Ancestry UK

Borough Gaol and Bridewell, Derby, Derbyshire

The Derby Borough Gaol and Bridewell were originally separate establishments. From 1652 to 1730, the gaol stood under the town hall on Cornmarket Street. From 1730 until 1757, it occupied a small appendage to the county gaol at the bottom of St Peter's Street. It then moved to a building on Willow Row.

From 1660 until 1757, the town bridewell was at St Mary's Gate. It then also moved to Willow Row, alongside the gaol.

In 1784, John Howard wrote that the gaol:

is also the bridewell. Two rooms for debtors; one for felons; three for petty offenders. Prisoners always locked up: the narrow court or passage, only 7 feet by 34, not being secure, is of little use. The whole ruinous, dirty and offensive. Gaoler has a large garden behind the prison. No salary as gaoler; as keeper of bridewell, £5. Fees, debtors 6s. 8d. felons 3s. 6d. no table. Garnish 3s. 6d. on a paper in the debtors kitchen. Allowance to debtors and felons, one shilling and six pence weekly in bread. Licence for beer.

1776, Oct. 29,Debtors 2.Felons &c. 2.
1779, May 14,0.0.
1782, Jan. 23, 4.2.

In 1812, James Neild wrote:

This Prison, which is also the Town-Bridewell, is situated in Willow Row. The Gaoler's house fronts the Street, and his back room has a full command of the court-yard, which is 33 feet by 24; and has a pump and two sewers in it, with a leaden cistern for a cold bath: Hard and soft water are accessible at all times. The above court is the only one for Prisoners of every description.

Debtors have a day-room on the ground-floor, 12 feet by 11, which has a fire place, and an iron-grated window, looking towards the Court. Above-stairs, they have four sleeping-rooms, of about the same size, with glazed windows and fire places; and to each room the Corporation allows wooden bedsteads, loose straw, two blankets, and a rug.

Debtors from the Court of Requests are sent here, and have the same allowance as paupers, from their respective parishes.

The Felons' day-room is about 10 feet square, with a fire-place, and iron-grated window. Their sleeping-cell, called The Dungeon, is 12 feet by 8, lighted and ventilated by a small iron-grated window, of 11 inches only by 10; with a bar rack bedstead, straw, three blankets, and a rug.

The Women's day-room, 10 feet square, has a fire-place, and iron-grated window towards the court. Their room to sleep in is above-stairs, and of the same size as that below; but the window is glazed. Closely adjoining are two rooms for petty offenders.

All are allowed to work who can procure employment, and they receive the whole of their earnings. When I was last here, in 1805, the single Debtor was cutting Butchers' skewers, at three pence a thousand.

No room set apart for an Infirmary. The Act for Preservation of Health is hung up, but not the Clauses against Spirituous Liquors. The Prison is white-washed and visited once a year.

Gaoler, Charles Smith.
Salary, 50l. for Gaol and Bridewell.
Fees, Debtors, and Felons, 12s. 8d . No Table. For Transports, the expence of conveyance.
Garnish, (not abolished,) 1s.

Chaplain, none, nor any religious attentions whatever.

Surgeon, Mr. Haden; who makes a Bill.

Number of Prisoners.Debtors.Felons, &c.Deserters.
1800, Nov. 16th,170.
1802, Jan. 29th,360
1803, Aug. 24th,281
1805, Oct. 9th,121.
1809, Aug. 24th,11Vagrants, 4.

Allowance, for all descriptions, three twelve-penny loaves per week, sent from the Baker's: weight, October 9, 1805, four pounds each. Two tons of coals are given yearly, for the use of the whole Gaol.

In 1828, the two establishments jointly took over the former County Gaol premises on Nun's Green, Friargate. This arrangement continued until 1836, after which time prisoners from the borough were placed in the new County Gaol on South Street. The Friargate building continued in use it was demolished in about 1840.


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