Introducing Alexander Smith, Poor Law Inspector for West Calder

In past blogs, West Lothian Archives has brought you the stories of West Lothian residents who claimed . In “Pauper to Painter” we uncovered the humble beginnings of artist John Kane whilst in “The Original Bouncing Baby” we brought you the story of the battle surrounding the illegitimate daughter of Janet Duncan. West Lothian Council archives will now bring you the story of  paupers  from the perspective of the  Poor Law Inspector for West Calder, Alexander Smith, who was appointed by West Calder Parish Council to be in charge of for the parish.

We have created a Twitter feed in the name of the inspector and it will appear as if he himself is tweeting about the often desperate residents of West Calder who tried to claim poor relief. Alexander Smith didn’t leave a diary behind so there will obviously be some poetic licence involved but the tweets will be firmly based on the entries of poor law application registers and the minutes of the West Calder Parish Council held at West Lothian Council Archive Service.  These records provide snapshots of the lives of paupers, their family, occupation and financial circumstances and as such are a rich historical source waiting to be untapped.

 Alexander Smith will take you back to 1896 and introduce you to the people who claimed relief and the decisions that were made by the parish council. Follow Alexander Smith’s twitter feed on  If you can, join us on July the 14th as Alexander Smith tweets from a meeting of West Calder Parish Council.

3 thoughts on “Introducing Alexander Smith, Poor Law Inspector for West Calder

  1. Hello,I have been looking at the archives for west lothian and observed a record for patrick slattery requiring poor relief in 1901.I think that this is my grandfather that is mentioned.I know that he was a shale miner in 1901 and that he had an accident in the mine but no other details.There is no mentioned of the accident in the mining websites but I think he injured his back and lost part of a finger.Later he worked as a milkman with the Co-op and moved to Armadale with his family ,~1922,where he was employed with Armadale Co-op as a milkman.
    Have you any more details ?

  2. Hi Dennis, We have carried out some research for you. Can you email the archive directly ( and we will email you back directly.



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