Victorian Crime and Punishment: Murder in Halesworth

Black and white photo of a group of staff outside a doorway of Ipswich Borough Gaol. The group is mostly men in prison officer uniform, but there are four men not in uniform, and two women.
Prison Officers, Borough Goal, Ipswich, c.1880 (K448/7)

This pack will enable to you to take your class through the story of the murder of PC Ebenezer Tye in 1862, and the subsequent trial and execution of John Ducker. Ducker was the last man to be publicly hanged in Suffolk. It is all based on primary source material, particularly newspaper records. The resource provides everything you need to run a history/drama session where you act as a narrator, guiding your class through the investigation.

You could use the content to explore questions such as:

  • Did John Ducker get a fair trial?
  • Could the police have done more to keep their officers safe?
  • Why do you think people went to see public executions?

Victorian Crime and Punishment: Suffolk’s Reform School

Front cover of a large book bound in red, with gold lettering on the front
Admission register for Kerrison’s Reform School (GB13/13/2)

This resource uses primary sources from Kerrison Reform School to explore crime and punishment in Victorian Suffolk as it related to children.

Kerrison’s Reform School opened in 1856. Boys as young as 9 were sent there by the courts in an attempt to deter them from committing further crimes.

The resource includes background information so you can teach your class about the school, and suggested activities. A History activity gives your pupils the opportunity to explore the primary sources for themselves. Statistics activities give them the chance to extract and analyse data, and draw their own conclusions.

Your pupils will:

  • Develop historical enquiry skills using a primary source
  • Develop a sense of place by understanding the Reform School was part of Victorian life in Suffolk
  • Explore the links between crime and poverty in Victorian England
  • Make judgements and draw conclusions
  • Select key information from a source
  • Try reading old handwriting
  • Compare and contrast the lives they lead today with the lives of the boys in the Reform School
  • To consider how wider social conditions during the Victorian period affected the lives of individuals

Download primary source material, including modern transcription

Download statistics worksheets and teachers’ notes:

At what age were boys most likely to be sent to the Reform School?

What types of crimes had the boys committed?

What was the death rate at the Reform School?

How many of the boys could read and write?