Victorian Child Criminals: Mugshots

These colourised and enhanced photos paint a picture of how society treated children from poor backgrounds during the Victorian Era. For petty crimes such as stealing daily necessities such as food and clothing, they have faced hard labour and jail. And these haunting photographs show the stern and haggard faces of Victorian criminal children who were sentenced to tough punishments in the 1870s, with many looking remarkably older than their actual ages.

The children in the shots were all from poor backgrounds. The pictures show a range of children who were sentenced to punishments from ten days of hard labour, to five years in a reformatory prison. This shows the real people behind ‘official’ histories – people that are from the lowest levels of society, those really struggling to survive. The original black and white pictures were found when Newcastle jail in Carliol Square was demolished.

Henry Leonard Stephenson, aged 12. He went to prison for two months after breaking into a house.

Mary Catherine Docherty was 14 when she got seven days of hard labour for stealing an iron.

Michael Clement Fisher, who went to jail aged just 13 for breaking into a house.

Henry Miller was a convicted thief after he was caught stealing clothing, aged 14. He got 14 days of hard labour for his crime.

Aged just 12, Jane Farrell stole two boots and was sentenced to do 10 hard days labour at Newcastle City Gaol.

Mary Hinningan was 13 when she stole an iron and got seven days of hard labour.

Aged 13, James Scullion was sentenced to 14 days hard labour at Newcastle City Gaol for stealing clothes.

Aged 15, John Reed was handed 14 days hard labour and five years reformation for stealing money in 1873.

Rosana Watson, aged 13. She was also part of the girl gang that stole an iron and she also got hard labour.

Stephen Monaghan, 14. He was convicted of stealing money on 25 July 1873 and was sentenced to 10 days hard labour and three years in Market Weighton Reformatory.

The Four Musketeers: Part Thirteen

This is the thirteenth part of a fiction serial, in 750 words.

Susan proved to be remarkably fertile. Within four months of coming off the pill, she was expecting. My parents were beyond excited, and even her mum and dad seemed to be genuinely pleased. She was starting on names the day after the positive pregnancy test. She wanted Joanna for a girl, and Stephen for a boy. I didn’t mind what name she chose, if it made her happy.

I would be a father at the age of twenty-two. Not counting Alice’s baby of course.

Not only did I have to grow up fast, I had to think about the responsibilities of being a parent. Susan had already found a child-minder willing to take the baby, a local lady with an excellent reputation. She resolved to get back to work at the earliest opportunity, but I also had an idea.

Despite the fairly recent promotion at work, I had a feeling I could do better. I looked around and found a different insurance company advertising for staff. They were branching out into every area of insurance available, and were looking for someone to take over a new car and commercial vehicle department. At the time, someone of my age was never going to get a job like that. But I applied anyway, and really worked hard on my interview preparation.

They gave me a grilling on the day, and I was left undecided whether or not I had a chance at getting the job. It took over a week until the letter arrived, and I was overjoyed to be offered it. It was twice my previous salary, and only two streets away from where I was already working. Susan was very happy for me, and I told her she didn’t need to work after the baby. So she agreed to wait until the child was of school age, and then get a part-time job locally.

When I handed in my notice, the only one who was visibly upset was Nancy. I knew I would have ended up having it off with her, and felt quite relieved to remove myself from temptation.

Even Keith was pleased to hear the news, and said he was looking forward to having a niece or nephew. When I phoned Terry, he made the right noises, but didn’t seem that excited. I suspected that things were not great for him and Maria, and suggested he should think about getting their own place. “I would love that, Danny. But Maria is stcuk like glue to her parents. It’s her mum who is really bringing up little Sophia, and Maria acts more like her older sister than her mum”.

The problems of dealing with a different culture.

It seemed only right I should tell Johnny. Jeannie looked awkward when she answered the door. “He’s upstairs, Danny. Go on up, love”.

Johnny’s bedroom smelled bad, and he looked shabby. But he also seemed pleased to see me, and genuinely happy about my news. “Tell you what, Danny, everyone’s moving on. Sorry about that night at The Anchor, by the way. I was out of order. But I was thinking. What with you married and living in Brockley, Keith tied up with that Maddy and his new job, and Terry under the thumb in west London, how about a boy’s weekend? Just the four of us, the original musketeers?”

Before I could say anything, he carried on.

“My mum’s older sister has a caravan near Eastbourne. Sunnyside Site, not far from Beachy Head. We could go down on a Friday night, come back Sunday afternoon. Take a load of beers, eat fish and chips, and kinda make it our last time all together. What d’you reckon?” I told him I was up for it, if he could arrange it with the other two. That really brightened him up.

“Yeah, leave it to me. It will give me something to do. Spring time might be good. Not too busy down there, and the weather should be okay”.

