'Poor Law Unions' or 'Combinations'.

The Lewis Combination, whose history I have yet to explore, established a Poor House and thus 20 people found themselves incarcerated within its walls, forced to follow the harsh regime demanded in such institutions.

Six of those souls were children aged 12 or under.

30% of the inmates

No doubt some of whom were orphans

Seven of them were over 60 years-old.

35% - and four of these seven were over 70.

Nearly two-thirds, therefore, were from the most vulnerable extremes, those of childhood and old age.

The law that dictated this inhuman, humiliating treatment was only repealed in 1948 with the introduction of the modern system of Social Security.

Refs:

http://www.ambaile.org/en/item/item_page.jsp?item_id=9360

http://www.scan.org.uk/knowledgebase/topics/poorlaw2.htm

http://www.scan.org.uk/knowledgebase/topics/poorhouses_topic.htm

http://users.ox.ac.uk/~peter/workhouse/

(Select Scottish Poorhouses, then Ross and Cromarty and click on 'Lews')

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