Thousands of individuals are documented in the Victorian prison registers, though not all were photographed.
The earliest image of a Victorian prisoner in the Public Record Office Victoria’s holdings is dated 1853. Englishman William Jones the 6th, a shoemaker, was convicted in Castlemaine on 9 June 1853 for ‘robbery with violence’. He was sentenced to 10 years hard labour on the roads. There are no other prison photographs from this early volume.
The first photographic evidence of Chinese prisoners in the prison registers appears in 1863. Gee Dee was sentenced in 1860 to two years imprisonment for robbing a store. In October 1863, at 40 years of age, he was convicted of murder for the brutal stabbing of William Humffries in his Bright store. It was then that a photograph was placed on his record.
Gee Dee’s death sentence was commuted to hard labour for life, with the first three years in irons. He was released after 21 years, aged 61, was paid £5.9.11 and given a ‘suit of clothes’.