Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Little Rascals
June 22, 2012 2:20 PM   Subscribe

Child mugshots from the 1800s
posted by hermitosis (58 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
"This is William Harrison. He was born in Durham and worked as a porter. He was convicted of obtaining oats by false pretence. He was sentenced to 12 months in Newcastle City Gaol in 1872."

Interesting mugshot. Did false pretense involve wearing a fake beard and pretending to be elderly?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:24 PM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


URCHINS!
posted by Artw at 2:26 PM on June 22, 2012


Hard to believe that once upon a time so-called civilized societies tried and sentenced children as adults.
posted by Bonzai at 2:28 PM on June 22, 2012 [24 favorites]


I'm struck by how reasonable the sentences seem to be when compared with modern US sentences. Seven days hard labour? Don't let Fox News hear about that, or they'll start moaning about activist judges and insist that that kind of sentence needs at least a good flogging on top to have any real deterrent effect.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:29 PM on June 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


I thought we supposed to comment on the comments on io9, rather than link to the actual museum exhibit.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:30 PM on June 22, 2012


From the article's comments: Flickr: The Smiling Victorian Pool
posted by zarq at 2:30 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I find horrible in the staged adult photo.
posted by Mblue at 2:32 PM on June 22, 2012


They sent a dog to prison! For catocide! It really was a simpler time.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:33 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that Pep didn't get the death penalty-- he was black.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:40 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


They sent a dog to prison! For catocide! It really was a simpler time.

Alas, there is a long history of criminal punishment of animals in the West.
posted by junco at 2:43 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm struck by how reasonable the sentences seem to be when compared with modern US sentences.

Unless I'm mistaken I recall reading an account of the public execution of a twelve year old in England earlier in the 1800s. I found the framing of this in the article a little bit twee.
posted by XMLicious at 2:43 PM on June 22, 2012


I liked how one kid was sentenced to two weeks, but the sentence was revoked when his parents paid a fine and damages.
posted by jacalata at 2:46 PM on June 22, 2012


I have long been a firm believer in the need for baby prisons. Something must be done about the baby menace in today's society!
posted by elizardbits at 2:47 PM on June 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


re:reasonableness - remember also that this is when they populated Australia with people who'd stolen bread or clothes, the youngest of which was 9 years old.
posted by jacalata at 2:48 PM on June 22, 2012


I'm struck by how reasonable the sentences seem to be when compared with modern US sentences.

I'm struck by how the punishment of children contrasts with the modern British standard of having a high tolerance for property crime. I wonder if regret at past authorities sending children to prison has any bearing on it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:48 PM on June 22, 2012


This is what I was recalling I think, a twelve year old boy executed for repeated thievery in 1829.
posted by XMLicious at 2:49 PM on June 22, 2012


Trina Garnett, a mentally disabled homeless 14 year old girl, was sentenced to Life Without Parole in 1977 in Pennsylvania for accidentally starting a fire. She set the fire to try to keep warm that night, and it got out of control. Two people were killed in the fire. She was convicted of arson and two counts of manslaughter. She is still in prison today.

Compared to Trina's case in Modern America, it seems like these Victorian children faced an enlightened justice system.
posted by Flood at 2:51 PM on June 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


XMLicious: it actually says 'petty theft and murder' in that link, which isn't quite the same thing.
posted by jacalata at 2:52 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't find any mention of it on the Old Bailey Online site but there's not a lot of info to work with.
posted by elizardbits at 2:54 PM on June 22, 2012


"I liked how one kid was sentenced to two weeks, but the sentence was revoked when his parents paid a fine and damages."

Was he a Hilton?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:58 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I screamed out loud when I got to the Ye Olde Hannibal Lecter one.
posted by roger ackroyd at 2:59 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was convicted of obtaining oats by false pretense.

Did false pretense involve wearing a fake beard and pretending to be elderly?

He made a beard from the oats.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:00 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm struck by how dignified all of the kids look. Can we bring back waistcoats?
posted by Phire at 3:00 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


XMLicious: it actually says 'petty theft and murder' in that link, which isn't quite the same thing.

