A new exhibition by National Records of Scotland (NRS) offers an insight into Scotland’s criminal past – from an infamous murderer to con artists, pickpockets and petty thieves.

Rogues Gallery: Faces of Crime 1870-1917 pairs images from mug shot albums with extracts from trial records to provide a portrait of criminal justice in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Documents displayed for the first time take the audience into the courtrooms of the past and inside the trial of infamous Edinburgh poisoner Eugène Chantrelle (1878), reputedly the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Mr Hyde.

The early years of forensic photography will also be on display, 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."


(Photo credit: NRS)

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."

The exhibition runs from October 25 – December 1 at General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh. Entry is free.

More information can be found at the NRS website, HERE.