On 6 March 1856, thirteen year old John (alias William) Ward, born in Dublin, was sentenced to two weeks in a House of Correction and five weeks to a Reformatory. He was subsequently imprisoned at Seeds Borough Gaol, and then on the 19th of March 1856 sent to the Calder Farm Reformatory. It was his first conviction. He offense was receiving stolen goods (brass weights). Accurate brass weights were vital to many shop keepers in order for them to weigh accurately items for sale. Any theft or alteration of them was considered a serious offense in those days.
The records describe John as 4 ft 6 1/2 in. tall, of a fair complexion with dark brown hair and grey eyes. They also report that he has a small scar on his right elbow.
He could read moderately well, wrote a little, but was unable to cypher (that’s an old way to say he couldn’t do basic math). He had been employed as a book stitcher.
John was the child of Christopher and Eliza Ward. The father was employed as an engineer, while the mother was a “Charwoman.” The father at the time of incarceration resided at Wellington Street, Strand, London; the mother was living at the Times Office Yard, Briggate, Seeds.
The above information was extracted from a single page of the reformatory school records for Calder Farm Reformatory situated in West Yorkshire England. It serves as a wonderful example of the information you may find if one of your ancestors may have run askew of the law as a youngster. This is the description of just one record found in a new database at Ancestry called West Yorkshire, England, Reformatory School Records, 1856-1914. Provided in association with West Yorkshire Archive Service, this database contains records from three reform or industrial schools in West Yorkshire: Calder Farm Reformatory, East Moor Community Home School, and Shadwell Children’s Centre. Records include admissions, commitments, and discharges.
This database is unique to Ancestry and does require a UK or World memberships to access the data in it.
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