Tag Archives: young offenders

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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Newsies — Jailed at Nine Years Old


Perth Courier, November 6, 1868



Last Tuesday a counterpart of some of the city magistrate’s trials was enacted here in the Council Chamber before the mayor and John Doran, Esq., J.P. at which little of the element largely prevailing in the moral character of the local newsboys was brought to light.

A young lad, a son of John Cathcart, was charged with stealing the sum of $20 from his father; the charge was made good; and besides that the evidence adduced that the young scamp had spent about $4 on sweets and drinkables of various kinds by which time he had become so drunk that he was forced to defer his cherished scheme of getting rid of the whole of it in the same manner until he could get sobered up again.


He was found in a ditch by parties in quest of him late in the evening.  He had broken into the chest containing the money while his father was absent.  He was only nine years of age.  After mature deliberation he was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment in the jail.


Last Photo–

In the centre is Luther Gosney, 10, who was sent to prison for 21 days in 1876 for stealing two tin horns worth eight shillings.

After his release, Luther spent five years in a reformatory, schools for juvenile offenders aimed at correcting their behaviour.

Samuel James, 11 and on the right, was working in a silk factory with accomplice Albert Hallett, 10, when the pair were jailed for a month for stealing cocoa in 1873.

Also pictured is Pricilla Penfold, who was jailed for a month in 1874 and sent to the reformatory for five years for stealing a cloak.