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The Pages of Kenneth J Neill
A Scottish Prison Timeline


Old jail Perth rebuilt after flood. It stood at the foot of High street near the old bridge.

1325 Robert 1st granted permission to build tolbooth at Dundee.
1359 Dundee tolbooth extended.
1384 End of Law of Gallovidians.
1385 Earliest record of a Barron Court at Longforgan.
1394 Charter to build tolbooth Aberdeen.
1425 Sheriffs to arrest beggard and keep them in confinement while enquiries were made as to whether they could find employment. If not they would be sent to the King for punishment.
1440 Dundee tolbooth abandoned. Replacement built facing Nethergate.
1455 Beggars were treated as common thieves.
1457 Beggars who could not work were given a token by the Sheriffs. Without it they were branded or banished.
1480 Old tolbooth Edinburgh erected.
1487 The crown took responsibility for safe custody of prisoners before trial.
1550 Nethergate tolbooth, Dundee, abandoned. Replacement constructed on site of Town House.
1555 Iron room Edinburgh constructed.
1560 Kirk Sessions began to administer criminal justice.
1561 Edinburgh tolbooth demolished. Replacement built close to Signet library.
1572 Musselburgh prison constructed.
1576 Houses of correction established on the model of Bridewell.
1579 Dumfries magistrates petitioned to build a new prison.
1597 Responsibility for prisons put in the hands of the burghs.
1616 Tolbooth Aberdeen started.
1636 House of Correction built at Aberdeen.
1696 Act of Grace - Incarcerating creditor had to pay towards the upkeep of the debtor.
1722 Last witch hung in Scotland at Sutherland.
1730 Dundee tolbooth no longer used.
1735 Act repealed statutes against witchcraft.
1747 End of heritable jurisdiction. Granted by King David 1st with land rights the rights and privileges of jurisdiction over all the inhabitants of the land.
1771 Act of Session gave definition of "squalor carceris".
1777 John Howard published "The state of the prisons".
1779 Penitentiary Houses Act. Providing for a national penitentiary. To Howard's design.
1786 Transportation to Australia revived.
1787 First convicts to Botany Bay.
1790 Calton prison Edinburgh built with 52 working cells and 129 sleeping cells.
1802 Edinburgh tolbooth - 26 felons
Edinburgh bridewell - 51 felons
Glasgow jail - 27 felons
Glasgow bridewell - 90 felons
Aberdeen jail - 8 felons
1806 Selkirk jail completed.
1808 Work started on new jail in Edinburgh at Calton Hill.
1809 Neild visits iron room Glasgow tolbooth.
Only 112 debtors in 32 prisons (Neild)
1812 James Neild published a book on prison conditions. State of the Prisons in England, Scotland and Wales.
1812 Glasgow Burgh Prison built. (South Prison)
1813 Elizabeth Fry started her work among the women of Newgate.
1817 Edinburgh tolbooth demolished.
1818 Glasgow jail crowded to suffocation. Likewise Edinburgh also a report about lunatics in Scottish prisons (Gurney).
1818 Fowell Buxton published a book on prison conditions. Joseph Gurney toured Scottish prisons with his sister Elizabeth Fry.
1819 Old prison Perth closed and new one built.
1819 Committee set up to bring about a revision of the criminal code.
1819 East prison Aberdeen built.
1820 Inverary Jail constructed.
1823 Jedburgh Jail constructed.
1825 Incarcerating creditor to pay deposit of 10/-.
1825 Glasgow Bridewell established "Seperate System".
1835 Imprisonment for debts under 8.6s.8d. made incompetent.
1835 Peel's Act - inspection of prisons.
1837 New bridewell in Bell Street, Dundee completed.
1839 Magestrates no longer liable for debts of an escaped prisoner.
1839 Prison (Scotland) Act 'Improve Prisons & Prison Discipline in Scotland'. General Board of Directors to erect a central prison at Perth. Provision to be made for criminal lunatics.
1839 178 Locally administered establishments.
1839 First uniform dietry scale.
1840 Perth General Prison started being built.
1840 Part of Perth to be used for criminal lunatics.
1842 Pentonville built. Solitary confinement.
1844 1 committal to prison per 140 population.
1846 Transportation suspended for two years.
