The Emergence of the “Juvenile Delinquent” in Nineteenth Century Britain: Crime, Culture, Colonisation and Transportation.
Student: Sarah J Gibson
Student No: 20016457
Tutor: Heather Shore
It is precisely its ‘spontaneous’ quality, its transparency, its ‘naturalness’, its refusal to be made to examine the premises on which it is founded, its resistance to change or correction, its effect of instant recognition, and the closed circle in which it moves which makes common sense, at one and the same time, ‘spontaneous’, ideological and unconscious. You cannot learn, through common sense, how things are: you can only discover where they fit into the existing scheme of things. In this way, its very taken-for-grantedness is what establishes it as a medium in which its own premises and presuppositions are being rendered invisible by its apparent transparency. (Hall, 1977)1
The urbanisation of societies is a worldwide process, to which the last century has seen the majority of communities evolving towards. Prior to 1800 no society could be described as predominantly urbanised. By 1900 only one, Great Britain, with London being the first city to undergo the rapid process of increased urbanisation, with no previous history of the procedure to learn from.2 This rapid growth of cities had the effect of solving the problem of the expanding rural population; the growth of the cities enabled the consolidation of agricultural holdings and allowed for increased capitalism by providing a work force.3 The political, economic and social elements of this urbanisation process have been extensively studied, with the plebeian population being examined as a work force or ‘mass’ to be controlled and provided for by the authorities. Previously historians have credited industrialisation with being the force behind this urbanisation process, and credited the social problems of these growing cities to poverty and social dislocation. They have disregarded the argument that; urbanisation also consists of the fluid, shifting cultural movements that result from the fusion of communities each with their own behavioural and ideological patterns, society norms and cultural beliefs. That has been, and is, the driving force behind much of the motivation and innovation of those with power. Without unaccustomed interaction between different cultures, whether those differences are ethnic, class or gender, society remains static and virtually unchanging; progress and innovation or major changes are dependent on the main areas of interaction and a psychological state firmly established in earlier forms of social consciousness in both cultures.
Prior to the eighteenth century Britain had seen relatively small progressive advances linked to the interaction with foreign lands, such as influences of foreign Aristocratic culture, innovation in shipbuilding and the mechanics of war and expansion of commerce linked to foreign trade. Yet the interaction of rural and city society has not been investigated as the medium of compulsion behind the innovation of British nineteenth century urban development and social problems. Modern authorities of urbanising societies have the discourse, psychology and ideology of popular culture to help define their cultural policies. The intellectuals of this period had no conscious concept of the psychological effect of cultural difference and cultural amalgamation, plus they had ineffectual developed discourse to record and study this process. Still, the cultural problems of urbanising London were eventually controlled and eased along with the social and economic problems; they are just hidden in the deficiency of nineteenth century discourse. Therefore the study of the cultural effect that the rural population had on London’s culture, is an area that is largely hidden in history. As this area of history has been inefficiently studied from a social viewpoint, which fails to explain this historical phenomenon, some material from the discipline of psychology will have to be included in this study.
Crime, in the form of petty theft, was a large part of early nineteenth century city culture, with urbanisation rather than industrialisation being the key to that rise in crime. Between 1790 and 1820 the cities of London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol saw a clear and substantial rise in indicted crime. Out of six urban areas that were identified as experiencing large increases in adult and juvenile prosecutions, three were undergoing rapid regional transformations associated with industrialisation and three were not, showing that increased crime was linked to urban growth rather then industrial growth.4 The aim of this study is to find evidence to evaluate the social and cultural factors contributing to that rise in crime. The expansion of the social sciences since the 1960’s has accessed a way of studying history, from a social and cultural perspective. These social historians have studied crime in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Subsequently an analysis of the pattern of criminal behaviour, penal policy and policing can be constructed to show a ‘history from below’.5 This study will concentrate on the patterns of crime correlating to local and world wide social movements, applying the concept, that during the nineteenth century the urbanising cities were steadily being colonised by rural culture and society at its lowest level in the hierarchy of British culture. First a portrait of the cultural norms and similarities will be created, then a three point model will be constructed to show the cultural clash in the late eighteenth century, which resulted in chaos for the early nineteenth century, which was only addressed during the Victorian era. This concept can be applied to other areas of the cultural, social, political and economic activities apart from crime, however as the crime statistics of London and its surrounding area hold the best records of ‘popular culture’ movements during these periods, they give the most accurate information to endorse the theory.
The psychological effects of the changing behaviour of the coloniser and the colonised, has been a current debate for cultural and colonial historians since the work of Albert Memmi and Jean-Paul Sartre6 in the sixties. Theirs and other studies show patterns of behaviour elevating for colonialism. Changing behaviour patterns of the immigrants and their children as they adjust to the colony cultures, and changing behaviour patterns of the colonised and their children as they adjust to the invading culture. Their studies show of the antagonism between the coloniser and the colonised, and the effect of that antagonism resulting in acceptance, fighting or escape. Their studies concentrate on the global colonisation of the world by European colonists, however no historian has explored the effect of London society being colonised by rural culture and their ideals in the process of urbanisation. ‘Colonisation’ as a discourse term will be used in this study to illustrate the migratory movement of common rural society and the cultural effect that movement had in the cities, specifically London. Namely that the movement of the people towards the city shows patterns of colonial behaviour, first in the social and cultural levels, then elevating to the political and economic level.
In the eighteenth century London population rates tripled, a rise that continued throughout the nineteenth century, with most of that rise being credited to internal migration.7 Thorsten Sellin states in his section on the ‘conflicting norms of culture’, in Leon Radzinowicz’s The Criminal in Society:8 ‘We may expect conflicts of norms when the rural dweller moves to the city, but we assume that he absorbed the basic norms of the culture that comprises both city and country’.9 Maybe, to a certain extent with today’s mass communication, however to the rural dweller of the eighteenth century, the idea of city cultural norms would have been constructed out of age-old traditional horror stories aimed at keeping the community together. Contact between the two ‘lower levels’ of the cultures would have mainly been obtained though information from newspapers; work related contact, markets, prostitution and the entertainment sector, and tales from travellers. These areas of contact and interaction, as cultural philosophy sources, will be analysed to gain a profile of the kind of ideological view the rural dwellers would have had of the cities and their inhabitants, and vice versa, especially those that belonged to the lower level of social class. Because we have to keep in mind that this colonisation of the cities was coming from the bottom, these cultural movements were ‘undesirable’, however on a mass scale. The crudities of colonisation are principally expressed in the psychological state of the societies involved, being an natural process released by external forces consisting of two main features: First, it includes codes, which both societies can share. The main function of these codes are to unconsciously alter certain features of the original cultural priorities on both sides to fit together with one or the other placing themselves in either a subordinate or dominant position, alternating as events accrue, such as endorsement from the authorities: Second, the culture of colonialism presumes a particular style of managing conflict. The ‘colonial’ system perpetuates itself by inducing the colonised, through socio-economic and psychological rewards, to accept new social norms and cognitive categories. The obvious cultural incentives and disincentives are invariably noticed and challenged; they become the overt indicators of oppression and dominance. Yet unconscious and almost always ignored are the inner rewards and punishments, the secondary psychological gains and losses from suffering and submission under colonialism.10
As this study is concentrating on petty theft as a cultural movement originating from the rural and city cultural amalgamation, the discourse term ‘popular culture’ will be used to define the criminal cultural movement. There is no simple historical evolution of popular culture from one period to another, breaks and patterns between settled periods need to be identified as turning points.11 The introduction of transportation to Australia in 1787 can be seen as one of these turning points, the authorities great reward for crime being introduced with perfect timing. Information made available by the research of Stephen Nicholas in Convict Workers12 on the ‘criminals’ that were picked for transportation, the skills they possessed and the popular opinion of transportation amongst the criminals, will be analysed in correlation to those that were being indicted for crime. Nicholas’s research shows that the main credentials of criminals transported were related to age, health and work skills, with the need for the convicts to become a productive workforce in the colonisation of Australia. This study is arguing that transportation was to the common man with his skills and limitations a reward for crime, especially in the early period. The prevailing social climate made it so, and the introduction produced a cultural movement that forced the levels of crime up. The research results of Pete King13 in ‘Youth, Crime and the Rise of Juvenile Delinquency 1780 1850’ and ‘The Growth of Juvenile Prosecutions in London and South-eastern England 1780-1830’, on crime rates, age, and origins of the people that were being indicted for crimes in and around London at this time show a pattern that provides evidence of a cultural movement. Thus that the steady and substantial rise in indicted crime in and around the cities of this period correlates with the commencement of transportation to Australia and predeceased any major changes to the justice system out side the introduction of transportation.
