HC Deb 09 May 1814 vol 27 cc748-67

The following Report was presented, and ordered to be printed: The Committee appointed to enquire into the state of the Gaol of Newgate, and the Poultry, Giltspur-street, Ludgate, and Borough Compters; and to report their observations thereupon, and of any improvement which may be practicable therein; and who were empowered to report the Minutes of the Evidence taken before them, to the House;—have examined the matter to them referred, and agreed upon the following Report:

Your Committee find, the gaol of Newgate, as at present regulated, is able conveniently to hold 110 debtors, and 317 criminal prisoners; and it is the opinion of the surgeon, that when the whole number exceeds 500, great danger of infectious disorder is to be apprehended. On April the 5th, it contained 160 debtors and 326 criminals, and in January last the whole number amounted to 822.

That part of the prison which is appropriated to debtors, is divided into two yards; one for men, and one for women. Upon that for the men are three buildings, called the Master's Side, the Cabin Side, and the Common Side: the latter is for the poorest description of debtors; and for admission into the two former, a fee of three shillings is paid; and the prisoners in them share in none of the charities, but have the advantage of living in better society. The rooms are generally about 15 feet wide, and from 23 to 36 feet in length, and contain in each of them, day and night, from ten to fifteen men, when the prison is not crowded; but double that number have been occasionally placed in them. One room is, in the day-time, appropriated to work: and when your Committee visited the prison, they found there some persons industriously employed. For the government of the debtors, the keeper names six persons, and one of them is elected by his fellow-prisoners to hold the office of steward of the prison. In the same manner, in each ward, he names three persons, one of whom is, by the inhabitants of that ward, chosen to be their steward. It is the business of the steward of the prison to preserve order, to see the allowances weighed, and, assisted by three auditors, freely chosen by the prisoners, to examine the poor-box, and to superintend the receipt and distribution of charities; in return for which, he receives small gratuities, and an additional allowance of provisions; and similar to his, in their subordinate departments, are the duties of the stewards of the separate wards. These, and other regulations for the preservation of order, and management of the debtors, fund, have been approved of by the aldermen and judges.

Misconduct, in any prisoner, is punished by removal to what is called the Disorderly Ward, which is locked up one hour sooner than the others; and, if that punishment be not sufficient, by confinement in a cell. The doors are every morning opened at eight o'clock; and, with the exception of four hours on Sunday, visitors are indiscriminately admitted from nine in the morning till nine at night, when they depart, sometimes, to the amount of two hundred.

Wine and beer are sold at the bar of the prison, at the same price as in the public houses, and no one within the gaol is entitled to any profit on their sale. The quantity which each prisoner is allowed to purchase is no otherwise limited than that he shall not have, at one time, more than one bottle of wine, or one quart of ale; a regulation which little tends to preserve sobriety and order. The act of parliament against the introduction of spirituous liquors is conspicuously hung up, and all pains are taken, though sometimes ineffectually, to see that it is enforced.

No bedding is provided: the poorer description of prisoners sleep on the boards, between two rugs given by the city; those who can afford it hire beds at sixpence the night, from persons who carry on this traffic with the prison. The allowance of food to debtors is fourteen ounces of bread a day, and eight stone of meat in every week, divided amongst all; but as this quantity never varies with the numbers in aid of whose subsistence it is given, it forms a very precarious addition; and the whole allowance is barely sufficient, without the assistance of their friends, to support life. The manner of distributing the bread, which is given on every alternate day, is liable to this objection, that the prisoner is tempted on the first day to eat the allowance which is meant also to support him on the second; and that a person brought to prison immediately after the hour of distribution, receives nothing for forty-eight hours, and may be six days without receiving any meat.

To the debtors, no coals or candles, no mops or pails are given: the Master's Side prisoners provide themselves with these necessaries; and those on the Common Side are able to procure them by subscription and garnish, and by means of various charities and legacies. Your Committee feel it difficult to give an opinion upon what ought to be the allowance made to debtors for their comfort and subsistence, and under what regulations it ought to be distributed. It is not fitting that the poorest should hardly be enabled, by their allowance, to exist without the assistance of their friends; and if that should be wanting, that they should be in part supported by broken meat from taverns, and other casual and uncertain charities; nor is it reasonable, by an ample and indiscriminate distribution of bedding and coals and provisions, to incur expence on behalf of those who have ability, to support themselves, and by too easy a subsistence, to leave no inducement to that industry, which it ought to be the first object in every prison to encourage. It seems then that a full allowance ought not to be general; it ought only to be given to those whose necessity cannot be doubted, and who are content to live on the Common Side of the prison; those who are on the Master's Side must be presumed to be more able to provide for themselves; and even on each of these sides, different gradations may be made, the allowance diminishing as the accommodation and rooms improve. It might be made conditional too upon cleanliness, upon attendance at chapel, and other good conduct; and if a system of work were established, it might be withheld from the idle.

