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December 19, 2022

20 Mugshots of Victorian Thieves Arrested Just Before Christmas for Stealing Food and Clothing

These photos were taken in Wandsworth Prison, London in December 1872, with many arrested for stealing food and clothing over the cold Christmas period. However, other mugshots show crooks banged up for stealing seemingly pointless items.


It is possible they committed these meaningless crimes on purpose so they could spend the holidays in a cell rather than on the street. According to Wandsworth Prison’s records, most of these criminals were also first time offenders. The recently unearthed mugshots show individuals who were clearly stealing food for Christmas Day.

The crime seems understandable given that the December of 1872 was exceptionally wet, the wettest on record for England and Wales. The Victorians were very worried about crime and, following the development of the camera, police realized they could use the new technology to their advantage and took images of repeat offenders. As the use of cameras became more common taking mugshots became the norm until it was made compulsory for everyone to be photographed after they were arrested.

Ellen Smith, 52, was convicted of stealing an umbrella in 1872. She was given 10 days hard labor over Christmas.

Robert Graham, 16, stole 11 pairs of stockings on New Year’s Eve in 1872. He was given one month of hard labor.

Harry Williams, 42, was convicted of stealing lumps of coal to keep warm. He was given 14 days hard labor.

John Kitchenside, 20, stole oats worth three shillings on December 23, 1872. He was given six weeks hard labor.

Henry Marsh, 18, stole a coat to keep warm two days before Christmas. He was given six weeks hard labor.

Rhoda Leaf, 30, stole a shirt from her master on December 2, landing her six weeks of hard labor at Wandsworth Prison.

Edward Poller, 17, was convicted of stealing a tame pigeon. He was given one month’s hard labor.

Caroline Lightfoot, 51, stole a drinking glass in early December 1872. She was given two months’ hard labor.

John Hanks, 16, stole a woolen shirt to keep warm. He was given 14 days hard labor.

Daniel Kelly, 16, stole half a cut of iron two days before Christmas 1872. He was given 14 days hard labor.

Agnes Rose Flowers, 44, stole a short worth two shillings six pence. She received one month of hard labor.

James Ealing, 17, stole a tin can and a half pint of milk on Christmas Eve 1872. He got one month of hard labour at Wandsworth.

Mary Baxter, 22, stole a tablecloth on December 13, 1872. She was given 14 days hard labour.

John Powers, 15, stole fabric on December 10, 1872. He was given one month of hard labor.

William Ethrington, 19, stole an axe and other tools on December 21, 1872. He was given six weeks hard labor.

Sidney Lowman, 17, stole a can and a half pint of milk. He was given six weeks hard labor.

Catherine Flynn, 63, was convicted of stealing six shillings from someone. She was given a month’s hard labor.

John Sullivan, 17, was convicted of stealing a coat and lumps of coal in 1872. He was given one month of hard labor.

Mary Sowerby, 69, was convicted of stealing a sheet on December 21. She was given one month’s hard labor.

Samuel Stilley, 14, was given one month’s hard labor at Wandsworth Prison for stealing two shillings and six pence in December 1872.

(Images: News Dog Media, via The Sun)




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