The Sailors’ Orphan Society of Scotland

A Scottish charity giving grants to the dependents of seafarers who are or may be in a position of need either through disadvantage or through death or incapacity of one or both of their parents and to provide support to disadvantaged young people within seafaring communities in Scotland.

Historical Background

The Sailors’ Orphan Society of Scotland was established in 1889 by Richard Hubbard Hunter along with his friends Alexander Allan and George Smith. Initially, the organisation focused on children’s homes for orphaned girls and boys which were funded from public donations rather than collections or bazaars. By 1907, 545 children were being cared for in homes but, where mothers were alive, the children were supported by annual grants. Over the years, the focus of the Society changed from residential homes to giving grants for the support of orphaned children.


The Society is managed by a small Board of Directors which meets formally every year to review the performance of its investments and decide on the level of grants for children.


The Society funds its grants from the income from its investments and from individual gifts and donations.


A monthly grant is paid for each child (currently £80 per month) and 2 additional payments are made in July and December each year. These grants are usually paid directly to the family. To be eligible for this grant, the child must be under 16 or if over 16 in full-time education. In certain circumstances, at the discretion of the directors, additional lump sum grants may be paid.