Lucy Chapman

#45033, b. 1835

Individual's Timeline

Birth1835Lucy Chapman
Marr RegMarch 1866Lucy Chapman

Primary events

  • Birth: Lucy Chapman was born in 1835 in Yelverton, Norfolk, England.
  • Marr Reg: The marriage of Lucy and Henry Robinson was registered in the quarter ended March 1866 in the Westminster registration district.

Secondary circumstances

  • Occupation: Lucy was an assistant martron in the Millbank Prison in 1861.
  • Married Name: Her married name was Robinson.

Census details

Brushes with the LAW

In 1861, Lucy was an Assistant Matron in Millbank Female Prison.

In 1862 the follow was published - The Female Convict Prison at Millbank.

The female prison, though forming part of the same building as that devoted to the male prisoners, may still be regarded as a distinct establishment, for it occupies one entire pentagon (pentagon 3), and has not only a set of officers peculiarly its own, but is entered by different keys.
The female prison here is to Brixton what the male prison is to Pentonville - a kind of depot to which the convicts are forwarded as vacancies occur.
At the time of our visit, there were 173 female prisoners located in this establishment, throughout the several wards; a portion of whom were in separate confinement, and the remainder working in association.
"This is Miss Cosgrove," the principal matron, sir, said the warder, as we entered the gate and were introduced to a good-looking young "officer."
"The female uniform, you see," the warder added, "is the same as at Brixton, with the exception of the bonnets - their's is white straw, and our's is gray."
"This yard," said Miss Cosgrove, opening a door at the side of the passage into a long narrow airing ground, where a fat-looking prisoner, in her dark claret-brown gown and cheek apron, was walking to and fro by herself, "is for such convicts as are too bad to be put to exercise with others. That is one of the women who has been acting in the most obscene and impudent manner at Brixton. When they're bad, they're bad indeed!" said the young matron, as we turned away.
"The female officers," replied the warder, "carry out better discipline here than even at Brixton; a great deal of determination and energy is required by female officers to do the duty."
The matron now opened a heavy door that moaned on its hinges. "This is A ward, and has thirty cells in it, exactly the same as those in the male pentagon."
The cells had register numbers outside, but the grated gate was considerably lighter, though equally as strong as those in the other pentagons.
As we peeped into one of the little cells, we saw a good-looking girl with a skein of thread round her neck, seated and busy making a shirt. The mattress and blankets were rolled up into a square bundle, as in the male cells. There was a small wooden stool and little square table with a gas jet just over it; the bright tins, wooden platter, and salt-box, a few books, and a slate, and signal-stick shaped like a harlequin's wand, were all neatly arranged upon the table and shelf in the corner. The costume of the convicts here is the same as at Brixton.
"The women are mostly in for common larcenies," said the matron, as we walked down the long narrow passage between the cells; "and many of them have been servants; some have been gentlemen's servants, and a good number have been farm servants; but the fewest number are, strange to say, of the unfortunate class in the streets."
"Yes," chimes in the warder, "not a great many of them come here."
"Generally speaking," said the matron, as she conducted us through the pentagon, "those who have been very bad outside are found the best in prison both for work and behaviour; and the longest-sentenced females are usually the best behaved."
"The long sentences are, mostly, for murder-child-murder," she added; "and this is usually the first and only offence; but the others are continually in and out, and become at last regular jail people."
"The farm servants," continued Miss Cosgrove, "are, ordinarily, a better class of people; but some are very stubborn. Yes! one we had in here was very bad."
[-270-] The convicts pick coir for the first two months, and, if well-behaved for that time, they are then put to needlework. Their door is bolted up for the first four months of their incarceration.*


Prisoners of good conduct, and maintaining a character for willing industry, will, by this rule, be enabled, after certain fixed periods, to obtain the higher stages, and gain the privileges attached to them.
For the present, and until further orders, the following Rules will be observed:-
The first stage of penal discipline will be carried out at Millbank prison, where two classes will be established, viz., The Probation Class, and the Third Class.
The second stage of discipline will be carried out at Brixton, where the prisoners will be divided into the First, Second, and Third Classes.
The third stage of discipline and industrial training prior to discharge will be carried out at Burlington House, Fulham, for those prisoners who, by their exemplary conduct in the first and second stages, appear deserving of being removed to that establishment.

Millbank Probation Class.

1. All prisoners, on reception, will be placed in the probation class, in ordinary cases, for a period of four months, and, in special cases, for a longer period, according to their conduct. During this time their cell-doors will be bolted up.
2. The strictest silence will be enforced with prisoners in this class on all occasions, and they will be occupied in picking coir, until, by their industry and good conduct, they may appear deserving of other employment.
3. No prisoner in the probation class will be allowed to receive a visit.
4. Every prisoner having passed through the probation class is liable to be sent back thereto, and recommence the period of probation, upon the recommendation of the governor, and with the sanction of a director.
5. On leaving the probation class, the prisoners will be received into the third class.

Discipline of the Third Class.

6. No prisoner will be allowed to receive a visit until she has been well-conducted for the space of two months in the third class.
7. The strictest silence will be enforced with prisoners in this class on all occasions.
8. Prisoners, whose conduct has been exemplary in the third class for a period of four months, will be eligible for removal to Brixton when vacancies occur.


1. To have their cells bolted up, and be kept in strict separation.
2. To be employed in picking coir or oakum, or in some such occupation, for the first three months after reception.
3. Not to be allowed to receive visits or letters, or to write letters.
4. Not to attend school for the first three months after their reception, and not then unless their conduct may warrant the indulgence. In the event, however, of the governor and chaplain agreeing that any individual female convict in the penal class may be permitted to attend school at an earlier period than three months, she may attend accordingly.
5. In the event of a female convict in the penal class committing any offence against the prison rules, the governor shall have the power of punishing such a prisoner, as laid down in rule 13, page 11, of the rules applicable to the governor, for any term not exceeding seven days.

There is much more at the site, refer to Citation below.1

Research Notes

  • Research note 01: May have died at the age of 63 in Manchester Dec qtr 1899.


  1. Misc web sites, online see Citation Detail, Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - The Criminal Prisons of London and Scenes of London Life (The Great World of London), by Henry Mayhew and John Binny, 1862 - The Convict Prisons of London - Millbank Prison