Ancient Burgh Crest

Old Kirkcudbright

Glimpses into the History of an Ancient Parish & Burgh

Genealogy | Kirkcudbright Poor House

COMBINATION POOR'S HOUSE, 
KIRKCUDBRIGHT.

by James Bell
2001

This page contains a brief account of Kirkcudbright's Poorhouse (more correctly termed Poor's House) along with transcriptions of the 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, and 1891 census entries listing the residents there on census days. The poorhouse is one of the places to search for those 'lost' when examining census records.

Photo of Poorhouse. Click to see a larger version in a new browser window.

Plan of Poorhouse. Click to see a larger version in a new browser window.

On the 3rd of March 1848, a meeting took place in Kirkcudbright of delegates appointed by the Parochial Boards of Kirkcudbright, Borgue, Twynholm and Tongland Parishes in order to have a Poor's House erected to house the area's paupers.

The term 'Pauper' is often encountered in censuses etc., and refers to those who were unable to support themselves without having to rely on the Kirk Session, or its successor, the Parochial Board for financial assistance.  The majority of Paupers were elderly people, unable to work and having no family to support them, orphaned or abandoned children, and the sick.  It had been calculated that it was less expensive to house some of the parish paupers in a Poor's House than give them money to support themselves.  By the parishes combining together, it made the financial outlay of building and maintaining a Poor's House sustainable.

Although the first meeting involved just 4 parishes, in due course of time each parish in the Stewartry joined with them and paid proportionately their share of the costs.  Initially they considered two possible sites where the Poor's House might be built - the first on land within Kirkcudbright Burgh and the second at land called Kilndale which was outside the Burgh and the property of the Earl of Selkirk, a committee member.  The Burgh Council were approached to consider the possibility of building it on their land, but they hastily refused permission to build it there, or on any other land within the Burgh boundaries.

The lands at Kilndale were not considered to be ideal and a search was made for another site.  The Earl of Selkirk suggested an alternative site at 'Nursery Ground' which was examined and found to be "a convenient distance from the town, removed from any thoroughfare and contact with neighbours, and the ground being elevated and dry", and it was decided to build there.

The architect was a Jonathan A Bell of Edinburgh, and the builders, Messrs McCandlish of New Galloway. Planning and building work commenced in early 1849. By the summer of the following year considerable progress had been made, and the committee began to collect together the furnishings and equipment needed.  On 26th July 1850 David Griffin, an Irishman, and late Sergeant in the Royal Sappers and Miners then residing in Dalbeattie, was appointed as Governor and his wife as Matron. Their combined annual pay was to be 50.00 and house rations.  They were sent off to visit other Poor's Houses to learn how they were run and organised.

On 20th January 1851 the Poor's House opened, and within a few days 12 paupers had been admitted.  The 1851 census was taken a few weeks later, by which time there were 14 residents.

1851 census:

Governor & his family:
David Griffin, Governor, 48, Male Married, 48, Formerly Sergeant, Royal Sappers & Miners, born City of Dovy(?), Londonderry, Ireland.
Margaret Griffin, wife, 45, Married, Matron, born Tyrche Parish, Dungannon, Ireland.
Maryjane Griffin, daughter, 16, female, unmarried, scholar, born Tyrche Parish, Dungannon, Ireland.
John Wesley Griffin, son, 10, male, scholar, born Leiglin Bridge, Carlow, Ireland.
Catherine Nelson, nurse, 51, female, widow, nursetender, born Boardsmill Parish, Meath, Ireland.

