Monday, 9 August 2010

The Kelso Dispensary

I was looking at the records of the Kelso Dispensary (held by the National Archives of Scotland) the other day. These are fascinating records and an amazing number of people seem to have gone through their doors. The Kelso Dispensary was founded in 1777 and people from all over the Scottish Borders and Northumberland were treated there and for quite a surprising number of different diseases. There are a number of records remaining; the most interesting being the admission registers. The earliest of these (commencing in 1777) gives the name, parish, date of admission, age, disease and “event” of their cases. As time goes on more details are recorded, and a page per person allowed for more details, having said that as with many records they exact details vary from person to person. The “event” of their cases column generally tells us whether a person was cured, relieved or died, as these are pre-1855 this could be another source of death records when other records do not exist.

Accounts books also survive which could give an insight into an ancestor’s financial circumstances, however most of the funds seem to have come from a few wealthy patrons and not the individual patients.

I’m not sure whether these will be records we will transcribe or index at the moment, however we can easily look at them on an individual basis if you are interested.


  1. Hi, I would be very interested to know if you've made any progress on transcribing and perhaps digitizing the records of the Dispensary House in Kelso. A number of my Archbald ancestors have a connection to this address. For instance William Archbald and his family appear to be living there in the 1861 Census. Any information you have that might include the names Archbald, Trenant/Ternant, Stockwell would be greatly appreciated! Janice Dunbar (NZ)

    1. Hi Janice,

      We have now indexed up to May 1783 but we do have copies of many of the records (or can easily access them). If you email me we can probably help you discover more about the William and his family. You can either use the contact form on the RHS of this page or email

      We look forward to hearing from you soon!