Mug Shots of Victorian Lady Criminals


In 1871, Great Britain enacted a law systematizing the practice of photographing criminals. Thus, the mug shot was born. The Prison & Police Museum in the North Yorkshire town of Ripon (near the fictional location of Downton Abbey) is featuring Victorian-era mug books in a new exhibit. The female criminals come from a variety of backgrounds. One is a housekeeper; some wear tattered rags, others jaunty hats. Their crimes, which appear in handwritten notes alongside some photographs, range from "cruelty to children" to "stealing woollen [sic] sweater." Click ahead to see mug shots of the wanted women of Victorian England.