The Poor Relief Application of John Maclean

Have you used poor law records in your family history research? Glasgow City Archives holds over one million poor relief applications made by those in need of assistance in Glasgow. We also hold applications for other areas including Bute, Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire. Applicants were interviewed by an inspector in their home who would record a wealth of personal information about them. The rich detail that can be gleaned from these is what makes them such a valuable and irreplaceable source for family historians. Information on how to use poor law records effectively can be found in the guides section of our website.

Interestingly, however, it was not uncommon for the inspector to portray the applicant unsympathetically. Below is an example belonging to John Maclean, a Glaswegian teacher and leading figure in the socialist movement during World War One (ref: D-HEW16/13/513). He began his political career in the early 20th century, and became increasingly anti-conscription upon the outbreak of war. This caused several accounts of conflict with the law and inevitably led to him being dismissed from his role as a teacher.  He was imprisoned on the 11th of April 1916 after being found guilty of four of the six charges of sedition that he was accused of.  Although he escaped this sentence early due to agitation, he dedicated the rest of his life to fighting his cause both in and out of prison. 

John Maclean Poor Relief Page 1.jpg


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