Edinburgh City Archive’s Story Box: ‘The Good’

 Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn (1826-1914)

H D Littlejohn_accn657

Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn

Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn, Edinburgh’s first appointed Medical Officer of Health, undertook groundbreaking factual research into both death rates and disease within the city.  This work was summarized in his ‘Report on the Sanitary Conditions of Edinburgh’, published in 1865.

Lord Provost William Chambers (1865-1869) was clearly moved to act upon Littlejohn’s work and was the driving force behind the 1867 City Improvement Act, the first of Edinburgh’s slum clearance schemes.  The subsequent work of opening up the old closes and creating 10 new streets went ahead at a cost of £285,000.

Littlejohn deserves to be remembered as one of Edinburgh’s great benefactors; and to find out more about this man and the many more good things he accomplished in his lifetime look at his ‘story’ on the Our Town Stories website (www.ourtownstories.co.uk) or get in touch with Edinburgh City Archives



In the name of the law…

The origins of the Edinburgh City Police can be traced to the 16th Century where you can find a system of watching the city, particularly at night, under the charge of the Town Council Bailie. Eventually it morphed into the force that is recognised today, and at you can find the records of the Edinburgh City Police as well as those of the later Lothian and Borders force.

Ed6 8 3 police conduct book

Edinburgh City Police Conduct Book

Within this collection you will find some personnel records of the police officers who served in the City Police and these can provide you with brilliant information on a person’s career. From the example image you can see here on the left, you will find when they were appointed to the police, as well as the dates of any promotions and significant events during their career. You will usually also find when they left the force and for what reason

A somewhat ironic feature of the personnel records (considering we have placed them in the ‘Good’ category of the story box) is that you will also find any punishments or demotions that were placed upon the officer and the reasons why- the most common being they were under the influence while conducting their rounds!

It is also worthwhile pointing out that some of the later records within the Police collection are subject to Data Protection Legislation, so if you are interested and want to delve further into this wonderful collection please make sure you get in touch with us and we can guide you through…




Army Attestation records 1796-1857

Army Attestation Reg 1

Army Attestation Register

This series of six volumes contains the names, occupations, parishes, counties/countries, regiments of 10,000 army recruits taking their oath of allegiance in Edinburgh.  They also record the height, hair and eye colour, and even the complexion of each individual. Those enlisted came from all over Scotland, the UK and even the World, and were recruited as young guns from the age of eleven through to veterans in their fifties.

Army Attestation Reg 2

Army Attestation declaration

From this example  on the left we can pick out Joachim La Page, a labourer, who came all the way from the West Indies.  He was enlisted on the 21st March 1806 into the 27th Regiment of Foot, and we can see he was 23 years old with a brown complexion, black hair and brown eyes. We can also read that he was 5 feet 63/4 inches.  He was joined by many others from places such as Holland, Spain, Ireland, and all ranging in ages from 15 up to 30. This is but a tiny example of what you will find in these registers and what fascinating information it allows you to compile. If you want to find out more please get in touch with us…




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