Thanks to Ben Bethell for sharing this material with readers of the Victorian Web. —  George P. Landow

Born in 1853, Richard Steventon (or Wilson) deserted from the Royal Artillery in 1877 and was then discovered, when arrested three years later, to have committed bigamy in 1876, for which he received five years at Liverpool Assizes in April 1880. His former regiment identified his character as ‘Bad – in consequence of desertion; escape from confinement, absence, and losing kit’; police in his native Shropshire would confirm only that he was convicted under an assumed name, and Liverpool Constabulary his status as a deserter. Interviewed at Pentonville in July, he provided the names of a clothier and a builder, both located in the Staffordshire town of Hanley, where he had been raised, and the information that he had worked briefly as a tram conductor in Leeds following his desertion. Police in the latter city confirmed that although he had ‘conducted himself satisfactorily’, he had been sacked by the Leeds Tramways Company ‘owing to his wife [it is unclear which one] causing disturbances whilst he was on duty.’ For his part, Hanley’s Chief Constable informed prison authorities that Steventon had first enlisted in the army in 1873 (around the time of his first marriage), that his parents had left the town two years earlier, and that the clothier was now dead. He was, however, remembered at the latter’s shop as ‘very sharp, active and attentive to his duties’. The builder, meanwhile, provided a good reference, recalling Steventon as ‘perfectly honest and industrious, ‘a total abstainer’ from drink and ‘very respectable’. Source: TNA PCOM 3/644; Liverpool Echo, 20 February 1880.

Related Material


PCOM2: Home Office and Prison Commission: Prisons Records, Series 1. Web. 29 September 2021.

Last modified 29 September 2021