1871-1873: Newcastle Criminals

George Bell, 24, convicted of stealing a watch, sentenced to 2 months

William Brankston, 43, convicted of the theft of four rabbits, sentenced to 1 month

John Bryan, 29, convicted of stealing lead, sentenced to 4 months

Ann Burns, 18, convicted of stealing a waistcoat, sentenced to 1 month

Charles Burns, 19, convicted of false pretences, sentenced to 3 months

Jane Cartner, 22, convicted of stealing a silver watch, sentenced to 6 months

Thomas Dixon, 20, convicted of theft of money, sentenced to 6 months

Mary Catherine Docherty, 14, convicted of stealing iron, sentenced to 7 days hard labour

James Donneley, 16, convicted of stealing some shirts, sentenced to 2 months

John Duffy, 16, convicted of assault and theft, sentenced to 6 months

Jane Farrell, 12, convicted of stealing 2 boots, sentenced to do 10 hard days labour

Catherine Flynn, 34, convicted of stealing money from person, sentenced to 6 months

William Harrison, 51, convicted of obtaining oats by false pretence, sentenced to 12 months

Robert Hardy, 21, convicted of stealing ale, sentenced to 4 months

William Hill, 28, convicted of stealing champagne, sentenced to 6 months

Catherine Kelly, 17, convicted of stealing bed linen, sentenced to 3 months

George Lamb, 17, convicted of stealing money, sentenced to 4 months

Margaret McCann, 24, convicted of stealing money from a person, sentenced to 6 months

Alice Mullholland, 18, convicted of stealing some boots, sentenced to 3 months

Patrick O'Neill, 19, convicted of breaking in to houses, sentenced to 18 months

Mary Patterson, 25, convicted of theft of poultry, sentenced to 6 weeks

John Reed, 15, convicted of stealing money, sentenced to 14 days hard labour and 5 years reformation

James Richley, 30, convicted of stealing trivets, sentenced to 7 days hard labour

John Roman, 64, convicted of stealing some clothes, sentenced to 14 days hard labour

Mary Ann Ross, 34, convicted of theft of money as a prostitute, sentenced to 6 months

William Salmon, 18, convicted of stealing clothes, sentenced to 6 months

James Scullion, 14, convicted of stealing clothes, sentenced to 14 days hard labour

Edward Shevlin, 32, convicted of stealing a coat, sentenced to 6 months

Isabella Smith, 60, convicted of stealing poultry, sentenced to 6 weeks

William Smith, 25, convicted of stealing money and some scales, sentenced to 2 months

Thomas Smith, 32, convicted of defrauded another gentlemen, sentenced to carry 3 months

Henry Leonard Stephenson, 12, convicted of breaking in to houses, sentenced to 2 months

John Storey, 32, convicted of stealing wood, sentenced to 1 month

John Taylor, 26, convicted of stealing a trowel, sentenced to 1 month

Ellen Woodman, 11, convicted of stealing iron, sentenced to 7 days hard labour

Ezekiel Yates, 35, convicted of stealing tobacco, sentenced to 6 months


About The Author

Avatar of Emily
Assistant Curator

Originally trained as a Commercial Photographer, I graduated from Newcastle in 2013 with a BA in Digital Creative Practice. Following this I worked for the National Archives across Archives in the North East of England, specialising in digitisation and online engagement in Heritage. My work focuses primarily of the social impact of historical photography, but also the potential in creative and digital reuse of photographic collections. I am now continuing this work at Museums & Archives Northumberland, working alongside Retronaut and sourcing content to increase public engagement with our photographic collections. This work is funded through the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, run by the Museums Association.

30 Responses

  1. RBeezy

    What’s striking is the nature of their crimes. The vast majority were clearly impoverished and just seeking to survive.

  2. wurdnurd

    So many of these pictures are just heartbreaking. Stealing clothes, jackets, poultry, iron (presumably to sell)…that’s all a far, far different matter than assault and/or stealing money or alcohol.

  3. Mr Twist

    I ended up trying to guess the age as I scrolled down , some of them look so old before there time, some only in there thirties and looking well older.

  4. sylvia

    Lol, Mr Twist – I was doing and thinking the exact same thing! It’s also very eerie and heartbreaking to see kids of only 11 or 12 sentenced to hard labour…

  5. Mr Twist

    Sylvia , how sad and hard the times were in those days , John Reed, 15 by the look of determination must have gone on to bigger things , I dread to think what became of all in the pictures. Hard times.

    William Brankston, 43 does have that Ron Moody look , the actor who played Fagin in Oliver the movie

  6. wunnell

    Amazing to think that William Hill went on to start a chain of betting shops… I guess reformation does work ;-)

    • James

      You know what they say, the 1871 Newcastle criminal camera adds 20 years.

  7. Mary

    very sad stuff. All obviously poor and trying to survive. Old men and children sentenced to hard labor. Terrible.

  8. Susan

    When we look at real poverty in those faces we realize that an HD TV and welfare and a rent-subsidized apartment aren’t so bad. Also, even though they are prisoners, we can see the lack of the clothes obsession we have now. Although suffering was greater then, their souls were richer.

  9. freddyc

    I agree prufrock, this is a snapshot of where the Conservative/Republican movement would have the majority of us stationed.

  10. Nicola

    Is it just me, or do all the kids look younger than they are, yet all the adults look old before their time? Most of the people in their 20s look like they’re in their 30s or 40s, yet some of the kids in their teens look like they should still be in primary school!

    • Sara

      I wonder if the kids look so young because there were no growth hormones in their meat

    • Mauro

      You’re right. Although kids grow with different rapidity in different historic periods, these ones probably look younger because of their lacking and poor-quality nutrition (perhaps many of them suffered from rickets too). And the same cause, certainly together with the hard condition of life and work, if they had one, made them look older soon after reaching the adulthood. Struggle, cold, poor food, disease…I can’t help paying respect to the people who bore and who still bear all this

  11. Mick Fowler

    Missing:The wealthy, whose soldiers stole an empire from the people of the world.

  12. Courtney

    Nicola, I noted the same. I think this is due to lack of nutrition.

  13. James

    “Stealing iron” = looting some structure for scrap iron?

    “Stealing champagne”/”ale” = ordering a drink at a bar and being unable to pay??

  14. cindy

    What about the one who stole wood??? for crying out loud, I know cities were/are vast, stone cold, barren places, but wood?? I guess I just can’t wrap my head around that one. I guess the wood was for warming himself, or cooking food? Or to keep a sick old mother in bed at home warm? Or maybe to sell?

    The children had to work in those days, and yet they seem younger and frailer. Must be the lack of propper food. I was shocked at how old the girls over 30 looked. In theory they could’ve had a child a year from 16 onwards… I have never even thought about having a child (too expensive and a load of responsibility and and and ) and I look almost half their age and I’m now 36. Amazing.

    Can anybody tell me what hard labour was in those days? Breaking rocks? Oscar Wild had to break rocks didn’t he? How could a judge expect an 11 year old girl to break rocks?… I’m all for having usefull children and making them help out, but this is a tad extreme.

  15. Russell Scott Day

    I have loved Retronaut, but today shared the picture of the 12 year old girl sentenced to 10 days hard labor for stealing boots. I don’t think we have to limit our imaginations, or feel bad if we don’t have much of one. I hope so hard that later Jane Ferrel was better treated, saved some from poverty and abuse, though I have my doubts that her world was a good one.


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