Some deduction might also be made from such of the prisoners as are entitled to the daily payment of sixpence from their creditors; though from the length of time for which that payment may be delayed, and the expence of obtaining it (which amounts to 1l. 6s.) it is received by few: five only of all the debtors now in Newgate are in its receipt.

Garnish is demanded from all the prisoners on their admission to prison, and fees on their discharge: the garnish is extorted by them from each other, and varies, in the different wards, from thirteen shillings to one guinea; an inability or unwillingness to pay it is punished by keeping the defaulter from the fire, by not allowing him to partake in the charities, and by other means of annoyance. It is a disgraceful and oppressive custom, and ought not to be permitted to exist. It has been abolished in all the well-regulated prisons in the country; and your Committee have it in evidence from the gaoler of Newgate, that a very small allowance as a compensation, and a positive order from the magistrates, would cure this evil at once.

From every debtor, those of the Court of Conscience excepted, a fee is due to the sheriff for his writ of liberate, amounting in Middlesex to 4s. 6d. for the first action, and 2s. 6d. for every other; in London the demand is rather higher, and beyond this he may be further imprisoned until 6s. 10d. shall have been paid to the gaoler, and 2s. to the turnkey: and your Committee indeed regret that any right should exist, by law or by custom of exacting fees from prisoners under these: or indeed any circumstances. But when the debtor's debt is paid, or when he has abandoned his property, to his creditor, and, destitute of every thing but his clothes and the instruments of his trade, looks forward to his liberty, it seems unreasonable that further demands should still be made on him, and that his liberation may yet be delayed until he shall have paid this new debt, arising only out of the satisfaction of all his former debts. That these fees have not been always extorted, nor made the subject of fresh imprisonment, is only to be attributed to charitable institutions, and to the humanity of the gaoler, whose right has never been enforced against the poor and unassisted. But your Committee feel, that the character of the present gaoler is no security for the conduct of his successors, and that this power of oppression ought not to exist.

The female Debtors Side is subject to similar regulations with that of the men, but it is less crowded, and appeared perfectly clean and well managed.

The Criminal Side of Newgate contains six yards; 1st. The press yard, for prisoners under sentence of death, to which are attached fifteen cells, each about nine feet long by seven wide. By the rule of the prison, which is however much relaxed, the prisoners are locked up in their cells from two in the afternoon till nine in the morning. Two prisoners are generally, for the sake of society, and in some cases to prevent suicide, put into each cell; though it has frequently happened, from delay in making the report, that the numbers have so accumulated as to make it necessary to confine three together. They have, with the exception of those condemned for murder, the same allowance with the other prisoners, and are permitted to purchase what wine or beer they please. Their friends are allowed freely to visit them between the hours of twelve and two; and every proper attention appears to be paid them. The ordinary attends them every Tuesday and Thursday after sentence; and, after the order for execution, every day: such as are dissenters are permitted to see ministers of their own tenets; and a Roman catholic clergyman is very properly paid by the city for attending on such as are of his persuasion. On the Sunday before the execution, all the prisoners under sentence of death, and who are of the Church of England, are obliged to attend divine service; they are placed in an open pew in the centre of the chapel; and previous to an execution, a black coffin is placed on the table before them. Your Committee feel this exposure of the condemned persons to be cruel and unnecessary; and it is consequently stated to have this bad effect, that it induces many to profess dissenting tenets, to avoid the being thus held up to public view, in this last awful situation; and in general only the most hardened consent so to appear.

