Gorbals

The Gorbals Police 1808 – 46

In the early years of the 19th century, the Barony of Gorbals, just across the River Clyde from Glasgow, began to experience an influx of criminals trying to escape the attention of the new Glasgow Police. The Gorbals Council obtained an Act of Parliament and established the Gorbals Police in 1808.

The father of Alan Pinkerton, the famous American detective, was a policeman in the Gorbals Police. He was injured in a street riot and was invalided out of the force. Young Alan, then aged 10 years was apprenticed to a cooper (barrel-maker) to help support the family. He went to the United States in 1842 became involved in law enforcement and acted as body guard to Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.  He then went on to establish the United States Secret Service and later the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

The Gorbals Police wore the then traditional top hat and dark blue tail-coat.   The tail-coat had a red collar trimmed with gold braid to signify their authority.

The first Superintendent of Police was Robert McHendry in 1808. He was succeeded by the following:

1815 – Superintendent Donald McKenzie

1825 – Superintendent John Clark

1833 – Superintendent George Jaffray

1839 – Superintendent Andrew McKerrow

1840 – 46 – Superintendent James Richardson

Superintendent Richardson was in charge of the force when it was annexed by Glasgow Police in 1846 and became ‘D’ or Southern Division.