Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
'Polishing the King's Iron with Your Eyebrows'
By Cindy Vallar
No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into gaol; for being in a ship is being in a gaol, with the chance of being drowned.
A ship is worse than a gaol. There is, in a gaol, better company, better conveniency of every kind; and a ship has the added disadvantage of being in danger.
Anyone who reads books about the Age of Sail (1650-1850) sooner or later comes across these passages from Dr. Samuel Johnson. They express his feelings about life at sea, and there was a degree of truth in them. A seaman was more likely to die young and live a life fraught with danger than had he stayed ashore. “One late-eighteenth-century observer computed that for every sixteen sailors who died of all diseases, eleven perished by drowning or in wrecks, and one of every twenty-five British ships was lost each year.” (Shomette, 124) But were Johnson’s words an accurate portrayal of life behind bars, or did they paint a rosier picture than the reality?
Today, we use “gaol” (jail) and “prison” interchangeably; in the past they meant different things.1 People from the seventeenth or eighteenth century never conceived of punishing someone by locking them in a cell. If you entered a prison, you were most likely a debtor or a prisoner of war, or your political beliefs or actions marked you as an enemy to the state.2 The premise was that once creditors were paid, peace was declared, or you were no longer deemed a threat to the current government or ruler, you walked out a free person.
A gaol, on the other hand, was for common criminals. It served as your “home” until your case was heard, a verdict was declared, and any punishment deemed fitting for the offense was inflicted. If judged innocent, you would be released. If guilty, you went free once your punishment had been meted out – assuming you weren’t found guilty of a felony where death was deemed the appropriate penalty.
As today, there were misdemeanors and felonies, but morality also played a role in punishments earned. The former were lesser crimes that garnered a fine or a public shaming. For example, Andrew Searle was fined five shillings in 1682 for “wandering from place to place” on Sundays rather than going to church. (Cox) Captain Kimble, who had been at sea for three years, kissed his wife in public on his return to Boston one Sunday – a crime which landed him in the stocks.
Most felonies, including stealing a sheep or a handkerchief, carried a death sentence in the eighteenth century. Mitigating circumstances and a growing reluctance for killing led to lesser physical punishments. Examples of these might involve branding (B=blasphemer, D=drunkard, or T=thief, for instance), flogging, losing body parts (such as an ear), transporting and servitude, or sitting in the stocks or standing in the pillory.
Death remained the penalty decreed for the most serious and violent crimes. The Old Testament (c. 900 BC) listed the earliest extant record of such punishments: stoning, burning, decapitation, and strangulation. The Twelve Tablets, Rome’s earliest laws, permitted “death by burning, falling, clubbing, hanging, drowning, being buried alive, and decapitation.” (Newbold, 88)
King Henry VIII of England enacted a law making death the penalty for traitors, pirates, thieves, robbers, murderers, and conspirators. William III’s “An Act for the more effectual Suppression of Piracy” made death the punishment not only for pirates but also their abettors. This statute also allowed their trials to take place in Vice-Admiralty Courts, rather than requiring pirates to be transported to London to stand trial. Until their convictions and executions, accused pirates were imprisoned.3
Kings Henry VIII and William III of England
Prior to 1700, before the establishment of the Vice-Admiralty Courts, captured pirates were taken to England. The principal place to incarcerate these sea rogues was the Marshalsea in Southwark, an area south of the River Thames, where the Admiralty housed prisoners who committed crimes (such as piracy, mutiny, and smuggling) on the high seas.4 Other pirates – particularly those slated for imminent trial at the Old Bailey or those of great infamy, like Captain William Kidd, found themselves within the walls of Newgate Gaol in London.5
Equated to being “the worst Prison in the Nation” in 1722, the Marshalsea Prison was erected when “the good men of the town of Suthwerk” were granted permission in 1373 “to build in the high street leading from the church of St. Margaret towards the south, a house, 40 feet long and 30 feet wide, in which to . . . keep the prisoners of the Marshalsea . . . .” (“Southwark,” 9-10) It was bordered on three sides by the Borough High Street, Mermaid Alley, and Angel Alley.6 To gain access you entered through a gate on the Borough and walked down a narrow passageway.
As you quit the main street, a dirty court presents itself to your view, which is terminated by large gates, closed with a massy bar of iron, fastened with an enormous padlock. The top of the high wall over it is guarded by a chevaux de frize, to prevent the unhappy prisoners making their escape. By a narrow door, which you go up three steps to, on your right hand, and which is secured with a weighty chain and a large lock, you enter through a dirty room, which is the station of the turnkey. The horrid clanking of the chain, or the dreadful sound of the lock, is sufficient to terrify you; but when you descend into the prison, it is wretched almost beyond description. Houses, in which are apartments for the prisoners, with scarce a window, except in those whose inhabitants can afford to pay for them. Walls tottering to their fall . . . (White, Mansions, 47-8)John Strype, a record keeper, described the Marshalsea as “a long and strong building” in 1720. (White, 47) Three decades later the “houses” (above), originally erected sometime between the 1400s and 1500s, still housed prisoners.
The author of Memoirs of the Mint (1713) provided this description of living within the Marshalsea, which he referred to as “an Inchanted Castle.”
The various Spectacles in this Place were amazing, in one Place you hear a Fiddle, in another a Groan; here a Piper, there a Penitent; in another place a fat Baud, and after her a Skelleton, at the Head of fifty walking Diseases, tho I rarely met a fighting Face, yet there’s scarce a Man, that is not a thousand strong, and what is strange, he feeds all these, while he starves himself. Within you hear the Chinking of Irons, and Vollies of Oaths, while they are fetter’d from throwing ought else, at one another’s Heads. The most wretched here, Fare the best, and eat out of the Basket, while those on the other side, are ready to eat them up. (White, 53)
Marshalsea Prison on Borough High Street, south front of north side in 1773
Door to strong room is farthest right of building on right
[Source: Survey of London Wikimedia Commons]
The Marshalsea had a Common side, a Master’s side (five buildings known as the Horsepond, the “Oake” (for female inmates), the Nursery, the Park, and the Long Gallery). Eighty prisoners, six of whom were women, occupied twenty-four out of thirty-three rooms in the Master’s side. To share a bed with another prisoner here cost 2 shillings 6 pence each week in 1729. Total rents that year amounted to £155.
In contrast between 280 and 361 prisoners lived on the Common side; 68 of these were female. Instead of separate cells, this populace inhabited sixteen wards in three buildings. The prison also had a chandler’s shop, coffee room, and chop-house, which the inmates ran and for which rents were collected.
[T]he Marshalsea was part of a small town of prisons stretching north from St George’s Church, Southwark. As you walked, in 1729, from the church towards London Bridge along the Borough and looked to your right, you came immediately upon the White Lyon . . . an inn some time in the sixteenth century and had been recently rebuilt as the New Gaol for Southwark felons. Next door was the Southwark House of Correction or Bridewell for vagrants, night-walkers and turbulent apprentices. Then, a few doors on, the King’s Bench, for political prisoners and better-off debtors. Then, almost without pause, the Marshalsea, its buildings a mix of fifteenth and sixteenth-century gabled houses and a rather grand Jacobean court-house. A few hundred yards to the north of that was the Borough Clink, ruinous and little used except for a few miserable debtors; it was the prison of the Clink Liberty, nominally in the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Winchester. (White, “Pain,” 71)Those initially confined within the Marshalsea were those who committed an offense within the borders of the King’s Court. The Admiralty lodged its first prisoners there in 1430. These men were housed in a separate enclosure within the prison. Around this same time debtors also came to be incarcerated here. Among the prisoners in 1561 were the Bishop of London and three others “for religion, 1 for debt, 1 ‘for Ronnynge away from the Gallys,’ and several mariners ‘for Suspecyons of peracye.” (“Southwark”) After 1601, the principal inmates were debtors, but the Admiralty continued to send pirates and other offenders to the Marshalsea until its closure in 1842.
The person in charge of a gaol or prison was the keeper, who employed turnkeys or warders, a steward, and a deputy to assist him in running the facility. Little or no salary came with the job; he imposed fees for the usage of everything, from the irons shackling a prisoner to the rental of the cell, and each inmate had to pay these assessments. “Inmates were charged excessively while they had money to pay, and callously neglected once their funds and influence were exhausted.” (Lincoln, 23) The Marshalsea’s Deputy Keeper William Acton imposed outrageous fees in the 1720s.
[Inmates] were barely fed unless they could pay for their own food and drink or received help from friends and relatives. Those who exhausted these options simply starved until they collapsed. If, at this point, they could raise the 3d. needed to pay the fee of the common nurse of the prison, they would be carried to the sick ward, where meager rations might extend their life a month or two. Otherwise, the sick were left in their cells, and unfortunate roommates had no choice but to sleep alongside them. (It was common to sleep three to a bed.) (Lincoln, 24)Abuse in the Marshalsea was common, sometimes terrifying. According to a 1699 pamphlet one “Woman [was] almost naked and perish’d,” having been imprisoned there for seventeen months. A Jacobite named Alexander Dallzell, incarcerated during the winter of 1711, was placed in “Irons these eight Months past, in which in the Summer occasioned two severe fits of sickness that had almost taken me off . . . I am perswaded if these irons are not Removed they and ye pinching Cold weather, together wth Lying upon ye bare boards will Inevitably cut me off in a short time.” (White, Mansions, 51)
A 1714 petition sent to Parliament claimed that more than “600 poor insolvent Debtors” faced the keen prospect of dying because they lacked necessaries for survival. Captain Derew “was found roasting a Rat for his Subsistence.” (White, 51) A prisoner could “chew upon the very Iron Bars that confine him; for no one helps him under the pinching Streights of Hunger.” (White, Mansions, 52) The wards in 1729 were “excessively Crowded, Thirty, Forty, nay Fifty Persons having been locked up in some of them not Sixteen Foot Square.” (White, Mansions, 95) One ward measured 16 x 14 x 8 feet and each night thirty-two men were locked inside. “‘The Surface of the Room is not sufficient to contain that Number, when laid down, so that one half are hung up in Hammocks.’” (White, “Pain,” 69) These inmates also had to relieve themselves inside this room, “‘the stench of which is noisome beyond Expression’,” and in the summer they “‘perished for want of Air’.” (White, “Pain,” 69)
The 1729 committee report to Parliament also mentioned the punishments belligerent prisoners received. Carpenter Thomas Bliss attempted an escape.
