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September 20, 2016

Mugshots of Victorian Child Thieves in Newcastle From the 1870s

Crime was on the increase along with populations, wealth, and poverty. The industrialization of England brought a great deal of success to many, but technology and populations grew much faster than regulations and management could keep up. All too often, the casualties of society’s problems are children. Many children found themselves completely alone in the world for a variety of reasons and found themselves crushed under the wheels of Victorian justice. 
  • Some parents fell into addiction (alcohol or drugs) and were useless to their children.
  • Parents were often in the justice system themselves and were either imprisoned or transported.
  • Mothers were separated from their children to prevent negative influence from a criminal parent.
  • Brothers and sisters were separated to prevent what was thought to be a natural inclination toward incest among the poor.
  • Many paupers’ children ended up in workhouses surrounded by individuals suffering from mental illness, those dying from illness, and weeping of broken mothers.
It is no surprise that many of the older children turned to a life of petty crime to try and survive. They had no sense of right and wrong except what the streets and elder criminals taught them. Some were taken in by “thief-trainers” like Fagin in Oliver Twist who fed and clothed them and taught them to be professional pickpockets. 

Staring into the camera, some with defiance and others in child-like wonder, these scruffy boys and girls look like any other group of Victorian urchins. But while some of the children may appear to be a picture of innocence, the gallery is in fact a collection of young criminals from the 1870s.

The fascinating Victorian images, which all feature children from the Newcastle area, have been released by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums.

1. Ellen Woodman: 11. Ellen was ordered to do 7 days hard labor after being convicted of stealing iron.

2. Jane Farrell: 12. Jane stole 2 boots and was sentenced to do 10 hard days labor.

3. Henry Leonard Stephenson. 12. Henry was convicted of breaking in to houses and was sentenced to 2 months in prison in 1873.

4. Rosanna Watson: 13. Rosanna was sentenced to 7 days hard labor after being caught stealing iron.

5. Mary Hinnigan: 13. Mary was caught stealing iron and was sentenced to do 7 days hard labor.

6. James Scullion: 13. James Scullion was sentenced to 14 days hard labor at Newcastle City Gaol for stealing clothes. After this he was sent to Market Weighton Reformatory School for 3 years.

7. Michael Clement Fisher: 13. Michael was an accomplice of Henry Leonard Stephenson, charged with breaking in to houses and sentenced to 2 months in prison.

8. Stephen Monaghan: 14. Stephen Monaghan was convicted of stealing money on July 25, 1873 and was sentenced to 10 days hard labor and 3 years in Market Weighton Reformatory.

9. Henry Miller: 14. Henry was charged with the theft of clothing and sentenced to 14 days hard labor.

10. Mary Catherine Docherty: 14. Mary was sentenced to 7 days hard labor after being convicted of stealing iron along with her accomplices: Mary Hinnigan, Ellen Woodman and Rosanna Watson.

11. John Reed: 15. John was sentenced to do 14 days hard labor and 5 years reformation for stealing money in 1873.

12. Edward Fenn: 15. Edward was convicted of stealing clothes on March 31, 1873 and served 1 month with hard labor.

13. Robert Charlton: 16. Robert Charlton was a laborer from Newcastle and was imprisoned for 4 months for stealing 2 pairs of boots.

14. John Duffy: 16. John were found guilty of assault and theft. He was imprisoned for 6 months.

15. James Donneley: 16. Also known as James Darley, at the age of just 16, this young man had been in and out of prison, but on this occasion he was sentenced for 2 months for stealing some shirts.

16. George Lamb: 17. Accomplice of John Duffy, George Lamb was sentenced to 4 months in prison after stealing money.

(Photos via Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums)


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