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Residents of Caerleon Who Found Themselves in Usk Gaol
Charles Jones 1876 and Caroline Jenkins 1873

Charles Jones 1876

Charles Jones
16 November 1876

Prisoner number 137, Charles Jones age 14, sits for the camera in the County Gaol Usk. The year is 1876 and life will be very different for Charles for some time now.

What has Charles done? His offence was stealing seven bottles of wine. With no previous convictions you may well think he would have been let off with a warning. But no these were hard times for the working class.

Charles was sentenced to 14 days hard labour and three years at Little Mill Reformatory.

Photograph courtesy of Gwent Archives


The following details were recorded in the Receiving Book for Usk Gaol along with the young prisoner's photograph:

Name: Charles Jones
Residence: Mill Street, Caerleon
Age: 14
Height: 4 - 10
Hair: Light Brown
Eyes: Blue
Complexion: Fresh
Where Born: Newport
Married or Single: Single. Father William, Maltster, Caerleon.
Trade or Occupation: None
Read or Write: Impt
Religion: C. of England
Weight: 6 - 3
Marks or defects: none
Place and Date of Conviction: Caerleon, 16 November 1876
Offence for which convivcted: Stealing 7 bottles of wine
Sentence: 14 days H.L. and 3 years Reformatory
Date to be liberated: 29 November 1876
Intended Residence after Liberation: Little Mill Reformatory
Previous convictions: none

We have found Charles' family (five and a half years earlier) in the 1871 census living in Mill Street:

William Jones, Head, 46, Maltster, Born in Llantarnum
Cecelia Jones, Wife, 6, Born in Llanvrechva
William H Jones, Son, 14, Scholar, Born in Newport
Rosalie Jones, Daughter, 12, Scholar, Born in Newport
Cecilia Jones, Daughter, 10, Scholar, Born in Newport
Charles A Jones, Son, 7, Scholar, Born in Newport

However we have been unable to find them in Caerleon in subsequent censuses.

Reading through Usk Gaol Receiving books one is almost left breathless at the harsh punishments. A high proportion of the crimes committed were stealing clothing or food, and when one sees the photographs of the prisoners one appreciates their need for these items. (Charles not being typical, he appears to be well dressed.) Here are a few examples from 1871:

Stealing a pair of 'trowsers'
2 calendar months hard labour
Stealing a pair of boots
2 calendar months hard labour
Stealing two Fowls
6 weeks hard labour and once privately whipped 6 strokes with a birch rod
Stealing a fur cap
3 calendar months hard labour
Stealing 3 apples
3 calendar months hard labour
Attempting to steal goods from a box in Newport Market place
1 calendar month hard labour and 5 years at a Reformatory School
Stealing cheese
3 calendar months hard labour
Stealing a shilling (5p)
21 days hard labour and 5 years at a Reformatory
Caroline Jenkins 1873  
Caroline Jenkins
April 12 1873

The only other person from Caerleon with a photograph in the receiving book for Usk Gaol is pictured left.

Caroline Jenkins was a mother of 5 children aged between 4 and 13 when she started her sentence in 1873 for stealing a pair of boots. Her family can be found in the 1871 Census living in Caerleon Village:

Evan Jenkins, Head, 36, General Labourer
Caroline Jenkins, wife, 34, Dress Maker
William Jenkins, son, 11, General Labourer
Caroline Jenkins, daughter, 9, Scholar
Eliza Clara Jenkins, daughter, 7, Scholar
Emily Martha Jenkins, daughter, 5
Margaret Jenkins, daughter, 2

Caroline can also be found in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses living in Caerleon Village on Old Hill.

Photograph courtesy of Gwent Archives


The details recorded for Caroline were as follows

Age: 36 years
Height: 4ft 9ins
Hair: Light
Eyes: Grey
Complexion: Fresh
Where Born: Caerleon
Married or Single: Married
Trade or Occupation: Married Woman

She had no previous convictions and served 21 days hard labour. One can only imagine how difficult this time must have been for her family.


Strange to think that these may be the only photographs taken of Charles and Caroline...

For a searchable database of prisoners in Usk Gaol (from the Newport area) 1871 - 1876 follow this link.

You can find out more about the photography of prisoners in Victorian times at the BBC website. Also, it is possible to search the National Archives for prisoners' photos and records. See below for links to these websites:

BBC Webpages

National Archives

Those researching their Caerleon Roots will find a great deal of information on Caerleon Net by following this link.

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