In consequence of the Report in 1811 of the Committee on Penitentiary Houses, some attempt has been made to separate the tried from the untried prisoners; and the yard called the Chapel Yard is appropriated to such as are charged with felony, and to such as have been convicted or are charged with misdemeanors. It is calculated to hold in five wards seventy prisoners, and contained, on April 4th, seventy-eight. Those in custody for misdemeanors sleep in a different ward from those committed on a suspicion of felony, though in the day-time they mingle in the same yard. The rooms throughout the prison are fifteen feet wide, but vary in length. On one side of them the floor is a little raised in an inclined plane, on the top of which is a beam; and on these boards the prisoners sleep, the beam serving for a pillow; no beds are given, but each prisoner has two rugs: and the allowance of room, when the prison has only such a number as can be conveniently lodged, is one foot and a half to each person; when, as has been frequently the case, nearly double the convenient number is placed in a ward, they sleep in the same crowded situation on each side of the room, the whole floor being covered, with the exception of a passage in the middle. In the classification of the different descriptions of prisoners it has been usual, and such a system is sanctioned by the legislature in the Act 24 Geo. 3, c. 54, to confine together all persons convicted of misdemeanors. In the opinion of your Committee this classification is far from just. He who has committed a common assault ought not to be made the companion of the perjured or the fraudulent, and still less of those who are committed for attempts at the most abominable crimes. And in the same class with all these the libellist is also included, who is frequently a man of feeling and education, and whose crime, however dangerous and reprehensible, seldom carries with it into society that degree of disgrace which should subject the offender to be placed on a level with the more profligate criminals above alluded to. In the opinion of your Committee, this gaol, whilst the classification of crimes is so little observed, is not fit for the confinement of persons convicted of libel. Prisoners for misdemeanors are not in irons, but all the others are, except such as have deserved to be freed from them by long good behaviour; they are considered to be necessary as a mark to distinguish the prisoners from strangers. But if this intercourse with visitors were more limited, or permitted only through a grating, the irons might, with perfect safety, be discontinued. In the middle yard are confined persons under sentence of transportation, and convicted of felony; their number in April was eighty-two: and it will conveniently hold eighty. It is to the great delay which frequently occurs in the removal of persons under such sentences, that the crowded state of Newgate has frequently been owing. By a return to your Committee it appears, that their numbers are very seldom less than 100, and that at one time, in December last, they amounted to 236. This delay is one of the main causes of all the inconveniencies felt in the prison, and very great good would at once result from the early and regular removal of the transports.

The Master's Side will contain seventy persons, but is seldom full; it has now forty-nine. Prisoners for every crime, and of every description, liable only to removal for misconduct, may be admitted to it, on the payment of 13s. 6d. and 2s. 6d. per week for the use of a bed. Their treatment differs little from that of the other prisoners, except that they partake of no charities, and are in better society. They are, as much as possible, in their rooms, placed in different classes, but all meet in the common yard. Similar regulations prevail in what is called the State Side, which is for a still better description of prisoners, and the fee for admission to which is two guineas, and a rent of 10s. 6d. for a single bed, and 7s. when two sleep in one bed. It has accommodation for forty, and contains now twenty prisoners. The women's yards, with cells and infirmary, are calculated for seventy persons: seventy-five, with fifteen children, were, on April 4th, confined in it; and in January last, 130 were, at one time, crowded together, of all ages, of all descriptions, tried and untried; and even those under sentence of death are not removed, till the order for their execution comes down. Amongst them are now two girls of thirteen, one of twelve, and one of ten years old, exposed to all the contagion of profligacy which must prevail in this part of the prison. A division is here also made for Master's Side prisoners, for admission to which a fee of 13s. 6d. is paid; but they and the others have but one common yard, which is extremely narrow and inconvenient. Amongst the women, no visitors, except in the instance of very near relations, are admitted; an intercourse between them and their friends takes place through an iron railing. Into every other part of the prison visitors are allowed to come at any hour, from nine o'clock till dusk, but may only depart at stated times. Coals, and mops and brooms, are nearly to a sufficient quantity supplied to the Criminal Side of Newgate; and the allowance of food is, in a small degree, better than that to the debtors; but it is not sufficient properly to support life, without the assistance of friends, and casual charity; and, in the opinion of your Committee, it ought to be increased. It is hard to leave in dependence on their friends, men, many of whom are committed to prison only on suspicion of crimes, taken too from their trades, and placed in a prison in which hardly any facilities for work are afforded; whilst their families are deprived of that assistance on which they have been accustomed to depend. A very small increase of allowance would perfectly support them, and at the same time render unnecessary the unlimited concourse of visitors, by which it is to be feared the order and regularity becoming a prison are much impaired. From all the criminals, with the exception only of those on the State Side, garnish is exacted, liable to the same objections as have been already stated against it; and from them too fees are due, on particular occasions, to the keeper. Every convicted felon, on his discharge, after a term of imprisonment, pays 18s. 10d. though about again to try the world, under all the disadvantages of ruined character and circumstances, and the bad habits, and sometimes bad health, contracted during a long residence in a prison. Other fees are exacted on pardons, and from persons convicted of misdemeanors; every one of which your Committee are of opinion ought to be abolished; and they are glad to find, that a resolution to that effect passed the common council in 1810, though it is not yet acted upon. Acquitted prisoners are, as by law entitled, discharged on the moment of their acquittal; frequently at a late hour, and sometimes without money, without friends, and without a habitation in London; and instances have, in consequence, been known of their being brought back again on the same day, on a fresh, charge, to Newgate. Those against whom no bill is found, are discharged in the morning; and the females have received one shilling each from a private charity. From the want of room, and the danger of permitting the use of some tools, and the difficulty of procuring work, the prisoners are but little employed; but it is the opinion of the keeper, that the best results would be derived from fitting up a yard for the purpose of work, and giving other encouragements. The increased allowance suggested by your Committee should, if such a system were well regulated, by giving only to the industrious, and the earnings be suffered to accumulate, either for the families of the prisoners during their confinement, or for their assistance upon leaving the prison.

