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MacRaild, Don; Neal, Frank (2012)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: L900, V100
During the nineteenth century, police, magistrates, reformers and the press noticed a rising tide of juvenile crime. Child-stripping, the crime of stealing young children's clothes by force or deception, was an activity of this type which caused alarm among contemporaries. As the century progressed, improved policing, urbanization and Irish migration, allied to growing social concern, caused more cases of child-stripping to be noticed. Accounts by Dickens, Mayhew and others characterized child-stripping as an activity indulged in by old women who were able to make money by victimizing the weakest strata of society. However, research in the British Library's digitized newspaper collections as well as in parliamentary papers conclusively demonstrates that child-stripping, far from being the domain of Dickensian crones, was actually perpetrated by older children, notably girls, against children even younger than themselves. Despite widespread revulsion, which at times approached a ‘moral panic’ prompted by the nature of the crime, progressive attitudes largely prevailed with most child-stripping children being sent to reformatories or industrial schools in the hope of reforming their behaviour. This article thus conforms with Foucauldian notions of the switch from physical to mental punishments and aligns with the Victorians’ invention of children as a category of humanity that could be saved.
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    • 2 Dombey and Son (1846; London, 1995), 71. Also, M.E. Winchester's Adrift in a Great City (London, 1892).
    • 3 G. Himmelfarb, The Idea of Poverty: England in the Early Industrial Age (London, 1984), 471.
    • 4 H. Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, 4 vols. (London, 1864), vol. I, 281.
    • 5 J. McLevy, Casebook of a Victorian Detective, ed. Scott Moncrieff (Edinburgh, 1975), 198, 199, 205.
    • 6 For an excellent survey, see S. d'Cruze and L.L. Jackson, Women, Crime and Justice in England since 1660 (Basingstoke, 2009).
    • 7 Glasgow Herald, 15 Jan. 1844, 14 Sep. 1849.
    • 8 Caledonian Mercury, 1 Oct. 1838.
    • 9 Jackson's Oxford Journal, 23 Sep. 1843. See also the case of the six times convicted Matilda Smith: Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper, 19 Jul. 1857; and Louise Nichol and Agnes Johnson of Glasgow who were charged with six cases: Manchester Times, 17 Jun. 1854.
    • 10 Newcastle Courant, 12 Aug. 1853.
    • 11 Liverpool Courier, 11 Jul. 1855.
    • 12 Caledonian Mercury, 26 Mar. 1861; Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 28 Aug., 1 Sep. 1883.
    • 13 North Wales Chronicle, 20 Feb. 1869.
    • 14 Though the sources for measuring such things are imperfect, J. Humphries, Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution (Cambridge, 2010), 172-210, especially the tables and chart at 176-7, presents quantitative evidence of males beginning work at 11-12 years. Factors of class, region and gender influenced the age at which children went to work. The offspring of skilled workers started work later than those of the poor; girls were retained in the home longer; and agricultural workers' children started work earlier than their industrial equivalents. See P. Kirby, Child Labour in Britain, 1750-1870 (Basingstoke, 2003), 32-7.
    • 15 The age of legal responsibility was codified by Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, 4 vols. (London, 1771 edn), vol. I, 464.
    • 16 For an excellent discussion, see C. Robson, Men in Wonderland: The Lost Girlhood of the Victorian Gentlemen (Princeton, 2001), 24-6.
    • 17 For the concept of moral panic, see the founding text: S. Cohen, Folk Devils and Moral Panics. The Creation of the Mods and Rockers (London, 1980). Also, G. Pearson, Hooligans. A History of Respectable Fears (London, 1983), and J. Springhall, Youth, Popular Culture and Moral Panics: Penny Gaffs to Gangsta-Rap, 1830-1996 (London, 1998). Also, E.J. Yeo, '“The boy is the father of the man”: moral panics over working-class youth, 1850 to the present', Labour History Review, 69 (2004), 185-99, and H. Shore, '“Undiscovered country”: towards a history of the criminal “underworld”', Crimes and Misdemeanours, 1 (2007), 47-9.
    • 18 Classically described by M. Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Rise of the Prison (1975; London, 2009), and M. Ignatieff, A Just Measure of Pain: Penitentiaries in the Industrial Revolution, 1780-1850 (London, 1978).
    • 19 M. Moore, 'Social control or the protection of the child? The debate on the Industrial Schools Acts, 1857-94', Journal of Family History, 33 (2008), 359-84.
    • 20 Manchester Times, 26 Jun. 1886.
    • 21 B. Griffin, The Bulkies: Police and Crime in Belfast, 1800-1865 (Dublin, 1997), 78-9.
    • 22 J.E. Handley, The Navvy in Scotland (Cork, 1970), 310.
