Calls for Papers, 2017

Next year is already looking to be an exciting one for scholars of early modern imprisonment, with two upcoming conferences on the topic recently announced. The first is Prison/Exile: Controlled Spaces in Early Modern Europe, to be held at Ertegun House, University of Oxford on 10-11 March 2017. It aims to 'explore the relationship between space, identity, … Continue reading Calls for Papers, 2017

Looking for Women in 18th-Century Newgate

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

‘The noble art of governing prisons’: The European Custody & Detention Summit, the Tower of London and historical narratives

This week, the European Custody & Detention Summit is convened at the Tower of London (15-16 November). Set against this historic backdrop, the summit is seeking to address ‘significant challenges in the modernisation of custody and detention facilities’ through business meetings, drinks receptions, technology demos and professional panels. The link between historic setting and modernising … Continue reading ‘The noble art of governing prisons’: The European Custody & Detention Summit, the Tower of London and historical narratives

When Prisoners Complain

Complaints from prisoners, and magistrates' investigations of them, are among our most valuable sources for early modern prisons. But when a small number of prisoners made a complaint, for whom did they speak?  To what extent do our archives reflect the issues prisoner's prioritized, to what extent do they reflect the concerns of the magistrates, … Continue reading When Prisoners Complain

Becoming a gaoler II: marriages and mothers-in-law

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

Prisoners as Voters

Edward Coleburn won the 1718 by-election for alderman of the ward of Mancroft in the city of Norwich, beating his opponent William Chamberlayne by 28 votes. There was only one problem. Many of the votes cast for Coleburn had come from prisoners in the city gaol, which lay within the boundaries of the ward. As … Continue reading Prisoners as Voters

Becoming a gaoler I: the City of London

Gaolers are certain to be recurring characters on this blog, and likely to be perennial are questions of why and how individuals became keepers, wardens and marshals of some of early modernity’s most infamous institutions. What led them to take up posts where their income largely consisted of demanding fees from those already so hard-up … Continue reading Becoming a gaoler I: the City of London

Pushing the Boundaries of the Fleet Prison

In 1745 John Latham and some other debtors residing in the Fleet prison petitioned the Court of Common Pleas, asking that the "rules" of the Fleet be expanded. The term "rules" (or its synonym, "verge") denoted an area physically outside the prison's walls but conceptually within its boundaries. As long as he or she stayed … Continue reading Pushing the Boundaries of the Fleet Prison

Welcome to Early Modern Prisons

This is a collective effort to find out what it was like to be locked up in the early modern period. We are interested in the economics and government of the prison, the fees, the food, how alcohol was sold, diseases, smells, sex, lice, irons, close confinement, charity, garnish, ancient privileges, violence, how prisoners organized … Continue reading Welcome to Early Modern Prisons