On the night of the 1901 census, the Lewis Combination Poor House returned 24 residents.
There were the 48 year-old Governor and his wife, who was employed as Matron.
A 23 year-old General Servant and a visiting 34 year-old ex schoolmistress (the need for whose presence will become clearer) completed the household.
The remaining 20 people, an equal number of males and females, were present because the Poor Law Act (Scotland) 1845, followed by the introduction of fully-elected Parish Councils in 1894, led to the rise of ‘Poor Law Unions’ or ‘Combinations’.
The Lewis Combination, whose history I have yet to explore, established a Poor House and thus 20 people found themselves incarcerated within its walls, forced to follow the harsh regime demanded in such institutions.
Six of those souls were children aged 12 or under.
30% of the inmates
No doubt some of whom were orphans
Seven of them were over 60 years-old.
35% – and four of these seven were over 70.
Nearly two-thirds, therefore, were from the most vulnerable extremes, those of childhood and old age.
The law that dictated this inhuman, humiliating treatment was only repealed in 1948 with the introduction of the modern system of Social Security.
(Select Scottish Poorhouses, then Ross and Cromarty and click on ‘Lews’)