Four lunatics are now confined in Newgate; two of them separately, but two with the other prisoners, one of whom would, but for his insanity, have been convicted of murder. This is a practice against which a resolution of the common council was passed four years ago, but which still unfortunately continues to exist; but it is hoped, that when the new Bedlam is finished, they will be all removed.

The keeper of Newgate receives a salary of 450l. in addition to which all the fees and rents are paid to him, and from this fund he pays the servants of the prison; above which expence an income remains to himself of from 600l. to 1,000l. a year, which is not, in the opinion of your Committee, too great for an office of such difficulties and responsibility; but they greatly object to the manner in which that salary is paid. No part of a gaoler's income ought to be exacted from his prisoners. Such an income, frequently ill paid, to a humane gaoler, leaves him also too much open to the imputation of harshness, whilst it gives to a harsh gaoler a power of oppression; it also leads to the employment of too small a number, and an inferior description of servants. The fees ought all to be abolished; and whatever rents it may be thought proper to preserve, to be accounted for, the gaoler receiving a fixed salary. Your Committee cannot leave this part of the subject without stating, that they believe Mr. Newman to be conscientiously attentive to the duties of his office, and humane in their performance. The medical department is under Mr. Box, who receives a salary of 150l. in addition to which he is repaid by the city for any quantity of medicines he may use. There are three infirmaries; one for the male debtors; one for the male and one for the female criminals. No apartment has been set aside for sick female debtors, and one has very rarely been wanted. A man on each side is chosen by the surgeon from the best educated of the prisoners, and employed daily to go round the prison, and to examine and report all the sick, who are immediately removed to the infirmary, and liberally furnished with attendance, and every thing which can be necessary. Mr. Box states, that since his appointment in 1802, no fatal case of infectious disease has occurred. Pulmonary complaints are the most difficult of cure in this and every other gaol; but Mr. Box has not observed any disorder to be unusually prevalent. The average yearly number of deaths since 1802 has been only nine; and your Committee have every reason to be satisfied with the liberality of the city, and the attention of Mr. Box to this department. They have only one remark to make; namely, that it would be satisfactory if every prisoner committed to Newgate, before he is allowed to mingle with the other prisoners, were to undergo a medical examination. It is a precaution observed in all well-governed prisons, and seems particularly called for in one so apparently exposed to infection as Newgate.

The ordinary, Dr. Forde, receives a salary of 250l. and is provided with a house. He states the attendance at chapel, which is entirely voluntary, to be far from regular, and his congregation frequently inattentive and disorderly. The different classes of prisoners are all within view of each other; and before the service begins, conversations take place between the men and women, and every sort of noise prevails. The keeper himself never attends; when on every ground of giving a good example, and preserving due decorum by his authority, he ought if possible never to be absent; and but three or four of the turnkeys are present, and attempt very insufficiently to preserve order. No clerk is appointed to lead the prisoners in their responses, and much inconvenience is felt by such a congregation from the want of this guidance. The sacrament is never administered, except to the condemned. Beyond his attendance in chapel, and on those who are sentenced to death, Dr. Forde feels but few duties to be attached to his office. He knows nothing of the state of morals in the prison; he never sees any of the prisoners in private; though fourteen boys and girls, from nine to thirteen years old, were in April last in Newgate, he does not consider any attention to them a point of his duty; he never knows that any have been sick, till he gets a warning to attend their funeral; and does not go to the infirmary, for it is not in his instructions.

