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Criminal records of Victorian women go online

The criminal record of Mary Richards, who was jailed for five years in 1880 at the age 59 for stealing 130 oysters valued at eight shillings. Photo: Ancestry.co.uk/PA Wire

The criminal record of Mary Richards, who was jailed for five years in 1880 at the age 59 for stealing 130 oysters valued at eight shillings. Photo: Ancestry.co.uk/PA Wire

Thousands of Victorian criminal records giving details of female convicts, including a teenager jailed for five years for stealing an umbrella, were published online for the first time.

Family history website Ancestry.co.uk said more than 4,400 criminal records and 500 mugshots will be included in the collection.

Women and young girls featured in the records include Mary Richards, who was jailed for five years in 1880 at the age 59 for stealing 130 oysters valued at eight shillings; Elizabeth Murphy, 19, sentenced to five years of hard labour in 1884 and seven years of police supervision for stealing an umbrella; and Dorcas Mary Snell, 45, who was sentenced to five years of imprisonment with hard labour in 1883 for the theft of a single piece of bacon, although she was paroled two years later.

The website said the records, the originals of which are held by the National Archives, provide a picture of the “harsh” British judicial system at the time.

The site’s international content director Dan Jones said: “Crime is more often associated with men; however, these intriguing records shed light on some rather colourful female lawbreakers of their day and, given the petty nature of many of their crimes, also serves as a reminder of how harsh our judicial system was not so very long ago.”

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