Criminal Lives

Stories from the prison archives

As the Dartmoor Prison Museum opens its doors again, we present three stories from its archives, revealing some of the interesting characters who passed through the doors of this famous prison.

Find out more

Thorborg Ireland: Arson with intent to defraud insurance

In 1866, Thorborg Ireland, a Norwegian widow and mother of four, was charged with arson after setting fire to her house. Personal circumstances may have driven her to commit what was deemed to have been a case of insurance fraud.

Find out more
Prison cell doors

Thomas Sweeting: Ripon Borough’s first policeman

In 1836, Ripon Borough set up a watch committee and recruited Thomas Sweeting, a local tailor, as its first policeman. He received £30 per annum and a uniform. But his tenure was not without incident or controversy.

Find out more

The story of Ursula Lofthouse

Using contemporary press reports, this is the story of Ursula Lofthouse who was found guilty of poisoning her husband and became the last woman to be publicly executed in York.

Find out more

The life of Gerald Brazill: musician, soldier, bigamist

He was a gifted musician and fought in the First World War. But Gerald Brazill had a family secret.

Find out more
rain falling on water

The Story of Esther Dyson

The tragic tale of a young woman from Sheffield who was sent to a lunatic asylum after murdering her newborn baby.

Find out more
inside a dark cell

Criminals in the asylum – part 2

In the second part of our ‘Criminals in the asylum’ feature, we take a look at three more offenders who found themselves serving time in the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in the 19th century.

Find out more
orange flames

A burning injustice? Criminality in the age of respectability

Read about 17-year-old servant girl Edith Jennings, whose background and family connections appear to have helped her escape the long prison sentence she received for arson.

Find out more
inside a dark cell

Criminals in the asylum

Read about those 19th century criminals who found themselves serving time in a lunatic asylum.

Find out more
image of arthur lockey

Arthur Lockey

The Hull businessman who got into trouble with the law in a perfect example of a 20th century white-collar crime.

Find out more
image of ethel major

Ethel Major

The life of Ethel Major, who was convicted of poisoning and executed at Hull Prison in 1934.

Find out more

Latest Updates on Twitter

Another moment in #maritime #history the #SpurnLightship leaves #Hull #Marina after 34 years and heads down the River Humber ⁦ahead of her preservation work and onward journey @HullMaritime
see more @yorkshirepost https://tinyurl.com/h4fyh2x2
@DunstonShipLtd
#HullYMC @HeritageFundNOR

4

Celebrating the Centenary of the Howard League for Penal Reform & the Howard Journal: Vol 60, No S1 open access articles from ⁦@sysgak⁩ @ourcriminalpast⁩ ⁦@HistorianCrime⁩ ⁦@ashleytrubin⁩ & many others! ⁦@howard_journal⁩ ⁦ https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/20591101/current

This Thursday we celebrate 100 years of the Howard Journal. A host of fantastic experts will join us to discuss long-standing and contemporary issues in crime & justice, including @sysgak @mdhanuka17 @jonbcollins @ashleytrubin @ourcriminalpast Register at: https://howardleague.org/events/100-years-of-the-howard-journal-lessons-for-contemporary-penal-policy/

So excited to see a sneak preview of @RachelDixonGood's excellent book "Infanticide: Expert Evidence and Testimony in Child Murder Cases, 1688-1955" is already available before it is published next month!! 🤩🥳 Check it out here:
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=vcBEEAAAQBAJ&newbks=0&printsec=frontcover&pg=PP5&dq=Rachel+Dixon+infanticide&hl=en&source=newbks_fb&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Rachel%20Dixon%20infanticide&f=false

This photograph from our collection was taken from what is now our car park and shows the restoration of bottle oven No 4 in 1978.
#PhotoFriday
#Stokeontrent #bottleovens #ceramics #pottery #industrtialheritage

Based on her excellent PhD @lawhulluni (supervised by @ourcriminalpast), this provides an invaluable long duree analysis of how expert witness testimony was variously shaped, accepted and denigrated in infanticide cases heard in London and Hull between the late 17th & mid-20th C

Early boys from the black stuff, roadmaking in Liverpool 1890.
Literally, a load of cobblers today
https://liverpoolmiscellany.blogspot.com/2021/09/boys-from-black-stuff.html

2

(Left) Major John James Grieg, Head Constable of Liverpool from 1852-1881. (Right) Liverpool's Main Bridewell on Cheapside. Major Grieg would visit here on Sunday afternoons to loudly reprimand drunk and disorderly prisoners in the manner of the parade ground. @ourcriminalpast

2