Josephine Amelia Perkins

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Josephine Amelia Perkins (1818 in Devonshire – ?) was a British horse thief and prisoner.[1][2] She wrote The Female Prisoner: A Narrative of the Life and Singular Adventures Of Josephine Amelia Perkins[3] and A Demon in Female Apparel: Narrative of the Notorious Female Horse Thief, Again in Prison and For Life.[2] In 1839, Perkins was the first woman convicted of horse stealing.[4][5]


According to her autobiographical pamphlets she stole her father's horse to elope with a navy purser at the age of 17. Unfortunately, when she arrived in Portsmouth after 117 miles, his boat had already left, so she sold the horse and embarked on a ship to Quebec. This ship was wrecked at sea, but the passengers were saved and eventually shipped to Wilmington, North Carolina.[3] There, Perkin soon was arrested for stealing a horse, but a jury acquitted Perkins because they did not believe a woman was capable of the crime.[6] She left to South Carolina, where she was arrested and acquitted for horsetheft, changed her name to Sarah Steward. Back in North Carolina, Perkins was again arrested and was subsequently sentenced to two years in the state penitentiary in Madison County. After this she published her first autobiographical pamphlet (1939). A few years later she was caught a last time, now for horsetheft, burglary, and shooting at an officer, and was sentenced for life. During that sentence she published her second pamphlet in 1843.[7]


  1. ^ Jelinek, Estelle C. (19 March 2004). The Tradition of Women's Autobiography. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781462806478.
  2. ^ a b Library, New York Public (1911). List of Works Relating to Criminology. New York Public Library, Astor Lenox and Tilden Foundations. p. 359.
  3. ^ a b "The female prisoner;, by Josephine Amelia Perkins | The Online Books Page". Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  4. ^ Perkins, Josephine Amelia (1839). The Female Prisoner. C. Harrison, and others, publishers.
  5. ^ Urdang, Laurence (4 December 2001). The Timetables of American History: History and Politics, the Arts, Science and Technology, and More in America and Elsewhere. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780743202619.
  6. ^ Kann, Mark E. (1 August 2005). Punishment, Prisons, and Patriarchy: Liberty and Power in the Early Republic. NYU Press. ISBN 9780814748671.
  7. ^ Josephine Amelia Perkins, Female Horse Thief