    • 23 The first recorded incidents of child-stripping appear in the seventeenth-century records of trials at the Old Bailey. 'Rose Goodman, who was condemned for stripping of Children and other Fellonious Crimes': Old Bailey Proceedings Front Matter, 7th Jul. 1675, 1. The Burney Collection of newspapers from the British Library records just seven events for the pre-1800 period: St. James's Evening Post, 18 Oct. 1733; Norwich Gazette, 29 Aug., 19 Sep. 1741; Public Ledger or The Daily Register of Commerce and Intelligence, 8 Jun. 1761; Gazetteer and London Daily Advertiser, 15 Jul. 1762; Sun, 4 Sep. 1794; Oracle and Public Advertiser, 20 Oct. 1797. For further cases at the Old Bailey, see: Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 25 Feb. 1713, 4; 27 Feb. 1734, 14; 30 May 1750, 11; 14 Jan. 1789, 77. The case of 'Bristol Nan' who as well as running with child-strippers also brutalized her victims horribly is particularly shocking case. The Whole Remarkable Life and Transactions. Of that Wicked and Infamous Strumpet and Stroller Anne Martin Otherwise Bristol Nan, Who Was Try'd and Cast on Saturday the 4th of April, 1761, before the Court at Hicks-Hall, in St. John's-Street, for Decoying Young Children from their Parents, both in Town and Country, and Putting their Eyes out with Red Hot Knitting Needles . . . (London, 1775?), esp. 8.
    • 24 E.g. Manchester Times, 23 Apr. 1836, and Liverpool Mercury, 8 Oct. 1850.
    • 25 B.S. Godfrey and P. Lawrence, Crime and justice 1750-1950 (London, 2005), 110.
    • 26 1847 [864] Twelfth Report of the Inspectors Appointed under the Provisions of the Act 5 & 6 Will. IV. c. 38, to Visit the Different Prisons of Great Britain, vol. IV: Scotland, Northumberland, and Durham, Table V, 24.
    • 27 Liverpool Standard, 23 Jul. 1850; Belfast News-letter, 11 Jul. 1882.
    • 28 J.D. Burns, Commercial Enterprise and Social Progress . . . (London, 1858), 152.
    • 29 See, for example, R.D. Storch, 'The plague of blue locusts: police reform and popular resistance in northern England, 1840-57', International Review of Social History, 21 (1975), 61-90. Belfast News-letter, 30 Aug. 1869.
    • 30 The term juvenile delinquent itself dates to 1816. Yeo, '“The boy is the father of the man”', 186. For the broader context, see H. Shore, Becoming Delinquent: British and European Youth, 1650-1950 (London, 2002).
    • 31 J.H.A. Macdonald, A Practical Treatise on the Criminal Law in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1877), 38.
    • 32 M. Cale, 'Girls and the perception of sexual danger in the Victorian reformatory system', History, 78 (1993), 201-17.
    • 33 (1854-55) [153] Youthful Offenders. A Bill to Amend the Youthful Offenders Act, 1-2.
    • 34 L. Mahood, Policing, Gender, Class and Family: Britain, 1850-1940 (London, 1995), 36.
    • 35 For the broader context of the child at risk, see M. Flegel, Conceptualizing Cruelty to Children in Nineteenth-Century England: Literature, Representation, and the NSPCC (London, 2009).
    • 36 H. Shore, Artful Dodgers: Youth and Crime in Early Nineteenth-Century London (Woodbridge, 1999), 1. See also J. Gillis, 'The evolution of juvenile delinquency in England, 1890-1914', Past and Present, 67 (1975), 96.
    • 37 Shore, Artful Dodgers, 6.
    • 38 L. Mahood and B. Littlewood, 'The “vicious girls” and “street corner boys”: sexuality and the gendered delinquent in the Scottish child-saving movement, 1850-1940', Journal of the History of Sexuality, 4 (1994), 549-78.
    • 39 Shore, Artful Dodgers, is one of the best recent studies and focuses more on males because her core evidence - testimonies of juveniles on the prison hulk, Euryalus - point that way and because of the weight of male-versus-female offenders. See appendices 5-7, 165-7.
    • 40 P. King, 'The rise of juvenile delinquency in England, 1780-1840: changing patterns of perception and persecution', Past and Present, 160 (1998), 137. Also see D. Palk's important monograph for the period prior to that considered here: Gender, Crime and Judicial Discretion, 1780-1830 (Woodbridge, 2006).
    • 41 King, 'Juvenile deliquency'; L. Wolff, '“The boys are pickpockets, and the girl is a prostitute”: gender and juvenile criminality in early Victorian England from Oliver Twist to London Labour', New Literary History, 27 (1996), 227-49.
