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Collection IN5/1 - Barra Parochial Board / Parish Council, Barra, Scotland

Identity area

Reference code

GB3002 IN5/1


Barra Parochial Board / Parish Council, Barra, Scotland


  • 1866-1943 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

23 volumes

Context area

Name of creator

Barra Parish Council (1894-1930)

Administrative history

The Poor Law Act of 1845 established a Parochial Board in Barra answerable to a central Board of Supervision. The Barra Board was made up of representatives from the Kirk Session, local property owners and elected members. It assessed land and heritages to levy a poor rate on owners and occupiers.

An Inspector of the Poor was appointed to manage poor relief. Criminally liable for the death of any pauper death if they had been refused relief, brought reasonable applications before the Board which then determined whether aliment (relief) was to be given and how much. If relief was refused, the applicant could appeal to the Sheriff; if the relief was considered inadequate, the applicant could appeal to the board of Supervision.

Definition of the person entitled to relief was carried over from previous poor and vagrancy laws. Generally this was the non-able bodied (later relaxed to include able-bodied destitute) and children and those born in the parish or who had resided there for a certain number of years. Determining settlement (i.e. whether an individual was the responsibility of the parish or another parish) gave rise to detailed record keeping.

The Act enabled the construction by parishes or combination of parishes of poorhouses. Pressure put on Barra and other local Boards by the Board of Supervision was resisted in the Islands until the building of the Long Island Combination Poorhouse in Lochmaddy, North Uist, in 1882-3 to which the poor of Barra were sent.

The Board were also responsible for dealing with those with mental illness with Barra sending individuals to the Inverness District Asylum. “Harmless lunatics” were later sent to the Poorhouse in Lochmaddy from 1907.

From 1886, the Public Health Act made the Boards of Supervision centrally, and the Boards locally, the sanitary authorities responsible for the control of infectious diseases, removal of nuisances, food safety, water supply and the provision of hospitals and public conveniences. A sanitary inspector and a medical officer could be appointed.

The Local Government Act 1894 abolished the Board of Supervision and the Boards, transferring their functions to Local Government Board centrally, and to Parish Council locally. Barra Parish Council was a fully elected body. Its main functions were the Poor Law, registration of births, deaths and marriages, child protection, provision of burial grounds, registration of vaccinations, the mentally ill and handicapped. Most public health functions were transferred to South Uist & Barra District Committee. The Parish Council could also concern itself with footpaths, well, harbours and standard ff postal and telegraph services.

The Local Government Act 1929 saw the Parish Council being disbanded in 1930, the bulk of its functions being transferred to Barra District Council and the Barra Public Assistance Committee which reported to Inverness-shire County Council.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Internal transfer from Museum nan Eilean (Accn 2011-13)

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Minutes 1872-1895; letter books 1867-1938; Applications for Parochial Relief 1876-1930; General Registers of the Poor 1866-1930; Children's Separate Registers of the Poor 1873-1929; Unadmitted Cases of the Poor 1875-1896; Inspector's day cash books 1902-1930; postponed vaccinations 1873-1941

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged into series. Within series, items are arranged chronologically.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records containing personal data are closed for 75 years from the last date in the volume for records relating to adults and 100 years for records relating to children. Please consult the archivist for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Paper volumes

Finding aids

Digital and paper item level list available in searchroom of Tasglann nan Eilean Siar

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

GB3002 IN5/5 Records of Barra Public Assistance Committee 1930-1956 (held by Tasglann nan Eilean Siar, Stornoway)

GB3002 IN5/9 Records of Long Island Combination Poorhouse, Lochmaddy, North Uist 1875-1942 (held by Tasglann nan Eilean Siar)

Notes area

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Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion




Rights area

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