He’d been captured, beaten with a long club made from a bull’s dried pizzle, stamped on, loaded with heavy irons including “the sheers” that forced his legs wide apart, kept in a filthy airless cell, tortured with thumbscrews and with an “Iron Scull-Cap” “which was screwed so close that it forced the Blood out of his Ears and Nose.” (White, “Pain,” 69)He never recovered from this ill treatment and, although released in spite of never having paid his debts, he had died in hospital two years before the committee came to the prison.
Bliss wasn’t the only prisoner in the Marshalsea to suffer ill usage. Nearly all prisoners wore manacles when they entered prison, and this one was no exception. In a 1483 inventory the Marshalsea had a variety of such restraints:
Item xvij pair’ of SherysSherys were iron rings for the ankles with a long rod between them; these made certain the inmate’s legs could not be closed. Colers (collars) were either double or single. Some had chains and others had none; the length of these chains could be long or short.
Item lj pair’ Fedirs called Shakyllis
Item ij Devyllis in the neke
Item xj manacles for menys handis
Item ij Doble Colers of Iron . . .
Item xxvij pair’ of lynkis withoute Shakillis (Carlin, 270)
Pugnacious prisoners, rule breakers, and those who required persuasion to divulge information were the ones most likely to endure torture. Thumbscrews were employed to gain knowledge that the prisoner was reticent to reveal. These devices “took many forms, the object being to crush the bones of the fingers and thumb.” (Swain, 126) Bliss’s “Iron Scull-Cap” resembled the frame of an iron beanie with screws attached to the temple region and an iron brace that kept the head and neck rigid. When the screws were slowly tightened, they caused the eyes “to start out of his Head, the Blood gushed out of his Ears and Nose, he foamed at the Mouth, the Slaber run down, and he made several Motions to speak, but could not.”7 (White, Mansions, 105) A “bull’s pizzle” measured three or four feet in length and had a knob on one end. (White, Mansions, 105) When dried, it became as hard as teak and was often used by butchers to slaughter animals. In the Marshalsea, it was used to beat prisoners.
If psychological torture wished to be inflicted, being locked in the “Strong Room” might accomplish the deed. This was a place without any windows and beneath which ran a sewer. The usual occupants were the deceased. One man, who endured six days of incarceration, said, “the Vermin devoured the Flesh from the Faces, eat the Eyes out of the Heads of the Carcasses, which were bloated, putrifyed, and turned green.” (White, Mansions, 105)
Little wonder that some prisoners sought to escape the confines of the Marshalsea. One Admiralty prisoner suspected of smuggling walked away in the late 1570s. Peter Lambert used a file given to him by his wife, Margery, and a neighbor, Alice Bevershawe, who concealed it in their clothes. Two decades later, pirate Adam Warner donned female apparel. A report sent to Queen Elizabeth’s chief advisor alleged that Warner’s abettor was a “lewd” female” who gave the prison porter “a pair of new stockings, to loosen the iron shackles around the legs of the prisoner.” (Appleby, 78) This permitted him to “putt them over his heade & soe did & left them in the hall & escaped.” (Appleby, 78) The High Court of the Admiralty questioned a twenty-eight-year-old spinster named Edey Haggarde in October 1599, but she denied any knowledge of the escape. She only agreed that she had visited Warner several times. Before his escape, pirate Peter Philip had the audacity to place his fetters in the porter’s lodge.
One man who provided insight into the life and inner workings of the Marshalsea was William Herle. He and three others were arrested for acts of piracy off the Isle of Wight and placed in solitary confinement in 1571. His imprisonment in the Marshalsea was not an accident. In addition to debtors and Admiralty prisoners, the Marshalsea also hosted political and religious ones, including many Catholics who wished to see Elizabeth dead and Mary Queen of Scots seated on her throne. William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Elizabeth’s chief advisor, needed an “agent provocateur” so Herle was arrested on trumped-up charges. To convince the collaborators that he was a supporter of their efforts, he availed himself of prison greed. “I tooke a payer of shackells yesterday of purpose, whiles I went into the garden & that hath astonied the Scott and all those of the house mervaylously.” (Adams, 266) He also explained how he smuggled items in and out and offered to do so to further their cause.
My chamber where I am prisoner doth open vpon the streete and vnder the wyndowe ther ys a lyttel house of som poore man. Almost in the topp of the house inward, ther is a hole that comith to my chamber, wherin I may easely thrust my hand. I think that with a small mater, George Robinson or borche might gett acqayntance with the poore man, and by that meane through the hole might be conveyed to me any letters, or else I might easely speake to any body, yf they would com into the striate or place. I shew my selfe at the windowe at viij of the clock in the morning, and At no one, at after dynner at iiij of the clock, and in the evening betwene seven and eight. There is allso a lyttle Tauerne wher all men resort vnto. (Adams, 228)By putting missives into the hole in the neighbor’s attic, or retrieving a letter placed there, correspondence between the prisoners and those outside the Marshalsea was possible. By offering the use of the opening in his cell, Herle made certain he would have the opportunity to read what the messages contained and pass along the plot’s details to Burghley.
While some things might escape the keeper’s and turnkeys’ notice, they did search cells.
I am this morning comitted to Close prison . . . and am charged with heavy Irons being searched for writings. But as god would whiles I was put a parte & they sekeing an other Chamber I brake up Charles letter as ye se and put it in a darke Chinck. (Adams, 233)Nor was Herle the only one who took advantage of these hidey-holes. “[T]he secretion of letters in ‘dark chinks’ in the porous walls or their concealment in items of clothing also suggests that the ministers, keepers, and lower-level prison guards tolerated the exchange of information, supposing (often correctly) that if intercepted, the letters or documents might yield incriminating evidence.” (Adams, 236-237)
Adam Warner, Peter Lambert, and Peter Philip weren’t the only pirates to find themselves locked up in the Marshalsea. Seventeen men tried at Cape Coast Castle (right) in April 1723, were transported from Africa to Southwark. These men had served under Bartholomew Roberts prior to his death from grapeshot during the sea battle between HMS Swallow, Little Ranger, Royal Fortune, and a third vessel the pirates had seized in February. The following pirates all pled not guilty, but the witnesses offered conflicting testimony.
Tried 31 March 1722Robert Bevins
Stephen Thomas, who was acquitted of piracy, testified that the Bevins was rarely sober or “fit for any Duty” while with Roberts. (British, 3:97) Witness John Wingfield overheard the captain of the Cornwall, on which Bevins had originally sailed, say that Bevins was forced to board the pirate ship.
Tried 4 April 1722James Barrow
His original berth was the Martha, a snow, and he claimed he was forced to join the pirates. Witness Jean Gowelt swore “this Prisoner . . . came armed with Cutlass and Pistols on board of them, drinking hard that Night, and the next Day following to robbing and plundering of them . . . cut off all the Heads of their Fowls, and sung at Supper Spanish and French Songs out of a Dutch Prayer-Book; and the Prisoner beat one of the Ship’s Company for coming to see what they were doing.” (British, 3:141-142) John Wingfield testified that Barrow “behaved himself extreamly civil . . . and made offer to hide himself there, if he would carry him off.” (British, 3:142)
Tried 5 April 1722James Harris
He had only been a Gunner’s Mate for six weeks before the Fortune was captured. More than once he told Harry Glasby, who was acquitted, that “he would be glad to get away,” but did go aboard prizes. (British, 3:111) Fortune’s Surgeon’s Mate, who was also acquitted, testified that Harris had stayed in the Hold during the battle with Swallow. Two others claimed that he “was lame, and unfit for Duty.” (British, 3:112) Harris produced an affidavit from the captain of the Richard, the pink he had originally sailed on, and sworn before the mayor of Bidyford that said Harris had been forced to go with the pirates.William Mead
Although several saw him board prizes, they also saw “him whispering sometimes . . . in order to contrive getting away.” (British, 3:112) Elizabeth Trengrove, a passenger aboard the Onslow, testified that he “was very rude to her, swearing and cursing, as also forcing her hoop’d Petticoat off.” (British, 3:112) Mead swore he had been forced and produced an affidavit from his merchant captain to that effect.
