10 Hunter Square, Edinburgh, EH1 1QW
The Edinburgh Society for the Suppression of Begging was founded in 1813 with the desire to eliminate street begging in the capital. Due to its substantial wealthy population and the irregular and seasonal work provided by parts of its economy, Edinburgh tended to attract a large destitute population, many of whom often turned to begging. The Society received a total of £2000 in donations in its first year. Applicants were required to send begging letters to the offices here in 10 Hunter Square, which were manned by a rota of directors. They were then visited by volunteers to assess whether they were eligible for relief before being offered food from the society’s soup kitchen. School fees were also paid for beggars’ children and there was a work committee which endeavoured to assign work to applicants. The Edinburgh Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor would carry out similar work after its founding in 1868 but on a more systematic basis and with a much wider reach.
Photo credits: Lucy Ridley