Sunday, November 18, 2007

Debtors' Prisons

Regency Ramble has an interesting post about prisons in early nineteenth century England.
Law, Crime, Punishment and Policing were very different in the Regency than they are today. Often in our books our not so bad characters can end up in the hoosegow for debt. In other words if you could not pay your debts the merchant to whom you owed money could request the court to throw you in prison until you paid them. To us that seems a little bit of an oxymoron, since it would be difficult to earn money while in prison. The idea was, I think, that your family and friends would raise money to get you out, however often a man's whole family would be incarcerated with him, as per the next picture, because they would have no money and nowhere else to live.


Anonymous said...

When I visited Australia I visited the original settlement in Sydney which was made up of the debtors prison. They have a special event which celebrates the first ships that arrived in Australia from England filled with debtors, most of whom were ordinary citizens, even ministers, and not real criminals. They like to remind American tourists that the ships arrived shortly after the end of the American Revolution when England could no longer send her debtors to America and what had been the colony of Georgia.

elena maria vidal said...