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North Uist Parish Council

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Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

North Uist Parish Council

Parallel form(s) of name

  • Parish Council of North Uist

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Dates of existence



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

The Board were also responsible for dealing with those with mental illness. “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. North Uist 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 North Uist 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 North Uist District Council and the North Uist Public Assistance Committee which reported to Inverness-shire County Council.


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