Mort Cloth and Proclamation extracts from Cambusnethan Parish Accounts
The information in this section was extracted from the original Old Parish Record books,
initially for my own research but now almost the complete details are listed here,
it now contains many other names than Just ours, the complete list will be on line shortly.
What are Mort Cloth Records?
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the church was responsible for the maintenance of
the poor and the enforcing of moral standards in the community.
Funds were raised through landowners who subsequently passed on some of this cost to
their tenants. The Old Parish Records Accounts is a ledger of sort that lists contributions
and collections, and how the money was spent, i.e. kirk maintenance, wages, donations to
charities and to the local population who may have fell on hard times.
Another source of income was from the renting of shrouds (mort cloths) for covering the dead
bodies or casket prior to burial. (probably not very hygienic as they were only rented and
reused). Depending on each parish they were set in several categories and costs, these usually
were New, Plush, Best and Children.
We know that not all deaths were recorded in these ledgers as some would basically be
unable to meet the cost of covering their deceased in a mortcloth, although I have seen instances of either a contribution from the Kirk was made or where the payment was made at a later date.
These records are a valuable asset to the genealogist as they contain details not listed on
the net, they often have details of spouse, husband or father. If you are really lucky there
may also the name of the farm they either owned or worked on.
Not all of the Old Parochial Records exist to this day but almost the majority remaining
are stored in The National Archives of Scotland where they have made a tremendous effort
in restoration. Provided you can visit in person they can be viewed in the history room free
The microfiche copies can be viewed at most LDS branches and Family history centers although
the early records can be very difficult to read.