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Newgate: London's Prototype of Hell

Newgate: London's Prototype of Hell

There have been more prisons in London than in any other European city. Of these, Newgate was the largest, most notorious, and worst. Built during the 12th century, it became a legendary place—the inspiration of more poems, plays, and novels than any other building in London. It was a place of cruelty and wretchedness, at various times holding Dick Turpin, Titus Oates, Daniel Defoe, Jack Sheppard, and Casanova. Because prisons were privately run, any time spent in prison had to be paid for by the prisoner. Housing varied from a private cell with a cleaning woman and a visiting prostitute, to simply lying on the floor with no cover. Those who died inside—and only a quarter of prisoners survived until their execution day—had to stay in Newgate as a rotting corpse until relatives found the money for the body to be released. Stephen Halliday tells the story of Newgate's origins, the criminals it held and the punishments meted out. This is a compelling slice of London's social and criminal history.

Preface: Newgate in the English Penal System

Chapter 1. The Heinous Gaol of Newgate

Chapter 2. An Abode of Misery and Despair

Chapter 3. The Bloody Code: Punishment in Hanoverian England

Chapter 4. Catching the Criminals

Chapter 5. After the Riots: The Decline of the Bloody Code

Chapter 6. The Reformers

Chapter 7. Newgate in Literature: Final Days

Notes

Bibliography