Compared with today’s standards, the Victorian legal system can appear to be particularly harsh towards children living under difficult circumstances. An example of this is one court case brought about due to four children running away from the Wrexham Workhouse.
In May 1857, four young boys, aged between 11 and 12 years old, ran away from the Wrexham Workhouse, and in the eyes of the Victorian courts had to audacity to do so wearing clothes belonging to the workhouse.
The four boys were charged with “leaving the workhouse having clothes on them belonging to the workhouse”. The case against the four boys was brought by Mr Bragger, the Governor of the Wrexham Workhouse, because the boys had repeatedly done this before.
Hauled before the court, three of the boys offered explanations for their actions. The fourth boys complained that he had run away from the workhouse because he had been beaten by a schoolmaster.
Each of the boys received a sentence of 21 days imprisonment, with hard labour, at the Ruthin Goal. The local newspaper appeared to have little sympathy for the boys, pointing out that the boys could have been sentenced to a maximum of up to three months with hard labour.
Source: Written and researched by Wayne Cronin-Wojdat, B.A (Hons.), MSc – Historical Gems.
Picture – Pinterest; (Note: It’s not of Wrexham Workhouse and is for illustration only).