Jonathan Thomson, Inspector of Poor

We have a photograph of Mr Jonathan Thomson, of High Blantyre which is some 110 years old. Its not of great quality but as always I like posting anything with photos, in case somebody is related.

Jonathan was chosen in May 1913 to succeed Mr Alex. Simpson, as Inspector of Poor for Coldstream Parish, a position which Mr Simpson had filled faithfully and well for almost half a century.

Jonathan Thomson entered Blantyre Parish Council as an officer in 1899 and was appointed Assistant Inspector in 1908. So excellent was the work done by him that he was also chosen to act as Assistant Registrar from 1903 to 1911.

His job was an important one. The role of Inspector dates back to 1843 in Scotland. In 1843, a Commission of Enquiry was set up to suggest improvements to the Scottish Poor Law system. Proposals suggested included:

  • Setting up a Board of Supervision and Parochial Boards
  • The levying of a poor rate
  • Joint poorhouses in urban areas
  • An Inspector of the Poor who could examine requests for relief

The population of Blantyre at the time was 16,821, chiefly of the mining class and in numbers just a little short of what it is today! Poverty was everywhere, as were numerous slums and poor working and living conditions.

It is readily understood that Mr Thomson had an extensive and varied knowledge of Poor Law work and as he moved on, away from Blantyre in 1913, I’m of little doubt that he would have been warmly thanked for his efforts.

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