HOBS: Provincial Debtors' Prisons: Derby

Derby Debtors’ Gaol is also examined by Pitt.[1] On 22 September 1690, Michael Laughtenhouse wrote to Pitt providing an exposition of the conditions then prevalent in Derby debtors’ gaol.[2] The Keeper of the gaol was William Wragg. The conditions within the debtors’ prison were such that the debtor prisoners on one occasion petitioned the High-Sheriff for relief. Wragg was so incensed by this course of action that he threatened John Finney, the author of the complaints, “that he would make him swallow his Knife”[3]. As well as being forced to mix with felons, debtors in Derby also suffered the discomfiture of being made to lodge with swine.[4]

[1] In their letter of the 22 September 1690 the debtor prisoners at Derby state that they have been in receipt of several letters and printed papers.

[2] Pitt, M. The Crye of the Oppressed being a true and tragical account of the unparrallel’d Sufferings of Multitudes of poor Imprisoned Debtors, in most of the Goa’s in England, under the Tyranny of the Goalers, and other Oppressors, lately discovered upon the occasion of this present Act of Grace For the Relief of poor Prisoners fr Debt, or Damages; some of them being not only Iron’d and lodg’d with Hogs, Felons , and Condemn’d Persons, but have had their bones broken; others poisoned and starved to death; others denied the common blessings of nature, as Water to drink, or straw to lodge on; others their Wives and Daughters attempted to by ravish’d; with other Barborous cruelties, not to be parallel’d in any History or Nation: All which is made out by undeniable evidence. Together with the case of the publisher. London, Printed for Moses Pitt and sold by Booksellers of London and Westminster, 1691, at page 30.

[3] Ibid page 32.

[4] Ibid page 34.