Victorian Felons: Catherine Legg

4D289E4700000578-5834259-image-a-139_1528814757734We continue our posting of Victorian mugshots from West Midlands with some of the earliest such police photos ever taken.  Today’s suspect is Catherine Legg, who was arrested in May 1858 at a fair in Dudley, West Midlands.

The picture has an intensive, even haunting, element to it.  She seems quite young and you have to wonder was is on her mind.  An arrest at a fair could be pickpocketing or solicitation as common offenses of the period but no record exists of the charge.

11 thoughts on “Victorian Felons: Catherine Legg”

  1. She looks very young. I’d say 11 or 12 or so. It’s hard to tell with the fuzziness of the photo. But her hands look very young, as well. There may have been something wrong with her right eye.

    I wonder what her story was. She grew up in a time when a great many people died young of illness or injury. It was a brutal time to be poor. Her cape looks quite rough, and I don’t see a closure. Is it even hers?

    When a girl is arrested at a fair, I would assume it was for pickpocketing or hustling at some game, like running a cheating shell game.

  2. My understanding is that photography was expensive then, which might lead to the assumption that those photographed were more infamous, or at least more interesting to the police for various reasons.

    1. You get the impression she’s The Bad Seed who’s realized the smile and the basket-of-hugs line isn’t working anymore.

  3. The technology of the time was such that she likely had to hold still for several minutes. I’d wager it was the first time anyone had taken her picture, and perhaps the only time until she reached middle age. From the clothing people wore, you do get the impression they went through their lives uncomfortable.

    1. I was thinking the same thing about the clothing, including those hats. To make a dress today you need approximately three yards of cloth. 150 years ago for a dress similar to these pictures you needed 15 yards. And that without electrical washing machines. Nor electric irons. No wonder people didn’t change much and washed less and wore aprons around the house. Washing took all day.

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