The Young Offenders of Lanark County


Richard Harrowclough, the lad who a few days ago was punished for stealing was again brought before Judge J. W. Manning and J. Wallace, Justices of the Peace, charged by Mr. P. J. Dougherty with the larceny of a sum of money to him unknown but amounting to about $2.  The youthful offender pled guilty and was committed to take his trial at Perth.  On Monday he was brought before the county judge and sentenced to a term in the Reformatory School the length of which will be regulated by his behaviour- Perth Courier October 1885

I tried to follow up on this story of what happened to this poor lad but kept coming to a dead end. Was he under an alias? He might as well have been because his real name was not Harrowsmith as stated by the Perth Courier but Barrowsmith after I started to dig through the Almonte Gazette archives.

Figures as the H and B are next together on the keyboard. Sigh, always bad typists like myself throughout the ages.

So what was his first offence? After searching for an hour I came up with what the little devil did.  Mr D. Holliday, a grocer, went home to dinner leaving a young boy in charge of the store. During his absence Richard Barrowclough, age 15, entered the shop and bought a cigar. He then preceded to jumped over the counter, opened the till and stole  $2. Mr Holliday had Barroclough arrested and placed in the lockup. On the following Tuesday he was brought before the Mayor and Mr. Jas Rosamund, and a fine of $12.70 was imposed. Barrowclough’s Mother Celina paid the fine.

The one common denominator among many young offenders was parental neglect. In any large community young boys and girls were to be found loitering around the streets, idle, neglected and undisciplined. Many children suffered from a lack of proper diet, malnutrition, unsanitary living conditions, drunken and dissolute parents and inadequate or no medical care.

Offenders under 16 could be sent to Reformatory Schools for at least two and as many as five years. At a Reformatory School, punishment was an essential part of a very strict regime – which included very hard labour. There was absolutely no distinction made between criminals of any age.


Accordingly, young children could be sent to an adult prison. There are even records of children aged 12 being hanged. These were very tough places, with stiff discipline enforced by frequent beatings. Young people were sent there for long sentences – usually several years. However, a young offender normally still began their sentence with a brief spell in an adult prison. When jailed, they were mixed indiscriminately with adults and shared the same cells as drunks, prostitutes, hardened criminals, the indigent and the mentally ill.




This was a 1901 census in Almonte. Celina’s son Richard was not mentioned. I feel he died of typhoid which was very prevalent in those years.

18 27 Barrowclough Celina F Head M Jun 29 1852
48 page icon
19 27 Barrowclough Alfred M Son S Feb 9 1887
24 page icon
20 27 Barrowclough Celina F Daughter S Mar 6 1880
21 page icon
21 27 Barrowclough William M Son S Dec 27 1881
19 page icon

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

One response »

  1. Another possibility of what happened to Richard Barrowclough — he could have been living elsewhere since he would have been well over 21 years old by that time, and even younger people than that were frequently on their own before reaching the age of majority, which was 21 in Ontario until July 22, 1971 (I remember the date because I was one of the multitude who came of age with this change in the law, and it happened to be my cousin the late Gerald Reckenberg’s 30th birthday and 10th wedding anniversary).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s