Mugshots show Victorian crooks in prison on Christmas Day 1872

The crooks of Christmas past! Remarkable mugshots reveal the Victorian criminals jailed for Yuletide after stealing festive food and warm clothes 146 years ago

A fascinating album of mugshots reveal the criminals locked up in a Victorian London jail on Christmas Day 146 years ago.

The black and white pictures were taken at Wandsworth Prison in south London in December 1872 before the defendants were put behind bars and condemned to spend Yuletide in a cell.  

From child criminals to fully-fledged crooks, many of them were jailed for stealing food to see through the festive season or clothes to keep them warm.

One unfortunate woman was arrested for stealing an umbrella to keep herself dry during the wettest winter on record. 

The youngest person banged up on December 25 that year was 16 and the oldest 69. Mugshots had only just become a regular police practice after the invention of the camera in 1840. 


The crooks of Christmas past! These black and white pictures were taken at Wandsworth Prison in south London in December 1872 before the defendants were put behind bars and condemned to spend Christmas Day in a cell. Mary Sowerby, 69 (left) was convicted of stealing a sheet on 21st December, 1872. She was given one months hard labour at Wandsworth. Baby-faced John Hanks, 16, (right) was convicted of stealing a woolen shirt to keep warm on 19th December, 1872. He was handed a 14-day sentence leaving him locked up for the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ 


Caroline Lightfoot, 51 (left) was convicted of stealing a drinking glass on 4th December 1872. She got two months for her crimes and was banged up through Christmas and the New Year. Henry Marsh, 18 (right) was convicted of stealing a coat to keep himself warm and dry on 23rd December, 1872. His sentence was six weeks at Wandsworth, south London 


John Williams, 60 (left) was convicted of stealing a saw worth five shillings on Christmas Eve, 1872. Robert Graham (right) was just 16 when he was found guilty of stealing 11 pairs of stockings. He was handed his sentence on New Year’s Eve, leaving him in jail for two months 


James Ealing, 17 (left) was convicted of stealing a tin can and a half pint of milk to provide for his starving family on Christmas Eve, 1872, while Julia Killey, 30, got her 21-day sentence for stealing two pounds of bacon to feed her family on Christmas Eve


Ellen Smith, 52 (pictured left) was convicted of stealing an umbrella on 17th December, 1872. Winter that year was the wettest on record for England and Wales. She was given 10 days hard labour for her crime. John Sullivan, 17, (right) stole a coat and lump of coal to keep him and his family warm on 16th December 


George Buzzing, 17 (left) was convicted of stealing a woolen shirt to keep out the cold on 19th December, 1872. He had to do 14 days hard labour over the Christmas period. Harriet Gasney, 43, (right) stole one pound of bacon on 11th December, she had to do 21 days behind bars 


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Eliza Smith, 16 (left) was among the youngest in prison in south London on Christmas Day 1872. She was convicted of stealing three sacks on the 4th December, 1872 and was given one months hard labour. Catherine Flynn, 63 (right) was convicted of stealing six shillings from someone, to buy Christmas presents for her family, on 9th December, 1872


Mary Baxter, 22 (left) was convicted of stealing a tablecloth on 13th December, 1872 which got her 14 days at Wandsworth.  Rhoda Leaf, 30 (right) was convicted of stealing a shirt from her master on 2nd December, 1872 and had to do six weeks at Her Majesty’s Pleasure


John Powers, 15 (left) was convicted of stealing fabric on the 10th December, 1872. It is not known what he was going to use it for. He was handed a month’s hard labour by the judge.  Rose Flowers, 44 (right) was convicted of stealing a shirt worth two shillings six pence on 16th December, 1872 and spent Christmas Day in jail


William Ashley, 27 (left) had an unusual crime. He was convicted of stealing a rabbit on 2nd December, 1872.  Thomas Mackett, 24, (right) was convicted of his crime – stealing nine pounds of beef – on Christmas Eve, 1872.  He spent the next month behind bars at Wandsworth


William Ethrington, 19 (left) was convicted of stealing an axe and other tools on 21st December, 1872 and was condemned to spend six weeks doing hard labour at Wandsworth. Harry Williams, 42 (right) was convicted of stealing lumps of coal on 26th December, 1872. He was given 14 days hard labour, leaving him locked up on Boxing Day


Daniel Kelly (left) was among the youngest banged up on Christmas Day 146 years ago.The 16-year-old was convicted of stealing half a cut of iron on 23rd December. Another teenager, Sidney Lowman, 17 (right) was convicted of stealing a can and half a pint of milk on 27th December, 1872


John Kitchenside, 20 (left) was convicted of stealing oats worth three shillings on 23rd December, 1872. He was handed six weeks in prison by a judge. Edwin Lumer, 18, was found guilty of stealing an axe and other tools on 21st December, 1872. He was given a six week prison sentence


Baby-faced Robert Henry Jarmain, 16 (left) was convicted of stealing three and a half sovereigns on the 12th December, 1872. Another teenager, Edward Poller, 17, was found guilty of stealing a tame pigeon on 7th December, 1872. His bizarre crime landed him a one month prison sentence 

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