Son jailed for 'annoying his mother' shows Scotland has made some progress at least – Scotsman comment

Scotland’s justice system has come a long way since 1851 when Adam Bishop found himself in prison for a day

There are those who look back to that vaguely defined period known as the ‘good old days’ with much fondness, as they survey the trials and tribulations of modern life with dismay. However, travel back in time far enough and one can discover some decidedly strange goings-on that make modern life seem not so bad after all.

For example, there are those who insist today’s younger generation are a decidedly pampered lot – “snowflakes”, in the eyes of some. If only national service would return from the mid-20th century, they suppose, that’d stiffen their backbones a bit. And, of course, the Victorians knew a thing or two about parental discipline.

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But it seems unlikely that even those who view the past through the most rose-tinted glasses imaginable would agree that the crime of ‘annoying one’s mother’ should result in a prison sentence. And yet, in 1851, the unfortunate Adam Bishop found himself spending a day in Edinburgh's notorious Calton Prison – described as a “cold, silent and repellent” place – for just such an offence. That he was aged 23 at the time adds a further bizarre twist.

Other notable punishments, detailed on the ScotlandsPeople website, included a young woman jailed for eight days for begging and “showing a porcupine”, and a 15-year-old boy jailed for 60 days for stealing two apples.

So the young(ish) generation of today may wish to count their blessings and be extra-specially polite to their elders, just in case they start to get ideas. And we could all perhaps agree that modern life is, in many ways, a considerable improvement on what could be called the ‘bad old days’.



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