    • 42 For instance in the Victorian Edinburgh described in M. McLaren, Stevenson and Edinburgh: A Centenary Study (London, 1950), 174.
    • 43 'Caution to parents', Northern Whig, 9 May 1837. See also Manchester Guardian, 30 Nov. 1855, and Caledonian Mercury, 28 Jun. 1861.
    • 44 Caledonian Mercury, 28 Jun. 1861.
    • 45 Ibid., 25 Sep. 1848.
    • 46 Liverpool Mercury, 21 Jun. 1833.
    • 47 Caledonian Mercury, 17 Nov. 1836.
    • 48 Liverpool Mercury, 12 Oct. 1859.
    • 49 Belfast News-letter, 10 Sep. 1860.
    • 69 King, 'Juvenile delinquency', 146-9.
    • 70 See S. McConville, A History of English Prison Administration, vol. I: 1750-1877 (London, 1981).
    • 71 Parliamentary papers are littered with references to Irish crime, but see: 1847-48 [997] Thirteenth Report of the Inspectors Appointed under the Provisions of the Act 5 & 6 Will. IV. c. 38, to Visit the Different Prisons of Great Britain, vol. IV: Northern District, vi.
    • 72 (1849) [507] [507-II] Fifth and Sixth Reports from the Select Committee of the House of Lords Appointed to Inquire into the Operation of the Irish Poor Law, and the Expediency of Making Any Amendment in its Enactments, 76.
    • 73 H. Mayhew and J. Binny, The Criminal Prisons of London (London, 1862), 402.
    • 74 P. Moloney, '“Flying down the Saltmarket”: the Irish on the Glasgow music hall stage', Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, 36 (2009), 12-13.
    • 75 D.M. MacRaild, The Irish Diaspora in Britain, 1750-1939 (Basingstoke, 2010), 168-9; D. Fitzpatrick, '“A curious middle place”: the Irish in Britain, 1801-70', in W.E. Vaughan (ed.), A New History of Ireland, vol. V: Ireland under the Union, I, 1801-70 (Oxford, 1996), 643.
    • 76 More than 40% of prostitutes in Liverpool, in 1854, were Irish: 1854 [396] Report from the Select Committee on Poor Removal; together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, Appendix, and Index, 368. For context, see R. Swift, 'Crime and the Irish in nineteenth-century Britain', in R. Swift and S. Gilley (eds.), The Irish in Britain, 1815-1939 (London, 1989), 163-82, and his 'Heroes or villains? The Irish, crime and disorder in Victorian England', Albion, 29 (1998), 399-421.
    • 77 McLevy, Casebook, 200.
    • 78 Ibid., 204.
    • 79 Manchester Times, 13 Nov. 1880.
    • 80 Daily News, 3 Jul. 1851.
    • 81 M. Smith and D.M. MacRaild, 'Paddy and Biddy no more: an evolutionary analysis of the decline in Irish Catholic forenames among descendents of nineteenth-century Irish migrants to Britain', Annals of Human Biology, 21 (2009), 283-9.
    • 82 John Bull, 10, 19 Jul. 1841.
    • 83 Spirit of the English Magazine, 9 Apr.-Oct 1821, 48.
    • 84 Cumberland Pacquet, 12 Aug. 1851.
    • 85 Morning Chronicle, 18 Sep. 1819.
    • 86 Caledonian Mercury, 25 Oct. 1823.
    • 87 (1884) [C.3876] [C.3876-I] Reformatories and Industrial Schools Commission, Report of the Commissioners, together with Minutes of Evidence, Appendices, and Index, vol. I: The Report, Minutes of Evidence, 427.
    • 88 Manchester Times, 12 Apr. 1845.
    • 89 Morning Chronicle, 20 Apr. 1860; Times, 20 Apr. 1860.
    • 107 Ibid., 25 Aug. 1869.
    • 108 1865 [3522] Forty-Third Report of the Inspectors-General on the General State of the Prisons of Ireland, 1864; with Appendix, x.
    • 109 (1862) [3034] Fifth Report of the Inspector Appointed, under the Provisions of the Act 5 & 6 Will. IV. c. 38., to Visit the Certified Reformatory and Industrial Schools of Great Britain, 7.
    • 110 (1864) [3378] Seventh Report, 7.
    • 111 (1865) [3527] Eighth Report, 4.
    • 112 (1884) [C.3876] [C.3876-I] Reformatories and Industrial Schools Commission, Minutes of Evidence, Appendices, and Index, vol. I: The Report, 9.
    • 113 Belfast News-letter, 22 Oct. 1881.
    • 114 Birmingham Daily Post, 14 May 1894.
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