This rise in indicted crime shows a substantial shift in the percentage and proportion of juveniles coming before the courts, subsequently additional faculties and methods for controlling them was increasingly demanded. The first half of the nineteenth century a period of experimentation in juvenile delinquent control saw the rapid opening and closing of institutions pacifically designed for managing the young and deviant. The state began to take action from the 1820’s onwards, making amendments to the justice system appropriate to changing attitudes towards juveniles, along side amendments and progressive moves in all areas of crime control. With each new experiment in penal reform movement, condemning and opposing the policies and practices of the last, and attempting to act and improve upon the complaints put forward. In Britain the first two main state trial runs in juvenile control concentrated on imprisonment in harsh conditions to deter criminal activity, prior to transportation, which was to remove the criminal from society. The first of these experiments being, the classification and separation of juveniles from adult criminals in the prison hulks, merely an extenuation of the existing justice system. In 1825 the frigate Euryalus at Chatham was opened, especially to house juvenile boys awaiting transportation, over the next 20 years 4,600 boys of under 14 years of age spent their sentence locked between decks for 23 hours a day.14 The second experiment was the juvenile penal institution Parkhurst; the disused Albany Barracks on the Isle of White transformed into a prison especially for juveniles in 1838. The ideology behind Parkhurst’s penal policies was a deep commitment to the principles of deterring crime in a humane but corrective and restrictive regime.15 Yet Parkhurst as a juvenile prison was to be under constant criticism, insuring that it was short lived and doomed to fail. Much of this criticism came from philanthropists, which held a well-developed position in the dominion of juvenile reform. The 1850’s saw the development of the Reform Schools, and state legislation concerning juvenile delinquency that was to become the framework for today’s juvenile judicial system. Tifield Reform School will be looked at as a case study to examine the changes in state and public attitudes towards non-conforming children and their position in the new urban societies.
Elements of culture
In each fifty-year period from 1701-1901 the urban population increased at more than twice the rate of the population as a whole, with especially strong spurts in the first half of each century. The scale of urban expansion between 1700 and 1750 increased from 970,000 to 1,380,900 and then accelerated by 40%, two and a half times the pace of population increase between 1801 and 1851. By 1901 it had reached 25,000,000 with this increase taking place in a period of only modest increase in the population as a whole, roughly from 5 million to 6 million.16 This urban increase has been largely credited by F. M. L. Thompson in ‘Town and City’17 to immigration from the rural districts and accruing before any of the technical and organisational changes to the manufacturing industry. Throughout the eighteenth century London was the only town with a population over 100,000, by 1820 it had been joined by Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, by 1851 Bradford, Bristol, Leeds and Sheffield had reached this population size.18 The debate on the threat to morality and public order in the growing cities was already well established by the beginning of the eighteenth century. The attention of contemporaries’ was drawn towards London and its apparent power to influence the nation, not only through government, but though opinion, fashion and taste. Arguments about the bastion of civilisation against barbarism, the cradle of enlightenment, refinement, were opposed by the counter-images of taste, such as the sink of iniquity, the bottomless pit of corruption, and the unruly mass of ungovernable people.19 Yet their conception of fashion and taste obliterated the taste of the lower classes, whose predisposition for London’s complexity of culture would come through different channels. The mass of the urban growth was composed from immigration of the lower classes of rural plebeian, the city culture they had a chance of sharing had little in comparison with the taste and fashion of the contemporaries. The lower strands of city culture consisted of Ale houses, Taverns, fairs, markets, prostitution, dirt, crime etc. and the ‘colonial battle’ for self-esteem is evident in the nineteenth century city society in the expansion of these social elements resulting from the antagonism between the two cultures.
The colonisation of the cities by rural culture has been an invisible process in historical documentation because we have been too quick to give the single label of British to all the natives of this land. Although one race, pre-eighteenth century Britain consisted of two very distinct cultures, rural and city. Yet it is the very ‘invisibleness’, and ‘successfulness’ of this historical cultural movement and amalgamation that makes it such an important area for further study. Antagonism between the classes has been studied and dissected thoroughly, however antagonism between these two cultures is still neglected to a large extent. This antagonism only becomes relevant from the eighteenth century onwards because of the mass movement towards the cities and the consequent of the culture clash.
For centuries the people that had moved to the city had been driven out of the community because of immoral behaviour, to the rural dweller the city was a place of sin and vice. Traditional cohesive methods of keeping the community together had to change to sanction migration, by changing the codes of their own culture to match that of their perception the city culture they could join. The immigrant does not just move, he forms a perception of the place he is moving towards from the information he has received of this place, and prepares himself to be able to function within it. Because of this cultural amalgamations ideologically exaggerate, and concentrate the cultural elements that are most prevalent in the contact and interaction between the cultures, forming a social consciousness in both the colonisers and colonised. This perception of the interaction, whether it is first hand or second hand, is placed within an already presupposed ideological view by the conditioning of the society lived in. In the case of the eighteenth century rural societies this social contact between the cultures came mainly through, newspapers reporting on crime, intensifying crime in both cultures; work related contact, occupations that contained a high element of contact; markets, expanding commerce and intensifying petty theft; prostitution and the entertainment sector, always the great interaction between cultures; travellers, inns and alehouses which were as numerous in the country as they were in the cities20 all travelling involved stopping at such ‘watering holes’ and tales told would all contribute to the biased ideological view of both cultures; and of course religion, the oldest contact between city and country, with religion being the medium to enforce political policy to the rural community.21 This pinpoints some of the main areas that saw cultural mayhem, expansion, proliferation and innovation in London and other British cities during the nineteenth century. Of course there are many other social and cultural elements that had an effect upon society at this time, such as the influences of Empire, although as not relevant to this investigation, will have to be omitted.
Newspapers in the eighteenth century had a capacity to shape events, as well as reflect social realities, Pete King in ‘Newspaper reporting, prosecution practice and the perceptions of urban crime: the Colchester crime wave of 1765’ has pointed out that newspaper coverage supplied the main information about these types of activities such information is almost always received second-hand. He states; ‘since most individuals rarely have any personal experience of crime or riot, news coverage of these events will often be the main element that shapes their perception of the prevalence and nature of crime or disorder in their locality.’22 Even more relevant when assessing the lack of ‘distinction’ within the perception of rural crime in the cities, and the real level of city crime to the rural dweller, is the idea that newspaper reporting could influence individuals in crimes and stimulate imitative forms of behaviour.23 Kings’ analysis finds that despite changes to the media, concepts of modern newspaper induced crime waves can be applied to the eighteenth century. His study provides evidence that major reportage of crime increased the percentage of indictments for theft in Essex and Staffordshire, and that amplified reportage of crime in post war years could raise anxiety levels, persuading victims and magistrates to act less leniently towards offenders.24 This study is not providing evidence of who by, and how much, newspapers were read in the eighteenth century, although it was reported at the time by Cesar de Saussure that he had often witnessed shoebacks and other people of that class club together to purchase a farthing paper in the coffee-house as part of their habitual beginning to the day.25 With out further study as to the levels of rural and city crime that was reported in papers, and pivotal in creating the crime wave, a firm conclusion cannot be made upon how much they were an influence. Nevertheless as newspapers concentrate crime they can be seen to exaggerate crime as part of both the societies cultural norms in their perception of the prevalence and nature of crime and disorder.
There are a number of occupations and professions that were common to both cultures that also involved considerable interaction, both prior to and after migration. The profession of medicine, politics and law were the only high ranking profession’s that secured this interaction, teaching, the new industries and commerce with the markets being the mid ranking professions, each achieved expansion and innovation in this period. The expansion of some skilled working class occupations with a high level of interaction such as blacksmiths, builders, carpenters, etc. are less noticeable in British history (in comparison with the scale of numbers involved) because these were the skilled crafts that were transported to Australia. By the 1841 census the proportion of transported skilled convict farm workers was almost identical to that of Britain, and yet convicts with agricultural skills were amongst the lowest numbers of working class skilled men that were transported, with the transports occupying a cross section of skills and crafts suitable to building a new colony.26 The pre-nineteenth century rural work culture of service and labour is echoed in Victorian London, with waged service rather than apprenticeship beginning to rise from the 1650s onwards. Some 20% of village population could consist of young servants living in their employer’s household, with a growing high degree of local mobility between engagements, with the vocation of female servants monopolising household domestic duties, and male servants building and farming skills. Service was a high level interactional pre-migration occupation, deep within the conscious of the public, because of the traditional annual migratory movements of the upper classes with their abundance of servants. Settlement records show until 1750 there was still a substantial number of seven year apprenticeships in a wide range of skills, however as these long term apprenticeships became less common employment engagements for servants continued for only a season or one to two years, ensuing higher mobility between positions and greater independence, with this mobility moving though need or want towards the lure of the city.27 Until the 1820s London though already a huge city, still largely consisting of small-scale industry and traditional technology, not ‘industrialising’ until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.28 Ensuring that much of this period saw an influx of specialist skills within a minimal range of experience. Northern England’s work related contact was of a more industrial nature, with long running pre-urbanisation cotton and wool industry, so does not fit into the same category as southern England.
Prior to mass urbanisation London’s market speciality revolved around the world trade, being a shopper’s paradise for luxury imported goods.29 Home produce markets belonged to the domain of the provinces, with small market towns littering every county. Many markets were held in villages with population below five hundred, confined to a few square miles of neighbouring countryside.30 The layout of market towns depended on their size. Small towns such as Thame, or West Malling consisted of one street filled with stalls to sell a whole range of goods, whereas larger towns such as Canterbury and Northampton the expansion of the market dispersed the trade though various streets devoted to particular commodities.31 The department store and the commercial growth of the Victorian period can be seen as a direct result of the cultural amalgamation along with the other areas of Victorian innovation. Also markets are an area that ideologically concentrate petty theft in the form of shop lifting and pickpocketing.
The pre-Victorian period saw prostitution already at endemic proportions in the British cities, giving rise to a vocal anti-vice lobby.32 As most of the surviving documentation on societies views of prostitution at this time come from this anti-vice perspective and a sense of outrage against venereal disease, the discourse shows a strong anti-social view of prostitution. Patrick Coquhoun wrote in 1800 on Female Prostitution:
There are still other sources to be traced, from which evils to the Community spring.
