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6 - ‘Find the Lady’

Tracing and Describing the Incarcerated Female Population of London in 1881

from Part II - Prosecution and Punishment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 January 2020

Manon van der Heijden
Affiliation:
Universiteit Leiden
Marion Pluskota
Affiliation:
Universiteit Leiden
Sanne Muurling
Affiliation:
Universiteit Leiden
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Summary

More than seventy years of England and Wales census data is available to search electronically. This chapter uses the digitized census data on London’s penal, semi-penal and voluntary institutions on census night 1881 to explore the social composition of incarcerated women. The census data shows that the prison population only counts a very specific category of female ‘deviants’, as they were predominantly young, unmarried and had low-status, unskilled and insecure occupation. Women in their mid-thirties and older, the married and widowed on the other hand only constituted a small minority of the prison population. This chapter argues that these women can be found in much greater numbers among other major state institutions like the workhouse and the public asylums. While men may have faced the brunt of penal discipline, deviant women were more often taken care of by semi-penal institutions, before but also sometimes after their conviction.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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