Beggar's medal from Stoneykirk

Circular brass medal marked STONEYKIRK 1820, NO.39.  It has four central holes to allow it to be sewn to a coat.  This is a beggar’s medal. It was issued by Stoneykirk parish in 1820. Until the mid19th century the relief of the poor was the responsibility of individual parishes. Local heritors or landowners, working with the Kirk Session, would help poor parishioners through a combination of voluntary contribution and church collections. Food and fuel were also made available. Many parishes attempted to solve the problem of begging by banishing beggars and forcing other parishes to provide for their welfare. But some parishes, like Stoneykirk, took a more responsible approach and allowed organised begging. Registered beggars were issued with a medal like the one shown here which had to be sewn onto a coat or jacket. As long as the medal was on show beggars were able to operate within the boundaries of the parish. Begging in a different parish was illegal and could lead to imprisonment.
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Dumfries & Galloway Council
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