An Account of all the Gaols, Houses of Correction or Penitentiaries, in the United far as relates to Scotland.


£950.00  [First Edition]

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First Edition. Folio (330 x 194mm). 17pp., title-page followed by double-page tables arranged by county. Closely cropped at the fore-margin throughout touching a few letters of text otherwise very clean. Modern cloth-backed marbled boards, label to the upper cover.


[London: ?Luke Hansard] Ordered, by the House of Commons to be Printed, 16th March, 

Rare. OCLC records copies University of London, Lilly Library, University of Amsterdam and National Library of Australia.


A detailed and shocking account of all the prisons in Scotland at the beginning of the 19th century with information on the size, number and type of prisoners, labour undertaken by the prisoners and the allowances for food and clothing. The report highlights overcrowding, disease and the dilapidation of prisons in the period.


In Glasgow the prisoners at  the Tolbooth jail are given a small stipend of 6d to support themselves while in the prison and prisoners preparing for execution are, "allowed a warm dinner extra" (p.13), at the Bridwell prison in the same city the inmates are fed on, "porridge and milk for breakfast, broth and bread for dinner, bread and water for supper, and those at hard labour get potatoes and herrings three times a week for supper". 


The main prison in Aberdeen is said to be "very much crowded, and obnoxious to the health of the prisoners" although it is noted that a new prison building is planned. 


The Bridewell prison in Edinburgh (with a total of 1,490 prisoners in 1818) is given a very detailed description noting that the prisoners are provided with:


"...bread from wheat, ground over all, without any of the bran being taken out, made up in loaves of the size of 12 to the weight of a quartern loaf...two of these loaves to each prisoner weekly...Prisoners sentenced to be fed on bread and water only have three of these loaves daily. Oatmeal; two-thirds of a pound...Cheese, four ounces...Beer; one half pint...Flesh; usually cow or ox heads, 13lbs for every 20 prisoners on Sundays and the same for every 30 prisoners on Wednesdays. Vegetables from the garden as necessary, and in season" (p.7).


Even the smallest prisons are described such as the gaol at Peebles in the Scottish Borders. The prison received a total of 20 prisoners in 1818 with only a maximum of three at any one time. The prison itself is described as having a single room for debtors, one for "minor criminals" and another for "more atrocious" inmates. In the supplementary information the jail is said to be, "new and in perfect repair. It is fire proof, all under one roof...No drink allowed to be sold in the prison" (p.14).


This report was part of a wide-scale investigation into the the state of prisons in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Reports were commissioned in 1819 (as here) and also in 1823 and were the basis for the measures implicated under the Gaols Act of 1823 which was initiated by the Home Secretary, Robert Peel, and aimed to standardise conditions in prisons across the British Isles. It was also at this time that Elizabeth Fry began he own inspection of prisons concentrating on the welfare of female prisoners and created the Association for the Improvement of Female Prisoners. The tables here provide much information on the difficult (and dangerous) conditions for women in prison with many, for example, being forced to share cells with men.

Stock Code: 246337

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