Among these the most important is, the state and condition of those unhappy females, who support themselves by Prostitution in this great Metropolis.
In contemplating their case. It is impossible to avoid dropping a tear of pity. Many of them perhaps originally seduced from a state of innocence, while they were the joy and comfort of their unhappy parents.33
This contemporary view of prostitution and similar gained ground in the Victorian period, especially in the later half as social consciousness became even further advanced before the Contagious Diseases Acts. Although he supplies no evidence for his figures Colquhoun estimated the total of prostitutes in London in 1800 as 50,000, with 10% of those coming from the middling classes and the rest from the lower classes.34 The working occupation most commonly found to be associated with women ‘falling’ into prostitution was the clothing trade. The recorded trade for fourteen women arrested for prostitution in Southwalk between 1814 and 1829 showed that nine were connected to the clothing industry. Yet whether the industry was responsible or not for attracting women to prostitution, contemporaries of the time considered it to be, such as the writer Charles Horne who in 1783 warned parents against allowing their children to become milliners, dress-makers, haberdashers and other ‘dealers in vanity’.35 This and the occupation of domestic service continued to be considered by the authorities as a common route into prostitution.
The extension of the franchise in 1832 began a time of social ferment in British politics, as the more puritan middle classes fought to exert themselves politically. Investigation and perplexity lead by these puritans intensified in the late 1830’s and continued the 1840’s. By the 1850’s the estimates of The Bishop of Exeter and Mr Talbot were placing the figures on prostitution prevalence in London at 80,000.36 By 1858 the discourse on prostitution had progressed to:
We should, however, have removed the evil from the sight of those who are disgusted and annoyed by it’s display; and, still more, we should have removed it from the sight of those who probably, had they not been tempted by the sight of those opportunities, would not have fallen into vicious ways at all.37
Throughout the 1850’s the debate on prostitution and its cure was discussed in the
Newspapers and journals, yet they concluded that, ‘we cannot import this offence as a crime into our Penal Code. It must be left almost entirely to private feelings;’ by 1862 the debate had given way to the argument about the impact of venereal disease on the military.38
Yet from the ‘colonial’ point of view on prostitution as popular culture in London, when rural society colonised the city, prostitution was an extremely visual and long established element of city culture. Although Colquhoun was reporting that; ‘Every person of the least experience must know that many of these unhappy women are obliged to continue in a state of profligacy and crime merely because they cannot obtain work to support themselves honesty,’39 prostitution was depicted in many pictures as a profitable and accepted norm. It was prevalent in other areas of pre-immigration contact and ideology, Inns, Taverns, Fairs, etc. and endorsed by the authorities, in that the upper classes were principal customers, helping to make prostitution ideologically as one of the main city occupations for women. Also the city society’s conception of rural sexuality that they would have to compete with varies somewhere between the public images of the accommodating buxom milkmaid and sexual orgies of the witch trails, pitted against the propriety of the puritans.
The entertainment sector has two main cultural effects, elevating from the high interaction levels of fairs and the cultural influence of music and entertainment as differing rural and foreign regional ‘ethnic minorities’ expanded popular culture giving rise and dominance to the city Music Hall, Football, Boxing, Gambling etc. The mingling of business with pleasure at fairs was a common phenomenon, a sort of carnival to all the neighbouring villages. At Stourbridge Fair a noted market place for numerous commodities, there were also Coffee-Houses, Taverns, Eating-Houses, Music Shops, Puppet Shows, Quacks, Wild Beasts, Monsters, Giants, Rope Dances, etc. Other familiar features of fairs included, wax figures, living curiosities, cheats and pickpockets, many features that saw expansion, notoriety and fame in Victorian London.40 Fairs were most probably the recreational events which were most commonly employed for sexual licence, moderation at these times could be abandoned and restraint thrown aside. The fair as a sexual playground was something of a literary stereotype, one writer of the statue fair claimed, ‘it’s effects are seen… before the end of the year…for, when bastardy cases are adjudicated, many a poor girl declares that her ruin was effected at the last Martinmas Hirings.’41 This permissive image reached the popular ballads, as in the song on the ‘Wrekington Hiring’,
…they danc’t agyen till it was day,
An’then went hyem, but by the way’
There was some had rare fun they say’
An’ found it nine months after-O…42
The sexual reputation of fairs has been seen to be a consequence of the social circumstances of those involved – servants, apprentices and other youngsters. Thus this was a reaction to the discipline and considerable restrictions on their opportunities for sexual indulgence, an accepted rural cultural norm.43 ‘Here met the village youths on pleasure bent,’ wrote James Withers of the annual petty fair in his Cambridgeshire village, and it was said of the hiring fair in Cumberland ‘it is customary for all the young people in the neighbourhood to assemble and dance at the inns and alehouses’; after a hiring, with ‘fiddlers tuning their fiddles in public houses, the girls begin to file off, and gently pace the streets, with a view of gaining admirers; while young men… follow after.’44 Showing that it was a social norm to behave in a more promiscuous manner when attending the town fair.
Community celebrations involving food, drink, dancing, music and entertainment were common place though out the year, for a number of different occasions; ‘We fetched home the May powl from the pit and had Sword Dansing and a Merry Night in the Hall and in the Barne, Richard Tatlock played to them…’.45 Opportunities for celebration of this fashion were numerous ranging from, wakes, births and weddings, to agricultural and religious festivities or events of state, often being reported in considerable detail by newspapers and contemporaries.46 Prior to mass urbanisation London’s social amenities consisted of mainly the Coffee-houses, Clubs, Alehouses and Taverns, leading one to suggest that the prevalence of the Music Hall was a creation of urbanisation, originating from regional subcultures contesting for self-esteem. Dagmar Kift in The Victorian Music Hall: Culture, Class and Conflict47 has studied the Music Hall and found that elaborately furnished and commercial venues already existed in towns and cities, yet until the 1840’s faced little competition locally. Consequently they only expanded and found the need to establish a distinct identity as music hall thereafter. The programmes provided were diverse, varying according to the personal tastes of the proprietors and those of the local audience. This rise in the music Hall, especially the evidence of the social conflict that Kift has found to be local in character needs to be examined in relation to pastoral movement and regionality.
The sixteenth to eighteenth centuries were the golden age of the provincial inn, a reconstruction of figure’s show that in small counties such as Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire alone there were nearly as many inns as in the whole of Yorkshire, which in 1577 had, 3 700 alehouses and 239 inns. The inn in provincial Britain was a main place of stay to any traveller, to water horses and conduct business, that was not always of a legal nature. Highwaymen frequented alehouses and taverns to obtain information about the movement of goods or valuables, and stolen goods would find their way back into them, though the threat of loss of licence helped to decrease the number of landlords being caught for receiving or fencing stolen goods.48 Prostitution was also prominent in the taverns and alehouses. The legitimate business traditionally conducted in taverns remained a strong practice until the coming of railways and the building of county halls that transferred much of this traditional business to these and other specialist buildings. The growth of hostelries on thoroughfare roads and in the provincial towns and cities in these centuries was also particularly striking.49 This practice of using inns and alehouses as places of contact between the two cultures would contribute along with the other main areas of interaction to the psychological social consciousness in both the rural colonisers and the colonised cities.
These are the main areas of interaction and therefore preconceived ideology between the two cultures. Each of them contained a high level of crime and/or vice as part of their social norms, newspapers forming a second-hand perception of cultural norms, theft from the work place was common, theft and riot in the market place was endemic, the crime and vice of prostitution is obvious, theft and vice was common to fairs and theft and vice was part of the taverns and ale houses normality’s. Therefore for the plebeian masses, the main areas of interaction prior to immigration contained a high degree of crime or vice, as the two cultures compete for self-esteem it is these areas amongst others that see innovation and expansion. The nineteenth century saw the erosion of rural culture and society in the Home Counties and the growth of it in the cities.
The Effects of Cultural Movement
The evolution of popular culture to one period from another is ‘strung together by an evolutionary chain of ‘things’ slowly ‘becoming’ other things. The periods of relative settlement between popular and dominant cultures must be identified, along with the turning points, when relations are qualitatively restructured and transformed – the moments of transition.’50 Throughout the eighteenth century the rural migrants in the cities as far as possible adopted the accepted norms of city culture and remained in a subordinate position. For particular elements of culture to change and the colonising culture to become dominant the city society would need some form of ratification from the authorities. Relating back to the issue of crime in London at the turn of the century the outer incentives and disincentives as psychological rewards and punishments, to accept new social norms and cognitive categories are echoed in transportation to Australia. The outer incentive ‘land’ being the principal commodity of the times, the colonisation and recent independence of America had taught the whole of the British nation that vast continents of ‘empty’ land inhabited only by savages had the potential to be momentous; especially for men with knowledge of the crafts and skills of the lower classes. The discovery and possession of Australia by Britain in 1770, just seven years before America won its independence would have been just as stimulating and attractive to the common people as the government, they had as much to gain personally with the opportunity of ‘land’ and all that it symbolised, (plus now the prospect of future political independence.) It is now established in history that transportation had a further dimension to British government then solely the banishment of convicts from Britain, Frank Lewis(1988) has found evidence that there was most likely a financial motive with his study ‘The Cost of Convict Transportation’.51 By looking deeper it can be seen to have a further dimension to the people also. The first ship of convicts and free immigrants sailed from Portsmouth in May 1787. By 1830 the population of Australia including Aborigines, was estimated at about 70 000 with nearly 90% being transports or the children of transports,52 yet for the whole of this period the opportunity for immigration was open.