Even though she would be well-pregnant by then, Susan thought it was a great idea. “You four really need to get together again. Settle all your old differences, and remember what things were like before they all changed. Well done to Johnny, he came up with a good plan. I can even forgive him for being horrible to me that time”.

Sleep didn’t come easy that night. To be honest, I was wondering what we would all talk about for a whole weekend.

Ollie’s Latest Photo

Michele Smith is my near-neighbour, a fellow dog-walker, and treasured friend. She is an animal lover par excellence, and has always adored Ollie.

Just recently, we were chatting on Beetley Meadows, and she remarked that she had never taken a photo of him. She produced her phone, and managed to get Ollie to stand still long enough for this lovely photo.

(It can be enlarged, by clicking on it.)

Thanks very much, Michele. xx

August Sander: German People 1910-1934

August Sander (1876-1964) was the most significant of German photographers in the first half of this century. From 1910 until 1934, he vigorously pursued a visual documentation project: “Citizen of the 20th Century.” His ambitious portrait series was intended to make viewers aware of the social and cultural dimensions as well as the stratifications of real life.

During military service, August Sander was an assistant in a photographic studio in Trier; he then spent the following two years working in various studios elsewhere. By 1904 he had opened his own studio in Linz, Austria, where he met with success. He moved to a suburb of Cologne in 1909 and soon began to photograph the rural farmers nearby. Around three years later Sander abandoned his urban studio in favor of photographing in the field, finding subjects along the roads he travelled by bicycle.

The performers of a travelling circus.

A small brother and sister, in their best clothes to be photographed.

A smartly-dressed young Jewish man.

A young woman modestly dressed, her hair tightly braided.

Child, dog, and bicycle. Taken in a rural district.

A modern artist, posing in front of her work in progress.

A faming family with their oxen.

This is a bricklayer’s labourer, carrying bricks in a frame.

The passing nun was happy to pose for him.

A stern looking man on a deserted city street.

This father brought his sons to be photographed with him. They look undernourished.

Children in the countryside with a prize sheep.

Serious young boys, immaculately dressed.

A working-class woman with her baby.

The farmer sowing seed in his field.

A young woman captured at her window.

Two sisters, possibly twins.

This man is living on the city streets, but is still quite smartly-dressed.

Three sisters on a city corner.

The Four Musketeers: Part Twelve

This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 776 words.

Married life suited me well enough. Susan took to it like a fish to water, and became a real housewife. She cooked nice meals every evening, and at weekends we usually went back to see my parents, and hers. Her mum and dad had never come over for that tea, but she couldn’t be bothered to argue with them about them not seeing the house. She thought she knew why they had never visited.

“They’re just jealous, Danny. They could have bought a house years ago, but chose to stay renting off the Council. Now they are embarrassed because Keith has an upper-class girlfriend, and they are ashamed of Deptford”.

She found out that Graham Simpson had an art exhibition in Brighton, and one Saturday,we drove down to see it. Because she was that few years older, she had known him briefly back in Deptford. I hardly remembered him, but we got on well. He introduced his friend to us, but the bloke was a shade too effeminate for my liking. He made me feel uncomfortable, talking like a woman, and his long hair perfectly styled.

As for the art on display, well that was a matter of taste, and it wasn’t my taste. It looked like a little kid had got paint on its feet, then run around the canvas. But I kept my opinion to myself, and when Susan whispered that one of them had been sold for two thousand quid, I was suitably impressed. We even had our photo taken with him, and he told us it was going to be printed in the local paper.

Before we left to drive home, I had a chat with Graham about his brother and his dad. He seemed to be fully aware of what had happened, and it was soon obvious that he was in regular contact with his mum.

“Yes, I hear that Johnny is not doing well. He is working part-time in a warehouse in the railway arches, and spending a lot of time alone in his room. By the way, I wanted to thank you for being so kind to my mum when all that happened. She speaks so well of you Danny”. Then he hugged me, and I let him. He didn’t know that musketeers don’t hug.

In work on the Monday, Nancy came and sat on my desk. She didn’t care that I could see right up her skirt, even opened her knees a bit to make sure I could. “Tell me you are coming to the Christmas party this year, Danny. I’m organising it, and there’s going to be a nice meal followed by a club night. I doubt most of the old geezers here will show up at the club, so I am counting on you. Can you give me a tenner deposit to confirm?”

Handing over the tenner, I grinned at her. How could I resist?

Three weeks later, Susan had an interview for a new job, and she was offered it there and then. It was in a new Estate Agents that had just opened up in Brockley, and she would be doing the typing and some secretarial work. The pay wasn’t much more than she got at the factory, but she could walk to work in five minutes, and save on the train fares. We went out to celebrate when she handed her notice in. I took her to an Indian place in Lewisham, and we got a taxi both ways so we could both have a drink.