Inmates:
Catherine Gallagher, pauper, 49, female, unmarried, born Aughnish Parish, Donegal, Ireland.
Rosanna Rice, pauper, 11, female, born Camloch Parish, Armagh, Ireland.
John Warrick, pauper, 10, male, scholar, born Kirkcudbright.
John Greer, pauper, 9, male, scholar,born Kirkcudbright.
Margaret Wilson, pauper, 79, female, widow, born Anwoth.
Mary Maxwell, pauper, 40, female, unmarried, servant, born Auchencairn
Catherine Hughan, pauper, 10, female, scholar, born Borgue.
Alexander Kirk, pauper, 13, male, scholar, born Borgue.
Margaret Malcolm, pauper, 21, female, unmarried, born Kirkcudbright.
Margaret Shields, pauper, 30, female, unmarried, servant, born  Kirkcudbright.
Hannah McGuire, pauper, 81, female, widow, born Loughgall Parish, Armagh, Ireland.
Mary Rice, pauper, 15, female, servant, born Camloch Parish, Armagh, Ireland.
William Sproat, pauper, 77, male, unmarried, born Borgue.
John McConchie, pauper, 61, male, unmarried, master mariner, born Kirkcudbright.

Mr Griffin and his family remained in position until 1856 when he resigned, and Mr Beattie and family were appointed in their place.

1861 census:

Governor & his family:
Robert Beattie, Governor, 43, Male, Married, Governor of Poorhouse, born Dumfries, Dumfriesshire.
Annie Alexander of Beattie, Wife, 40, Female, Married, Matron of Poorhouse, born Dunbar, Haddington.
Mary Beattie, Daughter, 17, Female, Unmarried, Scholar, born Haddington.
Annie Beattie, Daughter, 16, Female, Unmarried, Scholar, born Haddington.
Georgina F Beattie, Daughter, 14, Female, Scholar, born Haddington.
Fanny Beattie, Daughter, 11, Female, Scholar, born Haddington.
James Beattie, Son, 10, Male, Scholar, born Haddington.
Jane Bell Beattie, Daughter, 8, Scholar, born Haddington.
Dunbar Douglas Beattie, Son, 4, Male, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
William Bell Beattie, Son, 2, Male, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.

Inmates:
Alexander Patterson, Pensioner, 87, Male, Widower, Greenwich Pensioner - Seaman R.N. born Prestonpans, Haddington.
John Scott, Pauper, 65, Male, Widower, Cotton Weaver, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
David Rennie, Pauper, 71, Male, Unmarried, Shepherd, born Minnigaff, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Joseph Thomson, Pauper, 60, Male, Widower, Agricultural Labourer, born Crossmichael, Kirkcudbrightshire.
George Graham, Pauper, 82, Male, Widower, Agricultural Labourer, born Ireland.
Margaret Donaldson, Pauper, 43, Female, Unmarried, no occupation, born Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Janet Fleming or Sharpe, Pauper, 66, Female, Widow, Agricultural Labourer, born Anwoth, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Mary Robertson, Pauper, 35, Female, Unmarried, Agricultural Labourer, born Rerwick, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Isabella McConchie, Pauper, 16, Female, Unmarried, Agricultural Labourer, born Borgue, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Jane McReady or Campbell, Pauper, 35, Female, Married, Dairymaid, born Girvan, Ayrshire.
Mary Sproat, Pauper, 41, Female, Unmarried, Domestic Servant, born Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Patricia Smith or Girgan (?), Pauper, 78, Female, Widow, Domestic Servant, born Ireland.
Mary Bonner or Reid, Pauper, 57, Female, Widow, Domestic Servant, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Jeannie Murdoch or Caven, Pauper, 31, Female, Widow, Domestic Servant, born Colvend, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Janet McDonald or McGhie, Pauper, 90, Female, Widow, Domestic Servant, born at sea - a British Subject.
Margaret Malcolm, Pauper, 28, Female, Unmarried, Agricultural Labourer, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Thomas Caisins, Pauper, 12, Male, Scholar, born Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire.
James Mouncey, Pauper, 12, Male, Scholar, born Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire.
William Sproat, Pauper, 5, Male, born England.
Samuel Green, Pauper, 9, Male, Scholar, born Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire. 
James McLevie, Pauper, 11, Male, Scholar, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
John Kine, Pauper, 3, Male, born Newabbey, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Richard Robertson, Pauper, 1, Male, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
David McRobert, Pauper, 11, Male, Scholar, born Tongland, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Alexander McKay, Pauper, 12, Male, Scholar, born Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Samuel Caven, Pauper, 2, Male, born Newabbey, Kirkcudbrightshire.
John Russell, Pauper, 7, Male, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Andrew Caven, Pauper, 2, Male, born Urr, Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
William Malcolm, Pauper, 2 months, Male, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Elizabeth Halliday, Pauper, 10, Female, Scholar, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Anna Nabony, Pauper, 13, Female, Scholar, born Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Jane Blane, Pauper, 10, Female, Scholar, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Robina Allison, Pauper, 12, Female, Scholar, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Isabella Thig (?), Pauper, 5, Female, Scholar, born Newabbey, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Mary Green, Pauper, 9, Female, Scholar, born Tongland, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Jane Campbell, Pauper, 1, Female, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Elizabeth Slimon, Pauper, 8, Female, Scholar, born Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire.