With such a large percentage one questions the popularity of transportation against free immigration, leading one to suggest that transportation in this era was a reward for crime. There are a number of different ‘unconscious, secondary’ rewards for crime that transportation offered. First; the prevailing criminal culture produced by the antagonism between rural and city culture, with ‘land’ being a considerable issue in that cultural clash. Second; the level of endorsement from the authorities, transportation was almost invariably a condition of pardon53, a symbol of parental care and controll, leniency and clemency from the judges and King. Third; the migratory movements of the young and single with the influx of skills suitable for early settlement that was prevalent in Britain at this time, free immigration was usually undertaken in large family groups54. Fourth; the early years of the colonisation of America had shown the dangers involved in this kind of settlement, making the presence and protection of the authorities a commodity. Fifth; the cost of immigration to Australia was high, much higher then the other colonies and a large amount of capital would be necessary to be able to sustain a livelihood once there in this early colonisation period.55 Sixth; transportation as indentured servants to America before the War of Independence and to other British colonies had been an established long running institution, within the conscious of the British public. Between 1718 and 1778 some 50,000 convicts had been transported to America.56 Seventh; the very fact that the average sentence given for transportation was seven years, echoing the seven-year apprenticeship, ‘one of the key institutions that guided the capital’s young men through the troubled years of adolescence.’57 These are some of the outward observable ‘ unconscious or conscious advantages’ of transportation by comparison with immigration from the perspective of the plebeian populace in this period.
Frank Lewis (1988) has studied the logic of transportation as a benefit to British governing powers from a financial viewpoint, estimating the cost of transporting convicts against net returns. Lewis, however worked from the sentiment that; ‘One benefit not captured by equation (1)58 is the effect of convict transportation on the number of criminals in Britain, and so to the extent that the threat of punishment acted as a deterrent, transporting convicts reduced the crime rate. On the other hand, permanently removing criminals may have attracted others to crime by raising the return to illegal activity. The deterrent effect was almost certainly larger because a sentence to transportation was perceived as so severe, but I assume the two effects were exactly offsetting’.59 This assumption though was made before evidence became available to the effect that indicted crime rose rapidly in this period, especially amongst the young city living juveniles. The research of Pete King60 has established that there was a rapid increase of juvenile prosecutions in Cities in the period 1790 to 1820, with between a third and a half of indicated offenders under 20, where as no such change took place in rural areas with figures between an eighth and a quarter. Overall crime rates rose rapidly with the majority of adult (over 20) offenders being migrants and the vast majority of juvenile offenders being registered as not.61 King’s research results in ‘The Origins of Juvenile Delinquency in England 1780 – 1830’, confirm that the years 1791-3 saw the age structure of those accused of property theft at the Old Bailey peak between age 20 –21. By 1820 this peak was reached between age17 –19. With the proportion of those age 20 –21 rising from 21% to 37% and those age 17-19 rising from 7% to 16%. The proportion of those under 17 rose from 8% to 18%, the proportion of female offenders rose from 5% to 8% and the rural juvenile crime rates rising from 5% to 9% between the years 1791-3 and 1820-2 with most of these figures being credited to petty theft62. This substantial rise in indicted crime has been interpreted by many historians as an indication of hardening attitudes or changes to the administration of justice, I suggest that the rise in indicted crime shows a rise in actual crime with the plebeian society advocating transportation. These figures help to support the concept that the urbanising cities were steadily being colonised by rural culture and society. Crime rates rising before any other major changes to the judicial process at the time of the commencement of transportation to Australia ‘the socio-economic and psychological reward’, and the shift between ages and location of birth as crime in the form of petty theft becomes a popular culture movement.
Supporting this cultural movement were letters home from convicts, that whether telling the truth, exaggerating, or simply lying, mostly gave a favourable account,63 plus sensationalised press reports of attempted escapes. As late as 1803 the more independent minded and abused Irish convicts were still absconding from the penal settlement regularly, as many as sixty at one time, with the belief that china could be reached by walking northwards and crossing a river. Legends were created such as the Mary Bryant affair, dubbed by the British press “the Girl from Botany Bay”. Mary, a sailor’s daughter from Cornwall, and her husband William Bryant, a fisherman from Cornwall, whom she married upon arrival to the colony had both been transported for seven years and sailed with the first fleet in 1790. The Bryant’s, her two young children and seven other convicts stole a boat, armed with a compass, a quadrant, charts, muskets and food they departed on an epic journey through scarcely explored waters north to Timor, a distance of 3,250 miles through the treacherous Barrier Reef. Captured in Timor, the crew was shipped back to England, with William, the two children and three of the men dying before reaching its shores in 1792. Sensationalised the press and public made a heroin of Mary ‘the Girl from Botany Bay’ who had braved cannibals, coral, the sea, fever and the loss of her loved ones, so much so that the writer James Boswell pressed Dundas, the Home Secretary and the Under Secretary for clemency and a pardon for her, even paying her annuity of £10. By 1793 Mary and her four remaining companions were pardoned, with Mary returning to Cornwall and one of the men promptly enlisting in the New South Wales Corps and returning to Botany Bay.64 This was the perfect free publicity and propaganda for the colony, an anecdote filled with heroism, romance, adventure, tragedy and even the ‘happy ending’ that would put Hollywood’s style to shame. Thrilling newspaper reportage of this kind has enormous power to induce imitative behaviour, as much as, or more than the average crime reportage.
Unfortunately one may have had to commit a lot of crime and undergo a lot of suffering and anguish before obtaining a sentence of transportation let alone actually being transported to Australia. The legal process was dependent upon the victim taking a major role in each stage at considerable cost to himself in time and money, the administration of criminal law had no effective police force and was a private and negotiable process involving personal confrontation rather than a bureaucratic procedure.65 Until the 1820’s the key decision-maker in criminal law was the victim himself, whom brought about the vast majority of property crime prosecutions and was responsible for a wide range of decisions at each level of the legal procedure. With no effective police force until Robert Peel’s Act in 1829 the extent of the search for the criminal was dependent upon the prosecuting victim, if the criminal was traced the potential prosecutor could compound the offence, activate his own communities’ informal sanctions or take the offender before a magistrate. At the committal stage he could influence the out come in favour of a compromise, summarily trial, conscription to the armed forces or direct that the criminal was to be held awaiting trial. During trial he could engineer a discharge by way of failure to appear or week presentation of evidence, and he could select the kind of indictment to be brought, indicate favour of partial verdict or a lenient punishment. After sentence was passed he would also be likely to play a major role in the organisation or support for a petition for pardon.66 In London and Middlesex, the percentage of pardons for capital offences was around 55% for much of the eighteenth century, rising to 60% in the early 1770’s and jumping to 80% in the 1790’s and settling at almost 90% by the early nineteenth century.67 Pardon was almost invariably transportation plus it was the dominant secondary punishment for property offences, although not all prisoners actually sentenced to transportation got transported. By the 1820’s the criteria to be filled for those actually selected from the prisons and hulks for transportation to Australia were health: they had to be fit enough to withstand the voyage, age: males 15 –50 years and females under 45, and occupation skills: convicts were assigned to private masters or to the government according to their abilities and not with reference to their sentence. Length of sentence effected the selection process in that, those sentenced to life or fourteen years as long as they met the health and age requirements were automatically sent. Those sentenced to seven years were selected from those who had committed the most serious crimes, had been in the hulks before or were badly behaved prisoners.68 The strongest, smartest and luckiest ones, the rest were basically left to rot in the British prisons and hulks.
The vast majority of transported convicts came from the heartland of England and the east of Ireland, coinciding with the crime rise, the majority being urban born between 1817 and 1830, and changing to predominantly rural born thereafter.69 All convict occupations from artisan to general servant, experienced high levels of mobility before transportation. Patterns of internal migration reveals that 35% of the English, 57% of the Welsh, 58% of the Scottish and 41% of the Irish had left their county of birth prior to their trial.70 The economic factors of Steven Nicholas’ Convict Workers model on convict pre-trial migration suggests that the convicts had moved to maximise the economic returns on their investment in education and training, not to engage in criminal activity.71 Yet transportation as ‘free’ immigration is maximising the economic returns on their investment in education and training. Apart from free passage, free medical care, free military protection, shorter working hours, guaranteed wages and free land upon receiving their ticket of leave the convicts were automatically assigned to jobs and locations suitable to their skills and retained their values and identity. Three-quarters of the English convicts could read and /or write, though ironically this may be a result of having spent time in prison, still a significantly higher proportion than the 58% of all the English workers that could sign the marriage register.72 Suggesting that the transported convicts were the cream of British working class stock, that had consciously or unconsciously purposely committed their crimes because transportation was the best economic return for the investment in their education and training.
