Edward J. Lyman (1844-1917), aka Boston Ned, Frank E. Parker, Edward Lovejoy, George Atkinson, George Ackerson, Edward Keenan — Pickpocket
From Byrnes’ text:
DESCRIPTION. Forty-two years old in 1886. Born in Boston, Mass. Stout build. Height, 5 feet 8 inches. Weight, 180 pounds. Light hair, blue eyes, light complexion, full face. Married, Painter by trade. Has “E.L.” in India ink on his arm; scars on three fingers of right hand and on under lip.
RECORD. Ned Lyman is probably one of the cleverest general thieves in America, and is well known in all the principal cities East and West, especially in Boston, where he makes his home. Lyman, under the name of George Ackerson, was convicted in the Superior Court of Boston, Mass., on January 17, 1863, for larceny from the person, and sentenced to the House of Correction for four months. Discharged May 15, 1863.
He was convicted again in the same court on May 19, 1864, for larceny from the person, and sentenced to the House of Correction for six months. He was discharged September 14, 1864.
Again convicted in the same court on May 25, 1868, for assault and battery with a knife, and sentenced for two years in the House of Correction. Discharged December 23, 1870.
There is evidently some mistake in the date of Lyman’s discharge from the House of Correction in Boston, as the record shows that he was arrested in New York City on July 22, 1870, for till-tapping, and committed in $1,500 bail by Judge Cox.
The records also show that he was arrested and convicted of larceny from the person in Philadelphia, Pa., and sentenced to four years in the Eastern Penitentiary on March 27, 1880. Again, in the Superior Court of Boston, Mass, April 17, 1884, he was convicted of an attempt to commit larceny from the person, and sentenced to the House of Correction for twelve months. Discharged March 12, 1885. This last time he gave the name of George Ackerson.
Lyman was arrested in Boston again in June, 1885, for larceny from the person, and gave bail, which was defaulted. In August, 1885, he was arrested in Providence, R.I., for larceny from the person, and was sentenced to one year in prison there. When his time expires, he will be taken back to Boston and tried on the complaint he ran away from. Lyman’s picture is an excellent one, taken in Boston in 1884.
What is it that causes a hardened criminal to reform? Fear of dying in prison? The love of a family that encourages them to be better? An old promise to a dead parent? Something made Ned Lyman reform, against all odds, given his record.
Byrnes begins the recitation of Lyman’s record much earlier compared to most of his entries, which usually picked up in the late 1870s. He begins his account of Lyman in 1863; but Lyman had already made a mark three years earlier, at age 16, when he was arrested in Boston for rioting (a charge usually leveled at street gangs fighting among themselves). He was given the choice of a fine of $60 and court costs or six months in jail. Lyman was the only son of an Irish widow, so he likely served the time.
In May, 1861 he enlisted for a year’s duty in the Navy. He was aboard the USS Colorado, which saw blockade duty in the Gulf of Mexico.
By 1862, Ned Lyman had embarked on his career as a pickpocket. He was arrested on October of that year, and sentenced to four months in the house of detention. As Byrnes indicates, he was right back at it when released, but was caught immediately, sending him back to confinement until May 1863. Ned was caught picking pockets again in May 1864. He was discharged in September.
After a gap of several years in his known record, he was arrested for stabbing a man in a knife fight in May, 1868. The disagreement was over a woman. This incident put Lyman on ice until December, 1870.
In February 1871, Ned married a Boston Irish girl, Catherine Scanlon, aka Kate Moran. They started working crowds together as pickpockets. Ned was arrested several times later that year: in July, August, and November. His August arrest was under the name Frank E. Parker, and he was found to be carrying a ledger book which supposedly showed his criminal income and expenses. Kate was arrested with him in November, and again on her own in December.
In January 1872, Ned and Kate were arrested for picking pockets on the Fitchburg Railroad. They were indicted and let out on bail of $1000 each. They defaulted and took a ship to London and then on to Paris, where they resumed their crimes. They were both caught while in France, and Kate was given two years while Ned was given three years. Kate returned to Boston after her sentence expired, and while waiting for Ned to be set free, she died.
After Ned was released in France, he returned to the United States and was soon arrested for picking pockets in Brooklyn. He was sent to the Kings County prison at Crow Hill on a sentence of two years. Boston authorities heard he was there, and he was sent back to Boston in March, 1878 to face charges dating back to 1872.
In March 1880, Ned was arrested in Philadelphia for pickpocketing and sentenced to four years at Eastern State Penitentiary. While in his cell in Philadelphia, stories appeared in newspapers suggesting that he took part in bank check forgeries in Vermont; however, these accounts were confusing him with a different man, a well-known forger named William H. Lyman.
Ned returned to Boston in 1884 and was arrested as George Atkinson for his usual crime, and spent the next eleven months in jail. He repeated his offense in May as Edward Keenan; and in Providence, Rhode Island in August 1885.
In 1887, he went roving with two other well-known pickpockets, Ned Lyons and Shang Campbell. The three were captured in Kent, Ohio. Ned received a sentence to the State Prison in Columbus for five years.
After getting out of prison in Ohio, Ned returned to Boston, now nearly fifty years old. It was then that he turned his life around. He married for the second time, to Mary A. Murphy, and started to raise a family. Ned got a job as a clerk at the Edison Electric Works, a job he held for many years. He and Mary had four children, a last being a son, George, born in 1906 when Ned was sixty-two. Ned passed away in 1917 at 73.