18th and early 19th cent. prrisons
Posted by The Mysterious H.C. (posting for the first time from home with a graphical browser!) on March 25, 1998 at 19:54:14:
In response to Aunt Jane, the Klepto, written by Cheryl on March 25, 1998 at 13:45:18
] What an interesting episode, Aunt Jane Leigh-Perrot arrested for shoplifting! I have some questions about the prison she was in. It didn't sound like my image of a prison; her husband can stay with her? She can have live-in company (Mrs. Austen volunteering her daughters for company! Gee, thanks Mom.)? A family with children as the jailers? It sounds like some kind of a house.
Cheryl -- traditionally (up until the "reforms" of the mid-to-late 19th century), many British jails (other those where convicts did hard labor) often were somewhat separated by class (the "gentlemen's side" vs. the "common side" in the quote below), the jailer or warden lived with his family in quarters on the premises (that came with the job) -- the jailer's daughter who fell in love with the attractive bold young criminal was something of a ballad cliché -- and the jailers often didn't care all that much who or what came in, as long as it was properly paid for, and as long as the prisoners themselves didn't go out. You can read the descriptions in various places in Dickens' Little Dorrit (1857), or the shorter description in the June 11th letter in Humphrey Clinker (1762).
In a late 17th-century Aphra Behn story I happen to have in the Janeinfo directory, there's this quote:
[An impecunious baronet,] pursuing his old profuse Manner of Living, contracted above
100l. Debts here, in less than four Months Time; which not being able to satisfy, he was arrested
and thrown into a Gaol, whence he remov'd himself into the King's Bench, on that very Day that old
Fairlaw dy'd. There, at first, for about a Month, he was entertain'd like a Gentleman; but finding no
Money coming, nor having a Prospect of any, the Marshal and his Instruments turn'd him to the
Common Side, where he learnt the Art of Peg-making, a Mystery to which he had been a Stranger
all his life long 'till then.
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