Thursday, 16 February 2012

The harsh reality of a childhood prank.

Once again we’ve come across some very young boys imprisoned in the House of Correction. Reuben Spring and George Edwards were just 9 and 10 years of age. Evidence in their case was based on the statement of just one man, William Bradshaw, a plate layer for the Great Northern Railway. He had witnessed the boys kneeling along side the outside up line of the Great Northern railway near Sandy. On going over to investigate he found 4 walnut sized stone on the rail. This occurred on an unspecified day in July. It was some 2 months later that the statement was taken from the witness. He stated that his employers considered in an offence which should not escape punishment. Reuben Spring, later described on the gaol register as 4ft 5” and blind in one eye, denied laying the stones on the line, in his statement. A month later at the Michaelmas Quarter Session, both boys were sentenced to 3 months hard labour in the House of Correction.

On previous occasions, we have seen young boys sent off to the newly established Reformatory Schools. However, it appears that on this occasion the boys served their sentence in the House of Correction. On a more positive note, Reuben Spring can be found in later censuses. He is a married man with a family, still living in the Sandy area, and he had become a General Dealer. This possibly suggests his time in the House of Correction was more of a deterrent than a learning ground towards a criminal life.


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