Gwen Kubberness looks for the stories behind mugshots. One day she felt drawn to Valerie. This is her story.
She was Valerie Lillian Rita Lowe. She looks as if she could be anyone’s daughter. She has a shyness about her and innocents in eyes. When I first laid my eyes upon her I was struck by those eyes, Instantly like her and wanted to know her.
I thought this young lady could be having tea with me and chatting about the latest Jazz music from America. The new flapper dresses that had just arrived
As I looked at this photo I was compelled to find out more about her. Maybe it was the detective in me or maybe the genealogist but I just needed to know.
Valerie born about 1903 in Australia. She is about 19 years old in this photo as best as I can tell. I have researched everything I can possibly think of to get an accurate account of her life.
I believe it all started when Valerie met a boy named Joseph Messenger. Here is an account of how things may have gotten started.
CHURCH AND COURSE. ALLEGED BREAKING AND ENTERING. SYDNEY, Wednesday 15th Feb 1922.
At the Central Court,
two youths named William Kent and Joseph Messenger, and a girl named, Valerie Rowe, were presented on two charges, firstly with having broken into and entered the Methodist Church at Matraville and having stolen a quantity of articles, secondly with having broken into the store room at Rosebery racecourse and stolen two blankets. Defendants were remanded. Fix this text Inspector Spyer in pressing for substantial bail, said; ‘We have good reason to believe we can trace a number of other robberies to the defendants, principally from churches.”
Mug shot of Valerie Lowe, 15 February 1922, Central Police Station, Sydney. “Special photographs” were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station, Sydney and are, as curator Peter Doyle explains, of “men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension”. Doyle suggests that, compared with the subjects of prison mug shots, “the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed – perhaps invited – to position and compose themselves for the camera as they liked. Their photographic identity thus seems Special Photograph no 744. Valerie Lowe and Joseph Messenger were arrested in 1921 for breaking into an army warehouse and stealing boots and overcoats to the value of 29 pounds 3 shillings. The following year, when this photograph were taken, they were charged with breaking and entering a dwelling. Those charges were eventually dropped but they were arrested again later that year for stealing a saddle and bridle from Rosebery Racecourse. In 1923 Lowe was convicted of breaking into a house at Enfield and stealing money and jewellery to the value of 40 pounds. See also ‘Mug shot of Joseph Messenger.’
This picture is one of a series of around 2500 “special photographs” taken by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and 1930. These “s constructed out of a potent alchemy of inborn disposition, personal history, learned habits and idiosyncrasies, chosen a personal style (haircut, clothing, accessories) and physical characteristics.”
New South Wales. Police Dept. City of Shadows at the Justice & Police Museum, Sydney, November 2005-January 2007.
Glass plate negative;
Joseph Messenger and Valerie Lowe were arrested in 1921 for breaking into an army warehouse and stealing boots and overcoats to the value of 29 pounds 3 shillings. The following year, when this photograph was taken, they were charged with breaking and entering a dwelling. Those charges were eventually dropped but they have arrested again later that year for stealing a saddle and bridle from Rosebery Racecourse. As an adult Messenger was active in inner-Sydney underworld through the 1920s, and he appears in the NSW Criminal Register (16 July 1930 entry no 171) as a seasoned criminal and gang affiliate. The description of his modus operandi includes, ‘Violently [resists] arrest … frequents wine saloons, billiard rooms, and racecourses … consorts with prostitutes.’ This photograph shows Messenger at age 18. See also ‘Mug shot of Valerie Lowe’.
CHURCH AND COURSE. ALLEGED BREAKING AND ENTERING. SYDNEY, Wednesday.
At the Central Court, two youths named William Kent and Joseph Messenger, and a girl named, Valerie Rowe, were presented on two charges, firstly with having broken into and entered the Methodist Church at Matraville and having stolen a quantity of articles, secondly with having broken into the store room at Rosebery racecourse and stolen two blankets. Defendants were remanded. Fix this text Inspector Spyer in pressing forsubstantial bail, said; ‘We have good reason to believe we can trace a number of other robberies to the defendants, principally from churches.”
So maybe as she started to spend so much time in the Goal as they called it, she had plenty of time to think. Because this is what happened next, after almost 10 years of running with Joseph and getting into trouble.
Cave Man Tactics: Warning from the Bench
Wednesday 18th July 1928 Lismore Northern Star, Page 9
CAVE MAN TACTICS WARNING FROM THE BENCH SYDNEY, Tuesday.
