April 11, 2018

‘Beyond the control of his parents’: Reformatory and Industrial Schools in Yorkshire

By Lucie Wade, Leeds Beckett University

Reformatory and Industrial schools were Victorian and early Edwardian institutions, which were established as a response to a perceived increase in juvenile crime. The schools operated from the 1850s until 1933, after which the two types of school were merged under the Approved Schools Act. While some of these schools left little archival material behind, some have amazingly complete records, and should be considered by anyone who wants to find out more about their criminal ancestors.

So, what were Reformatory schools and Industrial schools? Both types of school began as a philanthropic effort in the nineteenth century, and aimed to deal with the perceived problem of juvenile delinquency, as well as provide relief for destitute children. Both of these types of institution became subject to governmental legislation from the 1850s on, but still remained voluntary institutions. Both girls and boys could be committed to reformatory and industrial schools, and the institutions were usually single sex, although there were many more schools in operation for boys than there were for girls. Initially, it was the reformatory school which was intended to cater for delinquent children, and the industrial school for the destitute; although as the century went on legislation was passed which meant that the lines between the two institutions became increasingly blurred.

The key aim of both the reformatory and the industrial school was to provide the children with industrial, moral and educational training. All schools were required to provide at least some level of education, but much more focus was placed on industrial training, as it was felt that if a child were educated in a least some sort of skill which they could use to obtain employment following their discharge, then they would be less likely to reoffend. However, moral training of children was also considered very important. All schools had some sort of religious training (although there were separate institutions for Catholic children), and many schools employed a marks system, where children were rewarded for good behaviour and punished for bad behaviour. For the most part, boy’s schools would teach their charges a manual trade, such as carpentry, tailoring, shoemaking, and girls would be trained up for a domestic position following their discharge.

One key aspect of these schools was the ‘aftercare’ which they provided. Schools were required to keep up with former residents for at least three years following their discharge, and encouraged past residents to write, visit and generally stay in touch. As well as this, schools usually put in considerable effort to make sure that resident’s walked out of the school into a job which had been found for them – in the case of girls, many went straight to live with their employers, and if they did not suit, could be returned to the institution until another situation was found. These schools were effectively providing a very early system of probation and rehabilitation.


Find out more about the sources available for researching reformatory and industrial schools

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@OU_Williams @northernhistory @ourcriminalpast @DrewDGray @WelshRaffles @earlypolicing We'd confirm - seems to be wearing an indoor tailcoat and unlikely for a Runner to be armed with a sword in this scenario. @blackpoppies14 has researched the earliest known Met mixed-race officer, Robert Branford, with us 1838-1866:
https://twitter.com/Southwark_News/status/1263560495598129153

@earlypolicing @OU_Williams @northernhistory @ourcriminalpast @DrewDGray @MPSHeritage @WelshRaffles @BritPoliceHist @colpolicemuseum Thomas Latham is noted here. However dates do not coincide.

https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/article/section/bhm-firsts/john-kent-britains-first-black-policeman/

@northernhistory @ourcriminalpast @DrewDGray @MPSHeritage @WelshRaffles @earlypolicing I don't think he's drawn in there as a Runner -- he's getting up from his chair. So it looks like PC Kent of Carlisle Police remains the earliest confirmed (1830s) black constable. There could well be others out there though.

I'm spending today back in the murder files, reading through trial depositions and looking for evidence of detective practice and early CSI techniques. Great to have finally got round to sorting out the data from my last archival visit! I shall report back…😀🔎 #detectives #PhD

The 1810 Bastards Act placed the responsibility for the maintenance of an illegitimate child on the putative father rather than the Parish. Mary Bilham of Carbrooke, Norfolk named Stephen Beeks as the father of her child. Her daughter was baptised in January 1812. #101Documents

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@victoriansleuth @ourcriminalpast Shouldn't be too difficult to knock up some stocks from a few wooden pallets and some scrap timber, attach some wheels, we're mobile. 🤔😂

I have several 'criminals' in my family tree, who were convicted of theft, poaching, swearing on the highway (!), and keeping a disorderly house 😱 Have you found any criminal ancestors? #AncestryHour

@TheRothOfKhan @PlymCSecResp @CrownhillPolice @PlymASecResp @plymspecial999 @PlymPoliceBSec @PlymouthVPC @CustodyPlymouth @MPSSouthwark @MPSGreenwich @DevonHeritage @HMNBDevonport @NatMuseumRN @theboxplymouth @britainsocean @PlymouthUK2020 @oneplymouth @sarewaddington Fortunately we also have a digitised copy of his divisional ledger entry on M, where he was M341. He'd switched from carman for a haulage company (1911) to labourer by the time he joined the Met, making the transfer to No. 3 (Devonport) Division on 4 July 1917.

@TheRothOfKhan @PlymCSecResp @CrownhillPolice @PlymASecResp @plymspecial999 @PlymPoliceBSec @PlymouthVPC @CustodyPlymouth Here's his Met joining signature. An Essex-born taxi driver in 1911, he started out on M (@MPSSouthwark) & was on R (@MPSGreenwich) at his retirement with an "Excellent" conduct certificate on 12 September 1937. Riverside divisions were quite a common pre-/post-Dockyard posting.

#OnThisDay in 1940, Reserve PC Alfred Crosby was seriously injured in an air raid whilst directing people to a shelter. He died the next day. RPC Crosby was an ex-Met PC & served 25yrs at Devonport Docks. He was the first policeman in Plymouth to die as a result of enemy action.