Tried 7 April 1722Christopher Lang (sometimes written as Long)
After the pirates attacked the brigantine on which Lang sailed, they sank her and forced him to work as under the pirate’s current sailmaker to mend their sails. Witness Adam Comrie “saw [Lang] meddle with nothing in the Elizabeth but Liquor, and that they kept the poor Fool always at Work on the Sails as a Slave.” (British, 3:123) Witness James Munjoy added that Lang “was buffoon’d and ridiculed by most of his Comrades.” (British, 3:123) When he did come in contact with victims, he tended to help them in small ways. One witness from the King Solomon swore that while the other pirates busied themselves with plundering the ship, Land “was so generous as to give him a Can that” the pirates had taken from him. (British, 3:123) Lang claimed to have “run away when the Shot came thick” during Swallow’s attack; the court took pity on him because “he appeared a poor inconsiderable Wretch,” which was why they referred him to the Marshalsea. (British, 3:123)
Tried 10 April 1722John Du Frock (also spelled du Frock or Dufrock)
Harry Glasby swore that this man was taken from the Loyd “against his Will, and believes he might then have got clear of the Pyrates; but for the Old Carpenter . . . who used with Oaths, and other ill Language to send him on Board of Prizes for what Carpenter’s Stores they wanted.” (British, 3:139-140) Another man added that the pirates, wishing to oust the Old Carpenter, chose Du Frock as his replacement, a job which he “unwillingly accepted . . . lamenting his Condition often.” (British, 3:140) Three other witnesses never saw him do anything other than take items used in his carpentry work. Du Frock said he was a “Slave to ’em.” (British, 3:140)Andrew Ranee (also spelled Rance)
Harry Glasby testified that Ranee “was forced out of a Dutch ship . . . six Months ago . . . and attempted to go back to his Ship,” but Royal Fortune’s boatswain claimed he “should stay for [Scotland’s] sake.” (British, 3:132) Robert Lilburn, also acquitted of piracy, added that “he seemed a very civil Fellow . . . he would be merry, and drinking as others.” (British, 3:132)John Willden
The previous August he’d been serving aboard the Lady, but Harry Glasby couldn’t say whether Willden had volunteered or was forced. He “was brisk at going in Boats, and dancing continually.” (British, 3:132) John Richards, who was acquitted at his trial, considered Willden “a half-witted Fellow, and ever in some Monkey-like foolish Action.” (British, 3:132)
Tried 14 April 1722James Crane
After ferrying his captain over to the pirate ship, Crane was detained and expressed a desire “to make an Escape” when an opportunity presented itself. (British, 3:150) George Smithson also heard Crane make known this wish several times, and Robert Harley supported Crane’s contention of being forced. Both of these witnesses had been acquitted of the charges against them.Thomas Withstandyenot
The quartermaster took him from the Norman “against his Will,” according to Harry Glasby, who also said that the pirates felt he would run. “When he was absent longer than they expected . . . imagin’d their Suggestion came to pass, and that he was gone.” (British, 3:147) George Smithson had seen him with twelve others and assumed they were planning “to run away with the Little Ranger.” (British, 3:147) What kept them from doing so was the possibility of discovery and the infliction of “some heavy Punishment, if not Death” by the pirates. (British, 3:147) Withstandyenot admitted he had been with Roberts’ men for eight months. During the battle that resulted in his capture, he “was wounded by the Powder that blew up in the Steerage, which . . . was set on fire by a Pistol by one Morrice, since dead.” (British, 3:147)
Tried 16 April 1722Robert Fletcher
Witness John Tarlton “was sure [Fletcher] was forced, and had often talked to the Deponent about means to accomplish an Escape.” (British, 3:153)Isaac Russel
Taken from the Lloyd a year before his capture, he became “Boatswain’s Mate . . . but feigned a Sickness to get off from it, often telling [Harry Glasby] it was a wicked Life they all led, yet went on board of the Prizes in his turn.” (British, 3:152) Russel testified to being “quarter’d at small Arms, but never fired any, only bracing at the Yards to make Sail.” (British, 3:152) The reasons he gave the court for not escaping when he had a chance was that he was a “Stranger” and had never been to Africa “before, which made him afraid of the Negroes.” (British, 3:152-153) Another reason given was that “it was so dangerous to trust any body.” (British, 3:153) He presented to the judges an affidavit from the merchant captain with whom he had sailed at the time the pirates forced him to go with them. He also shared that he had participated in Lieutenant Maynard’s attack and helped to take “Blackbeard the Pyrate.” (British, 3:153)Hercules Hunkins
He and his brother-in-law were forced from Success. The carpenters he worked with “reckoned [him] a soft, silly Fellow.” (British, 3:153) One of those carpenters testified that Hunkins was a sober man, who “often talked to him of means to escape.” (British, 3:153)
Tried 17 April 1722James Couzins (also spelled Cosins)
He was taken with two others, but neither man could say whether he went willingly or was forced.8Henry Graves
When the pirate quartermaster took him from his ship, Graves “went crying.” (British, 3:153) Several testified that he willingly participated in seizures of other vessels. During HMS Swallow’s attack, “he was never on Deck, but kept out of the way.” (British, 3:154)George Ogle
He was “a quiet Fellow, not swearing or cursing like most of them, and rather melancholy,” said Harry Glasby. (British, 3:155) Benjamin Parr, also acquitted, testified that the quartermaster beat Ogle more than once.John Rimer (also spelled Rymer)
Absolved of the charges of piracy, three men testified that he willingly joined the pirates. Two others said he was “for running away at Calabar . . . but . . . the good Look-out the Pyrates kept” prevented such an escape. (British, 3:154)
Rather than judge these seventeen men innocent or guilty, the court decided further testimony was necessary and ordered they be sent to the Marshalsea in London. Their transport was HMS Weymouth and they were forced to work for their passage, but were fed on half rations. Sickness swept through the ship because “a new malignant distemper” came aboard with the pirates, who became infected in the dungeons at Cape Coast Castle. (Sanders, 240) Weymouth’s first destination was Port Royal, Jamaica, where she arrived in August after four months. Of the nineteen pirates – including two to whom the court granted permission to seek pardons – only nine remained alive. A hurricane struck five days later, which delayed the ship’s departure. Almost a year after departing Africa, the pirates finally arrived at the Marshalsea. One more had died. In time, the surviving eight men were pardoned and released.
Two other pirates, who ended up at this prison and had former ties to Bartholomew Roberts, were Walter Kennedy and Thomas Lawrence Jones.
After the pirates captured Captain William Snelgrave’s ship off Sierra Leone, Kennedy was “more sober than the rest” and took Snelgrave’s “good hat and wig . . . whereupon I told him . . . I hoped he would not deprive me of them.” (Sanders, 44) Kennedy hit him on the shoulder with the flat of his sword, and then grabbed the captain, saying:
I give you this caution, never to dispute the will of a pirate, for supposing I had cleft your skull asunder for your impudence, what would you have got by it but destruction? (Sanders, 44)Walter Kennedy was with Howell Davis when he was slain, but managed to escape the ambush. He was in the running to be elected captain of the pirates, but Bartholomew Roberts won that contest. Later on, while Roberts was off pursuing another ship, Kennedy was left in charge of the Royal Fortune. He and the rest of the pirates sailed away with the treasure. He eventually returned to England where he ran a brothel. One of the women betrayed him to the authorities, who arrested him and sent him to the Marshalsea. He was eventually transferred to Newgate Gaol to stand trial at the Old Bailey. In 1721 he was hanged at Execution Dock in Wapping.
Howell Davis (left) and Bartholomew Roberts (right)
Thomas Lawrence Jones also served under Davis and Roberts. After the latter killed a friend, Jones threatened to return the favor. Roberts stabbed Jones, but not fatally; Jones thrashed Roberts. The pirates held a trial and the majority felt the captain’s dignity needed to be preserved; they sentenced Jones to two lashes from every pirate. Since Jones served aboard Thomas Anstis’ Good Fortune, this decision caused a rift between the two crews. One night, after a soft farewell, Good Fortune headed to the Caribbean. Jones eventually left the pirates and sailed to Bristol, England where he was captured. Sent to the Marshalsea, he died in May 1724.
Robert Culliford, a pirate with ties to Captain William Kidd, also found himself a guest of the Marshalsea in August 1700. When he arrived, he discovered 99 French pirates already crowding the Admiralty’s cells. At night they fought for space on the floor to sleep. When King William informed the King of France “that he had several of his subjects in prison upon account of piracy,” Louis XIV told him to “try them . . . by the laws of England, there being no room for favour to be shewn to such vermin.” (Zacks, 333)
Culliford purchased his freedom from shackles, bought drinks in the taproom, and requested a lawyer to defend him. After eighteen days in prison, he was released after paying £200 bail, but was later re-arrested when a new witness came forth. This time Culliford was taken to Newgate Gaol where the French pirates awaited their trial and where William Kidd was locked in solitary confinement.9 Culliford pled guilty so he could seek a pardon. Rather than granting him one that was free and clear, Queen Anne stipulated that there would be no pardon unless he first gave evidence as a prosecution witness at another pirate’s trial. Once he finished testifying in 1702, he walked out of the Old Bailey and disappeared.
More infamous and better known than the Marshalsea, even today, was Newgate Gaol. Two years before the publication of Captain Johnson’s The General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (1724), Daniel Defoe (right) released The History and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (1722). Moll walked through the forbidding gate of this “dismal Place” because she had stolen “two pieces of brocaded silk.” (Defoe, Fortunes, 213) Like many authors, Defoe infused his fictional character with remembrances of personal experience. He was imprisoned in Newgate for the crime of sedition. Moll’s fears were his:
’[T]is impossible to describe the terror of my mind, when I was first brought in, and when I look’d round upon all the horrors . . . the hellish noise, the roaring, swearing, and clamour, the stench and nastiness, and all the dreadful crowd of afflicting things that I saw there, joined together to make the place seem an emblem of hell itself . . . . (Defoe, Fortunes, 206)The stench was so bad, it could be smelled outside the prison. In the summer, pedestrians pinched their noses shut or held their breath as they passed and shopkeepers closed up until cold weather came.
