Catalogue description Records of the King's Bench, Fleet, and Marshalsea prisons

Details of PRIS
Reference: PRIS
Title: Records of the King's Bench, Fleet, and Marshalsea prisons

Records of debtors' prisons from the seventeeth to nineteenth centuries, relating both to individual prisoners and prison administration. They comprise those of the:

Fleet Prison

Marshalsea Prison

King's Bench Prison and its successor, the Queen's Prison

Date: 1628-1862
Related material:

See also records of the Bankruptcy Courts in: B

See also Prison Commission and Home Office Prison: PCOM

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Fleet Prison, 1300-1842

Kings Bench Prison, 1400-1842

Marshalsea Prison, 1600-1842

Queens Prison, 1842-1862

Physical description: 11 series
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

in 1862 Queens Prison

Custodial history: The records of the King's Bench, Fleet, and Marshalsea prisons were transferred to the Marshal of the Queen's Prison under section three of the Queen's Prison Act 1842.
Administrative / biographical background:

Until imprisonment for debt was abolished under the Debtors Act 1869, private persons who owed money to creditors with no means of repaying debts could be sent to gaol until the debt was paid off. Those living in debtors' prisons with their dependents could earn a living in the immediate area (or 'liberty') free from the threat of re-arrest or further harassment from their creditors. However, the general conditions in such prisons were so poor, and the likelihood of repayment often so little, that reforms of the law on bankruptcy and a restructuring of the London debtors' prisons in 1842, led eventually to their closure, ending a situation long considered to be a national scandal by contemporaries.

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