The Prison Population


The Prison Population

Photograph album of prisoners

Date: 1883-1902 | Reference: P/RP1/5/2

The Home Office issued its first set of standing orders for convict prisons shortly after 1878. Amongst these orders was a requirement to photograph prisoners "in liberty clothing" some three weeks before their discharge.

For Reading, only a handful of such photographs survive. These are from 1896 and 1897. They include a picture of Henry Bushell (p38, far right, second row) who was one of the "pals" Wilde made in prison. Shortly after his discharge, Wilde had money sent to some of these men; Bushell received £2 10s.

When this photograph was taken, Bushell was near the end of a 15 month sentence for stealing an overcoat and a quantity of bacon. He was 22 years of age, and it was his seventh spell in the gaol.

His image sits beside those of other men and women who shared their incarceration with Wilde. William Proctor had also stolen a coat, while George Mankelow had taken twelve sacks of potatoes, George Wooff a silver watch, and James Collins a leather purse; Charles Sealey had obtained a sack of oats under false pretences; Annie Lee and Albert Hale had acquired money likewise.

All were jailed for between two months and three years.