Victorian Mugshots: John Williams

4D274B7D00000578-5834259-image-m-22_1528797559992This is John Williams who is depicted in one of the recently discovered Victorian era mugshots that we have been featuring on our blog. They include the oldest mugshots in Britain and were taken at the Moor Street staton in Birmingham between the 1850s and 1870s.  West Midlands Police heritage lead Corinne Brazier and her colleagues did a great service in ensuring the preservation of these remarkable mugshots.

Mugshots were first used by Belgian police in 1843 and began ten years later in Birmingham.

John Williams is obviously quite young and was convicted of breaking into a warehouse. He was given four months of hard labour in 1864.  There is both a sense of sadness but also premature aging in the eyes of his young man.

9 thoughts on “Victorian Mugshots: John Williams”

  1. notice his attire. Compare to modern youth in how they dress today. Now consider the crimes then vs now

    The former represents a form of decorum, pride, fastidiousness in how they carry themselves even if they lived in squallor. His crime was breaking into a warehouse. What were the details surrounding his motive?
    We can surmise given the history of the time. This kid’s crime is hardly a crime.

    Today’s youth, how they dress, act, address adults, all point to a broken American culture.

    “A Brief History of Birmingham”
    Victorian Birmingham
    1837-1901

    “As central Birmingham became increasingly industrialised, living conditions for many people deteriorated. The large Georgian town houses were replaced by smaller middle-class houses which were later let or replaced again by housing for artisans or for the working class who needed to live near their work in the centre. Town gardens and courts were infilled with cramped cheap back-to-back housing for the very poor. Squalid slums stretched from the present site of New Street Station to Snow Hill and down into Digbeth and Deritend.”
    https://billdargue.jimdo.com/glossary-brief-histories/a-brief-history-of-birmingham/victorian-birmingham/

        1. England was better off with his brother, George the VI.
          I don’t think Edward was up to the job even if Wallace Simpson? never came into the picture.
          (I’ll need to see if I got her name right).

            1. Bessie Wallis Warfield. She came from a Baltimore family that was culturally patrician, but her particular household was fairly impecunious. She had a talent for seducing men who’d come from money and had money. All three of her husbands had patrician backgrounds and at least two were wealthy.

              Her first husband, Cdr. Spencer, may have been brave, skilled, and possessed of leadership qualities. He was wretched in domestic settings – ran through four marriages, never sired any children, and, by some accounts, alcohol-sodden and given to violent rages. Her second husband, Mr. Simpson, was in the shipping business. Mr. Simpson seems to have had something of the social worker (or the garbage collector) in him. He married four times (2x divorced) and all four wives were divorcees. When Prince David came on the scene, he folded like a cheap suit and gave her a collusive divorce. One interesting datum about Mr. Simpson is that his son re-invented himself completely, converting to Judaism, adopting a new name, and decamping to Israel. Interesting to speculate what sort of psychodrama was going on there. You kind of wonder if Mr. Simpson was like the Jim Backus character in Rebel without a Cause.

              A subsidiary issue in the abdication crisis was that Wallis Simpson was barren. Her whole family was deficient in fertility. Just to amuse myself, I’ve attempted using various databases to locate her relatives. I eventually gave up. Not sure she had any in her generation closer than a second cousin.

              What’s known of the Duke and Duchess was that their disposition and judgment were wretched about matters large and small. There’s surviving evidence that indicates they’d have been willing tools of the Germans had Britain fallen in 1941. His amatory life prior to 1937 was a scandal. Remarks about his disabled brother in his surviving letters are appalling. His surviving correspondence also indicates he resented the daily routine of ceremonial activities that members of the royal family have engaged in since the time of George V. Just. Totally. Unsuitable. Britain really dodged a bullet when he was shuffled off the throne.

              1. DSS – he either was a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer as shown by his activities and letters. The UK did dodge a bullet when he abdicated.

                1. If I’m not mistaken, much of the evidence against them consists of cables sent by regime officials which may contain a certain amount of puffery by the functionaries in question.

                  My guess would be more of a Germanophile regime apologist of the Charles Lindbergh variety than someone who favored Nazi political economy. At the time the Duke and his wife visited Germany in October 1937 there had been a great deal of ugly legislation and abuse, but not a great deal of bloodshed. The census of the concentration camps at that time might have been some what north of 10,000 – political prisoners, Gypsies, homosexuals & some common criminals. Not many Jews qua Jews. Germany was the most virulent authoritarian state in Europe (outside of the Soviet Union). Keep in mind, though, that between 1922 and 1939 parliamentary institutions had gone under in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Austria, Yugolasvia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Roumania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Finland in addition had a near miss in 1931-32.

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