The Romans established their first camp on the north bank of the River Thames in 43 AD. After its burning in 60 AD, the Roman capital of Londonium rebuilt the city. They enclosed London within a defensive wall in the late second or early third century, leaving five access points into and out of London. (Two more were erected in the fourth century.) One of these gates was Newgate; the road passing through this entryway permitted access “to the south and west to Reading, Dorset, and Hampshire.” (Jowett, 13)
In 1154 Henry II ascended the throne of England and would rule for over thirty years. His legal reforms were “[t]he most significant and lasting” achievement of his reign. (St. John Parker, 11) He “laid the foundations of English Common Law and our jury system.” (Jowett, 14) He also decreed a third prison – the earlier two being the Tower of London and the Fleet – should be built in 1188 on “land next to Newgate where Newgate Street joined Old Bailey.”10 (Jowett, 14)
Left: Image from 1690 map of London depicting the New Gate. (Source: Wikipedia) Right: London circa 1300 by William R Shepherd (1923). (Source: Wikipedia)
Major and minor improvements were made at various times between 1236 and 1666 when the Great Fire swept through London.
Over 13,000 houses, eighty-seven parish churches, St. Paul’s Cathedral and most of the civic buildings were destroyed as it raged from London Bridge to Smithfield in the north and Fetter Lane in the west. . . . Newgate gaol on the north-western edge of the fire was severely damaged and about eighty percent was unusable. (Jowett, 50)
Map of London in 1666. Pink denotes area of city destroyed by the fire. (Source: Wikipedia)
The rebuilding of Newgate Gaol took seven years. Other changes would be made in subsequent centuries, but did little to improve conditions until reforms were instituted in the nineteenth century. Until then it remained much as Defoe, Moll Flanders, pirates, and many others found in until the last inmates were removed to other prisoners in 1902 and Newgate was demolished in 1904.11
During your stay, you were expected to pay your own way. It mattered little whether you were a homeless peddler or a high-ranking lord. Your only chance of keeping distance between yourself and the common riffraff depended on the weight of your purse. For a fifteenth-century gentleman or freeman, the cost for bed and board was three shillings per week. A yeoman paid two shillings. To warrant a higher fee, the Keeper shackled each new inmate with heavy irons. Pirates, like other violent felons, were often deemed too dangerous to ever have their irons removed.
The common greeting upon first entering your assigned ward were the words “pay or strip.” There was no way of not paying this fee, even if it meant you had to sit in darkness, sleep on a bare floor, go hungry, and forfeit your clothes.
Those with money, or access to it, could avail themselves of a range of perks: “the freedom to walk around . . . a private cell with a cleaning woman and a visiting prostitute, even alcohol.” (Lincoln, 27) Getting out of gaol also required payment, even if the jury deemed the man or woman not guilty of the charges. The kindness of those outside the prison walls might allow those without funds to have some food, but whatever was served had to be eaten raw if one couldn’t afford to pay for its cooking.
The rich could afford to live on the Masters side, located on the upper floors of the prison. The poor lived in squalor and misery on the Common side, where the lower floors were damp and closer to the foul air. Debtors made up the majority of prisoners, and while the two types of inmates were theoretically supposed to be kept apart, this wasn’t always the case.
The City of London oversaw Newgate, which was privately run and operated as other gaols did with a Keeper and his helpers. He hired paid turnkeys and appointed four prisoners to help with the daily running of Newgate. The Common side consisted of wards run by cellarmen or cellarwomen, each elected by the prisoners. They collected the garnishes and fees, as well as overseeing the wards. Most items – such as candles, food, charcoal, spirits, clean straw, beer, and blankets – cost money. Since the water was unhealthy to drink, the taproom might charge two pence for a drink of ale, although the keeper had only paid three pounds twelve pence for a gallon.
A scurvy knave, such as a pirate like William Kidd or one whom the authorities feared might escape, spent his time in the holes (dungeon) where the space was minimal and the dark cells never dried.
One man who could afford to inhabit the Master’s side, but chose not to, was William Penn, whose Pennsylvania colony would encourage illicit trade with smugglers and pirates much to his chagrin. He spent six months in Newgate in 1671. A fellow Quaker provided this description:
When we came to Newgate we found that side of the prison very full with Friends . . . . We had the liberty of the hall, which is on the story over the gate, and which in the daytime is common to all prisoners on that side, felons as well as others. But in the night we all lodged in one room, which was large and round having in the middle of it a great pillar of oaken timber which bore the chapel which is over it. To this pillar we fastened our hammocks at one end, and at the opposite end, quite round the room, in three storeys, one over the other; so that they who lay in the upper and middle row of hammocks were obliged to go to bed first, because they were to climb up to the higher by getting into the lower ones. And under the lower range of hammocks, by the wall sides were laid beds upon the floor, in which the sick and weak prisoners lay. There were many sick and some very weak, and though we were not long there, one of our fellow prisoners died. (Babington, 61)
The poorest inmates were placed in the Lower Ward, which wasn’t much different than a dark dungeon. John Hall was hanged as a footpad and pickpocket in 1707. His memoirs provided this description:
In the Lower Ward, the tight, slovenly dogs lie upon ragged blankets, amidst unutterable filth. Trampling on the floor, the lice crawling under their feet make such a noise as walking on shells which are strewn over garden walks. (Babington, 75)Bathrooms were open tubs within the wards and the disgusting smell became a major problem, especially in warmer weather. These open facilities also bred disease, and deaths multiplied significantly during the summer. Pirates were equally susceptible and records prove that some suffered wretched deaths.
In the eighteenth century, it became fashionable for people to visit Newgate as one would a museum. These sightseers forked over a hefty amount of coins to do so and, in spite of these fees, their lines circled the block. Anyone who wished to witness one of the execution sermons or visit a condemned person in his/her cell, was also charged for this privilege.
Also at this time some rooms acquired specific names. The Bilbows was where punishments were inflicted. Jack Ketch’s Kitchen was the room where corpses were prepared prior to going on display. The dungeon became the Strong Room and, at times, also housed dead bodies. The worst common ward, where debtors lived, was called Tangier and was considered “the nastiest place in the gaol.” (Jowett,61)
Rioting was a common occurrence, and these could be quite violent at times. To amuse themselves, the prisoners played a variety of games, such as cards, billiards, fives, skittles, dice, and football. Some sold their bodies to others. Some dealt in stolen goods. Others tormented the citizenry who passed by outside the prison walls. Another form of entertainment, similar to those pirates often staged, were mock trials.
King Henry VIII was the first to concern himself with ministering to the inmates. In 1546 he appointed Christ Church Greyfriars to this task on a part-time basis. This clergyman was called an Ordinary and he preached in Newgate’s chapel and ministered to the condemned. The position ceased to be part-time in 1620 and in 1698 Paul Lorrain assumed the role of Ordinary. In addition to his regular duties, he preached execution sermons to pirates and others, accompanied them to their executions, and published accounts of the pirates’ final days just as his counterpart, the Reverend Cotton Mather, did in Boston, Massachusetts.
Although there were exceptions, Newgate hosted pirates pending their trials and punishments. The length of time they were there depended on when the court sessions occurred. These happened five times a year in 1435. During the 1700s, court convened eight times a year. Initially, the cases were heard within the gaol, but the magistrates disliked sitting in the stinky, filthy, and disease-ridden building. The sessions moved to the Old Bailey in 1353. Before then, a prisoner paid four pence to be taken to the courtroom. Afterward, the price doubled unless you were accused of a felony. Then the cost for your delivery was two shillings.
As a defendant you had to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty at your arraignment. If you did not, the court attempted to change your mind through peine forte et dure (pain that is strong and hard). The reason for not pleading was to keep from forfeiting all property and wealth to the Crown. If you refused to profess guilt or innocence, you were forced to strip, tied to the floor in spread-eagle fashion, and weight was laid on you. Additional iron or stone was added on a daily basis until you rethought your refusal to plead. Your only sustenance was three slices of bread and three sips of water, but these were provided on alternate days. If you never submitted, you eventually succumbed to the lack of nourishment and the crushing weight, but succeeded in your goal. Your silence insured that your relatives retained whatever you owned. If you gave in and entered a plea, the judge could also decide that instead of standing trial, you should just die where you were.12
When John Gow, alias John Smith, was captured, he was sent to the Marshalsea, but was later transferred to Newgate to stand trial for piracy.The 1726 edition of Captain Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates included this description of peine forte et dure:
[He] refused to plead, for which the Court ordered that his Thumbs should be ty’d together with Whipcord, which was done several Times, by the Executioner and another Officer, they drawing the Cord till it broke; but he still continuing in an obstinate Refusal, the Court pronounced that Sentence which the Law appoints in such Cases, that he should be press’d to Death. The Gaoler was ordered to carry him back to Newgate, and to see the Sentence executed next Morning. . .
But when Gow understood the Nature of the Press, and the Manner how the Pain was inflicted, his Resolution failed him, and he sent to pray the Court that he might be re-admitted to the Bar, which the Court granted; he was thereupon arraigned a-new . . . to all [indictments] he pleaded Not Guilty.13 (Defoe, General, 368-369)
The Prisoner is laid in a low dark room in the Press Yard at Newgate, all naked but his Privy Parts, his Back upon the bare Ground, his Arms and Legs stretch’d with Cords, and fasten’d to the several Quarters of the Room. This done, he has a great weight of Iron and Stone laid upon him. His diet, till he dies, is only three Morsels of Barley Bread without Drink the next Day; and if he lives longer, he has nothing daily, but as much foul Water as he can drink three several Times, and that without any Bread, till he expires. (Defoe, General, 681-682)It was possible for even felons to escape from gaol or prison, even if they were incarcerated in Newgate. One of the most memorable escapees was a thief named Jack Sheppard who bolted more than once in 1724.