The central function of transportation as deterrence to crime was the subject of numerous British official enquiries from the 1790’s onwards. Yet it was not until the end of the Napoleonic Wars that the question of it being welcomed and seen as an actual reward for crime was considered. The 1830’s saw a number of sittings for the Select Committee on Secondary Punishments, although some of the evidence put before them still advocated transportation as a deterrent to crime, the overwhelming bulk showed that it was not feared, further it was welcomed. Observation over three years of Newgate prisoners by Edward Gibbon Wakefield concluded to the 1831 Select Committee that he could not recall ‘a single instance in which a prisoner appeared to me to be deeply affected by the prospect of being transported to the colonies’; a convict expected to obtain ‘a degree of wealth and happiness, such as he had no prospect of attaining in this country’.73 Moreover the better educated the convict, the more he looked forward to transportation. The House of Lords Select Committee on Prisons in 1835 saw similar views put forward. W. Cope, the governor of Newgate goal testified that, ‘nineteen out of twenty are glad to go’; Owen, the overseer of the convict hulk, Fortitude stated ‘ninety-nine out of a hundred are very desirous of going’.74 By 1837 a Poor Law Commissioner, the Rev. Henry Bishop gave evidence before the Molesworth Committee to the effect that the general public did not fear transportation, ‘in fact they rather looked forward to it as a reward’. Yet the 1830’s saw the number of convicts transported yearly more than double compared to the previous decades.75 Showing that although the government had the lack of deterrent of transportation brought to their attention no steps were taken to change policy and discourage crime, rather the opposite.
The period of the substantial rise in indicted crime statistics, coinciding with the introduction of transportation to Australia is two great a phenomenon for historians of crime to continue to ignore. Many of the ‘mass’ of common people, before they obtained the education or incentive to record their own history were, intelligent, rational, and perfectly capable of taking advantage of the opportunities open to them, even if it was disguised as ‘social depravation’. The statistics only show a strong argument towards concluding that to the British lower classes of this period saw crime as a social norm and even benefit, what they don’t show is whether the victim prosecutor was aware of his role at the considerable expense to himself. Of the thousands of prisoners indicted in this period, those that got transported were only a proportion, the juveniles of the time were the casualties and the catalyst for a particular strand of justice development. Induced into criminal activity by their societies teaching, yet to young and unskilled to qualify for transportation with out retraining.
The Casualties of Culture?
By the turn of the nineteenth century there were only a few institutions in operation designed to reform and retrain outcast children, and give them a ‘chance’ in life. These were inspired from philanthropic enthusiasm, and run by individuals, who sought to use “diversion” to save children from the traditional justice system that merely used harsh punishment and had no division in the enforcement of justice between adults and juveniles. By 1806 there was only one institution recognised by statue and receiving support from public funds, although run independent of the state. This was a charity school in` St. George’s Fields, with a separate ‘Reform’ where children after conviction could be sent to pick oakum so ‘that they may not acquire habits of idleness’.76 The proceeding decade saw the opening of two more institutions, which were essentially after-care asylums with no real legal hold over their inmates and only taking in minor offenders who had already spent time in prison and were considered reformable, basically ‘the best of the bunch’.77 In other words, those children that the philanthropic run institutions felt capable or worthy of reform. It was not until the 1820’s that the vast numbers of juveniles coming before the courts forced the government to start a separate classification for juveniles in the beginnings of the restructuring of the justice system.
This separation of juveniles, fuelled by awareness that transportation could give a new start in life, began what could be termed a state run ‘experimentation’ into the origins and cure for crime. Increasing numbers of juveniles amplified increasing concerns, the pre and early Victorian period saw the beginnings of a penal policy that saw crime as a problem born from society rather than an evil within the criminal. The first three main experiments were the frigate prison hulk Euryalus, opened in 1825 to make separate provision for juvenile offenders along with the new prison system of classification and segregation of prisoners. The segregation of juvenile prisoners was implemented with the ideology that, placing juveniles with hardened criminals in the hulks amounted to schools of criminality; the juvenile reformatory Parkhurst, the first British state run juvenile prison that was to be penal in character, deeply committed to the principle of deterrence of crime by the ‘right’ mixture of kindness, correction and restraint;78 and Point Puer in Van Diemen’s Land, opened during the 1830’s to accommodate the thousands of juvenile transports, because of the reluctance of masters to take the ‘corrupt little rogues’ on as indentured servants.79 The existence of each of these prisons was short lived and deemed to be a failure, either for their offensive conditions or deficiency of reform and deterrence.
Although the segregation of juvenile offenders from the adults was not part of Robert Peel’s original expansion of criminal and judicial systems, the need for separate provision was becoming imminent. Most of the juveniles sentenced to transportation had never actually left the country and were confined to the Hulks, prison ships that no prison officer would dare to enter the lower decks where the prisoners spent their time drinking, gambling and ‘abominable practices’. By 1816 there were 112 boys under the age of twenty awaiting transportation in the Hulks.80 The separation of juvenile from adult prisoners was a major campaigning point of pressure groups such as the Prison Discipline Society and the Children’s Friend Society.81 In 1818 the Reverend Thomas Price, Chaplain of one of the prison Hulks echoed his concerns with the suggestion that a ‘specially fitted frigate would be as good a proposition as a costly penitentiary for juveniles.’82 His settlements were endorsed and the specially fitted frigate Euryalus at Chatham was opened in 1825 as the Deport for juvenile offenders under sentence of transportation.
This separation was not necessarily a good thing, the youngest prisoners where still confined in the same harsh conditions, yet without any of the protection elder prisoners may have given against bullying and intimidation. The juveniles on the Euryalus depending upon their age were confined for a substantial length of time whilst awaiting transportation, as many as 500 to 800 at one time,83and kept locked between decks making clothes and shoes for 23 hours a day.84 Reports from juvenile prisoners show contrasting views on the benefits of segregation; one fifteen-year-old boy who had spent time in Newgate prior to his move found the Euryalus relatively disciplined, operating by a form of head boy system.
One of the boys, was appointed to keep order and regularity, and to report to the Captain any one who made use of bad language, sung songs, or attempted to game; he was a steady boy, and reported three or four whilst he was on board, some for gaming and some for swearing; they were caned by one of the guards.85
Yet this report is coming from a particularly old boy for the inmates of the Euryalus and as it is such an uncommon view of life on board raises the question of whether this boy held aspirations of becoming that head-boy. A more common and condemning view of the Euryalus comes from Thomas Dexter, an adult prisoner and occasional nurse who worked in the juvenile convict hospital. His description is one of an environment of intimidation, violence and rule by The Nobs, the ‘head-boys’ that procured such fear in the young inmates that they would do anything to get away. Dexter stated that;
I have known Several Cases in which they have broken their Arms to get into the Hospital; they held their Arms upon a Form, and let the Edge of the Table drop upon them to break them in two.86
This violence that was inducing boys to injure themselves is reported to be coming from the other prisoners with no mention of protection from the officers. Which comes as no surprise, as the officers adhered to Naval Discipline and denounced reformatory ideas. The regime was so strict that when the Chaplain Thomas Price who had first advocated juvenile separation complained of the over use of the cat-o’-nine-tails, he was promptly transferred.87
The Euryalus was short lived, criticism of the autonomy given to prison officers, the lack of independent inspection, and the secrecy of life on board was condemned by The Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline. Evidence from Thomas Dexter at the Richmond Committee in 1835 ensured that it was recommended that the hulk should be abandoned without delay, although it took until 1843 before the Euryalus was finally closed for good.88 This disaster in the imprisoning of juveniles awaiting transportation lead to the Parkhurst Act of 1838, the states attempt to take on board and correct all the criticism concerning juvenile delinquency that had originated from the Euryalus.
Apart from the convenience of ports for transporting prisoners at the end of their sentence, Parkhurst had room for exercise and agricultural training. The ideology behind Parkhurst’s penal policies was a deep commitment to the principles of deterring crime in a humane but corrective and restrictive regime. In the twenty-six years that Parkhurst was a penal prison for boys it underwent major changes, heavily criticised from all directions the policies behind the penal regime escalated and collapsed in four main phases of fundamental change. For the first three years, fearful of any reputation damage by failure to reform, Parkhurst only admitted first time offenders that were seen to be of good character and still put them though what Visitors described as an extremely harsh regime.89 An iron leg manacle and strongly marked prison dress was worn until the Home Office instructed them to abolish the practice. Punishment methods varied depending upon the misdemeanour, from corporal punishment, to bread and water diet or extra drill. Solitary confinement became an increasingly used punishment because it caused less antagonism from the inmates. The nourishment value of food was complained about constantly by the surgeon, as was the intellectual instruction by the educationalist B.J. Horne. A small carpentry class was disbanded after complaints from local artisans and the two hours of games a day was disbanded after complaints from the New Zealand employees of the first ‘colonial apprentices’ sent from Parkhurst.90 These complaints and others made Parkhurst change direction in its policies. Admission was to be only those sentenced to transportation, because of criticism that the previous inmates had been no test to the reformatory because they had been ‘model prisoners’ and fears that ordinary prisoners would not volunteer for transportation at the end of their sentence. The Governor was to be under surveillance to tighten control and impose a discipline sufficient to deter crime, including no exercise other than drill, and no communication with the outside world. Improvements to educational standards were attempted with the introduction of professionally trained teachers and a system of reward for good behaviour was introduced. Ironically this reward was transportation; the very thing that this study is arguing caused the increase in crime. The boys were told on arrival to the prison that they were to be exiled when their sentence was finished. However if they behaved really well they would receive their ticket of leave upon arrival in Australia, if their behaviour was only moderate they would get probationary passes, and if they were bad they would spend time in the penal colony at Point Puer. Each cell displayed a poster promising deserving inmate’s employment with good wages in Van Dieman’s Land. When ship captains complained about the poor health of Parkhurst transports, the death of 25% of Parkhurst prisoners from cholera was credited to depression from the boys being told that they would not receive their ticket of leave until the repayment of their passage. The action taken was not to improve the health or nourishment of the prisoners, rather there was an exemption of the rule to repay passage for boys under 18.91 These regulations imply that the Governor knew the juveniles eagerly anticipated transportation, and the endurance of the increasingly severe and restrictive regime was to be faced in the prospect of a new and better life.