Most of the evils and inconveniences of Newgate have proceeded from its being in extent wholly inadequate to the purposes for which it was intended; and the attention of the common council being called to it in 1810, by a letter to them from sir Richard Phillips, a committee to enquire was appointed, which produced a valuable report and several beneficial resolutions, and among them one for the building of a new prison for the reception of debtors. This building is to receive the debtors also of Giltspur-street, the Poultry and Ludgate compters, and is in a state of much forwardness; hopes are entertained that it will be fit for the reception of prisoners in the course of a year. Newgate will then only contain such persons as have received the sentence of the law, and the commitments from the different compters and the county prison, previously to every sessions held at the Old Bailey. This will give room for that attention to the comfort, morals, and industry of the prisoners, which, in the present crowded state of the prison, is hardly practicable; for their comfort, with increased space, an increased allowance and bedding are absolutely necessary; and their moral conduct will best be improved by a minute classification of ages, sexes, and offences, and by affording every facility of employment; perhaps this last object might be forwarded by giving a room towards the street, where articles manufactured by the prisoners might be offered for sale. Many of the magistrates of the city appear, to your Committee, to be active and frequent in their visits to this and the other gaols, and reports from them appear to find a ready attention from the committee of city lands; but a still more attentive and vigilant system of inspection, by regular meetings held at the prison, would, in the opinion of your Committee, be highly beneficial. It would be useful to have books kept, in which the surgeon and gaoler might enter the occurrences in their several departments; and one in which the visiting magistrates might write their remarks, as a guide for their conduct, and that of their successors. The opinion of Mr. Howard is strongly in favour of the appointment also of one of the superintending magistrates to act solely as an inspector; and where the gaols are so numerous and extensive as in London, this opinion seems well worthy of consideration. Your Committee cannot better state his duties, than in the words of Mr. Howard:—"The inspector should make his visits once in a week, or at most in a fortnight, changing his days. He should take him a memorandum of all the rules, and enquire into the observance or neglect of them. He should (as is done in some of our hospitals) look into every room, to see if it be clean, &c. He should speak with every prisoner, hear all complaints, and immediately correct what he finds manifestly wrong; what he doubts of he may refer to his brethren in office, at their next meeting. A good gaoler will be pleased with this scrutiny; it will do him honour and confirm him in his station. To a less worthy gaoler the examination is more needful, in order to his being reprimanded, and, if he be incorrigible, to his being discharged."

Criminals apprehended in the western district of London are committed to the Giltspur-street Compter for trial, and those from the eastern district to the Poultry Compter. Debtors arrested in the two districts are alternately put into the custody of the gaolers of these two compters; and all from amongst them who are freemen or widows of freemen of London, may, at their own choice, be removed to a third prison, called the Ludgate Compter. Since 1804, when the old Poultry Compter appeared to be too much out of repair to be any longer used as a prison, the debtors and felons of both districts have been kept, with the exception of a short period when their numbers were too great, in the Giltspur-street Compter, and the night charges, only taken to the old Poultry. These three Compters are now under one roof, and are kept by two gaolers. The Giltspur-street and Ludgate prisoners are under Mr. Teague, and the Poultry prisoners under Mr. Kirby. Ludgate is divided from the rest of the building, and has a separate entrance; but the Giltspur-street and Poultry prisoners are in many instances mingled together. The two classes of male debtors sleep in separate wards, but have one common yard; the female debtors live entirely together, so do the female criminals and the Master's Side criminals; but on the Common Side they are separated, according to the district from which they have been committed; and even where they are mixed, one of the gaolers has no authority over the prisoners of the other; all which forms a very uselessly complicated arrangement. The prison is calculated conveniently to contain 89 debtors and 56 criminals; and at the beginning of April it held 68 debtors and 55 criminals. The proper number has occasionally been exceeded, but never in a degree to be compared with Newgate; and the prisoners here are in general much better provided for than in that prison. To each class of debtors a day-room is supplied, in which no one sleeps; the bed-room is furnished with bedsteads; and to each prisoner is given two rugs, and a canvass ticking filled with straw, which is changed whenever it is requisite.

