Ancestry UK

County Bridewell and Borough Gaol, Hertford, Hertfordshire

For most of the eighteenth century, County Bridewell and Borough Gaol occupied adjoining premises on Back Street (now the part of Railway Street running parallel to for Street).

In 1784, John Howard described the establishment:

Two small rooms to the street, the Compter.— The bridewell has two rooms, the middle ward and the lower ward: no chimneys: windows not glazed. The night dungeon for men is down 7 steps, 16; feet by 10, and 6 feet high: the window 2 feet 7 inches by 1 foot 6: a court, and pump, water bad; but prisoners are always locked up within doors: no employment. The county gaoler is keeper, and has £24 a year to supply each prisoner daily with a pound of bread. Fees, £0 : 4 : 6. Debtors fees, as at the county gaol. Clauses against spirituous liquors not hung up.

1774, Dec. 14,Prisoners 4.1779, Sep. 27,Prisoners 1.
1776, Feb. 14,7.1782, April 9,4.
one a Debtor.
1776, Nov. 22,4.1783, Oct. 23,7.

By 1790, the prison had become extremely overcrowded and insanitary, and was transferred to an extension of the County Gaol on Ware Road.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • No individual records identified for this establishment — any information welcome.
  • The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU. Has a wide variety of crime and prison records going back to the 1770s, including calendars of prisoners, prison registers and criminal registers.
  • Find My Past has digitized many of the National Archives' prison records, including prisoner-of-war records, plus a variety of local records including Manchester, York and Plymouth. More information.
  • Prison-related records on Ancestry UK include Prison Commission Records, 1770-1951, and local records from London, Swansea, Gloucesterhire and West Yorkshire. More information.
  • The Genealogist also has a number of National Archives' prison records. More information.


  • Prison Oracle - resources those involved in present-day UK prisons.
  • GOV.UK - UK Government's information on sentencing, probation and support for families.