The prospect of a sentence in Parkhurst certainly induced certain magistrates to pass the sentence of transportation to juveniles, letters sent to the Governor in 1843 imply that sentence was chosen specifically with Parkhurst in mind:
Edward Preston age 12
7 Years Transportation
I take the liberty of calling your attention to the case of Edward Preston, a boy aged 12 years, who was convicted off felony before me at the last Hampshire sessions. His case appeared to me to be one to which imprisonment at Parkhurst would be particularly applicable, with that view I sentenced him to transportation for 7 years.92
This Hertfordshire magistrate is writing a form of pardon for the 12-year old boy, Edward Preston, whom he has purposively sentenced, to transportation in the hope of gaining the boy admission to Parkhurst. Similar letters of pardon were sent from other magistrates, as with Abraham Rayner aged 9 sentenced at Essex:
Abraham Rayner aged 9
10 Years Transportation
At the last session I tried a boy named Abraham Rayner said to be 9 years old (but I believe he is older) for larceny he had been twice before tried and once convicted of larceny. In order to obtain his admission to Parkhurst I sentenced him to 10 years transportation93.
Apart from purposely passing sentence of transportation to gain admission to Parkhurst, these letters show that the opinion of the assize courts was one of favour towards the new penal system in certain cases. Although these and other samples do not discuss reasons for the view that Parkhurst would be suited, whether that view was made because of the extent of their deviance, or if they appeared ‘saveable’ by separation from their family and society.
As the courts seemed to be sending to many boys with the view that Parkhurst would supply a regime adapted to the ‘particular needs for each boy’,94 a new regulation was passed. The age of inmates taken in rose to 14 years so that they would be capable for employment in the colonies within two years of their detention. This marked the decline of Parkhurst as a reform treatment for juveniles and the very young boys started to be passed on to the new Philanthropic Society schools. Parkhurst became simply a prison for the younger convicts with more of an emphasis on training in agricultural and industrial skills, with the need to increase the chances of emigration. A revolt from the boys against outdoor work in 1850 helped ensure that the Penal Servitude Act abolished all but the very long terms of transportation, finally closing all chances of emigration for Parkhurst boys and becoming simply a prison for juveniles that were to be released back into British society after completing their sentence, before closing its doors to juveniles in 1864. After examining some evidence of Parkhurst’s experiments on juvenile reform its failure seems not to lie in any actual success or failure to reform the delinquent juveniles, it seems to lie more in its paranoia. Every complaint was too quickly acted upon and regimes changed whether it was for the better or not, no one person seemed to have been allowed to have enough control to enforce regulations consistently. The paranoia was so great that thirty years later the British government were still claiming that Parkhurst’s failure was the ‘most telling argument against another Government Reformatory.’95 Yet it was not the fact that the reformatory was run by the state that contributed to its downfall, it was the influences of too many international policy changes towards criminology and a lack of confidence to implement a regime and stick to it regardless of criticism from amateur sources.
During the same era the other side of the criminal chain, Australia, also saw the need for the extra control in the increasing numbers of juveniles needing some sort of reform. From the early stages of transportation to Australia the influx of juvenile convicts termed ‘young delinquents’ was seen as a problem. In the early years they were assigned along with the adult prisoners to indentured service and some were apprenticed; however they were considered to be the dread of every family. The growing need for an organised system of juvenile supervision became increasingly pressing in the 1830’s with the large numbers of young convicts arriving in proportion to the insignificant numbers of free immigrants. The young convicts poor reputation, rapidly growing numbers pitted against the ideological changes on an international scale to the disciplinary supervision of juvenile prisoners, saw the opening of the Point Puer juvenile prison, foreshadowing the British juvenile penal experiment, Parkhurst. Under the direction of Governor Arthur in Van Diemen’s Land the management of juvenile convicts was to be restructured and re-organised, with a view to improving both its deterrent and reformatory effects.96 Arthur’s governorship set out to build apprehension in the mind of the convict though vigilance and a certainty of detection and punishment, rather than through indiscriminate punishment. In the hope of eliminating defects such as, disorganised and uncontrolled repression, and lax administration, Arthur’s system was repressive in that it sought to gain a greater control and hold over the mind of the convict, and a bureaucratisation of the official administration of punishment.97
From 1833 to 1844 a program of religious instruction and industrial training combined with a rigid disciplinary regime, under the close charge of Charles O’Hara Booth was established.98 By 1836 the prison housed 280 boys under the age of 18, by 1838 this had increased to 375 boys. They were housed in large barracks or solitary cells for extra punishment and set to work on the construction of a specially designed juvenile prison at the nearby Safety Cove. Trades taught included shoemaking, carpentry, tailoring, banking, gardening, book-binding, turning, stone cutting and boat building, whilst education concentrated on basic reading, writing and mathematics.99 The question of punishment methods was put before the Select Committee on Transportation in 1837 as:
The most trivial crime or irregularity is not permitted to pass without punishment in proportion to the degree or nature of the offence, which consists in confinement to the muster ground during cessation from labour, where no amusement is allowed, and the boys so confined are required to do the duties of scavengers. The next grade of punishment where a more refractory spirit is evinced, is to be placed in a cell immediately labour ceases, and receive their meals therein, where no talking or noise is permitted; they also sleep in them, but attend school, and are confined until they manifest a disposition to amendment. The next grade of punishment is confinement in a cell on bread and water… In cases of more determined violation of the regulations, the offender is sentenced to punishment on the breech. This measure is never resorted to until every other means to reform have been tried without effect, unless under some particular circumstances, such as mutinous disposition.100
How much this penal regime was actually adhered to and not overstepped is debatable, Booth himself often referred to the inmates as evil and brutal, brats and monsters. T. J. Lempriere, the Commissariat officer at Port Harbour insinuated: ‘So deeply do the seeds of wickedness appear rooted in the breast of the urchin convicts that in every degree of turpitude of which men are guilty these boys outdo them.’101 The Select Committee was left with assurances by Booth that additional solitary cells were to be erected as soon as possible in the hope of doing away with corporal punishment entirely.102 Although to Booth his management of the Point Puer penal project was thought to be modern, by the time he sat before the committee in 1837 his disciplinary and reformatory methods were seen to be outdated in terms of the Victorian discourse and evolving ideology concerning juvenile delinquency. As each new decade condemned the policies of the previous, the administration of Point Puer was thought of as inadequate compared with the new system of classification and reformatory training at Parkhurst.103
Disbanded in 1847 the regime of Point Puer was seen to be entirely unsuited to its professed purposes of reforming and deterring the juvenile, becoming another historical experiment, not only in methods of control, but in relation to the reaction of institutional life by the juveniles. With reports such as the boys establishing ‘a sort of tyranny of public opinion among themselves to which every boy in the place is a slave and to which he must submit at the peril of his life.’104 The reality of transportation for juveniles is seen as clearly no opportunity for a new life by Sir Radzinowic because, ‘in stark contrast to the assumptions and expectations of those who saw it as offering a new start in life for such young people’…’the fagging system was as well understood at Point Puer as in any of the great Public Schools.’105 Yet the wealthy and well educated saw the great Public Schools, as character building and essential for training their children to an elevated life, fagging system or not, for at least another century. Why was it considered that the lower classes could not endure similar, although more physical then mental punishment and hardship, in training for the prospect of a new life in Australia or other areas? The strict regime employed in military training only received criticism towards the end of the twentieth century. In reality perseverance of life in the common British society of this period would have took as much as or more endurance, without the stamina of collective hegemony that institutions bring to their inmates.
The progression of these institutions shows historical evidence of a rapidly evolving society. Elevating from increased juvenile crime comes the segregation of juvenile prisoners, this separated group highlighted the atrocities of prison life, ensuring the need for change and direct action. The criminal system is one of the only areas that saw direct action so early in the century, yet as with most of the areas of ‘colonial’ cultural expansion the mid-century marked the period of real fundamental changes that were to last. The state policies on controlling juvenile delinquency had been under constant attack from disciplinarians who advocated a strict penal punishment and philanthropists who advocated reform and moral guidance. As the philanthropists had shown success in their Reform Schools and were capable of expanding to absorb the numbers of children needing reform, it was an obvious solution for the state to form an alliance and hand over the problem of juvenile delinquency.