[D]uring an interview with two female friends in the lodge at Newgate, [he] broke a spike off the hatch, and, by the assistance of the two women, being slim and flexible, was pulled through the opening, and so escaped.Once he was caught, they handcuffed him, restricted his movements “with heavy irons (such as are still fastened above the side doors of the prison), and chained him to a stout staple in the floor of a strong room called ‘The Castle.’” (Old) One day, when most keepers were over at the Old Bailey, he “loosened his chain from a the floor-staple” with a small nail he’d found and
then slipped his small thievish hands through his handcuffs, and tied up his fetters as high as he could with his garters. With a piece of his broken chain he worked out of a chimney a transverse iron bar that stopped his upward progress . . . Once on the airy roof, Jack, quick at breaking out of prisons, now tried his hand at breaking in, to force a way to the chapel, Jack broke into the Red Room, over the Castle, having found a large nail, with which he could work wonders. The Red Room door had not been unbolted for seven long years. Jack forced off the lock in seven short minutes, and got into a passage leading to the chapel. To force a strong bolt here, he broke a hole through the wall, and, with an iron spike from the chapel door, opened a way between the chapel and the lower leads. Three more doors flew open before him; over a wall, and he was on the upper leads. At this crisis, requiring a blanket, to tear up and make a rope for his descent, he had the courage to go back for it, all the way to his cell, and then, making a tough rope, he fastened it with the chapel spike, and let himself down on the leads of a turner, who lived adjoining the prison. Slipping in at a garret window, he stole softly down-stairs, and let himself out (a woman who heard his irons clink thought it was the cat). (Old)The next day he borrowed a smithy’s tools to remove his shackles. He later stole several items from a pawnbroker’s shop. A drinking binge followed, which resulted in his capture after which he was not permitted to escape again.
Most pirates who were condemned to die had little opportunity to escape death. Once the clock struck midnight on the day of execution, anyone about to be executed had to listen to the tolling of a handheld “execution bell” that was rung three times outside the condemned’s cell. With the knells, the bellman intoned:
Newgate's Execution Bell (photgraph taken by Lonpic Man; source: Wikipedia)
All you that in the condemned hold do lie
Prepare you, for tomorrow you will die.
Watch all, and pray, the hour is drawing near
That you before the Almighty must appear
Examine well yourselves, in time repent,
That you may not to eternal flames be sent;
And when St Sepulchre’s bell tomorrow tolls,
The Lord have mercy on your souls! (Jowett, 48)
Taking one’s last breath, however, did not waive the release fee. The body remained within Newgate’s walls, rotting away in the interim, until someone paid the Keeper.
Those prisoners condemned to hang and whose bodies were to be placed on display as a warning to others ended up in a special room in Newgate, which came to be called Jack Ketch’s Kitchen after one of the gaol’s more notorious executioners. Here the heads of traitors and rebels were coated in pitch and tar before being staked on pikes around London, such as on London Bridge. Pirates, however, had their entire corpses preserved, banded in iron, and placed on display where ships passed until little remained of their bones. Thomas Ellwood, a Quaker, found himself imprisoned in this room in 1662. His cellmates were the bodies of three men that had been there for three days.
I saw the heads when they were brought up to be boiled. The hangman fetched them in a dirty dusty-basket out of some by-place; and, setting them down among the felons, he and they made sport with them. [He] took them by the hair, boxed them on the ears and cheeks. Which done, the hangman put them into his kettle, and parboiled them with bay-salt and cumin seed; that to keep from putrefaction, and this to keep off the fowls from seizing on them. (Jowett, 53-4)One well-known pirate to grace the walls of Newgate was Captain William Kidd, who was imprisoned here from April 1700 to May 1701. (The usual stay for a pirate lasted no more than sixty days.) Prior to his arrival the Lords of the Admiralty warned the Keeper “not to permit any person whatever to converse with [Kidd] during his imprisonment.” (Zacks, 320)
The night the captain came to Newgate the gaol was a forbidding, five-story structure looming in the darkness. Above the enormous entry door – made of thick wood, studs, and iron straps – hung an enormous pair of irons. The smell was as vile as the hold of a slave ship. Once inside, Kidd entered the Hold – a room without light that was more akin to a shelf without any bedding – via a hatch in the floor. The slop bucket was already full because two other condemned men were there, but they were transferred to other quarters because of the Admiralty’s isolation order. When food arrived, it was thrown down to him. Underneath the floor of the Hold was an open sewer. An imprisoned Jacobite said:
By the help of a candle, which you must pay through the nose for before it will be handed to you over the hatch, your eyes will lead you to boarded places, like those raised in barracks, whereupon you may repose yourself if your nose will suffer you to rest from the stench that diffuses its noisome particles of bad air in every corner. (Babington, 72)The floor held hooks and iron staples with chains that allowed prisoners who caused trouble to be brought “to submission.” (Babington, 72)
The normal price for leaving the Hold was 2 shillings 6 pence. At the time of Kidd’s stay, a quart of rum or brandy cost 4 pence. Wine required 24 pence. But he was permitted few privileges. Once he finally left the Hold, he resided in a cell on the Master’s side where he could be kept isolated from other prisoners. On a visit in May 1700, the Keeper found Kidd with “a great pain in his Head, and shakeing in his Lymbs, and further sayd that he was in great want of his Cloathes.” (Zacks, 327) The Admiralty, who wanted him to remain alive until after he was tried, amended their restrictions. He was now permitted new clothing and bedding. He received care from a doctor and visits from his uncle (Mr. Blackborne, fishmonger) and Mrs. Hawkins (Sarah Kidd’s relative and William’s former landlady), but they could only see Kidd if the Keeper was present. As soon as Kidd’s health improved these privileges were stopped. The Admiralty Board again altered the rules for his incarceration in July. They gave him a weekly allowance of 20 shillings; permitted his friend Matthew Hawkins to visit; and allowed him to occasionally attend services in the chapel. The latter two required supervision. In late December, he was granted the privilege of walking around the yard as exercise, but always under guard and never talking to anyone.
Kidd finally had his day in court, where he was convicted on charges of piracy, robbery, and murder. He was condemned to die, but maintained he was “the innocentest Person of them all” until the end. (Zacks, 379) Like Gow, the rope broke and Kidd was hanged again. His corpse was also displayed “as a greater Terrour to all Persons from Committing ye like Crimes . . . .” (Botting, 127)
After London’s Great Fire, the rebuilding required so many structures be replaced that priorities were assigned to which ones rose from the ashes first. Gaols were among the earliest to go up and this proved equally true in English colonies. Boston’s first gaol was erected in 1632 when only forty houses existed. Salem’s gaol was built in 1663 on land seized from Quakers. Nantucket, Massachusetts had one in 1679. The oldest gaol still in existence today was erected in 1719 in York, Maine. Called the Old Gaol, it was based on the stone jail in Boston and the cells were lined with planks of wood to conceal the three-foot stone walls. To make certain a prisoner remained within, the town installed blades on the grating. Archaeological digs showed that inmates were fed poor qualities of meat and shellfish.
Left: Detail of 1743 map of Boston by William Price showing location of Boston Gaol. Right: Old York Gaol in York, Maine
(Sources: Wikipedia & Photograph by Kenneth C. Zirkel)
Connecticut demanded that every county have a gaol. Each was to be “24 feet long and 16 or 18 feet broad, with a Cellar, either of wood or stone.” (Mofford, 186) Those imprisoned here were kept together no matter whether they were male or female, old or young, or had committed minor crimes or major ones. Secure places of confinement they weren’t. “The keeper locked in two men, who came out without the door being unlocked,” according to one report. (Mofford, 187) A prisoner saw “a man pull up one of the boards overhead in the prison with his hand, going into the chamber of the prison, and others went out under the groundsill and some went out next to the worke-house [or house of correction].” (Mofford, 187)
As with their English counterparts, colonial gaols required you to pay for any charges you incurred during your incarceration whether you were judged innocent or guilty. These fees included not only your room and board, but also the rent for the manacles around your wrists and/or ankles in addition to any miscellaneous items you may have used, such as a blanket or a candle. Even the cost of transferring you between the gaol and courtroom fell to you. If your sentence was a whipping, you were responsible for paying the person who delivered each stripe of the lash. If you or your family were unable to pay, your property was forfeit.
One responsibility of a colonial gaoler was the maintenance of records about the prisoners in his care. When someone entered his custody, he noted the inmate’s physical description, the crime(s) he was accused of, and when the person arrived or was released. For the last, the gaoler also needed to record who had given him the authority to discharge the prisoner. If any inmate escaped, the gaoler was held responsible. He not only had to recapture this escapee, he might also have to pay a fine for allowing the prisoner to flee. If a friend or relative was caught abetting the escape of a prisoner, that person was flogged (thirty-nine lashes) and fined. 14
A colonial gaoler received a stipend whenever he locked or unlocked a cell for a prisoner. This amount averaged three shillings, which was what someone who worked in the field received each day. He also was provided money to feed his prisoners. If he granted permission, the prisoner’s family or friends could supply the food, which the gaoler’s wife then cooked and served. The meals were brought to the gaol by the gaoler’s children, who also did other chores, and placed food in wooden trenchers to pass through a grate in the cell door. Since the gaoler’s family was expected to assist him, his abode was either on prison property or next door to it. Another obligation was to supply firewood to help heat the gaol during the winter, but in extreme cold, other measures might need to be taken.
