PAUPERS: THE VIEW FROM THE KIRK

PARISH OF NORTH KNAPDALE

Statistical Account of Scotland
The Rev. D. MacLachlan, Minister, April 1844

"....The average number of paupers receiving regular aid is 42 (out of a population of 2,170). The sums allowed to each vary from 10 shillings to L. 2, 5s. per annum. Besides those admitted to the poor's roll, there are other persons to whom occasional aid, during sickness or distress, is administered. The annual amount of collections, from the year 1837 to 1843 averaged L20, 6s.; and the deficiency during the above period has been supplied by the voluntary contributions of the heritors, who cheerfully concur in every measure calculated to increase the comfort, and improvement of the poor in the Parish. It is with regret the writer observes that the old Scottish spirit of independence, inducing a reluctance to ask relief from the parish, is fast giving way in this part of the country." (p 643)

The Rev. Donald McLachlan was born in North Knapdale in 1800, the sixth son of a weaver, Alexander McLachlan. He graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1820 with a Master of Arts; and was first ordained to Berriedale, 1827. He became North Knapdale's Parish Minister in 1836, serving there until 1846. According to Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae,he died in Edinburgh in 1847.

PARISH OF SOUTH KNAPDALE

Statistical Account of Scotland
The Rev. Alexander MacKenzie, Minister, 1840

"...The average number of poor on the roll is about 20 (out of a population of 1537.) This is exclusive of the district of the parish annexed quoad sacra to Lochgilphead Parish (ie Ardrishaig). The annual amount of contributions for their relief is from L20 to L25 Sterling, arising from collections in the church and fines for delinquencies. This sum, minus salaries for session, presbytery, and synod clerks, is divided among the poor twice a year. One distribution is made annually after the communion, and the other about the beginning of January. The funeral expenses of the poor are paid out of this fund; occasional aid is afforded to such as from bad health or any other misfortune may stand in need of relief, though they are not on the roll. From the failure of the potato crop in 1837, and scarcity of 1839, the heritors voluntarily contributed in each of these years L.25 for the relief of the poor. ...

"...Pauperism is daily increasing. This may be ascribed to a great degree to early and imprudent marriages. Such marriages are greatly encouraged by the practice of giving a house, and the planting of a couple of barrels of potatoes, free of any pecuniary rent, but exacting services from the cottar, every day, and at any season of the year when it may be required. The system of subsetting land is not yet discontinued."

The Rev. Alexander MacKenzie was born in 1799, the only son of John MacKenzie, Kirkintilloch. Like the Rev. McLachlan, he graduated from the University of Glasgow and became South Knapdale's Parish Minister in 1843. He married Lily Hunter, daughter of Knapdale's physician, James Hunter. He died in Glasgow in 1879.

Email: heathermc at northwestel dot net