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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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inside a dark cell

Criminals in the asylum

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

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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.

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image of ethel major

Ethel Major

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

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Latest Updates on Twitter

@demon_drink @ourcriminalpast In 1891 Harry Dainton was convicted of drowning Hannah, his wife, in the River Avon. Hannah liked a drink &, whilst Harry was no saint, after finding her again in the pub it looked like he simply lost it. Leaving behind 6 children, one of whom was blind & died in the Workhouse.

At the start of the new year, why not brush up on your family history courses with an online course? We take a look at the latest courses available now, covering family history software, printed sources in family history and more

https://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com/feature/the-best-genealogy-courses-available-now/

COMING SOON: Explore the county's historical connection to the many diseases & epidemics that have affected Hertfordshire since the 1300s in our new online talk FEVER
To book tickets: https://bit.ly/32Z0P6y

Did you miss our panel discussion on the 1921 Census earlier this week? Don't worry you can still join the conference, watch a recording of this week's session and join us live on 13 and 20 January. Find out more and get your conference bundle ticket here: https://www.family-tree.co.uk/how-to-guides/1921-census/celebratory-1921-census-conference/

#Census1921 📜🖋 When was the 1921 census taken? Where can you find the records? And what do they show you? @wdytyamagazine explores the latest family history resource 👉 https://buff.ly/3eTD6as

More women were employed in personal service than in any other sector in #1921Census . Find out more with @SocGenealogists best seller book My Ancestor was in Service

https://societyofgenealogists-shop.myshopify.com/products/my-ancestor-was-in-service

It's a #NewYear and a new theme for our collaboration with @MPSHeritage! We’re bringing some cheer to the start of the year by focusing on the pets, animals, and mascots that have been an important part of station life for firefighters since Victorian times #LBLMAanimals

Today's #DryJanuary #temperance image is from a radical journal 'The Progressionist' in 1852, showing a path of alcohol addiction; the pawnbroker, the pub, and then a choice between the workhouse and prison - melodramatic, yes, but it reflected many real-life stories.

At Saltburn 'the bathing machines, wooden ones with high wheels and steps leading up to them stand yet in a long row near the Ship Inn with their wheels deeply embedded in the soft sand.' 'Yorkshire Tour' by Pontefract and Hartley (1939)