Aberdeen House of Correction

Aberdeen's House of Correction as located on Correction Wynd: it was in use between 1637 and 1711 (although it seems to have been closed between the late 1640s and the late 1690s). It can be seen on the James Gordon map of Aberdeen of 1661 available on the National Library of Scotland website (the Correction House is marked at L).

It housed 20 people: 10 poor "volunteers" and 10 people sent there as a punishment, either by the Aberdeen Kirk Session, or the Bailies on the Burgh Council. All the inmates worked on manufacturing cloth. William Kennedy’s Annals of Aberdeen states that: “In the year 1636, they [the magistrates] obtained from King Charles I a patent for establishing a house of correction, chiefly with the view of reforming the morals, and of promoting good order and industry among a certain description of the inhabitants, who were to be employed in manufacturing broad cloths, kerseys, seys and other coarse cloths. This being a new and important undertaking, Robert and Nicholas Beaston were brought from Edinburgh to superintend the work, and to direct the magistrates in the proper mode of conducting it.”

In our Aberdeen County collections the Archives holds an Incarceration Book which records the arrival and departure of those placed there forcibly, rather than the voluntary inmates. It covers 1637 - 1641, although two pages are missing, and contains details about 103 individuals, some of whom are repeat offenders. As the Kirk Session were sending many of the inmates, many of the crimes are moral rather than the sort of offences we are familiar with nowadays.

Images and transcriptions of the House of Correction Incarceration Book are available below: 

The Dictionary of the Scots Language may help with understanding some of the terms used in the Incarceration Book. If you think you can contribute to the transcription or spot a mistake, let us know on archives@aberdeencity.gov.uk. 

Additional details about cases referred by the Kirk Session can be found in the Kirk Session Minutes which can be accessed online at either branch.

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