For 'aquiring' and trying to sell on a horse that didn't belong to him, Andrew was arrested and tried by a jury of fifteen men in Inverness in 1844 and given 'a seven year transportation to a land beyond the seas' sentence.
However, at this time, the Colonies had stopped accepting prisoners. Now only fit men under the age of 35 and of a character that had been rehabilitated would be accepted. Others who were too old or ill were sent to prison 'hulks' moored in the Thames, which in reality was almost a death sentence.
Andrew was first taken to Millbank Prison and in contemporary descriptions it is clearly shown how difficult life must have been for this young eighteen year old Highland lad.
The journey was probably undertaken by horse-drawn cart. It would have taken several days, and would have involved staying overnight at prisons on the way. New arrivals were bathed and then sent naked to the prison surgeon’s room for a full examination to make sure that they were free from contagion. A description of each prisoner’s physical appearance and any distinguishing marks was entered in the records. A note was also made of their literacy skill, )which in the case of Andrew Ballantyne would note that he could read and write) They were issued with a uniform of a blue shirt, a cravat which was blue with a narrow brick-red check, trousers in brown flannel with a thin red stripe, a grey jacket, and a grey Scotch cap. A prison number was given and the prisoner was locked up in a particular penitentiary, in a certain ward, and in a certain cell.Cell at Millbank
Prisoners deemed unsuitable to learn or work at skilled trades were set to work on the simplest task of “picking coir”, also known as picking oakum.
Unsurprisingly, mental illness and suicide was common. Each prisoner was made to work from six in the morning until seven in the evening.
- 10oz bread
- 3/4 pint cocoa
- 1/2 pint soup or 4oz meat
- 1lb potatoes
- 1 pint gruel (a thin porridge)
- 5oz bread