"Survey return from Farquhar Matheson"
Farquhar Matheson was a church minister to Lairg parish.
Lairg was a parish in the historic County of Sutherland and contained the village of Lairg as well. A large area of the parish was dedicated to sheep farming. In 1831, the population was 1045. Over half of the families in the parish were involved in agriculture.
1. How many Medical Men practice within the Parish of Lairg ?
None resident within the Parish. In cases of necessity, those named in No 2 are called in occasionally
2. The Names and Addresses of these.
Dr MacEwen, Medical offr of the Parochial Board of Lairg, Evelix by Dornoch –
Dr Ross Golspie & Dr Gordon, Bonar Bridge.
3. Has the number increased or diminished of late years?
The number within a distance of twenty miles rather increased than diminished of late.
4. Have any left the Parish since you became connected with it? If so, for what reasons?
A son of the former minister resident for a time with his father has left the Parish, with which exception I have never heard of a medical man being resident here.
5. Is there any complaint among the people of inadequacy in the supply of Medical aid?
The population never having much experience of the contrary, the absence of medical aid is less felt by them.
6. Do you know of any cases of protracted suffering, or of injury by Accident, such as might have been alleviated had proper advice been at hand?
I have no doubt that such cases do occur. As people in humble circumstances can ill afford to call in Medical Aid from a distance
7. To what extent is the deficiency of qualified Practitioners made up by the efforts of other parties?
Besides the Medical offr of the Parochial Board, a Pensioner of the 93d Foot who had been a Hospital Sergeant, gives simples1. Others perform bleeding2 & the grocers supply largely Castor Oil3 & Salts.
8. Does your experience enable you to suggest any measure – of general applicability – such as would be likely to relieve to some extent the evils (if they exist) of deficiency in the supply of Medical aid?
The poverty of the general population, the extent of surface over which they are scattered &c present a difficulty in regard to such measures, which cannot be overcome without charitable or public aid, such as is provided by the Duke of Sutherland in the more remote districts of the County.
9. What Heritors4 are resident, either generally or occasionally, in your Parish?
1. Simples are not complex or compound medicines.
2. Bleeding, or bloodletting, is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to prevent or cure illness and disease. This was a common medical practice in the 1800s, dating back to antiquity, and was often carried out by unlicensed healers as well as qualified physicians.
3. Castor oil was used to treat a range of complaints but most commonly to treat constipation as it works as a laxative.
4. A heritor was a landowner, under Scots Law, whose holdings were sizeable enough for them to be liable for the payment of public burdens such as Poor Law rates, road and bridge assessments and the church minister’s stipend.