Thursday 24 March 2022

5,300+ Irish-born recorded in newly-released Scottish gaol registers

A few weeks ago, in my last summary of new and updated records for English, Scottish and Welsh genealogy, I noted that Scotland's People had uploaded a new collection of Scottish prison registers. It holds details of more than 50,000 admissions to prison . Unfortunately, I didn't have time to check out the collection at the time, but luckily genealogist Jill Williams FIGRS gave me a heads up yesterday that 10% of the prisoners entered in the indexes had been born in Ireland.

Click to search the index

This first batch of prison records are from Perth Prison and date from 1867-1879 and 1888-1921, with gaps. They include both men and women held in custody, tried or untried.

The index doesn't reveal which status relates to each individual, nor does it give up details of their alleged crimes, sentences, occupations, height, general health and religion. Such information is restricted to those researchers who choose to pay to view the full register entry.

I was pleased to find that from the name index I could sort and filter search results under a number of headings, including place of birth, age, date admitted and whether the individuals used an alternative/alias name. For now, since only Perth Prison is represented in the collection, there is no reason for filtering the index according to prison, but this could become a useful option as records are added from other places of detention.

The Irish-born contingent in the collection numbers 5,320 individuals, 80% of them men. One of the regular female prisoners was Bridget Cassidy ('2nd surname' Duchart), from Ballyshannon, Co Donegal. She was admitted eight times to the prison from courts in both Falkirk and Perth between 1907 (aged 34) to 1915. She reveals her home town only twice, other times stating only 'County Donegal' or 'Ireland'.

The youngest person taken into custody was 12-year-old Belfast-born Thomas Connely, while the oldest was James MacKenzie of Dublin who was aged 65 when admitted in 1889.

For more information about the new collection, see Scotland's People's article here.