1846 French Depot Perth set up for criminal lunatics.
1852 Tasmania refused to take any more transportees.
1852 Dumfries prison built.
1853 Penal Servitude Act - substituting transportation with penal servitude. Introduced Progressive stage system.
1856 Charles Reade published It's never too late to mend.
1857 Second Penal Servitude Act.
1859 Perth General Prison completed.
1860 Prisons (Scotland) Administration Act abolished General Board of Directors. 101 prisons closed since 1840. Act closed further 21 leaving 56.
1861 Dangerous and Criminal Lunatics Bill
1862 South Prison Glasgow closed.
1864 West Prison Aberdeen closed.
1865 Distinction between jails and bridewells abolished.
1866 Formation of Howard Association.
1867 Last convict ship sailed to Western Australia.
1869 Greenock Nelson St. prison built.
1877 Prisons Act which brought all prisons in the UK under control of central government beginning of modern British prison system.
1877 Prisons Commission for Scotland appointed.
1877 Number of prisons reduced to 56.
1878 Royal Commission introduced the Star Class System - first offenders segregated from others. Recommendation on prison diets.
1878 Prison Commissioners closed 13 prisons leaving cell accommodation for 1,938 males and 1,168 females. Average daily population 2,024 males and 1,028 females. Star Class System introduced.
1880 Imprisonment for civil debt generally abolished.
1880 Construction started Barlinnie.
1883 Report on education in prisons in England. Scotland brought in line.
1883 New prison Dumfries built.
1884 Total number of prison staff 429.
1885 Powers over Scottish prisons transferred from Home Dept to Scottish Secretary.
1886 12 Cells added to Inverness prison.
1886 Peterhead Harbour Refuge Act.
1886 Barlinnie completed.
1887 French prison bearth closed.
1888 Peterhead prison opened.
1891 Aberdeen prison built.
1895 Gladstone Report.
1898 Number of prisons reduced to 14.
1898 1 committal to prison per 75 population.
1899 Report on prison diet.
1899 Fine or Imprisonment Act.
1901 New dietry introduced.
1902 Paupers to be medically examined before being committed to prison.
1902 Total number of prison staff 454.
1902 First extension Aberdeen finished second started.
1903 New prison at Inverness occupied. Built by prison labour.
1904 Second extension Aberdeen completed.
1907 Probabtion Offenders Act.
1908 Childrens Act. Prohibition imprisonment for those under 14. Between 14 and 16 required a certificate from the court.
1908 Criminal Justice Act instituted Borstal.
1909 First attempt to organise State assistance for discharged convicts.
1910 Greenock Nelson St. prison closed.
1921 Howard Association united with Penal Reform League.
1922 The term Prison Officer superseded Warder.
1935 Approval to build State Assylum at Carstairs.
1937 Children and Young Persons Act. Provisions regulating the sentencing and treatment of young offenders.
1939 Cutlasses withdrawn Peterhead.
1948 Carstairs occupied.
1948 Peterhead the only prison which flogging can be given.
1949 Criminal Justice Act abolished penal servitude and hard labour, sentences to particular prison divisions, sentences of whipping and prisoner's ticket of leave also substituted the term inmate for convict.
1952 Inmates of the Criminal Lunitic Dept. no longer subject to prison rules.
1954 Penninghamme opened.
1959 All weapons discontinued Peterhead.
1960 Management committee set up to run Carstairs.
1963 Courts given powers to suspend sentences.
1965 Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act.
1966 Mountbatton Report.
1967 Criminal Justice Act removed the power to order corporal punishment. Parole introduced.
1968 Social Work Act reduced from 17 to 16 the Minimum age for committal on a sentence of detention.
1972 Start made on remodelling prison industries.
1973 special unit Barlinnie set up.
1975 Cornton Vale built using prison labour.
1978 Justice May report.
1978 Average daily population 4,893 males 169 females.
1980 Prison population 5,116 capacity 5,200.
1980 Courts have powers to order compensation.

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