Prisons have a much higher proportion of men and women with mental disorders than the general population. This was also true in Victorian times, when ‘the liability of the criminal classes to an excess of insanity is very great, and much beyond that of the free population of the country’. At this time, The Prisons … Continue reading Prisoners or Patients? The Story of Margaret Hunter or Beaton
In 2019 National Records of Scotland (NRS) partnered with Professor Rab Houston of the University of St Andrews, to explore the records of those people committed to the Criminal Lunatic Department in Perth, and produced the Fringe Festival exhibition ‘Prisoners or Patients? Criminal Insanity in Victorian Scotland’. This exhibition focused on the records amassed in … Continue reading ‘Prisoners or Patients?’ – Exhibition now online!
The records and stories featured in our recent exhibition “Prisoners or Patients? Criminal Insanity in Victorian Scotland” are now available to view online for the first time. Here Professor Rab Houston, who worked with National Records of Scotland to create and curate this exhibition, explains what first interested him in the project and how he … Continue reading “A Lightbulb Moment” – Professor Rab Houston on Criminal Insanity in Victorian Scotland
Today marks the 75 anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) day. The announcement that the war had ended in Europe was broadcast on 7 May 1945, and 8 May was declared a national holiday. It marked the end of nearly six years of war, the loss of millions of lives and an event which would … Continue reading 75 Anniversary of VE Day – St Andrews House Memorial
6 April 2020 is the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath - perhaps the most famous and important of Scotland's historic documents. Drafted in 1320, the Declaration is a powerful call for recognition of the Kingdom of Scotland's sovereign independence and it's a key treasure in the National Records of Scotland archives. The … Continue reading 1320-2020 – 700 Years of the Declaration of Arbroath, by Dr Alan Borthwick
On 2nd August 1847, a young man named Archibald Burke allegedly attacked and raped Elspeth Duffus, the wife of the local carter, on a quiet country road in Couper-Angus. Under normal circumstances, once any physical evidence of wrongdoing had been gathered and once the proposed list of witnesses had been finalised and their declarations duly … Continue reading Tulloch, Burke and Brook
While awaiting his trial for assault in 1853, David Brook was temporarily incarcerated at Kirkcudbright Prison where he evidently took great care to secure the good opinion of the Prison Keeper, James Clark. Of his charge Clark wrote: ‘His general conduct is good. He is quite willing to work. He can write and that is … Continue reading The Dummy Dodge – Part 2
On the 30th March 1855, an article appeared in the Aberdeen Free Press seeking to alert its readers to the emergence of a worrying new phenomenon: a ‘class of sturdy beggars’ who falsely assumed the appearance of disability in order to reap ‘a rather plentiful harvest’, while leading lives of idleness and dissipation. Denounced as … Continue reading The Dummy Dodge – Part 1
‘Prisoners or Patients?’ is the latest part of a major project I began in 2016, to use the lessons of history to stimulate awareness of mental health issues in the modern world. Using free podcasts, social media, and photo exhibitions of asylum and prison patients I tried to reach out to sufferers and those close … Continue reading Fringe Festival Exhibition – ‘Prisoners or Patients? Criminal Insanity in Victorian Scotland’
National Records of Scotland has recorded life expectancy for people in Scotland since 1980-1982, life expectancy is always calculated for three years to reduce the effect of unusual years. For the three decades that followed, life expectancy has increased, meaning that people in Scotland live longer than at any other time in history. However, over … Continue reading Why is life expectancy stalling in Scotland?