A Rogues Gallery of Lady Criminals from the 1870s

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Long before there were faces of meth and Lindsay Lohan DUIs, there were plenty of regular troublemakers stealing things and getting busted. These mugshots from the Newcastle City Gaol and House of Correction in England, which were taken between 1871 and 1873, offer a fascinating look into the life of ordinary women criminals. They look like they had hard lives and plenty to contend with—and some of them still possess the power to send a chill down your spine 130-something years later.

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Images are from the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Flickr set via Dangerous Minds

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Ann Kirk, 35, Charwoman
Ann Kirk was caught thieving money from people on several occasions, but this time in 1873, Ann was sentenced to 3 months in Newcastle City Gaol.

Illustration for article titled A Rogues Gallery of Lady Criminals from the 1870s

Alice Mullholland, 18
Alice Mullholland was a hawker from Newcastle and was sentenced to 3 months in Newcastle City Gaol after being convicted of stealing some boots.

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Isabella Smith, 60, Charwoman
Isabella Smith was sentenced to 6 weeks at Newcastle City Gaol for stealing poultry.

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Catherine Cain King, 23, Prostitute
Catherine Cain King was convicted of stealing a pocket watch, she had previously served 7 days for drunken conduct, on this occasion she served 3 months with hard labour.

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Agnes Stewart, 28
Agnes Stewart was a married lady from Edinburgh and was convicted of the crime - theft of money.

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Rosanna Watson, 13
Along with Mary Catherine Docherty, Ellen Woodman and Mary Hinnigan, Rosanna Watson was sentenced to 7 days hard labour after being caught stealing iron.

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Elizabeth Rule, 54, Charwoman
Elizabeth Rule (AKA Elizabeth Smith, Elizabeth Brown) was convicted of stealing clothing and bed linen 5 times between 1867 and 1872. For these convictions she served a total of 11 months 14 days.

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Catherine Flynn, 34
Catherine Flynn was sentenced to 6 months at Newcastle City Gaol for the conviction of the crime - stealing money from person.

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Mary Patterson, 25
Mary Patterson was sentenced to 6 weeks in 1873 for theft of poultry.

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Ann Burns, 18
After stealing a waistcoat Ann Burns was sentenced to 1 month imprisonment.

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Sarah Cassidy, 27, Prostitute
Sarah Cassidy was convicted of stealing money and served 2 months with hard labour. In the previous two years she had been convicted 6 times for breaking by laws and had already served 42 days in prison.

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DISCUSSION

julebsorry-old
jule_b_sorry

It genuinely bothers me to see women prosecuted for crimes pre-suffrage. The laws of the country certainly applied to them, even though they had no way to affect any unjust laws. They paid taxes too - "taxation without representation" was the norm for women long after the Revolutionary War. I think many of these women might echo the words of Sojourner Truth -

"That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman?"

These women were denied rights b/c they were "too delicate - women should be cared for". But as this social contract was pretty much BS for any non-wealthy woman, they did what they had to do to survive. I'm so grateful that I'm at least empowered to vote for my best interests in this day and age.