The allowance is ten ounces of bread a day, given on every alternate day, and six pound of potatoes weekly for each prisoner; in addition to which the sheriffs give seven stone of meat, distributed on every Saturday, amongst the whole number of each class. Mops and brooms, but no coals and candles, are allowed by the city; the coals are bought from garnish and subscriptions, and the produce of the charities, which amount, in the Poultry, to 76l. and in Giltspur-street, to 52l. a year; besides which they have occasional donations of coals and provisions from the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, and others. The allowance of bread is very properly withheld from such as are not cleanly in their persons, and that of meat from those who do not attend divine service; exceptions being made in favour of Catholics and Jews. These and other rules were approved of by three aldermen and three of the judges, and are unexceptionable.

The Criminal Side is divided into cells of about eight feet square, containing generally two and occasionally three, and sometimes even four prisoners; and their division into small numbers, contributes much to the good order of the prison. The criminals are allowed 10 ounces of bread daily and six pounds of potatoes, but no meat; an allowance which is certainly very insufficient. To every cell a canvass tick is given, and two rugs to each prisoner, and each yard is well supplied with water; but that for the Giltspur-street men criminals is much too contracted, and the day-rooms are generally very small and inconvenient. That which is most objectionable in the prison, is the want of proper classification. Your Committee found in it, with much regret, two men committed for not being able to give security in a charge of bastardy, and one for a common assault and unable to find bail, confined in the same yard with men charged with felony; and obliged every night to sleep in the same bed with two of these their fellow-prisoners. A person so committed for bastardy, approaches much nearer to a debtor than to a felon; his person is kept as a security to the parish for a debt due to it; and it is contrary to every principle of justice, to subject him to the shame and contagion of such ignominious society.

Similar remarks will apply to the case of a person committed to prison, on a charge so little connected with disgrace as that for a common assault. The person whom your Committee found so imprisoned, had been sent to gaol after the January sessions; the bill against him was found at the February sessions; and though he was anxious at that time to take his trial, it was postponed to the sessions following: for it is the practice in the city of London not to try a misdemeanor at the sessions in which the bill is found. This practice may be productive of much hardship; and your Committee strongly recommend that it be altered, at least as far as regards prisoners not able to find bail, and giving notice to their prosecutors, of their wish to proceed to trial. It would too be greatly advantageous if, instead of dividing the yards by the districts of the city of London, the distinction were drawn between felonies and inferior offences. Though intoxication is prohibited, the prisoners are allowed to purchase what wine and beer they please. Beer and tobacco are sold by the turnkeys, who act as agents for the publicans, and receive a remuneration in proportion to the quantity which they sell. This practice, which has no place in Newgate, ought, in the opinion of your Committee, to be discontinued here. No servant of the prison should profit by that which may promote disorder amongst the prisoners.

A fee of 14s. 8d. is paid for admission to the Master's Side, and 3s. 6d. a week for a bed. Other fees are also payable here on discharges, which are liable to all the objections already urged against fees in general: but one amongst them is more than usually objectionable; it is the fee of 3s. 6d. payable by night charges, when discharged before a magistrate. A person is taken up at night on suspicion, he passes the night in a gaol, the suspicion is in the morning proved to be groundless, and he is called upon to pay for his liberation. All fees on acquittal are abolished by act of parliament; surely in cases where no ground even exists for proceeding to trial, none ought to be exacted. The keepers of these compters are paid annually each 280l. (Mr. Teague receiving 200l. additional as keeper of Ludgate,) besides receiving, as in Newgate, the fees and rents, out of which they pay their servants. A fixed salary would here also be preferable. They both appeared to be attentive to their duties. Your Committee, on visiting the prison, found no appearance of ill health; and the infirmary seemed furnished with every thing that could be necessary; but as the surgeon had been very newly appointed, they did not examine him. The chapel is described as being extremely well attended, part of the allowance being withheld from such as neglect that duty. A clerk is appointed, and paid by the city; and the service is performed by Mr. Davies, who has been thirty-four years chaplain to the prison. When younger, and in good health, he found himself of much use in frequently visiting the prisoners on week days, and in conversing with and advising them in private; but he is now seventy-two years of age, and afflicted with an asthma, which compels him generally to reside in the country, and he is only able to perform the Sunday's duty; and your Committee hope that the city will, from his age and service, consider him entitled to such a pension as may enable him to leave his office to be filled by a more active successor.

