Paisley, Renfrewshire

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In May, 1752, the Parish of Paisley opened a Burgh poorhouse at the west side of Sneddon Street, between Middle Lane and Hospital Lane. The town council and all the local trade societies contributed to its cost. A lunatic asylum was also incorporated into the site. The poorhouse location and layout are shown on the 1858 map below.

Paisley workhouse site, 1858.

In 1856, a Visiting Officer from the Board of Supervision raised concern about certain aspects of the accommodation at the poorhouse. The male and female airing yards were inadequately separated, and access to the kitchens was only through the male yard. The dormitories were also too small and it was long-standing practice for adult males to sleep two to a bed although "all males who are not of cleanly habits, all such as wish to sleep alone are accommodated with single beds". In 1867, a further inspection advised that an Itch ward was required. In 1874, it was suggested that chamber pots be used to replace the "present wooden utensils". Also, the eggs of "vermin" (lice) were found in considerable numbers in the heads of girl inmates.

From 1895, Paisley's Abbey poorhouse took on the role of poorhouse for the whole of Paisley and became known as the Paisley poorhouse.

Auchentorlie House

In 1910, the Paisley Parish Council took over a large property known as Auchentorlie House on Seedhill Road to the east of Paisley. The house was used as a children's home and for maternity cases and had a total capacity of 77 inmates. The buildings consisted of two floors, plus attics, and included dormitories for boys and girls, a day room and dining-hall for the children, a waiting room for maternity cases, an accouchement (delivery) room, probationary wards, bathrooms and lavatories, kitchens and outhouses, and staff quarters. The children's home was intended for to prevent children of good character from coming into contact with the ordinary inmates of the poorhouse. Neglected and under-fed children were sent to a separate children's home at Largs. Modern housing now stands on the site.




Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.

  • Heritage Centre, Paisley Central Library, High Street, Paisley PA1 2BA. Most poor law records are surname indexed.


  • Government and Social Conditions in Scotland 1845-1919 by Ian Levitt (1988, Scottish History Society)


  • None.

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