Caroline Pulley, Stafford Gaol

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Date:1885

Description:From the Stafford Gaol Photograph Albums, 1877-1916, this photograph taken at Stafford Gaol, and shows prisoner 4408, Caroline Pulley. Prisoners were required to show their hands to the camera, but Caroline Pulley firmly folds her arms and looks defiantly away from the camera instead.

The alternate view is a digitally colourised version of the image.

From prison records there is evidence that she had a string of convictions, mainly for stealing coal, but sometimes for stealing iron and also for assaulting the police. At the time of the photograph Caroline was a cleaner and had a husband and seven children to feed and keep warm . She lived at Brockamoor, Brierley Hill but she was not able to stay in long-term employment. There is evidence that in addition to being a cleaner she had been a labourer and had spent time unemployed – or “no occupation”.

The prison records describe her as 5-2 ¾ “ tall with brown hair light or grey eyes, a pale but pock-marked complexion and of proportionate build. Interestingly, in one document she is described as tall!. Her birth date varies between 1846 and1851. Evidence on the census returns cannot throw any light on Caroline although there are families with the same name .

For trying to steal sixty pounds weight of coal from a barge on the Stourbridge Canal Navigation, Caroline received 6 calendar months hard labour at Stafford Gaol. There is no mention as to what happened to her children. For assaulting a police officer, she only received one calendar month.

Previous convictions included:

Brierley Hill 25th March 1867 stealing coal,14 days

Brierley Hill 12th August 1867 stealing iron, 1 calendar month

Brierley Hill 4th October 1875 assault, fined 5 shillings and costs

Brierley Hill 8th October 1877 stealing iron, 21 days

Brierley Hill 18th April 1878 assaulting police, 1 calendar month

Stafford Sessions 14th October 1878 stealing sixty pounds weight of iron, the property of Peter Harris and another, 6 calendar months and 12 calendar months police supervision.

Brierley Hill 1 8th August 1879 assault, fined 5 shillings and costs

Stafford Sessions 17th October 1881 stealing 100 cwt coal, the property of the Earl of Dudley. Caroline, a labourer at this time, received two days imprisonment at Stafford Gaol for this charge. She had already been “some time” in custody.

Brierley Hill 12th June 1882 stealing coal 2 calendar months

Stafford Sessions 15th October 1883 stealing coal, 6 calendar months. Caroline was unemployed and pleaded guilty to this charge. She had stolen, on 18th December 1882 at Kingswinford, sixty pounds weight of coal from a boat on the Stourbridge Canal. It belonged to William Pearson and another. She received 6 months of hard labour at H.M. Prison, Stafford.


Stafford Sessions 13th February 1885 Caroline is charged with stealing 95 lb of coal from the Earl of Dudley, 9 calendar months and 12 months police supervision

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Donor ref:Caroline-Pulley-Pn4408-D5112-58 (201/31984)

Source: Staffordshire County Record Office

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