Ludgate is a prison only for debtors who are freemen or widows of freemen of London; their number is now 20, and has been 44, and the accommodations are sufficient for 24. The allowance is better than in the Giltspur-street Compter, ten stone of meat being given amongst the whole number, besides the same quantity of bread and potatoes; and they are much assisted by a fund of charities amounting to 87l. 6s. 9d. a year, besides legacies given in bread, coals and meat. The only objection to this Compter has been the want of room, from which it is to be hoped the prisoners will, in the new prison, be relieved. The chaplain, Dr. Rose, appears to be most attentive to his duty, and assiduous in paying visits to the prisoners, though he complains much of the want of a private room, in which he may converse with them. The rules and orders are excellent. When the new building is completed, these Compters will, with little alterations, be amply sufficient for proper classification and all the other purposes for which they are intended. They will be used as a House of Correction for the city of London, and for night charges, and for receiving criminals previously to their trial.

The Borough Compter is under the original jurisdiction of the lord mayor of London, aldermen, and common council, who in their deputation to sir Watkin Lewes, of the office of bailiff of the borough of Southwark, have granted to him this gaol or prison with the custody of the prisoners therein; and under his appointment John Law has, for the last five years, been the acting gaoler. It is a small prison, in part appropriated to the reception of night charges, which are occasionally, though seldom, committed to it, and for whom the accommodation is amply sufficient. A fee of 2s. is exacted on their discharge; although it is stated in sir Watkin Lewes's appointment, that he "shall not, nor will, during his continuance in the said office or place, either take himself, or permit or allow his gaoler to take, have, or receive any fees or gratuities whatsoever, for the admission, detainer or discharge of any prisoners who are or shall be committed to the said gaol on a charge of felony, misdemeanor, or breach of the peace."

The remainder of the prison is used for the confinement of debtors, arrested by process from the Borough Court and Court of Requests, but of whom far the greater proportion are of the latter description. The total number during the last three years has been;

From the Borough Court. From the Court of Requests.
1811 3 251.
1812 5 318.
1813 3 307.
And the average number at any one time is from 20 to 25; but on the 4th of April they were only 12, having with them about 20 children. The debtors from the Borough Court are liable on discharge to the payment of a fee of 10s. 10d.; those from the Court of Requests are by law exonerated from all fees, if they remain in prison during the whole term of their imprisonment; but if the debtor compound or pay his debt before that period, he is liable to a caption fee of 5s. or more, in proportion to the amount or number of his debts; and your Committee, on visiting this prison, found two prisoners who were remaining in confinement solely from their inability to pay this fee.

The term of imprisonment is limited in the following manner: viz.

