26/10/2017
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Rogues Gallery exhibition - Picturing Scotland's criminal past at National Records of Scotland

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A new exhibition by National Records of Scotland brings you face-to-face with Scotland’s criminal past – from an infamous murderer to con artists, pickpockets and petty thieves.

In partnership with Edinburgh City Archives, Rogues Gallery: Faces of Crime 1870-1917 pairs striking images from mug shot albums with carefully selected extracts from trial records to convey a unique insight into criminal justice in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. 

Documents displayed for the first time take you into the courtrooms of the past to meet a parade of robbers, fraudsters, embezzlers and sheep rustlers, and inside the trial of infamous Edinburgh poisoner Eugène Chantrelle in 1878, reputedly the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s notorious Mr Hyde. 

Remarkable documents also offer a snapshot of the early years of forensic photography, including the footprints that helped to convict serial burglar of stately homes John Aitken Swanston in 1909. 

The shadowy side of Scotland's story

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Europe, Culture and External Affairs, said:  “In the Year of History Heritage and Archaeology, Rogues Gallery throws light on a shadowy side of Scotland’s story, revealing the rarely-told tales of famous and forgotten figures who are part of our nation’s history. 

“I commend NRS and Edinburgh City Archives for their joint effort in delivering this exciting exhibition and I invite everyone to visit our National Records and discover these  unique items, for the first time on display together.”

Tim Ellis, Chief Executive, NRS, added: “Our archivists have created a compelling portrait of Scotland’s developing criminal justice system.  It’s an intriguing sample of the wealth of historical and cultural treasures contained within the archives at National Records of Scotland.  Our partnership with Edinburgh City Archives is a great opportunity to work with a local archive and to highlight its rich holdings”.  

Exhibition details

Rogues Gallery: Faces of Crime 1870-1917 is at National Records of Scotland from 25 October to 1 December 2017 and entry is free. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm. General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 535 1314; website.

(image copyright National Records of Scotland)

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