Tag Archives: house of correction

A House in the Country

One of the magistrates at the court in Wandsworth, George Clive, observed a worrying trend in the cases brought before him during the mid-1840s.  Numerous people, it seemed, were committing offences in the Surrey workhouses with the express intent of … Continue reading

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Bad Children, Bad Parents

Children are expensive; in the early Victorian period parents would go to extreme measures to get them off their hands. In May 1836 John Mitchell brought his 14 year old stepson, Frederick Payne, before the Surrey magistrates, alleging the boy … Continue reading

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Whipping Boys

Jack Page was around 12 or 13 years old when, in 1824, he was charged with stealing a rope of onions from a stall on Borough Market.  He was a too familiar face to the court.  The magistrate lamented that … Continue reading

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Oil, Soap, Coals and Beef

The magistrates of Surrey – the men in charge of the house of correction at Brixton – were extremely careful about how the county’s money was spent.  Most of the supplies to the prison were put out to public tender.  … Continue reading

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Black Tom

Prison is no place for the paranoid; solitude and time have conspired against many a jealous husband or wife. Tom Smithers had good reason to be suspicious.  In 1824 he had been apprehended on one of the night searches of … Continue reading

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A Mother on the Treadmill – the Case of Elizabeth Loder

Nothing quite polarised debate in the 1820s like the newly devised treadmill.  From the public house to parliament those who decried its inhumanity locked horns with those who believed it a magic bullet for an apparent increase in crime.  One … Continue reading

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Engine of Terror – How Brixton Made the Treadmill Famous

And we’re all treading, tread, tread, treading, And we’re all treading at fam’d Brixton Mill. (Nineteenth century street ballad) In 1822 the Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline – the most influential lobbyist for penal reform of the time … Continue reading

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