'A manly training to obedience' : Protestant reformatories for boys in Lancahsire, circa 1854-1908
The treatment of juvenile offenders was the subject of much discussion and controversy in the first half of the nineteenth century and, from 1840 onwards, there was a vociferous campaign to ban imprisonment for children and to establish schools for delinquents where the emphasis was on moral reformation and rehabilitation rather than retribution. In 1854, as a result of the Reformatory Schools Act, juvenile reformatories became part of the criminal justice system and for the next three decades they were regarded by the Home Office as the key element in the fight against juvenile crime. Nevertheless, historians pay little attention to juvenile reformatories and there is little specific literature on individual institutions or the experience of reformatory inmates. This thesis, however, examines three Protestant reformatories for boys in Lancashire and attempts both to evaluate the reformatory system in the nineteenth century and to develop a greater understanding of the character and nature of the institutions themselves. The thesis examines the impact of the juvenile reform movement on social policy and legislation, particularly the contribution made by philanthropy and the developing, pivotal role of the institution. It considers the different methods used to establish reformatories and examines the origins of the schools in the study. It discusses the ethos and regime which developed in the institutions prior to 1880 and considers the effect on management methods of the powerful alliance formed by reformatory managers and Home Office officials. This is supplemented and illustrated using profiles of fifty inmates in two institutions. The thesis then examines changes in Home Office policy after 1880 and assesses the effect of these on reformatory practice at a local level. Finally it evaluates the role played by reformatories in Lancashire where twenty five per cent of such institutions were situated at the turn of the century. The thesis concludes that the reformatory system was an upper and middle-class response to the problem of juvenile delinquency, which was associated almost exclusively with the urban working class. It also suggests that, in spite of their name, individual reformatories were concerned primarily with training and rehabilitation rather than moral reformation. In addition the evidence indicates that, although the reformatory scheme was discredited elsewhere in the late nineteenth century, reformatory schools continued to play an important part in juvenile justice in Lancashire. These institutions continued to thrive because the majority of inmates did not commit further crime and magistrates believed that they gave value for money. This examination of nineteenth-century solutions to the problem of juvenile crime also illustrates that the present debate about delinquency is hardly novel and that current strategies were first tried out a hundred and fifty years ago.