The Criminal Grandma

My maternal Great-Great-Great-Grandmother Jane Hussey lived a long life in the East End of London and was happily married for 69 years.

However, it has always frustrated me that she was not in the 1901 England census with her family (seen below) and I knew she wasn’t dead, as she died in 1937.

james donald 1901
1901 England Census, Mile End Old Town, London, Household Schedule 258, Piece 335, Folio 143, Page No. 46, James Donald, database and images, Ancestry ( accessed 18 Jan 2019).


The 1901 England census was taken on the night of 31 March/1 April.  As shown below, it turns out the reason my 3x great grandmother was not at home that night, was because she was actually locked up in prison!

jane donald prison
England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935, Wormwood Scrubs Prison, entry for Jane Donald,  15 Jan 1901, database and images, FindMyPast ( accessed 18 Jan 2019).


Although many of the Prison records for Wormwood Scrubs prison no longer exist, some still remain.  Jane was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment at Wormwood beginning on 15 Jan 1901.  She was found guilty of:

“Stealing a gold watch, the property of the London and North Western Railway Company.  Receiving the same well knowing it to have been stolen”.  

Wormwood Scrubs Prison still stands to this day and is in use.  By all accounts, it was not a pleasant place to live out a custodial sentence.

Wormwood Scrubs Prison

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