For all sums under and up to 20s. 20 days.
Above 20s. and not exceeding 40s. 40 days.
Above 40s. and not exceeding 3l. 60 days.
Above 3l. and not exceeding 5l. 100 days.
But for every separate debt a further term of imprisonment is imposed in proportion to its amount; and the costs for the very lowest action are 9s. Debtors are sometimes here for a debt of 1s.; and it need not be added, that they are generally of the very poorest description. The building, if in good repair, would be amply sufficient to lodge many more than are usually confined in it; but the courtyard is only 19 feet square, and affording but little room for air and exercise. The gaoler has no salary; but in lieu of one, sir Watkin Lewes has given him an office in the Court of Requests, which occupies nearly the whole of his time, at some distance from the prison, and must prevent him from property attending to his duties as keeper. Besides which, this office is similar to that of a sheriff's officer, which is one of those pointed out by Mr. Howard as incompatible with that of gaoler. It is his duty to carry into effect arrests and executions; and as the prisoners are at once taken to his own gaol, he has powers liable to much abuse. He has, as gaoler, the advantage of living in the house rent-free, and has received, for the consumption of his family, an unlimited allowance of bread, which, though the claim to it is recognized by sir Watkin Lewes, seems never to have been authorized by the city; and the baker's accounts are so drawn up as to give to the charge, though sanctioned by long usage, a great appearance of fraud. The Committee have, since their sitting, been informed that this allowance is now discontinued. This prison, as unfortunately is frequently the case with small prisons in privileged jurisdictions, has been singularly neglected, and the consequences of that neglect cannot be better described than by the petition of the gaoler, presented to the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, on the 22d of last March. By that petition, and it is proved by evidence before your Committee, that the statements which it contains are well founded, it appears, that the windows were much broken, the flooring in one of the wards destroyed, and the other wards much damaged and decayed; that there were not more than twelve rugs, and a less number of blankets, to frequently thirty persons sleeping on the boards; that the daily allowance was only, a twopenny loaf; that no coals were allowed, nor mops, pails and brooms; and that, the sick had no medical attendance. In addition to which, your Committee have to lament, that no divine service is performed in the prison; or any person appointed to do that duty. Such are some of the evils which have resulted from the negligence of those whose duty it was to inspect and provide for this prison; a negligence the more culpable, as ignorance of its state cannot be pleaded in its excuse. Sir Watkin Lewes has been for 20 years the bailiff of the Borough, and keeper of the gaol; though of this last fact he himself appears not to have been aware. He has sometimes seen the distress of those confined in it, and has had many representations made to him of their distress, and has even occasionally taken preliminary steps for obtaining relief; yet it does not appear that application was ever made by him to the proper committee. About two years ago, upon the request of the gaoler, twelve rugs and twelve blankets were sent from the city, and at the same time the sheriff sent two chaldron and a half of coals. On the 18th September last, without the knowledge of the gaoler, a petition to the Lord Mayor was sent by the prisoners, and Mr. Kirby was sent to make enquiries; and upon communication with him, Mr. Law determined himself to present another petition. He drew up one for that purpose, and gave a copy of it to sir Watkin Lewes, who objected to it on the ground of some informality, and it was never presented. But on the 22d of March, Mr. Law actually did, after some slight alterations, present one; and your Committee have seen with pleasure, that the best atonement has since that time been made for past negligence. Orders were immediately given for the repair of the building. Mr. Law, on the 5th April, was authorized to give to every prisoner in his custody, 14 ounces of bread daily, and two pounds of meat weekly, and to provide for the use of the prisoners a bushel of coals daily. A surgeon has been appointed; and your Committee, upon visiting the prison, found that canvass ticks with straw and rugs had been given, and that workmen were employed in repairing every part of the prison. In addition to which, they recommended the appointment of a clergyman, the adoption of rules similar to those of the Ludgate Compter, the abolition of the small garnish of 2s. 6d. which is very improperly paid to Mr. Law; and some other mode of remunerating the gaoler, than one so improper in other respects, and which compels him so much to neglect his gaol. A material improvement might too, with little difficulty, be made in the distribution of the building: the ward for the female debtors has a free communication with the rest of the prison, and but one court yard is given to both men and women; which arrangement is productive of many inconveniences. But if the present door to the women's ward were closed, and means of access made to a small yard, meant for the use of felons, but never occupied by any, these inconveniencies would at once be removed. It appears also desirable, that the commissioners of the Court of Conscience in the borough of Southwark, who have, under the local Act giving them that power, selected this prison as that to which they commit their prisoners, should themselves occasionally inspect it.

The plans for the new prison have been shewn to your Committee; but the building is now in a state of so much forwardness, that they feel that any improvement now suggested could with difficulty be adopted. It is meant to contain 544 prisoners; and the outer wall incloses a space of ground less in extent than one acre: part, too, of this space, will be but little beneficial to the prisoners, it being left as an interval between the outer wall and the prison. It is much to be wished, that more ground could be acquired; but difficulties have arisen, from an agreement made with the neighbouring inhabitants, that no part of the prison shall front Red cross-street; but hopes are entertained that space may be obtained in another direction. The building is not fire-proof, and is otherwise faulty, in having the gaoler's house placed at one extremity, from which the access to some parts of the prison is distant and inconvenient. The rooms, too, are many of them too large; a greater number of small rooms would tend not only to the comfort, but to the order also of those confined in them. Your Committee object, too, to the various subdivisions which are thought necessary. The separation, perhaps, of the freemen of London might be properly continued; but no reason exists for the distinction between the Giltspur-street and Poultry debtors. It formerly depended upon choice, and now only on the alternate arrests; and it materially straitens the space, already too narrow for air and exercise.