HERE'S a little snippet of local mischievousness from the festive period of 1862.

Sue Hogben's very informative blog, which features a section on Victorian Weymouth at Christmas tells us that three youngsters aged between seven and nine appeared in court that week for attempting to fill their own Christmas stockings…by making away with four oranges and three bread twists, the property of shop keeper Joseph Curtis and his wife Sarah who ran a grocery business in Weymouth High Street!

The youngest of the three was seven-year-old Edward Denman, son of recently widowed Ann Maria. Ann Maria tried her best to keep her lively family of six in check, but being a single parent and living in poverty, life was so very hard. They were all squeezed into the cramped accommodation of 3 Franchise Court in Weymouth, (which no longer exists,) the entrance to this little court once stood between 5 and 6 Franchise Street.

Come the Christmas of 1865, Edward was hauled before the court again, this time for stealing an umbrella and selling it to a local trader, Mrs Russell, who ran, not surprisingly, an umbrella shop in St Thomas Street. Even though he was only 11 years of age, for this misdemeanour, Edward was sent to prison.

Sue writes: "The prison admissions book described Edward as only 4ft 3" tall, maybe a lifetime of malnutrition might have had that effect? It goes on to reveal further features of this chappie, light brown hair and hazel eyes, his complexion sallow.

"At this tender age, his only distinguishing feature is a cut between his eyebrows. Once he had completed his hard labour in prison Edward was sent to a reformatory, the Victorians' attempts at turning such wayward children away from the downward spiral.

But, Sue writes, by the age of 21, Edward’s life had changed. Following in his father's footsteps, he sailed the seas, navigating up and down the south coast on trading vessels. However he appeared before the court again in 1875, this time for the theft of cigars. Fully grown, he still only measured, 5ft 4ins. Now his complexion was described as ‘swarthy,’ an old fashioned word that exemplified the face of someone who spent their days out in the open fresh air, salt laden winds and fierce sunshine. His sea-faring life was literally tattooed on his body, hearts and daggers on his right arm, his left, an anchor and a cropped sword. Even his face bore witness to a typical mariner's lifestyle, that of drink and frequent brawls, with a “cut right corner left eyebrow” and “cut right corner right eye,” his nose “slightly inclined to right.”

"No doubt the lasting legacy of someone else’s fist meeting it," Sue writes.

Sue did her research using archives from Weymouth Museum and would like to point out that Weymouth Museum is always adding images from their vast archives on their Facebook page

The museum reopens after the winter in March 2019.