In 1869, a scandal forced Robert Beattie to resign.  One of the female residents, placed there by Troqueer Parochial Board, complained that he has sexually and physically abused her and she was supported by other residents.  He was duly replaced.

1871 Census:

Governor & his family:
David Clark, Head, 32, Male, Married, Governor of Poors House, born Kirkwall, Orkney.
Anna Maria Clark, Wife, 32, Female, Married, Matron of Poorhouse, born Stockport, England.
William (?) Clark, Son, 6, Male, born Cheshire, England.
David Clark, Son, 4, Male, born Cheshire, England.
Douglas Clark, Son, 11 months, Male, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Anna Billinge, Mother-in-Law, 75, Female, Widow, born -----shire, England.
Ann Gass, Servant, 42, Female, Unmarried, Cook, born Ireland.

Inmates:
Alan Hastings, Pauper, 49, Male, Unmarried, Deaf, dumb & blind. No birth place given.
John Gorman, Pauper, 76, Male, Widower, Labourer, born Ireland.
Robert Handley, Pauper, 72, Male, Widower, Gardener, born Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire.
James Maxwell, Pauper, 89, Male, Widower, Saddler, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
John Stewart, Pauper, 69, Male, Widower, Labourer, born Buittle, Kirkcudbrightshire
Peter Carson, Pauper, 65, Male, Widower, Joiner, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Robert McGuffie, Pauper, 65, Male, Widower, Overseer, born Crossmichael, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Robert Adams, Pauper, 79, Male, Widower, Weaver, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Ann Affleck, Pauper, 54, Female, Unmarried, Farm Servant, born Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Elizabeth Ritchie, Pauper, 27, Female, Unmarried, Servant, born Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Elizabeth Sinclair, Pauper, 22, Female, Unmarried, Servant, born Tongland, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Mary Simpson, Pauper, 75, Female, Widow, Hawker, born Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Jane Murray, Pauper, 54, Female, Widow, Milliner, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Lucy Clark or Bryden, Pauper, 81, Female, Widow, Servant, born Crossmichael, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Jane Clinton, Pauper, 67, Female, Widow,  Outworker, born Borgue, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Agnes McMeeking, Pauper, 28, Female, Servant, born Crossmichael, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Elizabeth Jamieson, Pauper, 55, Female, Widow, Outworker, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Samuel McCrorrie, Pauper, 13, Male, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
James Malcolmson, Pauper, 14, Male, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
John Collins, Pauper, 12, Male, Scholar, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
William Gendie, Pauper, 12, Male, Scholar, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Samuel Elliott, Pauper, 11, Male, Scholar, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
William Elliott, Pauper, 8, Male, Scholar, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Samuel Murray, Pauper, 12, Male, Scholar, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
William Ritchie, Pauper, 5, Male, born Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Thomas Ritchie, Pauper, 2, Male, born Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Farquhar Sinclair, Pauper, 2, Male, born Tongland, Kirkcudbrightshire.
William Gavigal, Pauper, 3, Male, birth place not known.
James McMeeking, Pauper, 6 weeks, Male, born Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Helen McGowan, Pauper, age obliterated - possibly 12, Female, born Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Mary Jane Dayton (?), Pauper, 9, Female, Scholar, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Elizabeth Hanley, Pauper, age obliterated, Female, born Newabbey, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Elizabeth Connal, Pauper, 14, Female, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Catherine Murray, Pauper, 10, Female, Scholar, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Jane Bromley, Pauper, 10, Female, Scholar, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Christina Bromley, Pauper, 7, Female, Scholar, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Helen Ritchie, Pauper, 7, Female, Scholar, born Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Margaret Sinclair, Pauper, 6 weeks, Female, born Tongland, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Hellen Gartigal, Pauper, 6, Female, Scholar, born Beuth (?)