In regard of the coldness of the present season and the Inconveniency and unfitness of the Prison to entertyne prisoners this Winter Time, it is therefore ordered that until a more convenient prison be erected or season be more moderate, it shall be lawful for John Parker, Majesty’s Gaolkeeper at York, to remove his prisoners to his house. Prisoners shall have their liberty to come to meeting on the Lord’s Day with the Keeper of the Gaol. (Mofford, 191)Boston’s wooden gaol was dank and rundown when William Kidd crossed its doorstep in 1699. The straw covering the floor was often foul, even though it was the prisoners’ bed. Any windows were small and barred, but otherwise open to the elements. Joining him in the cells were Edward Davies and Joseph Bradish and at least a dozen of their men. The gaoler, Caleb Ray, served them bread and water that cost six pennies a day and was provided by the colony. Kidd wrote, “I am a stranger and have nothing to relieve myself, [all] being taken from me since my arrival in this harbor.” (Zacks, 259)
Eventually, he was moved to the newer section, which Judge Samuel Sewall referred to as the Stone Prison, where he was shackled in leg irons weighing sixteen pounds, which chafed his wrists and ankles. Anyone who came to visit him was turned away. He was forced to spend all but a half hour of each day alone in the narrow confines of his cell with nothing but his thoughts to occupy the time. He remained dressed in the clothes he was wearing on the day of his arrest. Finally, his wife Sarah petitioned the Council in October for warmer garments “to prevent there being exposed to suffering or perishing by the cold.” (Zacks, 270)
That winter was very cold. Judge Sewall’s description of one ice storm read, “The Rain freezes upon the branches of the Trees to that thickness and weight that great havock is . . . made of the Wood and timber.” (Zacks, 274) But Kidd was forced to endure the frigid temperatures without any heat.
In 1701 the law changed to allow captured pirates to be tried in Vice-Admiralty Courts established in English colonies, rather than being taken to London. John Quelch was the first pirate to be tried under this revised statute. At the time of his arrival at Boston Gaol in 1704, the original, wooden section housed debtors and minor offenders, who often sought to escape the heat, stale air, and pungent smells by walking in the yard. Felons, like Quelch, were relegated to the Stone Prison where light and fresh air were rarely available and the thick walls were constantly damp. It might be cooler than the older side of the gaol, but the unsanitary conditions and overcrowding made it an unhealthy place. Food – crusty bread, pig’s knuckles, boiled mussels and clams – and water were the normal sustenance served unless a prisoner could bribe the gaoler to provide better options. Quelch wasn’t allowed to walk in the yard or go without shackles. When he and six of his mates, with hands tied behind their backs, emerged from their cells on their day of execution, forty musketeers accompanied them along the half-mile walk to Scarlett Wharf where they were ferried to the gallows at Hudson’s Point. 15
Another pirate who spent time in Boston Gaol was Thomas Davis, one of the two survivors of the Whydah shipwreck. (The other pirates came from Bellamy’s other vessels.)
Seth Smith Prison keeper in Boston Sworn, faith, That when the Prisoner at the Bar was first brought to Gaol, his illness hindred their talking together; but sometime after as they were discoursing, the Deponent observed to the Prisoner, That if he would be ingenuous & make a confession, he might save his Life, and be a good Evidence against the other Pirates in Prison. To wich the Prisoner made answer, That he was abused by several of the Pirates that were Drowned, and was glad he had got from them, but knew nothing against the rest of the Pirates in Prison.” (“Trials,” 2:313)Davis was eventually acquitted since Sam Bellamy had forced him to join the pirates because of his carpentry skills.
Over the years Boston Gaol played host to many other pirates, including Rachel Wall and William Fly. 16
After Blackbeard’s death in 1718, more than a dozen of his fellow pirates were taken to The Public Gaol in Williamsburg, Virginia. This “substanciall brick prison” and included “two cells, an exercise yard, and lodgings for keeper John Redwood. Strong timbers were laid beneath the cells to prevent ‘under mining.’” (“Public”) The gaol opened in 1704 on land “just north of the Capitol on Nicholson Street.” (“Public”) The comfort of its residents was not a concern. Each cell measured 10 feet by 10 feet. The pirates and other inmates slept on straw on the floor. The air they breathed was fetid, the food horrid. The windows had no glass, which permitted free entry to rain, snow, and sleet, as well as the cold of winter and heat of summer. Nor were fires permitted so the prisoners might warm themselves. “Many . . . died of cold during the severe winters.” (Bullock, 2) Rats, mice, cockroaches, and lice were their cellmates, and gaol fever frequently killed inmates. 17
Blackbeard’s men were likely kept in irons, and evidence of “rings to which the prisoners’ leg irons were fastened” was found in the original floor during archaeological excavations. (Bullock, 2) In 1779 one occupant described his cell.
In one corner of this snug mansion was fixed a kind of Throne which had been of use to such miscreants as us for 60 years past and in certain points of wind renderd the air truly Mephytic. Opposite the door and nearly adjoining the throne was a little Skuttle 5 or 6 inches wide, thro which our Victual was thrust to us. (“Public”)Two additional cells were added in 1711 to house debtors. At this time “[i]t cost about sixpence, or five pounds of tobacco, a day to support an inmate.” (“Public”) If a prisoner could afford it, he could acquire his meals from a local tavern. Otherwise, he dined on “pease and salt beef.” (Bullock, 2) Four years after the pirates were executed, four more cells were erected. Other renovations included an exercise yard, a courtyard, and lodgings for the gaoler.
Not all gaols were purpose-built. They had first served another purpose, which could mean the gaols “were dilapidated residences that had been quickly fitted with bars and padlocks.” (Lynch) Connecticut had its own Newgate Prison in Simsbury (East Granby), which opened in 1705. Its name came from the notorious London gaol, but this gaol wasn’t an actual building. Instead, those accused of robbing houses, forging documents, printing false documents, and stealing horses were imprisoned in what was once a copper mine. Not only were they shackled in iron, they were also chained and had metal bands fastened around their necks. These were then attached to overhead beams to make certain they didn’t stray. During the day, they made barrels, nails, and shoes. At night they slept in the dark seventy feet underground. This Newgate didn’t last as long as its namesake; it closed in 1827.
When Stede Bonnet and his men were brought to Charles Town, South Carolina in 1718, the city did not have a gaol.
[T]here not being a publick Prison, the Pirates were kept at the Watch-House under a good Guard of the Militia : but Maj. Bonnet was committed into the Custody of the Marshal, at his House. And in a few Days after David Herriot the Master, and Ignatius Pell the Boatswain, who were design’d to be Evidence for the King against the other Pirates, were removed from the rest of the Crew to the said Marshal’s House, and every Night two Centinels set about the said House: But notwithstanding all that Care, and the strict Orders the Governor often gave the Marshal to take care of his Prisoners, on the 24th of October Major Bonnet and Herriot made their Escape, the Boatswain refusing to go with them. (Tryals, v) 18By the nineteenth century, most cities had specific places to incarcerate criminals. Charles Gibbs, also known as James D. Jeffers, was arrested for piracy in 1830. His first lockup was a gaol in Flatbush, New York. From there he and two others, Robert Dawes and Thomas J. Wansley, were moved to Bridewell Prison in early December. Gibbs and Wansley were relocated to Bellevue Prison by March of the following year. After his confession was published, Gibbs was kept in isolation. The reason for this, according to the New York Sentinel, was “that by solitary confinement he will be induced to make further confessions, and disclose the names of some of his accomplices in various scenes of blood, who are yet at liberty.” (Gibbs, 135)
Bellevue occupied ground along the East River at Twenty-sixth Street and First Avenue. The stone building measured 50 by 150 feet, and shared the twenty-acre spot with a hospital and almshouse. (The former would take over the entire property in 1848.) Like other prisons, Bellevue was overcrowded and disease-ridden. “[F]or the most part, its cells were really large rooms holding a dozen or so prisoners. So many would be packed into the rooms that sometimes there was hardly enough floor space for the inmates to sleep.” (Gibbs, 135) Gibbs and Wansley, however, were locked in small, narrow cells, which one visitor likened to “a living grave.” (Gibbs, 135) 19
Part VI: Gaols around the World
Gaols and prisons were not unique to Britain. They were found all over the world and varied in description and condition. After Xú Yàbǎo (also known as Chui A-poo) was betrayed to the British by a fellow pirate and found guilty at his trial, he committed suicide in his Hong Kong prison cell in March 1851.
Granuaile O’Malley’s first cell was located in Limerick Gaol, Ireland, where she was imprisoned for nearly eighteen months beginning in 1577. She was moved to Dublin Castle in 1578, which
was the Irish equivalent of imprisonment in the Tower of London. From the “status” point of view where gaols were concerned, on a scale of one to ten Dublin Castle was a ten. It meant that you were politically important and dangerous. Also, as with its London counterpart, more often your “release” meant only that you were free to leave your cell to ascend the steps of a scaffold, a fate which befell many of her fellow-prisoners while Grace was incarcerated there. (Cook, 74)But Granuaile walked out in early 1589 without apparent reason for her freedom.
The Lantern Tower (English) in La Rochelle, France was initially built as part of the seaport’s defensive fortifications. Louis XIV’s engineer began construction in 1445, but the tower wasn’t completed until 1468. It became a prison during France’s religious wars in the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century, Britain, the Dutch Republic, France, and Spain fought for territory in the New World and these conflicts brought captured enemy corsairs to this tower. Some of these men faced the executioner, who hanged the condemned pirates in the top floor of the tower. 20
Lantern Tower and a cell door on the third floor. (Source: Wikipedia)
Cape Coast Castle belonged to the Royal African Company and housed native captives destined for overseas slave markets. The stone fort was built on the Gold Coast (Ghana) and was bleached white by the sun. Its armament consisted of twenty-eight guns mounted on the ramparts. Underground were the dungeons, where sometimes up to a thousand Africans were imprisoned. With so many pirates taken in the sea battle between Bartholomew Roberts and Captain Chaloner Ogle, the prisoners were brought to the castle and lowered into this dark area of confinement. When they emerged one by one to stand trial, they were starving and emaciated. Their clothing hung in rags. Quite a few had horrible injuries sustained during their fight against HMS Swallow. One pirate who hadn’t lost his swagger was John Walden, also known as “Miss Nancy.” He told the court to bring him a stool so he could rest his stump upon it since he had lost his leg during that battle. According to the records, he “appeared undaunted though his wounds were great.” (Sanders, 230) Another pirate who displayed his arrogance was John Coleman. He admitted to boarding prizes and accepted that he would hang for doing so, but “’twas not of his seeking.” (Sanders, 231)
Fifty-two of the pirates were hanged, many at the castle, the rest at various places along the coast of West Africa. Eighteen of their corpses were displayed in gibbets. Twenty pirates, initially sentenced to death, were sent to the castle’s mines for seven years of hard labor, and seventeen were sent to the Marshalsea Prison. Fifty-six were acquitted.
