Chapter

Providing for the Destitute

Karen J. Cullen

in Famine in Scotland - the 'Ill Years' of the 1690s

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780748638871
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653508 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748638871.003.0005
Providing for the Destitute

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The greatest impact of the famine must have been upon the poorer sections of society. This chapter focuses on the extent and increase of poverty and the nature, enforcement and success of the poor relief system. It draws on Rosalind Mitchison's work on The Old Poor Law in Scotland, in which she revealed the 1690s to be a key decade in the formation of an enforced system of poor relief paid for by kirk sessions and local landowners. The extent to which parishes actually fulfilled their legal obligations and provided an adequate level of support to the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society during the crisis was limited. The nature and extent of poor relief across the famine period is analysed to determine how effective the various systems employed by kirk sessions and town councils actually were. Ultimately, one of the key failings was the vast differences between these systems and, as a result, people moved out of their parishes and homes either because adequate poor relief and charity were not available there, or because they were aware that better provisions were being made for the poor elsewhere.

Keywords: famine; poor; poverty; poor relief systems; parishes; kirk sessions; town councils

Chapter.  14999 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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