1881 census:

Governor and his family:
David DOUGLAS, Head, 48, Male, Married, Governor of Poorhouse, born Maybole, Ayrshire.
Margaret DOUGLAS, Wife, 48, Female, Matron of House, born Maybole, Ayrshire.
William DOUGLAS, Son, 23, Unmarried, Visitor, born Ayr, Ayrshire.
Euphemia DOUGLAS, Daughter, 19, Unmarried, Assistant Matron, born Newton On Ayr, Ayrshire.
Robert DOUGLAS, Son, 15, Male, Scholar, born Ayr, Ayrshire.
Margaret DOUGLAS, Daughter, 10, Female, Scholar, born Maybole, Ayrshire.
James White DOUGLAS, Son, 8, Matle, Scholar, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.

Inmates:
Allan HASTIE, Inmate, 58, Male, Unmarried,  Labourer, born Leadhills, Lanarkshire.
John BOWIE, Inmate, 66, Male, Unmarried, Tinsmith, born Stranraer, Wigtown.
William DAVIDSON, Inmate, 26, Male, Unmarried, Handicap: Blind. born Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire.
William WALLACE, Inmate, 71, Male, Unmarried, Labourer, born Girthon, Kirkcudbrightshire.
John MC INNIES, Inmate, 64, Male, Widower, Shoemaker, born Kircudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
James MORRISON, Inmate, 72, Male, Widower, Blacksmith, born Urr, Kirkcudbrightshire.
James MC DONALD, Inmate, 68, Male, Unmarried, Labourer, born Old Monkland, Lanarkshire.
Robert MC PHUN, Inmate, 61, Male, Unmarried, Labourer, born Ireland
Matthew WARD, Inmate, 55, Male, Widower, Slater, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Corneillus RAVEY, Inmate, 61, Male, Widower, Stocking Maker, born Dumfries, Dumfriesshire.
James MC CARTNEY, Inmate, 45, Male, Widower, Labourer, born Ireland
Isabella SMITH, Inmate, 24, Female, Unmarried, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Elizabeth MANSFIELD, Inmate, 19, Female, Unmarried, born Balmaclellan, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Grace THOMSON, Inmate, 84, Female, Unmarried, Washerwoman, born Kells, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Jane BONAR, Inmate, 62, Female, Widow, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
John MC KILL, Inmate, 11, Male, Scholar, born Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire.
John MYLIE, Inmate, 9, Male, Scholar, born Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire.
James MYLIE, Inmate, 6, Male, Scholar, born Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Robert FERGUSSON, Inmate, 9, Male, Scholar, born Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire.
John FINDLAY, Inmate, 11, Male, Scholar, born Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Jessie BROADFOOT, Inmate, 9, Female, Scholar, born Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Agnes MC MEEKING, Inmate, 7, Female, Scholar, born Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Margaret MC MEEKING, Inmate, 4, Female, born Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Jane KILPATRICK, Inmate, 6, Femalem born Dunscore, Dumfriesshire.
Wilhilmina RICE, Inmate, 6, Female, Place of birth not known, Kirkcudbrightshire.

1891 census:

Governor and his family:
David Douglas, Head, 59, Male, Married, House Governor, born Maybole, Ayrshire.
Margaret Douglas, Wife, 59, Female, Married, Matron of House, born Maybole, Ayrshire.
Margaret Roger Douglas, Daughter, 20, Female, Unmarried, Assistant Matron, born Maybole, Ayrshire.
James W Rodger, Son, 18, Male, Apprentice in Bank, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.

