The fund, now worth more than £100,000, was established in 1657 following the death of local businessman William Lawtie, who left a sum of money for a building to accommodate the poor of Cullen and the nearby hamlet of Lintmill.
A spokesman for Moray Council explained: “Mr Lawtie left the administration of the fund to a friend and thereafter to a descendant in each succeeding generation with the surname Lawtie. The role of trustee for what became known as William Lawtie’s Mortification later fell to successive town clerks of Cullen and, following local government reorganisation in the mid 1970s, to Moray councillors.
“It is not known when money was last disbursed from the fund. What is known is that it currently stands at more than £100,000.”
The council is now inviting applications from individuals or groups who might have a legitimate claim to benefit from the fund and posters are being distributed throughout the town to publicise the appeal, urging those who think they meet the criteria to contact the council.
The council spokesman said: “According to the terms of the trust fund, it exists to ‘make provision for the social welfare of persons affected by poverty and living in or otherwise associated with the town of Cullen or the village of Lintmill’.”