Learning Zone - The Records of the Kelso Dispensary

Quick facts

Patient Register

Our Indexing Project

Quick facts

The Kelso Dispensary was founded by the Earl of Haddington in 1777, the first patient being seen on 5 December 1777. It was a charitable institution, so unlike other medical facilities of its time you will find records relating to people of all walks of life, and all ages.

To begin with the Dispensary saw patients just twice a week. It was not a hospital, and to us would seem more like visiting your GP. In time, however, it became a cottage hospital with its own premises, where you could also pay for hot or cold baths. It was a true lifeline for the community of Kelso and the surrounding parishes.

It was funded by ‘subscribers’ who, having paid a yearly subscription, could ‘recommend’ people they knew to be ill. Subscribers include local employers, landowners and Kirk Sessions. People who could afford to pay for their own medical treatment could not be ‘recommended’.

Along with the list of patients it is recorded who ‘recommended’ each one. For some years there are corresponding account books which could be of interest to anybody researching one of the ‘recommenders’ or ‘subscribers’.

The original records of the Kelso Dispensary are held by the National Records of Scotland under the reference HH71.

Patient Register

We are creating an index to the patient register. To begin with there was only one register. Eventually, as the institution grew, separate registers were kept for ‘in-door patients and ‘out-door patients’, and there was also a ‘nursing register’.

The patient register which begins in 1777 provides the following information: Name, Parish, Patient Number, Recommenders, Admission, Age, Disease and Event of their case.

Our Indexing Project

We plan to create a full transcription of these records over time and we are grateful to those who have sponsored us to index these records, enabling us to put them online for free. If you would like to sponsor further indexing please see our ‘Sponsor an Index’ page or get in touch to volunteer.

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