Cape Coast Castle and one of dungeon cells where slaves and pirates were held. (Source: Wikipedia)
Pirate Robert Culliford’s stays in the Marshalsea and Newgate were not his first introduction to a gaol cell. That came in 1692 when he was a “guest” of India’s Moghul prison in Junagadh. “Flies feasted on the human feces, piling up in the corners and pooling out in the relentless heat. The men were crowded together in misery. Month followed month until the calendar blurred.” (Zacks, 42) After six months, one of the pirates smuggled out the following note for the English East India Company.
I who am unkowne do lye here in a miserable prison at Junegarr do make bold to write to your Honour yt: I am an Englishm:n and taken by ye Govern/t hereof at Mangalore in ye most treacherous manner . . . I shall satisfie ye to ye full both of my coming into ye country and also of their taking me, which in this small piece of paper as you receive it is too little for it would require a great deal more. (Zacks, 42-43)The governor received the missive in September 1692, but did nothing to aid the pirates. Relations between the East India Company and the Great Moghul were friendly, and he had no wish to upset that delicate balance. Culliford and his men languished in gaol for years; their attempts to escape always ended in failure until spring 1696. The pirates “overpowered their guards and escaped, bursting with four years’ frustration” and returned to the sweet trade (piracy). (Zacks, 43)
Of all the pirates who were eventually captured during the early eighteenth century, two remain as well-known as Captain Kidd. In October 1720, Captain Barnett surprised a pirate sloop and captured Captain John “Calico Jack” Rackham and his crew. They were taken to the gaol in St. Jago de la Vega (Spanish Town), Jamaica. Rackham and the men were tried and hanged by 20 November. Their deaths left only two crewmembers yet to be tried: Mary Read and Anne Bonny.
The gaol was located on the north side of the square known as “the plaza major of ‘the Parade’.” (Robertson, 361) Nearby was the King’s Arms, a tavern housed in what had originally been a Spanish stable. Spanish Town was the legal and administrative center of Jamaica.
Read and Bonny were found guilty of piracy and sentenced to hang. Both were granted stays of execution because they were “quick with child.” (Eastman, 43) According to church records, Mary died on 28 April 1721, and was buried in St. Catherine’s cemetery. “[S]he was seiz’d with a violent Fever . . . of which she died in Prison.” (Defoe, 159) There is a date discrepancy between Captain Johnson’s book and church records, so her death may actually have been caused by complications during her pregnancy.
Anne’s demise remains an enigma. There are no records of a pardon, release, or death. She simply vanished from her gaol cell in 1721 and was never heard from again.
This article began with two quotations from Dr. Samuel Johnson and a question as to the accuracy of his statements about life in gaol. Although dangers existed in both worlds and they shared some commonalities, the preference of being locked within the walls of the Marshalsea, Newgate, the Public Gaol, or the Old Gaol seem far less appealing than sailing the deep blue seas. Emily Dickinson compared a ship to a book, rather than a gaol; both permit us a chance to escape the drudgery and evil in our daily lives. Impeded by shackles around ankles or wrists and viewing the world from behind iron bars hinders that freedom and adds to the burden we carry. Within the pages of A General History of the Pyrates Captain Charles Johnson shared this oft-quoted passage from Bartholomew Roberts to explain why some men and women, who understood the fate that might await them, preferred being aboard a pirate ship on the high seas to polishing the King’s iron.
In an honest Service, says he, there is thin Commons, low Wages, and hard Labour; in this, Plenty and Satiety, Pleasure and Ease, Liberty and Power; and who would not ballance Creditor on this Side, when all the Hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sour Look or two at choaking. No, A merry Life and a short one, shall be my Motto. (Johnson, 272-273)
1. “Jail” first appeared in written English around 1300, during the Middle English period. It came from the Old French “jaiole,” which meant “a jail, prison, or a birdcage,” but was originally derived from the Latin term for “cage.” Scribes in England often used a variant spelling, “gaole” – the word used by French Normans and pronounced like “gale.” Over time the hard “g” softened. Today, Americans favor the spelling of “jail,” while the British prefer “gaol”; both words are pronounced the same.
Early in the twelfth century English documents contained the word “prison.” It came from “prisun,” another Old French word meaning captivity. Its Latin roots lay in an informal noun associated with forcibly taking someone or something.
2. Imprisoning people who owed money often created a paradox. In order to pay off a debt, debtors needed a job to make money to pay creditors. Locking them away prevented them from achieving this and actually increased their debt, since the Keepers of prisons also expected payment during the debtors’ incarceration. Abolishing debtors’ prisons didn’t begin until the nineteenth century.
3. In Britain and her colonies, convicted pirates usually danced a hempen jig and once the tightened noose strangled your last breath, the tide washed over your body three times before your remains were buried. The bodies of the most notorious pirates, especially captains, were tarred, gibbeted, and put on display as a warning to others. Spain and its territories garroted convicted pirates.
4. Marshalsea comes from the Anglo-Norman word “mareschalcie,” which had a variety of spellings. The knight marshal oversaw the court where justice was meted out to the king’s domestic staff.
5. Daniel Defoe, once an inmate of Newgate and considered by some to be the author of A General History of Pyrates, believed London had more places of incarceration in the 1720s than anywhere else in Europe: 22 “public gaols,” 5 “Night Prisons, called Round Houses,” and 119 “Spunging Houses” (for debtors). (White, “Pain,” 73) There was also an assortment of private establishments, where prospective prisoners (those pending release on bail or placement in a real prison), and houses for arrested political prisoners or conscientious objectors) Sailors under arrest were imprisoned in the homes of Admiralty Officers.
6. Historical documentation does mention an earlier prison, but provides negligible information about it.
7. This device worked in the same manner as the pirates’ “rosary of pain.” This was a “length of knotted cord wrapped around a victim’s head at the forehead and temples, tightened either by pulling the ends in opposite directions or more often by inserting a long, thin, hard object (e.g., a rigid stick . . .) into the space between the rope and the head and twisting it, thus causing intense pain and possibly forcing the victim’s eyeballs out of his skull.” (Choundas, 347-348) This act of torture was called “woodling.”
8. This is the only detail, as regards James Couzins, included in the summary of the trials. For whatever reason, he either kept his own counsel or was unable to testify.
9. Fifty-two of the French pirates were found guilty. Twenty-four were hanged at three locations around London at the same moment in time.
10. When Henry Morgan and Sir Thomas Modyford, the former governor of Jamaica who had issued many letters of marque to privateers, were arrested for “many depredations and hostilities against the subjects of His Majesty’s good brother, the Catholic King” (Charles II of Spain), each was transported to London. (Marley, 1:246) Morgan’s sickness kept him from being imprisoned in the Tower of London on his arrival in August 1672, but Modyford was placed there in 1671. The Tower was originally built in the eleventh century and, in addition to the cells, had an observatory, a zoo, and a mint. Modyford wasn’t incarcerated in a dungeon, since the Tower had none. Prisoners occupied whatever room was convenient, but it was up to them to see to their creature comforts. It’s possible the Tower was the first building in London to serve as a prison. One of the earliest escapes from it occurred in the eleventh century. Modyford stayed imprisoned in “easy confinement” for several years before his release. (Marley, 1:247) He never stood trial for the charges, and returned to Jamaica as Chief Justice in 1675. He died four years later.
11. The last execution at Newgate took place in May 1902. The door for debtors is now on display in the Museum of London.
12. Pressing remained in effect until 1772, although the application of peine forte et dure hadn’t occurred since 1741.
13. According to The Complete Newgate Calendar (volume III), Gow and seven of his crew were executed at Execution Dock, Wapping in 1725.
14. Katherine Price, an indentured servant of Caleb Ray, Boston's gaoler, would have suffered this punishment had formal charges ever been brought against her. In 1699 she passed a file to pirate captain Joseph Bradish, which he used to free himself. Tee Witherly accompanied Bradish on his flight into lands occupied by Native Americans. A reward of £200 was offered and they were captured by Chief Essacambuit. According to the gaoler's records, Bradish was of "ordinary stature, well sett, round visage, fresh complexion, darkish, pock-fretten and aged about 25." (Zacks, 273) Witherly was "short, vary small, black, blind of one eye, age 18." (Zacks, 273) Both were among the thirty-two shackled pirates who were taken to London aboard HMS Advice with William Kidd. Bradish was hanged. Witherly's fate is unknown.A remarkable circumstance happened to Gow at the place of execution. His friends, anxious to put him out of his pain, pulled his legs so forcibly that that rope broke and he dropped down; on which he was again taken up to the gibbet, and when he was dead was hanged in chains on the banks of the Thames. (John, 67)
15. The six men who accompanied Quelch were John Lambert, Christopher Scudamore, John Miller, Erasmus Peterson, Peter Roach, and Francis King.
16. Before her husband's death, Rachel Wall did participate in piratical attacks, but she was arrested for highway robbery. Prior to her execution, she dictated a simple message, placing herself in God's hands, to Deputy-Gaoler Joseph Otis and his assistant.
