We're pleased to present the following guest post by Alex Wakelam, a doctoral student in the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure studying eighteenth-century female insolvency and the functioning of debt imprisonment. On the 11th December 1742, the young Samuel Foote arrived at London’s imposing Fleet debtors’ prison. At the age of … Continue reading The persistent presence of the eighteenth century female debtor
Sometimes I try to lift my head out of the archives and read around in the growing and really awesome new literature on prisons in more recent times. This is the first of what I hope will be a series of posts about books that deal with the more recently historical experiences of incarceration and … Continue reading Reading Megan Comfort’s Doing Time Together as an Early Modernist.
George Dewing, the keeper of the Halstead House of Correction, was a monster who raped an inmate and murdered her child. Or he was framed. The version of the story in which he was a monster is found in A Short and Impartial Account of the Proceedings against George Dewing (1728), probably written by … Continue reading Rape and Infanticide at the Halstead House of Correction
Richard Bell's recent post showed how a humble garden billhook could a potential tool of violence against prisoners. Keys, doors, locks, and grates could wreak a subtler kind of violence. Barring visitors from a prison could be deadly. "When prisoners are sick," some Newgate debtors told the JPs in 1724, the underkeeper Mr. Perry "won’t let … Continue reading Grates and Keys: Violence in Early Modern Prisons, Part II
We tend to think of prisons as male spaces. So I'm trying an experiment. I will return to material I wrote about in my previous post, When Prisoners Complain, but I'll focus on the women this time. As you'll recall from that last post, in 1702 and again in 1707, some Newgate prisoners informed the … Continue reading Looking for Women in 18th-Century Newgate
When it came to his love life, George Reynell had a type: women connected to prison offices. His first wife was the widow of a prison warden, his second the daughter of one. As a result, Reynell spent many years running prisons in London. Following on from my last post about becoming a gaoler in … Continue reading Becoming a gaoler II: marriages and mothers-in-law