CRIMINAL LIVES

Stories from the archives

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

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

2

@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.

So, why produce this table of costs for public display? The clue is in the date. It's a consequence of the Rebecca Riots in Wales. One of the grievances aired therein was the excessive costs of justice.
Sorry if I already twote this: I'm starting to lose track!

Would you like to know more about the lives of these women and the stories I have told through textiles? Come along to my online talk on 24th July. https://ruthsingerstudio.bigcartel.com/product/criminal-quilts-talk

Original images from collections @ArchandHeritage #staffordshire #staffs #archivesathome

4

Found police constable in your family history? Where next? Tracing your police ancestors - Our Criminal Ancestors https://ourcriminalancestors.org/police-ancestors/

Found an ancestor transported to Australia? Want to learn more? Source guide for tracing your transported convict ancestor(s) - Our Criminal Ancestors https://ourcriminalancestors.org/source-guide-for-tracing-your-transported-convict-ancestorss/