Stories From The Poor House (Part 1)

The North Lanarkshire Poor Law Applications are now available online via Ancestry. I have visited North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre in Motherwell on a number of occasions looking for specific records and it is amazing and quite moving to see the original registers however, until I have had the time to look through the online records, I had no idea how many of my family had to seek help from the Poorhouse.

My great grandfather, Robert Armstrong Rae, was illegitimate and was raised by his grandparents, Thomas Rae and Ann Symington. His father denied paternity and his mother left Scotland for Australia with her husband and their children.

Robert was born in 1879. His mother Grace went to court to force his father to acknowledge paternity and force him to pay for the child’s upkeep. The father, it would seem, wanted nothing to do with his son and left Scotland for a time in an effort to evade the courts.

By 1892 the family were struggling and Robert’s grandmother was forced to make an application for Poor Relief. The application shows that the funds were required for clothing in order that Robert might attend school.

The application gives not only Robert’s birthplace in Dalserf but also his mother’s in New Cumnock. It also gives the name and occupation of his stepfather and the fact that his mother is in New South Wales. It also confirms that there was a time when his grandfather was not living at home.

I still have a lot of records to work through but they really are a goldmine of information.