The 1905 Black List

We have such a wide variety of documents in our collections. One which stands out is the Register of Inebriates from 1905 (Ref: GD/MUS/115), referred to by the press as the “Dundee Roll of Fame” or “Black List”.

On 2nd March 1905 the Town Council made the following regulations under The Licensing (Scotland) Act of 1903:

Inebriates Order.jpg

The register we hold contains entries 1-42. Each entry takes the same format, a copy of the Order, followed by a page entitled “Likeness and Description of Persons Referred to”. This includes, a description of the individual’s appearance, their most recent conviction, photographs and a description of any “Peculiarities or marks”. Copies of the Orders were given to publicans in the city, to warn them that “liquor should not be supplied to such person”. There are 7 men and 35 women of ages ranging from 16 to 63.

Those entered on the list would have appeared numerous times before the Police Court for various crimes, all caused by drunken behaviour. They were often millworkers and labourers who moved around a lot. Offenders often appeared in court with others on the list.

Lets take a closer look at a few of the entries…


Harriet Croll

Harriet is the first entry in the register, she was born in Burntisland, Fife in 1861. By 1905 she was 44, working in a Dundee mill and living on Brown Street. She is described as “Pock pitted; small brown wart under left eye; little finger of right hand deformed at first joint; wears ear-rings”.

She had a string of convictions, a quick search on the British Newspaper Archives brings up numerous reports of Harriet appearing in Court, many times for drunken behaviour, but also as a victim of crime. On the 28th June 1890 John Brown was convicted of “having brutally kicked and ill-used millworker Harriet Croll”. Despite such a chaotic life Harriet lived to a reasonable age, dying at 70 and residing in Blackness Road.


Margaret Devannah

Margaret is the youngest person in the register. At only 16, she had 3 convictions in the last 12 months before being added to the “Black List” on the 28th July 1905. Bailie Doig referred to her as “the most lamentable case that had come before the court. She was little more than a child”. She was fined £2 with the option of 30 days prison.

Margaret moved around quite a bit. According to newspaper reports she married Frank Bartunek and lived in Fife for a while. Her appearances at court continued, when back in Dundee she went on to commit further crimes and on the 23rd May 1933 appeared before the Police Court for the 90th time charged with being drunk and incapable in the Nethergate. By this time Margaret was 45, of no fixed abode and suffering from a heart condition. Bailie Carnegie said “he would give her a chance to enter the East [Poor] House, where she would be cared for properly”.

Margaret died in 1935 aged only 46.



Another youngster, John was only 21 when he was added to the list.

His “Peculiarities or marks” were described as “Cut marks on left temple, above left eye and back of head; brown mole on left cheek; yacht, T.S.J.D., crown and M.R. tattooed on his right arm; bracelet, right wrist; heart and Union Jack, left forearm; and cross flags on left wrist.”

John was a millworker and, like Margaret, his court appearances started at a young age. He had attended the Mars Industrial School but, according to the Chief Constable, “he had evidently made a bad use of his privilege”. He was added to the black list on the 27th March 1905, sentenced to £2 fine or 30 days in prison. Bailie Martin said to John that, “he had been giving himself up to the drink, but something would require to be done to make him an abstainer”

Did he become an abstainer? Well, it seems not, as he continued to appear before the courts on several more occasions.

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