My grand­fa­ther was a pri­son warder. Can you tell me when and where this photo was taken and if mous­taches were oblig­a­tory for the work­ers!

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q & A -

QThis pho­to­graph of a group of pri­son warders in­cludes my grand­fa­ther, Ed­ward Charles Mills Mor­ris (1882-1970), stand­ing top left. In 1910, Ed­ward was work­ing as a warder at Worm­wood Scrubs Pri­son and by the cen­sus of 1911, he had trans­ferred to the County Gaol and Con­vict Pri­son, Maid­stone. Can you tell me when this photo was taken, and which pri­son it might be? Were the mous­taches oblig­a­tory, or just the fash­ion?

David Lind­sey Emp­tage, by email

AThe Pri­son Ser­vice as we would recog­nise it to­day was formed af­ter 1878 when the lo­cal prisons (pre­vi­ously ad­min­is­tered by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties) were brought un­der the con­trol of the gov­ern­ment through the Pri­son Com­mis­sion. The two arms of the ser­vice, the lo­cal pri­son ser­vice (held those sen­tenced for pe­ri­ods up to two years) and the con­vict pri­son ser­vice (held long-term pris­on­ers sen­tenced to pe­nal servitude) did re­main dis­tinct, though the hi­er­ar­chi­cal struc­ture of staff grad­ing was sim­i­lar and all warders ex­pe­ri­enced a vast range of rules that gov­erned their lives out­side the pri­son as well as the daily rou­tine of their du­ties. From 1902, all warders were on pro­ba­tion for their first year.

My im­pres­sion is that this photo was taken around 1900-1910. Based on the fact that the stamp imprint in the top left-hand cor­ner states Chelms­ford, I would sur­mise this is a photo of the pro­ba­tion­ary class your an­ces­tor was in dur­ing ini­tial train­ing at Chelms­ford pri­son. If so, the gen­tle­man in the suit was the then gover­nor, Cap­tain Conor. Train­ing schools for of­fi­cers had been es­tab­lished in 1898 but by 1902 there were only two, at Chelms­ford and Hull prisons. Pro­ba­tion­ers were sent to the schools for four months. If suc­cess­ful, they were sent ei­ther to a lo­cal or con­vict pri­son or, af­ter 1908, a borstal in­sti­tu­tion. The term ‘pri­son of­fi­cer’ (rather than warder) was of­fi­cially adopted in 1921, mous­taches were very much in fash­ion but to my knowl­edge not oblig­a­tory!

Dr He­len John­ston

Ed­ward Mor­ris (top left) pos­si­bly dur­ing his time as a pri­son warder in Chelms­ford

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