After a couple of months in her new job, she started to talk about kids.

“With me working so close, it would be easy to find a nursery. You don’t need the car during the week, so I could manage to still go shopping and everything else would get done. If I come off the pill now, we might get lucky next year. Is that okay with you, love?” I said it was. I didn’t want to upset her by saying no.

I thought about Terry, still living with his in-laws. Keith, trying to act posh for his new bird and his job with the M.P. Johnny, stuck in the house scared of his own shadow as people thought he might have grassed up the real criminals. Alice, bringing up a kid her and her husband both knew was someone else’s. Georgie, released from prison but living in his siter’s spare room in a Charlton flat.

Then there was me. With a nice wife, our own house, decent jobs, a car, and a future.

No doubt I had come off best. As far as I was concerned, anyway.

The Four Musketeers: Part Eleven

This is the eleventh part of a fiction serial, in 772 words.

While Johnny was away in jail, I learned to drive. Susan did it at the same time, and we used the same instructor. We both passed our tests one wekk apart, and because Susan passed first, she never let me forget that. My dad was in the process of part exchanging his old Ford Escort Estate for a new Cortina, so I offered him cash for it instead. The car was cheap, but the insurance for me and Susan to drive it was very expensive.

We left the car parked outside my parents’ house, and started to get out and about in it at the weekends. Most of our trips were house-hunting, checking out affordable areas where we could buy a house once we were married. As we already lived in Deptford, south London was our first choice. We didn’t want to venture too far from what we knew, and we would need to be near a train station to get into work. Susan was still at the factory, but hoping to change jobs. There was a rumour the factory was closing down and moving far away from London, and she was keen to get out before that happened.

Johnny got out too late for our wedding. As planned, it was a small affair at the Registry Office, followed by a buffet and drinks in the upstairs function room of The Anchor. There were some cousins on both sides we hadn’t seen for years, an elderly great aunt of Susan, and some friends. Terry and Maria showed up, but they left little Sophia at home with Maria’s parents. Keith came, and he brought his girlfriend too.

Madeleine was introduced as Maddy. She was very tall, taller than any of us, and stick-thin. Her accent was so posh, I had trouble understanding some of what she said. And I had to smile at how Keith had adopted a very similar accent, making him sound completely ridiculous to the rest of us. Maddy spent the evening sticking close to Mr and Mrs Rainsford, and declined to eat most of the buffet food on offer. I saw her nibbling a bridge roll containing gammon ham and gherkins, then wrapping it in a paper napkin and leaving it behind a chair.

Keith had his degree, and there was talk of him going to work as an assistant to an M.P. We had never really discussed politics, but my dad told me the M.P. in question was a Conservative. Dad didn’t approve of that party. Keith’s parents were suitably chuffed, as their son would now be working in an office inside the Houses of Parliament. They spent the wedding party telling that to anyone who would listen

The house we had decided on was an old two-bed terrace in Brockley. Not far from from the cemetery, and an easy walk to the station. It would have been three beds at one time, before the smallest one had been converted into an inside bathroom. Parking was on the street, and the small garden was just big enough for sitting outside in the summer. With no honeymoon arranged, we were going to spend our wedding night in that house, then we would both be back at work on the Monday.

The previous owners had done a good job of making the house nice, and all we had to do was get our furniture in before the wedding. We had bought everything from the same department store, and taken their credit option over three years of easy payments. My mum and dad had been over to see it, and were so proud that their son had his own house, and would not be renting from the council like them. Susan’s parents said they would come for tea once we were settled in. I told them there was no rush.

With Johnny back at home and out of work, my visits to Jeannie had to stop. Besides, it wouldn’t have been so easy once we were in Brockley. We had managed an enjoyable few months though, and Susan had never found out about what happened on my visits to console Jeannie.

The next time I saw Johhny I was visiting my parents and he was standing outside the corner shop. I stopped the car and spoke to him through the window. He looked ill. He had lost a lot of weight, and all of his confidence. Prison had taught him a lesson, right enough. He congratulated me on the wedding, wished me all the best, then walked across the street without looking back.

Maybe I should have felt guilty, but I didn’t.

Working Women In Victorian Britain

These photos are from a book by Michael Hiley. They show Victorian women in their working clothes. We owe many of these fascinating photos, sketches, and detailed descriptions of Victorian working women to Arthur Munby, who interviewed many, and collected their photographs as well as their stories.

Housemaids, early 1860’s. They are dressed in their best for the photographer, but look at their hands. From Victorian Working Women.

South Wales Mine Tip Girls, 1865. From Victorian Working Women.

