Report of Prisoners Brought to Stationhouse in April of 1843

April 1843
Report on Prisoners Brought to Stationhouse (bottom portion). Source: City of Kingston.Pinterest
Report on Prisoners Brought to Stationhouse (bottom portion). Source: City of Kingston.

On April 8, 1843, Samuel Shaw, Chief Constable of Police from 1840 to 1849, submitted a “Report of Prisoners Brought to Stationhouse” (the framed recent copy is available for viewing in the city hall jail, the location of the original is unknown). Though it refers to the police station in the County Court House, as the construction of city hall was not yet finished, it represents the situation facing the planners of the new jail in city hall. It is difficult to be certain, given the cropping of the framed document, but it appears that the time period represented by the 50 names is less than a month -- meaning that the totals at the bottom may represent a year or less. For the latter, there were 187 drunks, 44 disorderly, 140 assaults, 96 larcenies and no murders for a total of 467 prisoners. Of these, 146 were forgiven, 95 dismissed, 14 bound to trial, 55 fined and 157 committed to jail terms.

The adjudicators were aldermen, including: James Williamson, a Queen’s professor, Presbyterian minister and future brother-in-law of John A. Macdonald; the Mayor John Counter; and “Committee on Police.” Of the 50 names visible on the document, eight were women arrested for being drunk (three), assault (two) and “disorderly” (three). The latter (a “disorderly house” is still defined as “a common bawdy house, common betting house or common gaming house” by the Canadian Oxford Dictionary) likely meant working as a prostitute or organizing a house of prostitution. Seven men (of 42) were also accused of being “disorderly,” perhaps in connection with the running of a brothel or a gaming house.