George Webster, cartman, arrested for embezzlement

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Where: Unknown

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When: 25 September 1905

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Name: George Webster
Arrested for: not given
Arrested at: North Shields Police Station
Arrested on: 25 September 1905
Tyne and Wear Archives ref: DX1388-1-77-George Webster

The Shields Daily News for 25 September 1905 reports:


“At North Shields Police Court today George Webster (35), fireman, 186 Stephenson Street, was charged on a warrant with embezzling sums of 7s 4d, 4s8d and 1s 4d, the moneys of his employer, Mr W.A. Wilkinson, mineral water manufacturer. Mr S.R. Holliday appeared for the prosecution.

Mr Holliday said the accused was charged with having embezzled three sums of money from Mr Wilkinson, with whom he had been employed five weeks. He was a cartman and it was his duty daily to take out rolley loads of bottled stuff &c., some of which had been ordered, the remainder being for sale. He had to collect moneys and render an account to Mr Wilkinson upon his return from each journey

On Easter Monday, the 24th April, he was sent out with a load of 80 doz. Smila and pop, three boxes of cigarettes and other articles. He returned on the afternoon, at least his horse was stabled in the afternoon, and as the accused did not put in an appearance Mr Wilkinson sent round to his house in order to ascertain the reason. His wife informed the messenger that that her husband had disappeared and that she did not know where he was. She handed over his receipt book, which contained entries shewing that the accused had received payment of certain accounts and had not handed them over to his employer. The prisoner had absconded and was away four and a half months. He returned to his own home where he was arrested on the 17th inst. Formal evidence was given as to the payment of certain accounts to the accused, who had handed the money over.

Det. Scougal said he apprehended the accused, who was hiding under the stairs of his house. Prisoner pleaded guilty and expressed his sorrow, offering to refund the money if he was given a chance. Mr Wilkinson did not press the charge but the Bench could not overlook the case and committed prisoner for 14 days with hard labour.”

These images are a selection from an album of photographs of prisoners brought before the North Shields Police Court between 1902 and 1916 in the collection of Tyne & Wear Archives (TWA ref DX1388/1).

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Owner: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 20671
prisoner crime criminal northtyneside northshields policestation mugshot imprisoned blackandwhitephotograph hat embezzlement cartman wawilkinson smila moustache

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    optimal chicken

    • 30/Nov/2015 13:32:39

    Given the date, what would hard labour have been? The gentleman is the double of my old woodwork teacher!

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    Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

    • 30/Nov/2015 14:48:28 as I understand it, hard labour could involve a variety of tasks, including stone-breaking and oakum-picking. By the 1900s, though, the use of treadmills and cranks in prisons seems to have been abolished.

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    bawdy kittens

    • 30/Nov/2015 18:52:09

    "oakum-picking" involved untwisting and recycling old hemp ropes ... it was a regular (and only available) occupation for many people in the late 19th century ... you didn't have to go to prison to do that ... The salt in the rope and the fibres would turn your fingers firstly to a bleeding mess and then to stone ... Hence the expression "money for old rope" ...

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    optimal chicken

    • 01/Dec/2015 06:12:41

    Oh wow. I didn't expect that! Stone picking or breaking is something I'd always associated with the USA for some reason. Too many black and white films as a child brainwashed me? Undoing ropes would be torture. A self inflicted slow painful torture which rendered you incapable of work when you were released?

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    Andy Millican

    • 03/Feb/2017 21:21:24[email protected] "Money for old rope". Brilliant, thank you. It's something that never crossed my mind.