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#388438 - 15th Feb 2010 3:18am Sent To The "Clarence"
alanjd Offline

Registered: 15th Feb 2010
Posts: 4
Loc: NSW Australia
I have just read an interesting article posted by Uptoncx on the Reformatory Ship Clarence. I am currently researching my g grandfather who I think was on the ship in the 1881 Census. I am under the impression that, as it was a Reformatory Ship, he had committed some crime. Can anyone tell me how I would get hold of magistrate's committal papers, assuming he must have been charged in a court, or could he have been placed there simply because of the poverty in his home circumstances. He seems to fulfil all the necessary criteria for being there: son of Irish migrants, RC, mother widowed when he was 7, she remarries and down the line, he becomes a rigger in the merchant navy.

Hope someone can give me an opinion.

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#388445 - 15th Feb 2010 9:09am Re: Sent To The "Clarence" [Re: alanjd]
MissGuided Offline

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Registered: 18th Jul 2008
Posts: 9995
Loc: Back of the wardrobe
I think most historic record for Wirral are now kept at the records office in Chester:

I don't think Wirral has its own record office anymore, but found this site:

#388450 - 15th Feb 2010 9:22am Re: Sent To The "Clarence" [Re: MissGuided]
alan128 Online   content

Registered: 14th Aug 2009
Posts: 171
Loc: Bebington
wirral archives

Lower Ground Floor
Cheshire Lines Building
Canning Street
CH41 1ND

Tel: 0151 606 2929
Fax: 0151 606 2928

have a little information on this topic will post on my return home later tonight,

#388458 - 15th Feb 2010 9:42am Re: Sent To The "Clarence" [Re: alan128]
MissGuided Offline

Wiki Guardian

Registered: 18th Jul 2008
Posts: 9995
Loc: Back of the wardrobe
Ok, and there's this as well on here - just found:

#388560 - 15th Feb 2010 4:28pm Re: Sent To The "Clarence" [Re: MissGuided]
alan128 Online   content

Registered: 14th Aug 2009
Posts: 171
Loc: Bebington
Birkenhead archives hold Birkenhead county magistrates records for the period you are interested in.I have used them and found my great grand uncle in them. He was employed as a cook on board Reformatory Ship Clarence but stole some food and was given one months prison with hard labour.He was later re-employed by them but sadly he was lost overboard.

This is taken from Liverpool Mercury 2nd November 1876
27th September 1876 at sea from steamship Chancellor aged 51 George Lobb (late R.N.) of Rock Ferry.

If the case goes to County Court it would be held at Chester and Cheshire archives in Chester is the place to look.

Edited by alan128 (15th Feb 2010 4:30pm)

#388635 - 15th Feb 2010 10:03pm Re: Sent To The "Clarence" [Re: alan128]
alanjd Offline

Registered: 15th Feb 2010
Posts: 4
Loc: NSW Australia
Thanks for the quick replies. I will follow your links.

#388703 - 16th Feb 2010 9:04am Re: Sent To The "Clarence" [Re: alanjd]
alan128 Online   content

Registered: 14th Aug 2009
Posts: 171
Loc: Bebington
Another option would be
Liverpool Records Office
Central Library
William Brown Street
Liverpool L3 8ew

If it is Liverpool Magistrates Court

#389764 - 20th Feb 2010 11:30am Re: Sent To The "Clarence" [Re: alan128]
uptoncx Offline

Registered: 24th May 2008
Posts: 683
Loc: Wirral

The records of the Liverpool Catholic Reformatory Society (including the Clarence) are in the Liverpool Record office, this is an extract from their catalogue:

364 CAT

Records of the Liverpool Catholic Reformatory Association.


1. Reformatory [Fund] Committee Minute Books, 1 vol., 1856-1860
2. Association Minute Books, 12 vols., 1863-1870, 1885-1946
3. Clarence Committee Minute Books, 2 vols., 1896-1902
4. St. Aidan's School, Farnworth: Manager's Minute Books, 1 vol., 1940-1941
5. Abstracts of Schools Journals/Draft Minute Books, 3 vols., 1894-1898, 1908-1935
6. Accounts
/1. Expenditure and Receipt Account Books, 1 vol., 1881-1890
/2. Maintenance Allowance Quarterly Account Books, 2 vols., 1893-1918
/3. Cash Books, 3 vols., 1890-1895
/4. Miscellaneous, 1 vol., 1895-1929
7. Out-letter books, 5 vols., 1856, 1874-1896
8. Rolls of Juvenile Offenders and related registers, 7 vols., 7 docs., 1854-1860, 1890-1945
9. Rules, etc., 2 docs., 1877, n.d.
10. Subscription Books, 1 vol., [1856]
11. Plans, 4 docs., 1904-1927
12. Miscellaneous papers, 15 docs., 1860-1936
13. Miscellaneous printed material, 9 items, 1856-1923