As William Fly went to his death in July 1726, he held a "nosegay of flowers" and wore a smile. "He showed no guilt, no shame, and no contrition." (Rediker, 1) He even retied the knot of the noose that was to hang him.
17. Gaol fever was the principal cause of death among inmates in many gaols. The squalor, vermin, and overcrowding were prime conditions for its rampant spread. The inmates of Newgate called faol fever crinkums, while seamen referred to it as ship fever; we know it as typhus. By the time Kidd arrived, thirty inmates died annually from this infestation caused by lice and fleas. The problem was so bad tha an inmate might be standing still, but his clothes would move. If you crossed the floor of a ward, the vermin cracked beneath your feet.
One of the earliest mentions of gaol fever appeared in Andrew Boorde's The Breviary of Health (1547). In 1414 this "sycknesse of prisons" killed sixty-four inmates in Newgate. (Collins, 163) The symptoms of this highly contagious disease were high fever, headache, delirium, stomach pains, muscle pain, and coughing. An infected prisoner who attended his trial in the Old Bailey brought the disease with him in the spring of 1750. Sixty people died, including two judges, the Lord Mayor, and a few members of the jury.
18. According to William Rhett's testimony, Richard Tookerman -- who may have been a pirate, but at the least had ties to pirates and was a thief -- was "the principal person assisting in [Bonnet's] escape," but he was never charged for this. (Hahn, 559) He was incarcerated in Rhett's home, but later released. Rhett was in charge of those who recaptured Bonnet, but Herriot was killed in the fight to retake the escapees. No one else at Bonnet's trial named anyone as an abettor in the escape, and historical evidence contradicts Rhett's version. After being judged guilty of piracy, Bonnet was taken to White Point and hanged on 10 December 1718.
19. They were executed on Ellis Island in 1831. Afterwards the bodies were to be delivered to Doctor John Augustine Smith for dissection.
20. Special thanks to Roberto Barazzutti for his assistance in locating this information.
For additional information, I recommend the following resources:
Adams, Robyn. “‘The Service I am Here for’: William Herle in the Marshalsea Prison, 1571,” The Huntington Library Quarterly 72:2 (2009), 217-238.
Appleby, John C. Women and English Piracy 1540-1720: Partners and Victims of Crime. Boydell, 2013.
Babington, Anthony. The English Bastille: A History of Newgate Gaol and Prison Conditions in Britain 1188-1902. St. Martin’s, 1971.
Beal, Clifford. Quelch’s Gold: Piracy, Greed, and Betrayal in Colonial New England. Praeger, 2007.
Boston Looks Seaward: The Story of the Port 1630-1940 compiled by Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Massachusetts. Bruce Humphries, 1941.
Botting, Douglas. The Pirates. Time-Life Books, 1978.
Brebner, Nicole. “Dungeons and Dragons,” History Magazine (August/September 2001), 34-35.
Brooks, Baylus C. Quest for Blackbeard: The True Story of Edward Thache and His World. Lulu, 2016.
Bullock, H. Public Gaol Historical Report, Block 27 Building 2. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library, 1994.
Burgess, Douglas R., Jr. The Politics of Piracy: Crime and Civil Disobedience in Colonial America. ForeEdge, 2014.
Burl, Aubrey. Black Barty: The Real Pirate of the Caribbean. Sutton, 2006.
Cabell, Craig, Graham A. Thomas, and Allan Richards. Captain Kidd: The Hunt for the Truth. Pen & Sword, 2010.
Carlin, Martha. Medieval Southwark. The Hambledon Press, 1996.
Chambers, Anne. Granuaile: Ireland’s Pirate Queen c. 1530-1603. Wolfhound, 2003.
Choundas, George. The Pirate Primer: Mastering the Language of Swashbucklers and Rogues. Writer’s Digest, 2007.
Collins, Christopher H. “Gaol and Ship Fevers,” Perspectives in Public Health 129:4 (July 2009), 163-164.
Cook, Judith. Pirate Queen: The Life of Grace O’Malley 1530-1603. Tuckwell, 2004.
Cordingly, David. Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates. Random House, 1995.
Cox, James A. “Bilboes, Brands, and Branks,” Colonial Williamsburg Journal (Spring 2003).
Defoe, Daniel. A General History of the Pyrates edited by Manuel Schonhorn. Dover, 1999.
Defoe, Daniel. The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders.
“A Discourse of the Laws Relating to Pirates and Piracies,” British Piracy in the Golden Age: History and Interpretation, 1660-1730 edited by Joel H. Baer. Pickering & Chato, 2007, 3:261-342.
Eastman, Tamara J., and Constance Bond. The Pirate Trial of Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Fern Canyon, 2000.
Emsley, Clive, Tim Hitchcock, and Robert Shoemaker, “Crime and Justice – Punishments at the Old Bailey,” Old Bailey Proceedings Online.
Erickson, Carolly. Royal Panoply: Brief Lives of the English Monarchs. History Book Club, 2003.
“The Execution Bell at St. Sepulchre-Without-Newgate,” Two Nerdy History Girls 7 August 2017.
“First Williamsburg Gaol Inmates,” Southeastern Virginia Historical Markers.
Gibbs, Joseph. Dead Men Tell No Tales. University of South Carolina Press, 2007.
Gill, Michael Patrick. William Herle and the English Secret Service [thesis]. Victoria University of Wellington, 2010.
Gosse, Philip. The Pirates’ Who’s Who: Giving Particulars of the Lives & Deaths of the Pirates & Buccaneers. The Rio Grande, 1924.
Griffiths, Arthur. The Chronicles of Newgate. Dorset, 1987.
Grose, Francis. 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence. Project Gutenberg, 2004.
Hahn, Steven C. “The Atlantic Odyssey of Richard Tookerman: Gentleman of South Carolina, Pirate of Jamaica, and Litigant before the King’s Bench,” Early American Studies 15:3 (Summer 2017), 539-590.
Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary.
Hollick, Helen. Pirates: Truth and Tales. Amberley, 2017.
“John Gow,” The Complete Newgate Calendar volume III.
Johnson, Ben. “Newgate Prison Wall,” History Magazine.
Johnson, Charles. A General History of the Pyrates 2nd edition. T. Warner, 1724.
Jowett, Caroline. The History of Newgate Prison. Pen & Sword, 2017.
“Life Inside Newgate Prison, London, UK,” h2g2 (The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition). 28 December 2010.
Lincoln, Margarette Lincoln. British Pirates and Society, 1680-1730. Royal Museums Greenwich and Ashgate, 2014.
Lynch, Jack. “Cruel and Unusual: Prisons and Prison Reform,” Colonial Williamsburg Journal (Summer 2011)
Marley, David F. Pirates of the Americas volume 1. ABC-CLIO, 2010.
Mofford, Juliet Haines. “The DEVIL Made Me Do It!”: Crime and Punishment in Early New England. GlobePequot, 2012.
Morlaine, Maime. “The Lantern Tower in La Rochelle,” Crimino Corpus 23 February 2012. (English translation)
Newbold, Greg. “A Chronology of Correctional History,” Journal of Criminal Justice Education 10:1 (Spring 1999), 87-100.
Old and New London volume 2. Cassell, Peter & Galpin, 1878, 441-461.
The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories: The Life Stories of over 12,000 Words edited by Glynnis Chantrell. Oxford, 2002.
Partridge, Eric. The Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang. Penguin, 1986.
“The Penitentiary Administration in England,” Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology 5:1 (May 1914), 115-117.
Pirates in Their Own Words: Eye-witness Accounts of the ‘Golden Age’ of Piracy, 1690-1728 edited by E. T. Fox. Fox Historical, 2014.
“Public Gaol,” Colonial Williamsburg.
Rediker, Marcus. Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age. Beacon, 2004.
Ritchie, Robert C. Captain Kidd and the War against the Pirates. Harvard, 1986.
Robertson, James. “Late Seventeenth-Century Spanish Town, Jamaica: Building an English City on Spanish Foundations,” Early American Studies (Fall 2008), 346-390.
Rowland, David. “Marshalsea Prison, London,” Old Police Cells Museum, 2014.
Sanders, Richard. If a Pirate I Must Be . . . : The True Story of “Black Bart,” King of the Caribbean Pirates. Skyhorse, 2007.
Shomette, Donald G. Shiprecks, Sea Raiders, and Maritime Disasters along the Delmarva Coast 1632-2004. Johns Hopkins, 2007.
Southwark Prisons in Survey of London volume 25 edited by Ida Darlington. London County Council, 1955, 9-21. (alternate copy)
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Stone, Peter. The History of the Port of London: A Vast Emporium of All Nations. Pen & Sword, 2017.
Swain, John. The Pleasures of the Torture Chamber. Dorset, 1995.
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Talty, Stephan. Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe that Ended the Outlaws’ Bloody Reign. Crown, 2007.
“The Trials of Eight Persons Indited for Piracy,” British Piracy in the Golden Age: History and Interpretation, 1660-1730 edited by Joel H. Baer. Pickering & Chato, 2007, 2:289-319.
“The Tryal of All the Pyrates, Lately Taken by Captain Ogle,” British Piracy in the Golden Age: History and Interpretation, 1660-1730 edited by Joel H. Baer. Pickering & Chato, 2007, 3:67-166.
The Tryals of Major Stede Bonnet, and Other Pyrates. Rose and Crown, 1719.
White, Jerry. Mansions of Misery: A Biography of the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison. The Bodley Head, 2016.
White, Jerry. “Pain and Degradation in Georgian London: Life in the Marshalsea Prison,” History Workshop Journal Issue 68 (Autumn 2009), 69-98.
Woodard, Colin. The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down. Harcourt, 2007.
Zacks, Richard. The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd. Hyperion, 2002
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