Diaspora Aiding Home

Screen-Shot-2014-10-07-at-21.23.08In 1812 William Kinloch, a Calcutta-based Scottish merchant, died, leaving the residue of his estate to the Scottish Corporation (also referred to as Scottish Hospital) in London. As Kinloch had detailed in his will:

The residue of my estate … I will and bequeath may be lodged in the British funds at interest, under the management of the Governor and Managers of the fund instituted in London, for the relief of poor and indigent Scotchmen; and that the interest of this residue of my estate, may be received annually … [to] be paid annually to poor and disabled Scotchmen in distress, who may have lost their legs, or arms, eyesight, or otherwise wounded in the army or navy, in the service of their country …

Given that Kinloch had only referred to an ‘institution’ rather than the Corporation specifically, it required a decretal order by the High Court of Chancery in late June 1818 to confirm that the charitable institution to receive the bequest was indeed the Scottish Corporation. The announcement of that decision was followed by a notice in London papers asking those disabled Scotsmen who fit the categories set out to apply to the Secretary of the Kinloch Bequest at the Scottish Hall in London before 30 June 1819 for support. A number of exclusions were put in place: in-pensioners of Greenwich and Chelsea Hospitals could not apply, and neither could those with an annual income of more than £20. Successful applicants would receive support of no more than £8 and no less than £4. Application materials needed to consist of basic information about the applicant, including when he entered the Army or Navy; when he was discharged from service; in what regiment or ship he served; in what battle he was wounded; the nature of the injury (particularly its impact on gaining active employment); and further particulars on existing pension provisions. Also required were details on the applicant’s personal circumstances, including marital status. Finally, it was ‘necessary that the present condition of the Applicant be certified by a Surgeon belonging to his Majesty’s service … or by a regular and full Surgeon’. All these details had to be certified and signed by the Minister and Elder or Churchwarden of the parish in which the applicant resided.

Funds from Scots abroad did often play an important role in supporting not only ethnic associational initiatives that were aiding Scots in need, but also broader philanthropic endeavours. Kinloch provides a particularly powerful example in this respect: he did not only make a bequest to the Scottish Hospital. Born in Arbuthnot, the New Statistical Account for Scotland documents that Kinloch also gave money to support ‘the native poor of the parish of Arbuthnot, at the discretion of the kirk-session, who are empowered, by deed of bequest, to receive the claims of the several applicants, and then aid them as they shall see cause.’ Diaspora Scots aiding home, as it were.

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