Admin History
In 1854 the Act for the better Care and Reformation of Youthful Offenders in Great Britain, 10 Aug. 1854, 17 & 18 Vic., cap. 86 was passed which recommended that "... Reformatory Schools for the better training of Juvenile Offenders have been and may be established by voluntary contributions in various parts of Great Britain, and it is expedient that more extensive use should be made of such Institutions ...". Under the terms of the Act a voluntary institution could on application to the Home Office be inspected and if found satisfactory, be certified and "... held to be a Reformatory School under the Provisions of this Act". Such institutions were subject to inspection by H.M. Inspectors of Prisons and certificates could be withdrawn. Reformatory Schools were to be open only to offenders under 16 years of age and a Justice of the Peace, magistrate, etc. could direct that an offender be sent to a Reformatory for not less than two years and not more than five. Financial assistance could be received from the Treasury and a weekly contribution not exceeding 5/- could be asked of the offender's parents, guardian, etc., if of sufficient ability to bear the same".

The Act was a permissive one and it was not until 1856 that consideration was given to the question of providing reformatory accommodation for Catholic children in Liverpool. On 13 Jun. 1856 a meeting convened by circular from Dr. Goss, [Roman Catholic] Bishop of Liverpool, was held to discuss "... steps being taken by the Magistrates of Liverpool to send children to Mount St. Bernard and Arnos Court Reformatories &... the probability of these institutions being adapted to receive the Catholic children from Liverpool ..." (see 364 CAT 1/1 below). To give further consideration to this matter a "Public Meeting of the Catholics of the Liverpool Diocese" was held on 5 Aug. 1856, in the Queen's Hall, Bold Street. The outcome of this meeting (for details of resolutions etc. see 364 CAT 1/1 below) was that a fund to finance the provision of reformatory accommodation for Liverpool's young Catholic offenders was set up and a committee appointed to administer it. No steps were taken to build a reformatory school in the Diocese but loans and contributions were made to the Cistercian Abbey of Mount St. Bernard, Loughborough, Leicestershire, to which Liverpool's Catholic boy offenders were sent. Girls were sent to the care of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd at Arnos Court, Bristol.

This arrangement proved unsatisfactory and in June 1863 the [Roman Catholic] Bishop of Liverpool was notified by the Inspector of Reformatories that Liverpool offenders must leave Mount St. Bernard's Abbey and that unless "... the Catholics of Liverpool provided a suitable house and other necessaries for the maintenance, education and industrial training, they will be committed to Protestant Reformatories or be... cast among their former associates [in Liverpool] ...".

Another public meeting for the Catholics of the Diocese was held "in accordance with the invitation of the Bishop "on 10 Aug. 1863 in the Concert Hall, Nelson Street (for a detailed account of this meeting see 364 CAT 2/1 below) the outcome of which was the establishment of the Reformatory Association and its provision of a local "Ship Reformatory" for boys.

This "Ship Reformatory" was housed in a thirty-seven year old war-ship, the Clarence, in the Mersey, converted and equipped to accommodate as many as 250 boy offenders. The ship duly received its certificate and was opened as a Reformatory School on 15 May 1864.

In 1869 the Liverpool Catholic Reformatory Association accepted a gift of land at Ainsdale, and on this site it opened the Birkdale Farm Reformatory School for boys on 9 Mar. 1872, to supplement the work of Reformatory Ship Clarence. This was followed on 24 Nov. 1876 by the opening of the May Place Reformatory School for Girls, Old Swan.

The Clarence enjoyed a "chequered career" and was finally burnt out and sunk by its inmates on 26 Jul. 1899. After about a year of makeshift accommodation the boys were moved to temporary premises at Kirkedge Moor, near Sheffield. From here they were moved to the Association's new St. Aidan's Nautical Training School, Farnworth, near Widnes (known as the Farnworth Nautical Reformatory) on its completion in 1907/1908 (Gore's Directory of Liverpool 1906, p. 2335 lists Kirkedge Moor, the Directory 1908, p. 2311 lists St. Aidan's, Farnworth, and the Directory, 1907, lists neither). This school survives today [1971] as the Farnworth St. Aidan's Intermediate School for Roman Catholic Boys.

From the second half of 1935 the Birkdale Farm School was known as the St. Thomas More School, Birkdale. This school also continues today [1971] as the St. Thomas More Senior School for Roman Catholic Boys, Birkdale, Southport.

The May Place Reformatory School for Girls was closed down on 31 Mar. 1922, when its Home Office certificate was withdrawn.

It was resolved at a Council meeting of the Association held on 14 Mar. 1940, that the title "Liverpool Catholic Reformatory Association" should be changed to "Liverpool Catholic Training Schools Association" (see 364 CAT 2/11 below), and the Association was henceforward known by this name.

An outline History of the Association and its reformatory schools is given in J. Bennett Father Nugent of Liverpool, 1949, pp. 50 - 62, but this work contains some inaccuracies and omits certain details. More substantial information is provided by the records listed below and some details are available in the Liverpool Directories, the Liverpool Official Red Book, and the Liverpool Archdiocesan Directory.

39 vols., 28 docs., 9 items

Access Conditions
Access will be granted to any accredited reader


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