National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Rogues Gallery Exhibition - Picturing Scotland’s criminal past

Rogues Gallery Exhibition - Picturing Scotland’s criminal past

Tuesday, 24 Oct 2017
Photo of Rogue Gallery Exhibition Poster

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. 

Tim Ellis, Chief Executive, NRS, said: “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”.     

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.”

Henry Sullivan of Edinburgh City Archives said:

“Bringing together court and police records with the National Records of Scotland really lets us tell some great stories in this exhibition. We hope it will provide visitors a sample of what can be found in the city’s national and local archives and inspire them to find out more about Edinburgh’s past, salubrious or otherwise.”

Exhibition is open Monday to Friday 9.30 - 4.30.

Background Information

Rogues Gallery: Faces of Crime 1870-1917
25 October – 1 December
Free Entry
General Register House
2 Princes Street
Media contact: Ross Truslove, Tel. 0131 535 1382