Reform in the hands of Philanthropists
Juvenile delinquency for under seventeen-year-olds did not continue to increase into the 1850’s, although the reformers claimed it did; yet the numbers of under twelve-year-olds being indicted and imprisoned did.106 By then the state had virtually given up on their efforts to enforce penal reform and handed the problem to the philanthropists who were taking their ideas on juvenile reformatory’s from the French school Mettray. This was seen to be at the time as ‘the highest example of all the more recent efforts of the same kind’ and by Michel Foucault as the mark of a new era in ‘the coercive technologies of behaviour’.107 The main components of the French system that interested the English reformers was the division of the boys into smaller groups of ‘families’ resulting in an increase in feelings of morality and a break down of the esprit de corps which the inmates had held against the masters. The emphasis was on religious instruction, self-denial, drill, military exercises and gymnastics, ‘on the principle that, to learn to help one’s neighbour, to defend one’s country, and to keep one’s body vigorous and healthful, may be said to be a religious duty.’108 The disciplinary regime sought not to merely punish, but involved an elaborate system of rewards. Every three months a ‘table d’honneur’ was posted with the names of all inmates with good conduct and no complaints, the rewards were tools, clothes, pictures, religious emblems and if your name stayed on the list, a pledge from the colony to ‘befriend and assist through life.’109 The education, hard work and training in agricultural labour that was administered was seen to give the inmates a higher standard than that what was available to the non-convicted. The claim for success of reforming the juvenile varied between 85% and 95%,110 the special committee for the National Assembly of France declared in 1850 that ‘the problem of the reformation of juvenile offenders by agricultural labour, under a strict system of discipline and kindness, is completely solved.’111 These were to become some of the main components of reform in the English juvenile judicial system that was to last and become the basis of the twentieth century system.
Pushed by Mary Carpenter, legislation for Reformatory Schools for convicted offenders, based on a partnership between state and voluntary bodies was passed with the 1854 Act. With magistrates being empowered to sentence children under sixteen for indictable or non-indictable offences for two to five years with at least fourteen days prison sentence to precede their term in the Reformatory. Legislation for Industrial Schools for incipient criminal and neglected children followed in 1857, along with the empowerment of local authorities to finance the schools.112 However the act was only permissive and it was up to the magistrates whether to uphold its principles or not, in distinguishing between children and adults as different in the eyes of the law and in financing the schools. As records of continued plea’s put before the courts and House of Commons show.
May 2nd 1864
Court of Common Pleas.
Special case agreed upon between Appellants and Respondents – whether Reformatory at Limpley Stoke was rateable to the poor or not.
Respondents – Reformatory is a charitable institution began voluntary, trustees not bound to continue, proportion of cost should be contributed by parents and rateable.
Appellants – Prison, established for public benefit in the reformation of juvenile offenders, no benefit to trustees – under rule applicable to public institutions occupied for public purposes, not rateable.
Chief Justice = Opinion – public purposes as a county gaol. A gaol was exempt from being rated.
Mr Justice Willes &
Mr Justice Keating Concurred = Judgement for the Appellants.113
This illustrates that ten years after the Act local magistrates still had to decide on their county policies of juvenile reform. The debate in parliament also continued:
Notice for Orders of the Day of the House of Commons, Friday May 10th 1872.
SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY – To call attention to the subject of the Reformatory and Industrial Schools; and to more the following Resolutions: -
That all schools for the poor children, aided by public money, should be under the Education Department. That Industrial Schools especially should not, besides their support from voluntary subscriptions and Treasury grants, be chargeable, as by the Act of 1870, on School rates, and, by the Act of 1866, on other local rates also.
That neither Industrial nor Reformatory Schools should be treated as Prisons or Penal Institutions, but that children of tender age, whether merely vagrants or convicted of minor offences, should, after due correction, be sent to such Schools for the rest of their childhood, as to educational establishments where they may be trained to industry.114
The question of responsibility for financing the schools, length of confinement and methods and forms of reform continued well into the 1890’s. The view of delinquents as nuisances requiring a sharp lesson was held by large sections of the public. Although the reformatory was preceded by a term of imprisonment for the offenders, there were some that maintained, without clear punishment it would be an incentive to crime and parental neglect. To counteract this view the principle of a child’s diminished responsibility was pushed by the Philanthropists,115 The Reformatories themselves adhered to the system set by the acclaimed example of Mettray. By 1858 there were forty-five Reformatory Schools in Britain, housing 1,973 and 370 girls, of which only 200 were detained by magistrates order, the rest were sent independently.116
Tiffield Reform School in Northampton was founded in 1855 by the Northampton Society for the Education of the Poor, and received license and funding with a government grant in 1856. A year later under the Industrial Schools Act it added industrial training to it’s agenda. Tiffield is an example of a Reform School that mainly had its inmates sent by the magistrates for various misdemeanours, rather then privately enrolled and paid for. Boys were sent from all over the country, though the majority came from either the County or Borough Gaols.117 The length of sentence was harsh; the philanthropic Mary Carpenters campaign claim that the sentence had to be long to completely reform the juvenile had been a popular one. Sentences, such as three years for stealing boots, the same for a chicken, and five years for stealing eight eggs,118 meant that many offenders sent to Tiffield spent much of their teenage years in reform school. In a span of six years, only £90 had been contributed by inmate’s parents, the rest of the expenses were obtained from the grants, voluntary subscriptions and profits from its farm.119
Tiffield’s agricultural character was emphasised in the early years of the school, many of the philanthropists views at this time ran along the line of; ‘Nothing so suitable as agriculture for boys….it fits the boys for those situations in life whether at home or abroad, which are most easily maintained’.120 The policy seemed to hold some merit by 1871 the agricultural school had been extended and was in steady profit, additional amenities to the school included a swimming pool, football and cricket pitches. A letter from the Reformatory to the editor was printed in the Northampton Herald, 31st July 1871 stated:
Thus, in the Northampton Reformatory, which this year takes the lead as to successful operations, the proportion doing well was 96%, and of re-convicted only 1%……One of the most valuable parts of the system is the constant communication, either personally or by letter, which is kept up with the boys who have left.121
Most of the leavers went into farming either in Britain or abroad keeping the need for academic education low. The educational policy was to ‘wish for no higher education than an ordinary workman should confer upon his child’.122 This policy and the inclusion of cookery, laundry and rough tailoring along side the doctrine set by Mettray shows that the Reformatory was attempting to train the boys in all the essentials that the life of a good working class man would be likely to need and no more.
Tiffield was still going strong by the turn of the century, the 1901 Society and Home Office inspectors gave it an excellent report, ‘at no school of the kind have the boys…given greater satisfaction’.123 Its success was seen to lie in its agricultural and industrial training and application of practical skills along side academic. It must be remembered that at this time the normal educational schooling for children that were expected to live their lives in labourous jobs received only academic education. The Reform Schools were certainly popular in this period, in 1871 the Northampton Working Girls Home was opened as a reformatory for females. Admittance was elected from orphan girls aged 8-14 years and girls aged 8-12 years whose parents paid £4 per quarter. Although the main subjects taught were laundry and needlework, the school was immediately full and within five years had to move to bigger and better accommodation, enabling the school to cater for 25 girls.124
This growing popularity and acclaimed success of the Reform Schools even for those children whom had committed no crimes, show that in this period institutions for educating the working class in the skills they would need in their life style were in demand. As the vast majority of nation-wide intake was from non-criminals, it shows that many people were prepared to pay for the Reformatories service as the higher classes paid for their children’s education, and the social acceptance of them was favourable. Not necessarily within the same terms as private or state education, more in an excepted way of dealing with delinquent, disobedient or maybe just headstrong children. Tiffield Reform School, although undergoing many changes to accommodate changing times is still going, now known as Tifield Community Home with Education and housing boys and girls aged between 13 and 17.
The Victorian period has often been looked upon by historians as a time of masterly innovation of middle class men and a few brave middle class women, yet without motivation these innovations would not have been born. The Victorian innovators were not a special breed of intellectual or inventive people; they were a consequence of a cultural battle for self-esteem. This battle becomes evident before the Victorian period; it starts to become historically noticeable with the mass migration of the lower orders in the early nineteenth century. As the common people in the expanding cities exchanged cultural practices a social climate was propagated that became detrimental to the efficient running of a country, forcing those with the power to take action.
It was not industrialisation that drew the rural communities towards the cities, urbanisation precedes industrial growth. It was not the bright city entertainment that drew the rural communities towards the cities, the rural communities brought the bright city entertainment with them. There is only one newly accessible commodity that precedes mass urbanisation and can be seen to logically draw the rural communities to the cities, transportation to Australia. In their home communities the offenders had less chance of being sentenced to transportation because of family and community pressure, the cities were hives of criminal activity. The criminal system was the first national institution that was forced to expand to accommodate the popular cultural movements that the ‘colonial battle’ ensured. In over words the social depravation that the nineteenth century society lived in was not due to poverty and negligence, it was due to the psychological state that cultural clash ensured. Also the innovation of Victorian middle class was due to the psychological need to compete with the traditional ‘paternal’ role of the rural gentry, providing for the lower orders.
As the urbanisation of London is taught world-wide and used as a model for many newly industrialising countries, these origins need further study. Urbanisation consists of the movement of people; people are not objects that function in a productive manner automatically. For urbanisation to be a worthwhile process the mistakes need to be examined and learned from not repeated.
1. Hebdige D. Subculture the meaning of style. (Stuart Hall 1977). (1979) p. 11.
2. Davis K. The Urbanisation of the Human Population. The City in Newly Developing Countries. (1969) p. 5.
3. Ibid. p.18.
4. King P. Youth, Crime and the Rise of Juvenile Delinquency 1780 1850. (1995)
5. Styles J. Crime in 18th-century England. (1998) p. 37.
6. Memmi. A. The Colonizer and the Colonized. (1974) Souvenir Press. London.
7. Wrigley E. & Schofield R. The Population History of England 1541-1871. (Cambridge 1989) p. 168.
8. Radzinowic. L. A History of English Criminal Law and Administration from 1750.
9. Raddzinowicz L. The Criminal in Society. (1971) See Thorsten Sellin. Conflicting Norms. p. 395.
10. Nandy A. The Intermate Enermy. The Psychology of Colonialism. p. 2-3.
11. Hall S. Popular Culture and Social Relations.Popular Culture and The State. (1986) Milton Keynes. p. 23.
12. Nicholas. S. Convict Workers. (1988)
13. King. P. The Rise of Juvenile Delinquency in England 1780-1840. (1998)
King. P. The Origins of Juvenile Delinquency in England. (1992)
14. Radzinowic. L. op. cit., p. 143.
15. Ibid. p. 149.
16. Thompson F M L. Town and City. The Cambridge Social History of Britain 1750-1950 Volume 1. Regions and Communities.(1993) p. 8-9.
