Britain’s Oldest Police Mugshots, Taken from between the 1850s and 1870s

These historic mugshots were taken at the Moor Street public office in Birmingham between the 1850s and 1870s. Their crimes were described in scrawled notes.

The first mugshot of a crook was taken in Birmingham in 1853, making it the first force in the world to take mugshots. The police took mug shots of many crooks following their arrest more than 150 years ago. They are often dressed in expensive top hats.

The first ledger of the Birmingham Police collection dates back to the 1870s when it was mandated that all police forces take photographs of people in custody. Many of these characters are dressed in bedraggled clothing, all in black. Holding a chalkboard for the reference number identifying their record, also identifying the year the image was taken.

#1 Mugshot of John Dale who is one of the earliest recorded examples of a joyrider after he was jailed in 1862 for stealing a horse and cart.

#2 Murderer William Smith was pictured after being charged with killing his wife in August 1866.

#3 A mugshot of an unknown woman, crime and date unknown.

#7 Ann Vickers was pictured after stealing a watch from a person in May 1862.

#9 James Freeth was pictured in February 1861, but his crime is no longer known.

#10 Samuel Crowlety was charged with having skeleton keys in October 1862.

#11 Joseph Martin was made to stand for a mugshot in August 1862, though it is now known what his crime was.

#12 A mugshot of Samuel Crowley, charged with having skeleton keys in October 1862.

#13 A mugshot of Sarah Rivers in 1862, crime unknown.

#14 A mugshot of an unknown man from between 1850-70.

#15 A mugshot of John Williams (age unknown), charged with warehouse breaking and sentenced to 4 months hard labour in 1864.

#16 Mugshot of an unknown man taken some time between 1850 and 1870.

#17 Mugshot of an unknown man in a rather fetching stovepipe hat.

#18 Catherine Legg who was arrested in May 1858 at a fair in Dudley, West Midlands.

#19 A mugshot of Isaac Ellery, who was arrested on March 7, 1853 and was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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