Saturday, 8 August 2009

Jedburgh poor law records on CD

The following comes from the Southern Reporter newspaper in the Borders:

A Poor way of Life

For those who have studied the 19th century or read the works of Charles Dickens, The Poor Law might be represented by the grim illustrations of the 'Poor House', by Phiz and George Cruikshank.

The Poor Law was the means of providing food, accommodation, financial assistance and, latterly, care to those in need from the middle of the 19th century.

This system replaced the parish support mechanism and recognised that the industrial and agricultural revolutions had led to great population movements and drift within Scotland, making the parish support no longer able to cope without assistance.

The Poor Law created a plethora of records covering details on those who applied for assistance in specific areas, case studies, details on inspectors and much, much more. In many respects it saw the beginnings of local government as we know it today.

When the Heritage Hub in Hawick started to digitise a number of these records for the Borders, they soon realised the scale of the work and agreed that the Borders Family History Society could assist in indexing the records and transcribe the most useful data. The work is now under way and the first publication covering Jedburgh from 1852 to 1874 is available.

Apart from the obvious interest to the local historian, the publication opens up a new horizon for the genealogist, providing details on people’s movement between the censuses, descriptions of illnesses suffered, domestic circumstances and more. Uniquely, the records provide details on people not born in the Borders, but who lived or died there.

While the budding genealogist may set out with high hopes of finding ‘noble roots’, the reality is usually different, but no less fascinating. The Poor Law touched and helped people from differing backgrounds at a time of great change. These records might help you piece together the last pieces of your own family jigsaw puzzle.

The Borders Family History Society team, led by Peter Munro and guided by Rachel Hosker of the Heritage Hub, have done a brilliant job in producing this fascinating CD publication.

It includes index and illustrations covering more than 1,000 named people and more details are available on the society’s website,

CD price £12, plus UK postage of 47p. The CD can be purchased directly from the society at Borders Family History Society, Whitberry, Todlaw Road, Duns, TD11 3EW

Incidentally, the Borders FHS team has a short video on its home page describing why it does monumental inscription work (recording gravestone inscriptions at Linton in Roxburghshire) - this can also be viewed at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research


Peter Munro said...

I just want to point out that the article was slightly ambiguous.

There are no illustrations of people.
There are handwritten particulars of all of the people (except those in 1844) indexed on digitised images of the paper pages of the Poor Register, and these images are on the CD, too.

You can search our Poor Law Records index for the names and birth places in which you're interested at

A further volume Jedburgh Parish (1875-1893) covering over 800 named people will be available soon.

Chris Paton said...

Thanks Peter, that is extremely helpful, and congratulations to all in the society for your efforts to date!


Chris Paton said...

PS: Do let me know when the next volume is out - happy to give it a plug!