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Collection IN5/2 - Harris Parochial Board / Parish Council, Harris, Scotland

Identity area

Reference code

GB3002 IN5/2


Harris Parochial Board / Parish Council, Harris, Scotland


  • 1863-1932 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

16 volumes

Context area

Name of creator

Harris Parish Council (1894-1930)

Administrative history

The Poor Law Act of 1845 established a Parochial Board in Harris answerable to a central Board of Supervision. The Harris 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.

The Act enabled the construction by parishes or combination of parishes of poorhouses. Pressure put on Harris 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 Harris were sent.

The Board were also responsible for dealing with those with mental illness with Harris 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 Harris Board, transferring their functions to Local Government Board centrally, and to Harris Parish Council locally. Harris 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 Harris 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 Harris Parish Council being disbanded in 1930, the bulk of its functions being transferred to Harris District Council and the Harris 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

Minute books 1863-1930; scroll minute books 1876-1932

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 IN5/6 Records of Harris Public Assistance Sub-Committee 1932-1965 (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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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion




Rights area

Accession area