Institution Information - Dalkeith Combination Poorhouse

Parish/County: Dalkeith, Midlothian

Alternative Names: Dalkeith Poorhouse

Location Map: Click here to see a historic map showing the institution.

Other institutions: Click here to see a list of Scottish mental health institutions.

Indexes: Click here to search the records we have indexed so far.

Locating Records for this institution

For people admitted to Scottish Mental Health institutions from 1 January 1858 a record usually survives in the ‘Notices of Admissions by the Superintendent of the Mental Institutions’ which are held by the National Records of Scotland. We are creating an index to these records and can assist you in searching the unindexed period. Search our index here or read more about the project here.

Some records kept by the institution are now held by the National Records of Scotland In Edinburgh. You can read more about the records they hold for this institution here or contact us and we can assist you to gain access to the records relating to your ancestors.

Text from 1857 Royal Commission Report

“DALKEITH COMBINATION POORHOUSE; Visited 10th February 1856.

This house stands in a pleasant and convenient situation close to the Eskbank station of the North British Railway, and accommodates the poor of nine parishes, containing an aggregate population of 27,659. It is a two-storied building, consisting of a front and two wings; and, with the additions lately made, is capable of accommodating 124 inmates, including children. The number, on the day of our visit, was 84, of whom 2 males and 10 females were fatuous or insane.

There is no separate accommodation for the insane, who are treated precisely as ordinary paupers. The dormitories arc all up-stairs. The largest number of beds in any one dormitory is sixteen, but the usual number is about ten or twelve. Some of the rooms were rather over-crowded, although others were vacant. The bedsteads are of iron, the mattresses of straw, and the beds appeared clean and comfortable, with two sheets and sufficient coverings. There are a few double beds in the women's quarters^ but, as a general rule, they are single.

The dormitories are used only at night, except those occupied by the old and infirm paupers of both sexes, which serve also as day-rooms. The furniture is limited to beds and chamber utensils, except in the wards for infirm patients, where there are also benches; but there is a total want of chairs, and other suitable furniture for the frail and weak, who are thus obliged to lie very much in bed.

The day-rooms are on the ground floor, and are flagged. There is one for the adult males, and another for the adult females. Both are very bare, containing no furniture but a couple of benches. A pauper, of dirty habits, sleeps in a room on this floor.

There is a general hall in which the paupers take their meals; no distinction is made in the diet of the sane and fatuous.

None of the insane or fatuous paupers are under warrant, but all are said to be reported as fatuous to the Board of Supervision. Application seems to have been made to the Sheriff for a license when the house was first opened, but, for some reason or other, it has never been obtained. The patients are principally congenital imbeciles or epileptics, or have become fatuous from age; but there is one female who decidedly does not come within this description. She is fifty-four years of age, a pauper of Newton parish, and was admitted some months ago without any medical certificate. The inspector of poor of Newton, on inquiry being instituted, professed to be ignorant of her insanity, while the governor of the poorhouse maintained that she was in the same condition on her admission as when seen by us. She is now in a state of dementia.

There are no single rooms, and no means of treating refractory cases, but the governor has power to refuse all patients whom he cannot control, or who would interfere with the comfort of the other inmates. Accordingly he has refused to retain patients of dirty habits, who have, in consequence, been removed to asylums. Still, so far as depends upon him, he would receive recent cases, if quiet and manageable, without taking into consideration whether they were curable or incurable.

There are no paid attendants. Strait-waistcoats, or other means of restraint, are never used.”

Return to Top