King James VI Hospital

The Hospital was founded by a Royal Charter granted on 9th August 1569 by James Stewart, Earl of Moray, Regent for King James VI. The Hospital was granted all the properties and revenues of the various altars, chapels and monasteries in Perth, as well as the properties and revenues in the burgh belonging to monasteries elsewhere. The Minister and Kirk Session of St John’s Kirk were appointed the managers of the Hospital on behalf of the ” poor, maimed, weak, distressed persons, orphans and fatherless chidren” in the burgh, and they were to choose a Master of the Hospital annually to administer the funds. On 29th July 1587, King James VI, having attained his majority, granted the Hospital a new charter, which confirmed the grants to the Hospital made in the previous charter. The present building was built in 1749-50 at a cost of œ1,614-10s-7d (œ1614.53). The building is H-shaped, four stories high and surmounted by a belfry which contains a bell, presumably taken from the mansion of Nairn in Strathord, to the north of Perth. It was to be a poorhouse, an industrial school, an infirmary and a reformatory for vagrants. It was to be provided with “beds, clothes for beds, kitchen utensils, and brewing looms, and utensils for [industrial] work”. In 1814 the poor were no longer required to reside in the hospital, and a separate Perth Infirmary (now the A K Bell Library) was opened in that year. The building was put to other uses: charity schools and various benevolent institutions, while other portions were let as dwellings.In 1974-5 the building was competely refurbished with generous grants from the Gannochy Trust and the Government, and twenty-one flats were created. The rents from these and from the Scones Lethendy Mortification, (income from farmland in Scone parish bequeathed in the 17th and 18th centuries), now provide most of the funds of the Hospital. The Hospital is still managed by the Minister and Kirk Session of St John’s Kirk as well as those of Letham St Mark’s Church. They appoint the Hospital Master to administer the funds of the Hospital and distribute them to the “eleemosynaries” in terms of its original foundation.

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