Newgate Prison

7 February 1719   About six of the condemn’d criminals lye so ill, in the dungeon at Newgate, that, ’tis believ’d, they can hardly live till the time of execution. The Deputy-Recorder hath not yet made his report; but, ’tis expected he will do it to-morrow, and the execution be some day next week. . . .
          John Moody, a malefactor, condemn’d the last Sessions, died yesterday in the condemned hold in Newgate. (Original Weekly Journal)

21 February 1719   William Thorne, one of the persons, who was to have been executed last week, with the other malefactors, but obtain’d a reprieve for a week, lyes a dying in Newgate. (Original Weekly Journal)

28 January 1720/1   Last week two poor miserable prisoners, a man and a woman, dying in Newgate, were carried, in the common coffin for that purpose, to the burying-place, behind Christ’s-Hospital, and there, with 50 or 60 boys and girls attending, thrown (as naked as they were born) into a hole; the barbarous obsceneness of which, in a civilized nation, as we account our selves to be, deserves remark; especially in such a city as this, who value our selves for being protestants, that so small a charge of a three shilling coffin, with a little wooll, is not allowed to every such unhappy creature. The Sheriffs of London, &c. claim a title to all fines and forfeitures from all persons culpable and convicted in that prison, why then should they not take some sour with the sweet, and not suffer, any longer, so unsightly a practice, fit only for savages to use? And if they are strangers to the matter, it deseres their enquiry and amendment. (London Journal)

13 July 1724   Last Friday ... the Bench of Justices at Hicks's-Hall fined the Keeper of Newgate 50l. for the escape of Thomas Fox, as mentioned in our last. (The Daily Journal)

11 May 1728   On Saturday last the Sessions at the Old Baily ended on Middlesex Side, when the 25 following malefactors receiv’d sentence of death, viz. Christopher-Thomas Rawlins, Isaac Ashby alias Asklin, John Hulks, Edward Benson, George Gale, Thomas Crowder, William Russel, William Holden, Robert Crouch, James Toon, and William Septon, for street robberies. ...
     Tuesday in the evening, Sessions ended on London Side, when four more receiv’d the like sentence ...
     Twenty-nine malefactors have in all been condemn’d this Sessions, being the largest that ever was known: Fifteen of the men are separately confin’d in the fifteen cells lately built at Newgate, the rest in the Mens Condemn’d Hold, and the women in theirs. ...
     The streeet robbers under sentence of death in Newgate behave rudely in the cells, uttering the most dreadful oaths and imprecations that can be express’d, sometimes impiously singing the Psalms to ballad tunes, and at other times cursing the Keepers for not carrying them oftner to the Chapel. (The Weekly Journal)

10 August 1728   A new-fashion’d Bar is set up in the Press-yard of Newgate, very curiously wrought with Italian beads of divers colours, made by a poor debtor a prisoner there; ’tis much admired as being a beautiful performance, and an original in it’s kind. (Weekly Journal or the British Gazetteer)

2 November 1728   Saturday last John Featherby, one of the street robbers under condemnation in Newgate, made such a disturbance in the Chappel during the divine service by quarrelling wiht the prisoners, and by his blasphemous expressions, that the Keeper was oblig’d to take him out of the Chappel and put him into the hole call’d Little Ease. (The Flying-Post)

9 November 1728   Last Saturday ..., as the condemn’d prisoners in Newgate were coming down from Chapel, Levee, Featherby, Vaux and Burnham, four notorious street robbers, were very outragious, threatning the Keepers and saying, they wou’d commit murder before they went to execution, that they might have the honor to be hang’d in chains; whereupon the Keepers were oblig’d to carry them into the old condemn’d hold, and chain then down to the ground, to prevent their executing their wicked designs. (The Flying-Post)

18 May 1732   Tuesday, May 16. Early this morning Mr. Pitt, Head Keeper of newgate, died at his house in Newgate-street. WE. (Grub-street Journal)

25 May 1732   Thursday, May 18. The Keeper of Newgate’s place, reckon’d worth 5 or 6000 l, falls one third to the L. Mayor, one third to the City, and one third between the 2 Sheriffs. DP. C. (Grub-street Journal)

3 August 1732   Friday, July 28. Yesterday a Court of Common-Council was held at Guildhall; when it was resolved, that, for the future, the place of Keeper of Newgate should be at the disposal of the L. Mayor and Court of Aldermen; and that to be held during pleasure; and in consideration of the fees due to the R. Hon. the L. Mayor and Sheriffs for the time, the City on such occasions, should allow 2000 l. to be equally divided between the L. Mayor and two Sheriffs. C. DP. — It was resolved, that the Sheriffs for the time ought to have the appointment of a Keeper; and that the sum of 1000 l. should be given to the present Lord Mayor and Sheriffs. DJ. (Grub-street Journal)

Saturday, 7 October 1732   Last Tuesday there was a Court of Lord-Mayor and Aldermen, held at Guildhall, when they came to a resolution, that for the future, all persons who are tried at the Old Bailey for any crime, and acquitted, shall be immediately discharged, without paying fees. Mr. Ingram, an Attorney at Law in Ironmonger-Lane was appointed Keeper of Newgate, in the room of Mr. Pitt, deceased. (Read’s Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer)

19 March 1737   This morning comes on, at the said Assizes [Kingston upon Thames], the trials of Hudson and Sandwell otherwise Sidwell, for violently assaulting a prisoner for debt in the Marshalsea Prison, and robbing him of his money and cloaths, under pretence that he refused to pay his garnish.
     To strip a man in any prison for his garnish, is a capital offence; and 4 men received sentence of death at the Old Baily about 7 years since for a crime of this nature. (Daily Gazetteer)
[The preceding report in fact is not about Newgate, but the same custom of garnish was practised at Newgate.]

23 March 1738   Last Tuesday night the women on the common side in Newgate attempted to break out of their apartment, by cutting the iron bars of the window with a saw, hoping from thence to make their escape by the assistance of a leaden pipe which supplies the Gaol with water; but were overheard by one of the Turnkeys, who prevented their design (tho’ they had cut one of the main bars in two) and upon examining the prisoners, it appeared that one of the persons lately committed for coining, and two others, were the ring-leaders, they were removed to the Condemn’d Hold. (Daily Gazetteer)

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished in whole or redistributed without the permission of the compiler. However, short selections may be quoted in historical studies and reviews as long as acknowledgement is given to this site.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Newgate Prison", 24 July 2004, updated 10 April 2007 <>

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