This quaint homely
phrase, Poor and Poor's Funds, sounds sweeter and kindlier th/m the
harsher and more repulsive title now in common use, viz., Paupers
and Poor Rates.
The one bespeaks of the Christian fellowship and care of the Kirk,
when the rich and poor met together in the name of the Lord— the
maker of them all.
The other sounds of pauperism or semicrime, whose enactments
separate society— banishing the less fortunate members thereof to
the cold shades cf the palace-like prisons of the several
Unions—where, like monks or nuns, the sexes are separated, the
husband from the wife, the daughter from the father, the brother
from the sister, under repressive discipline, resentfully eeking out
the weary remainder of their days, comfortably it may be to all
outward appearance, but oppressed with a more intense longing than
the caged bird to be free : their only fault being poverty, a crime,
as the Yankee poet calls it, with more pith than refinement—
Dimes and dollars,
Dollars and dimes:
The want of money
Is the worst of crimes.
Meanwhile the well-springs of charity—
the noblest fountain of life present and eternal—are sealed up in
the human breast; for while the paupers helplessly resent their
treatment and shun it to the last, the ratepayers likewise grumble
and grudge the supposed extortion.
The one was Church law and practice. The other is State law and
The Christian Church, in its fundamental polity, voluntaril\r
adopted the care of the poor, with results that varied according to
the spirit that dominated the Church.
The Kirk of Scotland, as reformed by Knox and his compeers, adopted
the same plan, which survived till about 1848 with honour to the
kirk and untold benefit to the nation, which was redeemed, by this
and other means, from faction and feud to the highest state of
But selfishness and -schism, with their attendant divisions and
heartburnings, from one cause and another, crept into the Kirk,
which, rent and torn, was unable longer to bear its wonted burden,
and, gladly easing itself thereof, threw it upon the grim
calculating shoulders of the State, which again delegated its work
to the various Parochial Boards, with the result that we of this
generation are only too familiar with, better, perhaps, in some
respects than formerly, but lacking the true element of real
charity, and hence giving birth to the callous proverb which is born
of, and may well become, this age of mammon worship “As cold as
charity.” For the purpose of comparison with the two following
tables, I have been favoured by Mr Thos. Thomson, Inspector for the
parish, with a similar abstract for the year 1884.
POOR AND POOR’S FUNDS.
The following Tables will show the money
collected for, and expended on the Poor, from 1790 to 1814, the
number of the stated Poor, and the amount of sums occasionally
given, together with the number of those Marriages and Funerals
which have been recorded :—
The average number of poor for these 24
years is nearly 12 or 11 11-12ths for each year, and the year’s
support, including the sum paid for house sent, requires the average
sum of £2 10s. for each of the paupers. The monthly allowance is
from 3s. to 5s., according to the circumstances of the individuals;
every attention being paid to what they can do for themselves, and
to what their children or relations may be able to do for them.
The occasional aid, amounting to nearly one-third of the sum given
the stated poor during 21 years, is caused by the wish of the
administrators of the fund to keep the regular poor’s list as low as
possible. A small part of this is given in coals to the stated poor,
but much the greater part is given to those who are not in that
In ordinary years, and when the sums yearly are not above <£10, the
sums paid occasionally may be nearly one half to the stated poor and
the remainder to others who are not on the roll.
In the years of scarcity, when the sums are large, the distribution
is made in coals or meal at a reduced price, and money to every
family in the parish which requires to be supported.
The bond mentioned in the tables was for money lent on houses in
Edinburgh, but it is now entirely exhausted.
The difference in the total, comparing one year with another, may be
accounted for by carrying forward the balance, or, as sometimes
happened, by borrowing money till the funds, by assessment or
otherwise, were able to pay it.