Inmates:
Allan Hastie, Patient, 68, Male, Unmarried, Miner (Lead), born Carsphairn, Kirkcudbrightshire.
William Davidson, Patient, 37, Male, Unmarried, Sack Weaver, born Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire.
James McCartney, Patient, age obliterated, Male, Unmarried, Quarryman, born Ireland.
James Charteris, Patient, 36 (?), Male, Unmarried, Itinerant Musician, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Ebenezer Belford, Patient, 58 (?), Male, Unmarried, Tailor, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Samuel Currie, Patient, 53 (?), Male, Unmarried, Farm Servant, born Urr, Kirkcudbrightshire.
George Carson, Patient, 82, Male, Widower, Gardener, born Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire.
James Seggie, Patient, 59, Male, Widower, Blacksmith, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
John McDowall, Patient, 51, Male, Unmarried, Grocer, born Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Peter Mouncey, Patient, 76, Male, Widower, House Painter, born Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire.
*George Linn, Patient, 94, Male, Widower, Agricultural Labourer, born Ireland. (See note below)
John McGuire, Patient, age obliterated, Male, Widower, Fish Dealer, born Ireland.
**John Donlan, Patient, 77, Male, Unmarried, Agricultural Labourer, born Ireland. (See note below)
George Kirk, Patient, 75, Male, Widower, Agricultural Labourer, born Urr, Kirkcudbrightshire.
John Hume, Patient, 61, Male, Unmarried, Cabinet Maker, born Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Jonathan Brown, Patient, 52, Male, Unmarried, Office Clerk, born Urr, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Robert McBride, Patient, 18, Male, Unmarried, no occupation, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Isabella Smith, Patient, 33, Female, Unmarried, Domestic Servant, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Margaret Yuill, Patient, 59, Female, Married, no occupation, place of birth not known.
Margaret Johnston, Patient, 57, Female, Unmarried, Domestic Servant, place of birth not known.
Janet Allan, Patient, 65, Female, Unmarried, Seamstress, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Mary Beattie, Patient, 25, Female, Unmarried, Domestic Servant, born Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Agnes McDowall, Patient, 32, Female, Married, no occupation, born Barnhill, Glasgow.
Marion Brown, Patient, 69, Female, Widow, Hawker, born Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Margaret Smith, Patient, 6, Female, born Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Mary A.J Beattie, Patient, 7 months, Female, born Glasgow, Lanarkshire.

*Note on George Linn above.  This old soul is entered in the 1881 census too:
Kirkpatrick Durham Parish; Dwelling: Home not known, slept in Shed #1at Parish Church.
Alexander GILLESPIE, 95, Male, Widower, born Stranraer, Wigtownshire.
George LINN, 85, Male, Unmarried, born Ireland
Life was hard in the 1880's for this old team!

** Note on John Donlan.  John too is found in the 1881 census:
Dwelling: Dundrennan Village, Rerrick, Kirkcudbrightshire.
William EVANS, Head, 83, Male, Married, Dyker, born Rerrick, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Mary EVANS, Wife, 73, Female, Married, Dyker's Wife, born Colvend, Kirkcudbrightshire.
John DONLAND, Lodger, 67, Male, Unmarried, General Labourer, born Ireland

The Poorhouse, which later became known as Burnside House, continued to be ran by the Board for the Combination Poor's House until new government legislation in 1930 led to its management being handed over to the Department of Health. then part of the Country Council.  It closed about 1949 and many local residents still remember it before it was finally demolished a few years later.

And for those of you who don't remember Burnside House, I can tell you that its site has since been used to build the private housing estate called Drumblane Strand.  The house in which I live, at No. 5, seems to have been about the centre of the main building.

For more information on the poorhouse, the Ewart Library in Dumfries has the complete minutes recorded by the Board from 1848 to 1930 inclusive.  Interesting though these are, unfortunately they seldom mention details of actual inmates.  The Stewartry Museum in Kirkcudbright also has some photographic material.

  James Bell