London Milkwomen in 1864 and 1872. From Victorian Working Women.

Women mine workers in trousers at Wigan, 1860s. From Victorian Working Women.

Yorkshire girls collecting limpets and other fishbait; 1860. From Victorian Working Women. Their skirts and petticoats appear to be tucked up into their belts in back.

Arthur Munby standing beside Ellen Grounds, a “pit wench” at Wigan. 1866. Right, a photo of Ellen Grounds in her “Sunday best.” Munby stood next to Ellen in this photograph to show how tall she was.

A Strange Romance.

The story of Arthur Munby, barrister, Cambridge M.A., civil servant, diarist, poet, friend of many other writers and of the Pre-Raphaelite artists, popular in high society, and obsessed with Victorian working women, is almost incredible. Utterly middle-class, but not wealthy enough to cut loose from the conventions of society, Munby fell in love with a “maid of all work” — about the lowest form of domestic servant — named Hannah Cullwick. They were both in their twenties. After a chaste courtship of almost twenty years, they married in 1873, but — as much by her wish as by his — she continued to pretend to be his servant.
Hannah Cullwick, maid of all work; at right, Hannah “in her dirt.” from Victorian Working Women. She was strong enough to lift her husband off the ground and carry him around. He liked it.

The Four Musketeers: Part Ten

This is the tenth part of a fiction serial, in 758 words.

They took Johnny from his home at six in the morning. It had been a long time coming, as the police took their time building a case by watching Johnny and his dad for close to three months, accumulating evidence on them and the men delivering the stolen goods.

Georgie was arrested at dawn too, but he was in the bed of Big Viv, another market stall holder. Viv deserved her name, with breasts that arrived a few minutes before the rest of her, and a huge mop of home-dyed auburn hair. She must have been getting on a bit, but Georgie had obviously fallen for her charms, and was tracked down to her flat by the cops. She was arrested too, but released for lack of evidence.

With Johnny and Georgie getting bail, and determined to plead not guilty at their trial, everyone in the district was speculating about who could have grassed them up. Receiving stolen goods and tax evasion didn’t add up to a long stretch, but it would mean the end of their careers as market traders, as their licences would be withdrawn. They also had to worry about the actual robbers who were implicated, as four of them had also been arrested.

Safe to say I was not even considered as a suspect for grassing them. Where we came from, you didn’t grass, so it was simply presumed that someone from outside the borough had done it, probably to get a lesser sentence for whatever he had been charged with. Not grassing also applied to Johnny and his dad. No chance they were going to name names to get any charges dropped or reduced. Their lives wouldn’t have been worth living if they had done that. The local criminals had a long reach, even from behind bars.

For a few weeks, everyone was talking about it. I did the decent thing, and went to see Johnny at home. Him and his dad looked scared, and his mum couldn’t stop crying. They had phoned his brother in Brighton, but Graham was not coming up for the trial. He was getting his own back on Georgie for how he had been treated in the past. Johnny told me that Terry had driven over to offer his condolences, but hadn’t stayed long before rushing back to his wife and baby.

Keith probably didn’t know what had happened. He was totally immersed in his life in Oxford. He wouldn’t have cared even if he did know.

When I told Susan, she was unimpressed. “Serves him right. He was getting really flash, and above himself. Reckoned he was some sort of gangster if you ask me. A bit of time inside won’t hurt him, and might teach him a lesson”. She had never forgiven him for his outburst at The Anchor. And neither had I of course.

Neither Johnny nor his dad had any preious convictions, but electing for a trial by jury must have upset the powers that be. They were found guilty by that jury, and the judge was in a bad mood when sentencing arrived. Georgie got eighteen months, and Johnny twelve months. They were also heavily fined, fifteen hundred each. That was a considerable sum back then, and wiped out their savings.

Johnny’s mum didn’t take it well. Not only were her husband and son going inside, there was the extra bad news that Georgie had been found in bed with Big Viv. Susan felt sorry for her, and I said I would pop round occasionally, and see if she was alright. Jean Simpson liked to be called Jeannie, and she was alright for her age. Alright enough to make you wonder why her husband was over the side with Big Viv, a woman who could easily take on a regiment of soldiers if she was in the mood.

I kept my promise, and checked on Jeannie at the first opportunity. The experience had definitely hardened her. “I won’t be taking Georgie back when he gets out, Danny. He can go and live at his sister’s place in Charlton, for all I care”. I was very sympathetic. Sympathetic enough that on my third visit, Jeannie suggested going upstairs to the bedroom, and I willingly followed her.

When it was over, she lit a cigarette and cuddled up to me. “If it’s good enough for Georgie, then it’s good enough for me. Will you come and see me again next week, Danny?” I said I would.

Well it was the least I could do, wasn’t it?