By Professor Helen Johnston and Dr Jo Turner

The Victorian period has often been depicted as one where people with disabilities were viewed as a burden to their families and their communities, and social policies aimed at helping these individuals were virtually nonexistent.

In fact, a fundamental response to people with either physical or cognitive impairments was to either ignore them or lock them up in asylums or workhouses.

But many people with disabilities were incarcerated in the convict prison system during this period. So what was prison like for these individuals? And how did the authorities respond to and deal with members from these often marginalised groups?

Using case studies of prisoners with physical disabilities, Prof Helen Johnston and Dr Jo Turner try to uncover the hidden experiences of a life of penal servitude, providing a glimpse of what is was like to be both disabled and a convict during the nineteenth century.

The article is published in the Prison Service Journal.


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1808 Mary Holmes was detained in Ripon House of Correction, tried & 'found to be a rogue & vagabond.' She was taken to Kirby Hill vagrant depot to be sent back her 'place of legal settlement.' @Police_Gazette @BD1policemuseum @BritPoliceHist @ourcriminalpast @RiponTogether

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In 1871 Ripon #Yorkshire magistrates appointed 'Annie Ada Smyth as schoolmistress at the House of Correction, at a salary of £1 per quarter.
' 3 years later they advetised for a male warder. @Police_Gazette @BD1policemuseum @BritPoliceHist @ourcriminalpast @RiponTogether

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@nidderdaleuk @Pateley_Bridge @ourcriminalpast J. Keighley Snowden, one time 'Keighley News' journalist, wrote two books about Jack Sinkler, Nidderdale Poacher. 'King Jack' 1914, 'Jack The Outlaw' 1926. Snowden talked to Sinkler over three years to get his story. @nidderdaleuk @Pateley_Bridge @ourcriminalpast @KeighleyLHS

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A selection of menus for children taken from a leaflet entitled 'The feeding of children from one to five years' which was published by the Ministry of Health in March 1942. From the National Union of Railwaymen archive. https://cdm21047.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/health/id/1506/rec/15 #historyoffood #historyofhealth

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The Examination Letter for John Shore, who eventually worked on the 1888 Whitechapel Murder Case (aka Jack the Ripper) as an Inspector, before retiring as Supt from Scotland Yard in 1896 becoming Pinkerton Agent for London. His descendant is a resident of Leicestershire.

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