HOBS: Provincial Debtors' Prisons: Rothwell

Rothwell debtors gaol in the county of Yorkshire contained in the year 1688, upwards of twenty prisoners, including one William Hall. The Gaoler at Rothwell, Samuel Brogden, on occasion locked up the debtor prisoners in a ‘close hole’. When so confined the prisoners were only allowed to, “ease themselves…but when the said goaler(sic) pleaseth”[1]. Perhaps more seriously it is alleged that “the goaler(sic) doth Beat and Bruise the poor Prisoners in a most Cruel and Bloody manner”.[2]

[1] 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 18. Pitt’s exposition is drawn from a letter dated November 18th, 1690.

[2] Ibid page 19.