17. Thompson. F. M. L. The Cambridge Social History of Britain 1750-1850. (1993) Cambridge Uni Press.
18. Ibid. p. 12.
19. Ibid. p. 15.
20. See Everitt A. Perspectives in English Urban History. (1973) p. 94.
21. As the failure of the Anglican Church to grow with the speed of internal migration, therefore losing the authorities direct psychological controlling contact and teaching role with the masses is such a huge subject; it will have to be omitted from this study.
22. King P. Newspaper reporting, prosecution practice and perceptions of urban crime: the Colchester crime wave of 1765. (1987) p. 424.
24. Ibid. p. 446.
25. Waller M. 1700 Scenes from London Life. (2000) Hodder & Stoughton. p. 203
26. Nicholus S. Convict Workers. p. 9.
27. Krausman Ben-Amos I. Adolescence and Youth in Early Modern England (Yale 1994) pp. 69-80.
28. King P. The Origins of Juvenile Delinquency’: The Growth of Juvenile Prosecutions. p. 8.
29. Waller. M. 1700 Scenes from London Life. (2000) Hodder & Stoughton.
30. Clark. P. The Early Modern Town. (1976) London. Longman Group Ltd. p. 179.
31. Ibid. p. 180.
32. Fisher. T. Prostitution and the Victorians. (1997) St. Martins Press. New York. pg. xvii.
33. Ibid. Taken from Colquhoun. P. A Treatise on the Police of Metropolis. Chapter VII: Female Prostitutes. (1800) pg. xvii.
34. Ibid. pg. xviii.
35. Henderson. T. Disorderly Women in Eighteenth Century London. Prostitution and Control in the Metropolis, 1730-1830. (1999) Essex. Pearson Education Ltd.
36. Ibid. pg. 90.
37. Ibid. Taken from The Times, 8 January 1858: Prostitution in London. pg. 37.
38. Ibid. ppg. 29-48.
39. Ibid. The Times editorial comment on Colquhoun’s evidence, 4 September 1816. pg. xxii.
40. Malcolmson R. Popular Recreations in English Society 1700-1850. (1973) Cambridge University Press. p. 19-21.
41. Ibid. (Greville J. Cheaster, Statute Fairs: Their Evils and Their Remedy (York and London, 1856), p. 9; William Sheldrake, A Picturesque Description of Turton Fair, and its Pernicious Consequences. A Poem (London, 1789), pp. 16-17.) p. 78.
42. Ibid. (Two versions of this ballad are included in ‘A Collection of Broadside and Ballads Printed in Newcastle on Tyne. See also ‘Haymaking Courtship’ in James Reeves, The Idiom of the People: English Traditional Verse (London, 1958) pp. 122-3.) p. 78.
43. Ibid. pp. 78-79.
44. Ibid. From Housman, Description of Cumberland, pp 70-1. p. 54.
45. Ibid. (Diurnal of Nicholas Blundell, II, 25-7. Also Edwin Butterworth, An Historical Account of the Towns of Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge, and Duckinfield (Ashton, 1842), pp. 37-8.) pp. 64.
46. Malcolmson R. Popular Recreations in English Society 1700-1850. (1973) p.64.
47. Kift. D. The Victorian Music Hall: Culture, Class and Conflict. (1997) Cambridge Uni Press.
48. Waller. M. 1700 Scenes from London Life. (2000) Hodder and Stoughton. p. 210.
49. See Everitt A. Perspectives in English Urban History. The English Urban Inn 1560-1760. pp. 91-137.
50. Hall S. Popular Culture and Social Relations. (1986) Milton Keynes. p. 23.
51. See Lewis F. The Cost of Convict Transportation from Britain to Australia, 1796-1810. (1988) Economic History Review.
52. Nicholas. S. & Shergold. R. Convicts as Migrants. Convict Workers. (1988) p. 43.
53. Alkinson A. The Free-Born Englishmen Transported: Convict Rights as a Measure of Eighteenth-century Emipre. (1999) p. 93.
54. Ibid. p.
55. Ibid. p.
56. Nicholas. S. & Shergold. R. Transportation as Global Migration. Convict Workers. (1988) p. 29.
57. King. P. Juvenile Delinquency in England? Juvenile Prosecutions in London 1780 – 1830. (1992) p. 2.
58. Where B = net benefit, # = survival probability, c = net cost while in bond, w = net output after release, T =cost of the passage to Australia, S = length of sentence, R = retirement year, r = discount rate, and a, b represent Australia, Britain. See Lewis F. The Cost of Convict Transportation from Britain to Australia, 1796-1810. (1988) Economic History Review.
59. Ibid. p. 509-510.
60. See King P. Youth, Crime and the Rise of Juvenile Delinquency 1780 1850. (1995) also King P. The Problem of Juvenile Delinquency’: The Growth of Juvenile Prosecutions in London. (1992)
61. Ibid. Yet as it has been established with there being no recorded evidence other then place of birth the information of origins of town juvenile parents or grandparents is obsolete. So there is no historical evidence of which culture would be ‘winning’ in the ‘battle’ for self-esteem though culture movements as there could be found with the race differences of today’s more multi-cultural society.
63. Nicholas. S. Convict Workers. (1988) p. 20.
64. Huges R. The Fatal Shore. (1986) pp. 204 –209.
65. King. P. Decision-makers and Decision-making in the English Criminal Law, 1750-1800. English Criminal Law. (1984) p. 25.
66. Ibid. p.27.
67. Taylor. D. Crime, Policing and Punishment in England, 1750-1914. (1998) New York. St. Martins Press Inc. p.120.
68.Nicholas. S. Convict Workers Meredith. D. Contemporary Views on Transportation. (1988) p. 14.
69. Ibid. p. 46. (Steven Nicholas’ research starts from 1817, therefore shows no place of birth for the first thirty years of convict migration.)
70. Ibid. p. 54.
71. Ibid. p. 60.
72. Ibid. p. 9.
73. Ibid. p. 19.
74. Ibid. p. 19.
75. Ibid. Meredith. D. Full Circle? Contemporary Views on Transportation. pp. 14-24.
76. Radzinowic. L. English Criminal Law. pp. 133-135.
77. Ibid. p. 136.
78. Radzinowic. L. English Criminal Law. p. 149.
79. Humphery. K. Objects of Compassion: Young male convicts in Van Diemen’s Land. (1992) p. 17-18.
80. Ibid. p. 142.
81. Shore. H. Artful Dogers Youth and Crime in Early Nineteenth-Century London. (1999) Suffolk. St Edmundsbury Press.
82. Radzinowic. L. English Criminal Law. p. 142.
83. Shore. H. Artful Dodgers. P. 129.
84. Radzinowic. L. English Criminal Law. p. 143.
85. Shore. H. Artful Dodgers. From SC Gaols, PP, 1835, 1st Report, xi, appendix 21, pp. 260-1. p. 126-127.
86. Ibid. From Report, xi. 323, evidence of Thomas Dexter. p. 130.
87. Radzinowic. L. English Criminal Law. p. 143.
88. Ibid. p. 144.
89. Ibid. p. 150.
90. Ibid. 151.
91. Ibid. p. 153.
92. Public Record Office. London. HO 18/112 1
94. Radzinowic. English Criminal Law. p. 153.
95. Ibid. p. 155.
96. Humphery. K. Objects of Compassion. (1992) p. 18.
97. Ibid. p. 18.
98. Ibid. p. 19.
99. Ibid. p. 21.
100. Ibid. (See ‘Appendix (B)’ of the Report of the Select Committee on Transportation, 1838, British Parliamentary Papers. p. 219.) p. 21.
101. Ibid. p. 22.
102. Ibid. p. 22.
103. Ibid. p. 22.
104. Radzinowic. L. English Criminal Law. p. 140.
105. Radzinowic. L. English Criminal Law. pp. 140-141.
106. Magarey. S. The Invention of Juvenile Delinquency in Early Nineteenth-Century England. p. 17.
107. Radzinowic. L. English Criminal Law. Quote from Foucault. M. Discipline and Punish (1977) p. 156.
108. Ibid. p. 157.
111. Ibid. p. 159.
112. May. M. Innocence and Experience: The Evolution of the Concept of Juvenile Delinquency in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. (1973) p. 26.
113. Tiffield Reform School Minutes 1862-1872. Northampton Public Record Office. ZB 205/19.
115. May. M. Innocence and Experience. p. 26.
116. Brooks, D. The National Society’s Contribution to Technical Education in Northampton. (1970) Northampton Public Records Office. p. 3.
118. Ibid. p. 4.
121. Tiffield Reform School Minutes 1862-1872.
122. Brooks. D. Technical Education in Northamptonshire. p. 6
123. Ibid. p. 9.
124. Ibid. p. 7-8.