The original 1829 piece, as far as I can see, says that he was tried and convicted for burglary of a jeweler's shop and after being sentenced to death supposedly confessed to several other robberies and murders.
posted by XMLicious at 3:04 PM on June 22, 2012


For some reason, this brought to mind the movie Orphan Train from 1979, which I saw on TV a couple of times as a kid. There are a couple of scenes that are burned into my brain, one which was at the beginning where a young boy was hanged for stealing (I think). This level of severe punishment is so foreign culturally now that it's hard to believe that this kind of thing actually happened, or that children were even subjected to jail time and hard labor. I feel horrible when my daughter says that she had a tough time at the baby-sitters for awhile. How in the world would you part with your child for two weeks like this and not go crazy as a parent?
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:06 PM on June 22, 2012


You're right, I didn't realise I could actually click through to get the article.
posted by jacalata at 3:12 PM on June 22, 2012


How in the world would you part with your child for two weeks like this and not go crazy as a parent?

Many of these children were on the streets and/or working already. Which goes a long way toward their (as Phire put it) "dignified" look -- they didn't have much of a childhood.
posted by junco at 3:15 PM on June 22, 2012


Request for further research: are there any good sources describing what they mean by "hard labor" in these contexts? Working in a coal mine? Shoveling ditches? Washing the floor of the jail?
posted by craven_morhead at 3:23 PM on June 22, 2012


Shut up and drink your gin!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:25 PM on June 22, 2012


I'm having a difficult time trying to think of a scenario in which 3 girls would want to steal iron and how they could possibly steal enough that could be important enough to have them arrested.
posted by snsranch at 3:26 PM on June 22, 2012


Remarkable - this may have been the only photo ever taken of some of these people...
posted by NorthernAutumn at 3:28 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Request for further research: are there any good sources describing what they mean by "hard labor" in these contexts?
Once in prison various forms of punishment were available to keep the prisoners occupied.

Many children were made to 'pick oakum' for up to five hours a day. This meant 'the pulling to pieces of old tarry ropes' (4) which were then used to make new ropes or to cover the planks of wooden ships to make them water tight. This made their hands very sore.
The treadmill

The Treadmill was 'a big iron frame of steps around a revolving cylinder'. In the early part of the century prisoners were put on the treadmill for up to six hours a day. It had no useful purpose. It was just monotonous hard work.

In 1843 the Prison Inspectors' General Survey stated that the treadmill was 'an improper punishment for females and boys under 14 years of age'.(5)
The crank

Until 1865 other forms of hard labour included the crank 'which was a wheel with a counting device fitted into a box of gravel'. (6)

The prisoner turned the handle for a given number of rotations and this moved the gravel around in the box . This was another useless activity.

In Leicester prison a certain number of cranks had to be turned before any food or drink was made available. In Birmingham if the prisoner had not completed the required number he was kept in the crank cell until late in the night. This meant he would miss supper and have no food until the next morning.
posted by junco at 3:31 PM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Same reason people strip copper wire from foreclosed houses in 2012 --- to sell as scrap. The thing that was so much harsher back then was that the material value of the goods wasn't a huge factor in the punishment. I mean probably of you nicked a horse or a diamond bracelet you'd be worse off, but from what little I understand the sentence for nicking a wool cloak or a loaf of bread would be prettying the same.
posted by Diablevert at 3:31 PM on June 22, 2012


I'm struck by how the punishment of children contrasts with the modern British standard of having a high tolerance for property crime. I wonder if regret at past authorities sending children to prison has any bearing on it.

I was wondering the same thing.

I'm having a difficult time trying to think of a scenario in which 3 girls would want to steal iron and how they could possibly steal enough that could be important enough to have them arrested.

Meth addicts steal scrap metal all the time around here, and I'm sure some of the metal thefts are blamed on addicts but are being done by someone who just needs money to pay the rent, no drugs involved. I don't know what kind of sentence they would be facing, but you could easily have an identical case today.
posted by Forktine at 3:36 PM on June 22, 2012


For that authentic Victorian flavour, here's a description of the rag and bone shop from A Christmas Carol:
Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-browed, beetling shop, below a pent-house roof, where iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and greasy offal, were bought. Upon the floor within, were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepulchres of bones.

posted by Diablevert at 3:39 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: masses of corrupted fat
posted by poe at 3:41 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


A cravat is apparently required attire for any young gentleman, no matter how young or ragamuffin he may be.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:46 PM on June 22, 2012


My husband is from Newcastle, I've spent the last 30 minutes clicking through the Flickr gallery and shouting THIS GUY LOOKS LIKE YOU! NO, WAIT, YOU'RE DEFINITELY RELATED TO THIS ONE!
posted by cilantro at 3:51 PM on June 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


"At the young age of 14, Henry Miller was charged with the theft of clothing and sentenced to 14 days hard labour for his crime."

women's clothing, no doubt.
posted by philip-random at 4:00 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Two months for B&E? Fifteen days for stealing clothes?

