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
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19 27 Barrowclough Alfred M Son S Feb 9 1887
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20 27 Barrowclough Celina F Daughter S Mar 6 1880
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21 27 Barrowclough William M Son S Dec 27 1881
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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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).

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