Scottish Archive Network Exhibitions
Other Exhibitions
Helen Guthrie 1663
Jean Cuthbert 1680
Christian Speid 1760s
Margaret Scott 1770s
Anne Anderson 1770s
Anne Wyllie 1782
Margaret Speid 1840s
Jemima Hay 1873
Miss Dick 1873
Hannah MacEwen 1882
Isa Cunningham 1916
Betty Jamieson 1931
Business Woman 1948
  Hannah MacEwen - A Deserted Wife, Careton 1882

Image of letter relating to the situation of Hannah MacEwen

The Industrial Revolution, the decline of traditional cottage industries such as weaving, and the shift of population from the countryside to the cities in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, resulted in increasing problems of unemployment, homelessness and poverty.

The old system of poor relief organised by Kirk Sessions was inadequate, and in 1843 a Royal Commission was appointed to address the problem. The resulting Poor Law Amendment (Scotland) Act of 1845 set up a Parochial Board for each parish or burgh. Those in need claimed from their parish of origin and not from their parish of residence. This led to much bickering between Parochial Boards about their responsibilities.

In 1882 Mr Meldrum, the Brechin Parochial Board inspector, wrote to his colleague in Careston parish regarding the case of Hannah McEwen, who had been deserted by her husband. She was pregnant and already had five children to support. The absent husband was born in Careston parish, and Hannah claimed to have received support from Careston on a previous occasion. Mr Meldrum evidently hoped to relieve Brechin parish of the burden of the care for such a large family. Subsequently Hannah McEwen was vindicated when it emerged that Meldrum had confused her with her sister-in-law Ann.

Angus Archives ACC 9/9/1/2