Going through snippets of information I’ve gathered over the years by rummaging around on the internet, I came across a description of Hurlford, Ayrshire published in 1875. My coal mining Strachan ancestors were living in Hurlford by 1870 so the extract gave me a feel for what the place was like.
Re-reading it, however, I was struck by the writer saying Hurlford was “possessed of two handsome churches, a commodious academy, and a beautiful jail, which I trust the inhabitants patronize as little as possible”. No doubt the jail was less beautiful on the inside than on the outside. However, I do know that at least one person on my family tree experienced at least one night in the cells at Hurlford Jail.
A Strachan-related young woman married in the late 1800s. On looking for her in the census I found her in Hurlford, with a baby but no husband. Searching for the husband I quickly found him – he was spending the night in Hurlford jail. They went on to have more children and seem to have lived a normal life, so I don’t think the husband did anything horrendous – possibly a bit of drunk and disorderly behaviour. But it’s enjoyable imaging the reception when he got back to his young wife: “Of all the nights to get yourself locked up, you have to go and pick census night. There it will be forever, in black and white, for the whole world to see. Whatever will our genealogist descendants think!”
That is not, of course, what she’d have said, but it’s fun letting your imagination run riot at times, and genealogy provides lots of opportunities for doing so.
(The rest of the description of Hurlford in 1875 is reproduced under the articles tab)