A collection of wanted posters shine a light into how north-east police appeal for help in catching criminals more than 100 years ago.
Most crime appeals now are often over social media and in the newspaper – however, in the days before the internet, police officers had to rely on posters and the local papers to help catch criminals.
Aberdeen City Council was transferred ownership of the records held by Grampian Police between 2014 and 2016, which had previously been held by Police Scotland.
There are a large number of boxes of data kept in meticulous order by the archivists, passed on by the police force.
The extensive records include data from the Aberdeenshire Constabulary, Aberdeen City Police, Banffshire Constabulary, Elginshire, Morayshire and Moray and Nairn Constabularies, Elgin Burgh Police, Grampian Police, Kincardineshire Constabulary, Nairnshire Constabulary and the Scottish North Eastern Counties Constabulary.
It also includes records on the Aberdeen Wednesday Welfare Football Association, as well as staff records for those who may have worked as a policeman.
A popular resource, they have previously been used by the archives team in talks for Granite Noir, Aberdeen’s dedicated crime writing festival.
Although a number of posters are held, not all of them relate to the north-east of Scotland.
One of the posters, dated February 2, 1900, relates to Frederick James Ramsay, a 43-year-old man who was wanted in Aberdeen charged with obtaining board and lodgings and £1 9s of money under false pretences between January 27 and January 29, 1900.
The police information poster, which was signed by the chief constable of the central police office in Aberdeen, Thomas Wyness, said: “On the evening of Saturday, 27th ultimo, accused called at a respectable lodging house desiring lodgings and represented that he was “Dr Harrison” and had come from Guy’s Hospital, London, to fill a vacancy in Aberdeen Infirmary.
“After getting installed in the lodgings he pretended that he had arrived in town too late to get a cheque cashed and asked and obtained an advance of £1 9/, with which he decamped on Monday morning.
“He was dressed in a dark suit, with a fawn-coloured overcoat, round hard felt hat and carried a walking stick. Had a gentlemanly appearance and spoke with an English accent. Is said to be able to speak French and Italian fluently.
“Police officers are requested to make diligent search and inquiry for this person, and, if found, to apprehend, detain and wire the Subscriber, who will immediately send for him.”
Aberdeen City Council archivist Phil Astley said: “They’re really interesting resources, we’ve got quite a lot of them.
“In our collection, there’s a large number of wanted posters, we’ve got more kind of archetypal pictures of the wanted posters, and some which are engraving.
“We used some of them in a talk at Granite Noir a few years ago, it may have even been the first year.
“We had an exhibition of them at Seventeen on Belmont Street. They’re quite transient.
“Some of them relate to local crimes but others are further afield, and more relate to persons, notably if they’d done things like stolen. There’s one or two for notorious criminals as well.”
Other posters held include that of Francis William Metcalfe, who had a £50 reward payable for information leading to his arrest.
The poster, circulated by the Perthshire Constabulary, saw Aberdonian Francis William Metcalfe wanted on a charge of embezzling £50 “or probably a larger amount” while working as estate factor at Menzies Estates in Aberfeldy.
Described as 33-years-old and of 5ft 2in in height, he was said to have a fresh to dark complexion, grey eyes, round face, may cultivate a moustache and walks erect and smart.
His mother and sister lived in Rhynie, while his brother was a schoolmaster in Stonehaven.
He had absconded from his position on July 17, 1925. The wanted poster also holds information on the clothes he was wearing at the time, as well as his education and employment history.
Phil said: “In the times before you could find out about crimes on the internet, wanted posters and the newspaper was really the only way you could get the word out there.
“The ones we hold are really nice examples of that.
“Our collections take up about half a wall of a large room, we’ve got about six or seven boxes of wanted posters.
“They were kept in really nice care by Police Scotland’s archivist prior to their transfer.
“We also keep staff records, so if anyone was looking for their family member and they know where they worked and the year, we could try and find that for them.”