Children Sentenced to Hard Labor

I found this story on @HistoryWeird's blog here. The original source was The Morning Post (London), November 25, 1833.

"In November 1833 two 11-year-old boys, John Roe and Richard Burrowes, were hauled before a London magistrate. Their heinous crime? Stealing one apple. According to testimony provided by Mr Little, owner of the fruit shop:

"'The boy Burrowes entered his shop and asked for a ha’p'orth [halfpenny's worth] of specks [damaged apples] and Roe followed him in, when he observed Roe purloin an undamaged apple from the basket, which he found upon him, and he gave both boys into custody.'

"In the dock, John Roe admitted to stealing the apple. Richard Burrowes, however, denied having any involvement or awareness of the theft. The magistrate, however, was not convinced. After hearing the evidence he dealt severely with both boys:

"'Mr Burrell committed Roe to the House of Correction for ten days and Burrowes to the same place for twenty days, there to be kept in hard labour.'

"Burrell received the double sentence because he had been in court before: for stealing a cup of fat. Nevertheless, 20 days’ hard labour for accompanying someone who stole an apple is a harsh sentence, even by Victorian standards."

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