Robert SINCLAIR (1838 – 1901) Governor of the Poor House at Prestonkirk.
In the book entitled, “The Sinclairs 1664-1992 A Family History” it mentions my ancestor, Robert SINCLAIR as becoming Governor of the Poor House at Prestonkirk a short time after marrying Ann PETTIGREW.
I really didn’t know what a Governor of the Poor house was, so I Goggled it. One definition explains it as, “A poorhouse or workhouse was a government-run facility in the past for the support and housing of dependent or needy persons, typically run by a local government entity such as a county or municipality.”
(http://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/site/scripts/news_article.php?newsID=386) which states, “It's in the Records demonstrates what a fantastic resource the archives are for the study of both local and family history.
The development of poor relief is just one of the topics explored. East Lothian Poorhouse was built at Prestonkirk, East Linton in the 1860s. Although conditions were harsh the records show that some attempt was made to make the residents comfortable - at Christmas 1865 the governor asks the poorhouse committee to provide a treat for the 'inmates' which included fine bread, meat pie and plum pudding. The nineteenth century poor law records which will return to East Lothian are among the best in Scotland”
In early Victorian times (for Britain see Poor Law and workhouse), poverty was seen as a dishonourable state caused by a lack of the moral virtue of industriousness (or industry as it was called). As was depicted by Charles Dickens, a poorhouse or workhouse could resemble a reformatory and house children, either with families or alone, or a penal labour regime to give the poor work at manual labour and subject them to physical punishment. As the 19th century progressed, conditions became better.
The article mentions at “Christmas 1865 the governor asks the poorhouse committed to provide a treat for the “inmates”. It’s very likely that Robert SINCLAIR was the “governor at this time”.