Scottish Male Convicts Under Penal Servitude in England

face of a prisoner

During the second half of the nineteenth century, Scottish male convicts spent large portions of their sentences in England. The Penal Servitude Act of 1853 introduced long sentences as a substitute for transportation. From 1855 to 1863, all male Scottish convicts were sent immediately after conviction to prisons in England. Neither the Scottish convicts nor Scottish prison administrators liked this policy:

Scottish authorities disliked the removal of male convicts to England. Distant from their families and in an unfamiliar cultural setting, it was believed they were victimized by hard-core London criminals in the public works prisons.^

After 1863, Scottish male convicts were imprisoned in the General Prison at Perth in Scotland for the first nine months of their sentences, and then transferred to public works prisons in England. From 1879 to 1884, male convicts were again removed immediately to England.^ The number of Scottish male convicts serving sentences in English prisons peaked at 863 in 1881. In August, 1888, the Peterhead Convict Prison in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, began receiving male Scottish prisoners to work in a quarry and an admiralty yard. From 1888 to 1892, the number of Scottish convicts sent to England apparently decreased to a negligible number.

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