These days, it’s easy to shake your head whenever you see kids getting into trouble. It can seem like social media, smartphones, and other forms of modern technology make it easier than ever for them to do silly things (and promptly share it with the world).
Still, young people getting into a bit of mischief is certainly not a modern phenomenon. For as long as there have been humans, you can bet that there have been kids getting in trouble for doing something they weren’t supposed to do.
Sure, some of these capers were small and petty—while others were outright crimes. Here are 16 mugshots taken of naughty children during the Victorian age that might impress even the most mischievous of modern times.
1. She might look innocent, but little Ellen Woodman (age 11) was sentenced to seven days of hard labor for stealing iron. Turns out she was also the mastermind behind a much bigger plan. With her shawl and sweet face, who knew such a lovely lady could be a mini crook?
2. Jane Farrell (age 12) was arrested for stealing two pairs of boots. She had to serve 10 days of hard labor. What exactly is “hard labor” for a 12-year-old? It’s hard to imagine a chain-gang of babies all tasked with splitting rocks and the like.
3. Henry Leonard Stephenson (age 12) might look quite dapper in his little blazer, but this scoundrel served three months in prison when he was caught in a string of house break-ins! Forget cat burglars; tween burglars are where it’s at.
4. Rosanna Watson (age 13) was also sentenced to seven days of hard labor for stealing iron. Petty crimes like this one were commonly performed by children since they were less likely to get caught. Sadly, that was not the case for Miss Watson.
5. Mary Hinnigan (age 13) was Rosanna Watson’s accomplice in the great iron-stealing caper. She, too, was sentenced to seven days hard labor. Don’t let her coy pose fool you, though; Mary was one tough teen. You wouldn’t want to share a cell with her!
6. James Scullion (age 13) was sentenced to 14 days hard labor at Newcastle City Gaol for stealing clothes. After he was released, he was sent on to a reform school for three years. He probably loved it. After all, there are lots of great clothes to nick in reform school!
7. Michael Clement Fisher (age 13) was sentenced to three months in prison for breaking into houses. Can you believe they caught him? It’s surprising the homeowners didn’t mistake him for the world’s most adorable butler.
8. Stephen Monaghan (age 14) was convicted of stealing money on July 25, 1873. He was sentenced to 10 days of hard labor plus three years in Market Weighton Reformatory. How much money did this baby-faced burglar get during his heist? Better yet: what did he plan to spend it on?
9. Henry Miller (age 14) was arrested for stealing clothing and he was sentenced to 14 days hard labor. From the looks of it, they did not pat Henry down before taking this photo, because it looks like he might still be wearing a couple of layers of stolen threads!
10. Mary Catherine Docherty (age 14) clearly didn’t get the memo about stealing iron. Like many of the ladies before her, she was promptly caught and sentenced to seven days of hard labor. Sadly for Mary, the punishment for iron thieves was a precedent set long before her time.
11. John Reed (age 15) was older than some of the other amateur thieves on this list and, as a result, he paid a more severe price for his crimes. John served 14 days of hard labor and five years reformation for stealing money in 1873.
12. Edward Fenn (age 15) also paid a harsher price than some of his younger counterparts. After he was caught stealing clothes, Fenn was sentenced to a hard labor prison for three months. Couldn’t they see the holes in his sweater? Clearly he needed the duds he took!
13. Robert Charlton (age 16) was jailed for three months for stealing two pairs of boots. One pair of boots is a perfectly acceptable haul; it was probably the second pair that did him in. Charlton got too big for his britches and it was clearly his undoing!
14. John Duffy (age 16) was a known mugger on the streets of London. He was eventually caught and charged with assault and theft. Yet he spent just six months in prison. We wonder how he managed to get off so easily compared to some of the others?
15. James Donneley (age 16) had an alias before his 18th birthday! He also went by the name of James Darley. Donneley had already been in and out of prison at this point; this particular mug shot was taken after he was sentenced to two months for stealing some shirts.
16. George Lamb (age 17) was sentenced to four months in prison when he was caught stealing money from the pocket of a stranger. Sure, his last name is Lamb, but there’s nothing sweet and innocent about this teen thief.
Some grumpy grown-ups might think that all kids today are bad eggs, but these photographs go a long way in proving that they were getting up to trouble for a long, long time. Still, it’s so cool that these mug shots exist.
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