Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Life Was Hard, But At Least They Had a Monkey

Nigel Green dug up some Victorian mugshots of child criminals in northern England for his book Tough Times and Grisly Crimes: A History of Crime in Northumberland and Durham. Then he tracked down some of the scamps' descendants—including Alma Bell, whose grandfather, among other things, stole meat from a butcher's shop and received as punishment "six strokes of the birch."

Alma, who now lives in a smart terraced house in East Boldon, near South Shields, was amazed when - with the help of a genealogist - Nigel was able to trace her and show her the mug-shot of her grandfather.

She says: "My grandfather's life sounded very hard but I suppose life was like that in those days. George worked in the docks. I think he was a labourer. I remember stories about them having a monkey in their house, which had come off one of the ships. Apparently it used to swing from the lights." [Link]

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