When Valerie Lowe (25) left her place of employment in the city, on July 4 and met “her boy” outside she alleged that she was followed by Alfred Messenger (26), a dealer, who threatened to cut her boy’s face with a knife, and then with the aid of another man pulled her along various streets asking her to marry him. She told him that she would not do that if he were the last man on earth. A sequel was the appearance of Messenger at the Central Police Court today on a charge of having abducted Miss Lowe with intent to marry her. The girl told the police that she did not want Messenger to go to gaol, but only to be bound over to keep the peace.
The magistrate (to accused): This Fix this text girl says she does not want anything, further to do with you.
Evening News: Sydney, Page 10 Tuesday 17th July 1928
‘IF LAST MAN’ DIDN’T WANT HIM GIRL’S STRANGE STORY
‘I TOLD him I would not have him if he was the last man on earth, said Valerie Lowe, at the Central Court to-day, when Alfred Messenger, 26, dealer, was charged with having taken Miss Lowe away by force, with intent to cause her to marry him. Valerie Lowe, 25, said she lived with her parents in Glebe-road, Glebe, and had known defendant for some years. She was employed in Foveaux-street, and at 5.30 p.m. on July 4 a boy came to see her home. When the boy crossed the street going towards her defendant followed behind him. ‘But I don’t want to send him to gaol,’ said the girl. ‘I want him bound over.” ‘You have come to the wrong place for that,’ said Sergeant Napper, police prosecutor. ‘A warrant was issued, you know.”
Defendant, Miss Lowe said, asked her to send the boy away; but she refused, saying she wanted to go home. Defendant caught her by the arm, and another man also took hold of an arm, but a little later he went away. Defendant said he wanted her to marry him, but she told him she would not.
‘GRABBED MY ARM’
The Sergeant: Did he do anything to stop you when you walked away from him:-He grabbed me by the arm. The witness said that, when they got to Riley-street, a woman saw them and brought her mother, who pulled her away from defendant. That was between 7 and 8 p.m.
The Sergeant: Did he take you to anyplace?- No.
Did he hurt you in any way? – No.
All he wanted to do was to marry you? – Yes.
Mr. Gates, C.S.M., to defendant: This young woman does not want to have anything further to do with you.
Defendant: And I don’t want to have anything further to do with her.
Fix this text Mr. Gates: Then see that you don’t, or you will get into serious trouble. You are discharged.
Well as I continued my research I found this little story to be somewhat funny. These two sure have been spending a lot of time in each others company for many years. Maybe she started to grow up.
In 1929 Valerie married John Alexander Forbes in Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. They were married for 18 years. Divorcing in 1947. I cried! I was so hoping for a happy ending for Valerie. John was born in 1895 and he did re-marry; he died in 1969. The Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 Valerie is listed at age 59 as a barmaid in O’Weath, West Sydney and living at 59 Boyce Street.
My research came to and end when I found this photo of her grave.
I was pleased to see the inscription from George on her tombstone. I know someone loved her. All I know about him, he owned a store. I am hoping she had a full life from age 59 to 73. I hope she had lots of friends and good times. What I do know is she has Peace now, a calm.
Valerie, it was my pleasure to meet you, may not have been in your era or your time, I am happy I found you. See you in the hereafter.
Rest In Peace
UPDATE: I joined a group on Facebook called AUSTRALIAN FAMILY HISTORY GENEALOGY ANCESTRAL RESEARCH
I very nice gentleman did some searching for me and he found out more about Valerie.
Steve Parker Original birth index entry (born out of wedlock):
JENKINS, VALERIE L R; 28722/1902; ; MARY A; SYDNEY
Mother marries in 1918:
6226/1918; LOW, WILLIAM LAW; JENKINS, MARY A; AUBURN
Changes to Valerie’s birth certificate made in 1919:
JENKINS VALERIE L R; 36832/1919; ; MARY A; SYDNEY
LOW VALERIE L R; 36832/1919; WILLIAM; MARY A; SYDNEY
LAW LOW VALERIE L; 36832/1919; WILLIAM; MARY A; SYDNEY
LAW LOW VALERIE L R; 36832/1919; WILLIAM; MARY A; SYDNEY
LAWLOW VALERIE L; 36832/1919; WILLIAM; MARY A; SYDNEY
LAWLOW VALERIE L R: 36832/1919; WILLIAM; MARY A; SYDNEY
Valerie marries in 1929:
2393/1929; FORBES, JOHN A; LOWE, VALERIE R L; GLEBE
FORBES VALERIE LILLIAN RITA; 4066/1975; WILLIAM; MARY ANN
Gwen’s original post can be found at http://criminalgenealogy.blogspot.com/2016/11/her-names-is-valerie.html
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