Okay, I'd call putting them in with the general prison population a problem but seriously, kids get much, much longer sentences today in our so-called "civilized" world.

As for the "hard labor" part? I guess it depends on the definition - Keep in mind they used non-criminal kids to do maintenance on active heavy machinery in that same era. And hey, I'd rather have a future career criminal learn their lesson in two unpleasant months, than hone the skills of the trade over three to six years spent in a taxpayer-funded Juvie daycare center (and honestly, I would have preferred the same if I'd gotten into serious trouble in my teens - Make me hurt, but don't steal half a decade from me).
posted by pla at 4:01 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, if these kids had been convicted just five years earlier, a lot of them probably would have been "transported" to Australia.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:02 PM on June 22, 2012


snsranch -- I assume that there were adults involved, who used the girls to avoid being caught themselves.

Wouldn't the short sentences have been a way to avoid overtaxing the prison system? There would have been so many of these kids, living on the streets on what they could steal, or being turned out, hungry, by their parents in the morning and told not to come home without money or food. Much like street kids today, in fact.
posted by jrochest at 4:17 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: obtaining oats by false pretence.
posted by Splunge at 4:30 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Grampa??
posted by jonmc at 4:38 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, if you actual click through and go to the flickr site, you'll see by looking at the "profession" block that many of these people were already working. 15 year old glassmakers, 14 year old confectioners, etc.
posted by corb at 5:45 PM on June 22, 2012


D'aww, Pep. Lookit those eyes and that shiny coat. Who was railroaded? Who was denied due process? You were! Yes, you were!
posted by Countess Elena at 6:11 PM on June 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


LOOK AT THIS FUCKING POCKET WATCH THEIVING HIPSTER:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/twm_news/6256671391/in/set-72157625464218629/
posted by Sara C. at 6:19 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is interesting to me that virtually all of the adults have a profession listed.
posted by Wordwoman at 6:28 PM on June 22, 2012


It's interesting to me how many people listed as convicted of stealing linens have their occupations listed as charwomen.
posted by Sara C. at 6:31 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I got a kick out of the one dude near the bottom of the page, standing arms akimbo with the words "This man refused to open his eyes" written across the photo. Seems like a pretty ballsy move, that.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:44 PM on June 22, 2012


Shorpy found employment. What's wrong with THESE scamps and rapscallions? Get a job!

(As could be said by any right-wing fascist CEO who is busy selling those very jobs to lowest bidders abroad/overseas.)

Forgive me for politifying this post but the way things are going with families struggling to get by, I don't think the reemergence of cheap child labor is too far off in our future.
posted by snsranch at 7:07 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Forgive me for politifying this post but the way things are going with families struggling to get by, I don't think the reemergence of cheap child labor is too far off in our future.

No worries there: American children would still be more expensive than Chinese adults.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:19 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


John Reed is having none of this.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:26 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Phire: "I'm struck by how dignified all of the kids look. Can we bring back waistcoats?"

Just don't steal one; that'll get you a month.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:39 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


So many of them were so small! This guy (the one bailed by his parents) was 15 (looks about 5) and 4' 2 1/2".
posted by deborah at 7:56 PM on June 22, 2012


"Pep, The Cat-Murdering Dog" was a black Labrador Retriever admitted to Eastern State Penitentiary on August 12, 1924. Prison folklore tells us that Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot used his executive powers to sentence Pep to Life Without Parole for killing his wife's cherished cat. Prison records support this story: Pep's inmate number (C-2559) is skipped in prison intake logs and inmate records.

I'd do the same if he hurt one of my precious kitties.
posted by mike3k at 10:41 PM on June 22, 2012


I'm having a difficult time trying to think of a scenario in which 3 girls would want to steal iron and how they could possibly steal enough that could be important enough to have them arrested.
posted by snsranch at 11:26 PM on June 22


Metal is valuable. Never heard of people nicking the lead off church roofs and so on? In the UK metal theft is still a curse to this day.
posted by Decani at 12:14 AM on June 23, 2012


Do remember, this is the UK were discussing. A sentence to 'hard labour' almost certainly includes beatings of one kind or another.
posted by Goofyy at 1:56 AM on June 23, 2012


« Older The season finale of The Legend of Korra is upon u...  |  Kirsty Mitchell's late mother ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments