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.