- A Bridewell was any prison or gaol. The term comes from the name for "Bridewell Prison".
- A Borstal was a name for a youth prison. Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Brise (1857-1935), a prison commissioner, introduced the plan for the first prison for young men only at Borstal Prison in a village called Borstal, near Rochester in north Kent.
- The King's Law (more properly Crown's Law) and the Common Law are the basis for punishement in England. The King's law was traditionally in writing, whilst Common Law was developed over time and often not codified until recently.
- Gaols (Jails) and Prisons are also a fairly recent invention. Local gaols were often used by towns and large villages primarily as holding cells until formal judgement could be obtained and an appropriate sentence applied.
- Although the Crown's Law may allow for death for poaching, stealing, violent acts, etc., the local courts often handed out less severe options. You might spend a week in the stocks or be lashed or both, instead of hanged.
- Some behaviours that we do not tolerate today, like wife beating, were accepted practices and not considered crimes. On the other hand, being an "open" homosexual might get you before a judge.
- For centuries the old English (and Germanic) tribal reaction to a crime, like stealing a loaf of bread, was handled by raising a "hew and cry". All able-bodied people in the area were expected to join in the posse and chase down the culprit. The person caught was brought before a village Constable. The Constable was not a paid policeman, but worked on a fee basis. If he was asked to provide justice, he would charge for his services and the parish would provide what they thought was reasonable reimbursement. The Constable would weigh the evidence and could adjudge the case or convene a court.
- Policemen are a relatively new career. They were rare before 1840, when a few guilds and merchant groups might hire a police force to patrol a town's warves and warehouses. Smuggling and dock theft were common problems, especially during the Napoleonic blockades.
- There was a large House of Correction in Kirton in Lindsey, which is between Brigg and Gainsborough. Locals called it "Bridewell", after the famous prison in London, named for St. Bride's (St. Bridget) holy well. A "bridewell" is any reformatory or prison.
- Staff in 1842: John LEE is the gaol governour, Ann EVERATT is matron and Rev. John R. T. RICHTER is chaplain.
- Staff in 1861: Edward TAYLOR was sergeant of police.
- By 1872, this facility was closed and its function transfered to the new gaol in Lincoln.
- The buildings were torn down by 1880, except for a small portion used as a police station.
- There was a "House of Correction" in Spalding from 1826 to 1884, but no records are known. Officially known as "Her Majesty's Prison for the parts of Holland and Kesteven," it adjoined the Sessions House off the Sheep Market. It was improved in 1848-52 and enlarged to have 95 separate cells, airing yards and workshops.
- Staff in 1872: Mr. Henry and Mrs. Ann BATES are governor and matron, the Rev. J. LEWIS is chaplain.
- Staff in 1882: James and Emma HIGGINS (both born Huntingdon) are governor and matron, the Rev. Michael Joseph SISSON (born in Lincoln circa 1845) is chaplain and Dr. Marten PERRY, MD, (born in Aston, Oxford, circa 1826) is surgeon.
- See who was enjoying the government's hospitality in the Spalding Gaol Census, 1881 list.
- You will not find many inmates of Spalding Gaol listed in the Lincolnshire Archives list of convicts. That list is primarily of those shipped out of England (transported).
Some Lincolnshire miscreants wound up in the gaol in Yorkshire (to the north of Lincolnshire):
Some Lincolnshire folk landed in the Derbyshire Gaol. From Rita Effnert's extract of the 1861 census:
- HORNE Joseph, U 20, Coal Miner, Swindon
- KENNINGTON James, U 40, Joiner, Caistor
- "Lincolnshire Convicts to Australia, Bermuda and Gibraltar: A Study of 2000 Convicts" by C. L. Anderson, Dunholme, Lincoln: Laece Books, 1993 (ISBN 0 950 080 38 1).
- "Louth House of Correction 1671-1872" by Bill Painter, available from the Lincs FHS, ISBN 0-953-95332-7.
Last updated on 29-December-2008
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