Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:
in 1862 Queens Prison
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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