A Report from the Committee appointed to Enquire into the State of the Goals of this Kingdom: Relating to the Fleet Prison (1729)
On March 20, 1728/9, Oglethorpe delivered his report to the House of Commons concerning the Fleet Prison; and on that same day the Speaker of the House ordered that it be printed.
Although Oglethorpe had the assistance of Luke Kenn, one of the parliamentary secretaries, to help him keep notes of the depositions and transcribe his final reports, Oglethorpe almost certainly authored his prison reports himself. Doubtless he entertained and implemented numerous suggestions from other members of his committees, but the members were so numerous and heterogeneous that it must have been the chairman who obtained and implemented a consensus.
It is difficult for us to visualize the state of the prisoners in the jails of eighteenth-century London. They were detained in overcrowded buildings administered by wardens who ran their prisons as capitalistic enterprises. There the surroundings and treatment depended upon the prisoners’ purses: if they could raise the adequate money, they could take apartments or rooms “within the rules,” that is, outside the walls of the prison but within its legal precincts. If their means were moderate, they could rent furnished or unfurnished rooms on the master’s side. If they were paupers, they shared a room or ward on the common side, lying on the floor if they were unable to afford beds and subject to starvation and prison fever. Since the warden frequently cared nothing about repairing the prison or keeping it healthy, diseases were rife. Moreover starvation prevailed in many prisons, since wardens often misappropriated the charity monies given for feeding the poorest prisoners; and some wardens even prohibited the display of the traditional begging-box at the prison gate. Many of these wardens were given a free hand by the courts whose duty it was to regulate and supervise their conduct.
In their annual petitions to Parliament the imprisoned debtors appealed for relief, but their petitions were usually laid upon the table or were referred to committees that gave most of their attention to petitions from creditors whose debtors had escaped. Even if a bill for debtor relief were presented to the House, it was generally voted down, or was not returned from the House of Lords. Oglethorpe himself had in 1724 served on the last such committee.1
On February 6, 1729, a committee was appointed in the House of Lords to consider the imprisonment of debtors; and a week later an analogous committee, of eight members, was named in the House of Commons. Though not a member of the original committee, Oglethorpe became one after the bill had its second reading, on March 12.2 But far more important to Oglethorpe than an occasional and generally abortive bill to relieve imprisoned debtors were the broader concerns of prison conditions and management. After he learned that his friend Robert Castell, architect and author of The Villas of the Ancients Illustrated (1729), had died in the Fleet not because of obdurate creditors, but greedy and implacable jailors, Oglethorpe apparently began a private investigation of the plight of imprisoned debtors.3 Their situation under the present penal system, he became convinced, was intolerable. Fortified with such emotional appeals as Castell’s death and Sir William Rich’s shackling, on February 25, 1729, Oglethorpe moved for the investigation of the English prisons; and a committee of ninety-six members was named “to enquire into the State of the Gaols of this Kingdom.”4 Oglethorpe was named chairman. They turned their attention, first, to the Fleet.
The Fleet Prison was located along the Fleet River near present Farringdon Street, London. Not originally designed as a prison, it was first built not long after the Norman Conquest, certainly by 1170–71. It was rebuilt in the reign of Edward III, again after it had been destroyed in the Peasants Revolt of 1381, and still again after the Great Fire of 1666. Used during the reigns of Henry VIII and his successors, until 1641, to receive prisoners sentenced by the Court of the Star Chamber, it subsequently became primarily a debtors prison. It was a freehold, part of the manor of Leveland, and was operated by the warden for his own profit; and though it was legally controlled by the Court of Common Pleas, the keeper rarely suffered legal intrusions or investigations. In 1691, in his Cry of the Oppressed, addressed to Parliament, which was then investigating conditions under Warden Richard Manlove, Moses Pitt cited his refusing to deliver bodies of dead prisoners to their families until debts were paid and his forcing prisoners to sleep side by side with dead bodies.5 During 1698–99 Henry Pocklington chaired a select committee to investigate the Fleet, but it accomplished nothing. Sometimes Sir Peter King, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, intervened on behalf of the prisoners; but his successor, Sir Robert Eyre, in 1725, seemed firmly in the interest of law and order—that is, the keeper. The keeper was now Thomas Bambridge.6
For three weeks Oglethorpe conducted a vigorous investigation of the Fleet, meeting with his committee daily and often twice daily—before and after the sitting of the House.7 During this time the committee frequently visited the prison itself, certainly on March 4, 5, and 8, and evidently March 10,8 but usually met either in the Speaker’s Chamber or a convenient tavern. In his report on the Fleet, Oglethorpe showed clearly the “disastrous results of converting the keeping of a prison into a private profit-making concern.”9 The defects that he found in the Fleet were varied and serious: the warden’s failing to keep adequate records, charging excessive and illegal fees, using the attached sponging-houses to extort even higher fees than those permitted in the prison itself, taking “fees” for permitting prisoners to live outside the prison and thus enabling them to escape, and refusing to release eligible prisoners unless he was bribed. Moreover the common side of the prison was both overcrowded and “noisom,” for there ninety-three prisoners were huddled together in three small wards, locked in overnight in shockingly unsanitary conditions; and even on the master’s side the sick were not separated from the well. Most shocking of all, the last wardens, Huggins and Bambridge, had introduced into the Fleet practices of torture; and the instruments were prominently displayed in Hogarth’s group portrait of the committee.
When the House of Commons heard Oglethorpe’s report on the Fleet, it adopted, nemine contradicente, the resolutions of the committee to disable Bambridge from acting as warden; to prosecute Huggins, Bambridge, and their underlings for their crimes against prisoners; and to better regulate the Fleet. Oglethorpe was thereupon named chairman of the committees of four to disable Bambridge and to better regulate the prison. The bill to disable Bambridge received priority. On April 3 Oglethorpe presented it to the House, and on May 13 a revised version was adopted, quickly approved by the House of Lords.10 On May 13 Oglethorpe also read his bill “for the better regulating the Prison of the Fleet, and for more effectual preventing, and punishing, arbitrary and illegal Practices of the Warden of the said Prison.” Although it was resolved that the bill should be read a second time, it died, perhaps dropped after opposition from members of the judiciary. Doubtless Oglethorpe realized his weakness in the knowledge of the law, for on April 27 he had entered Gray’s Inn, where his uncle Sutton Oglethorpe had read law.11 His purpose was obviously not to prepare himself to practice law, but with the assistance of a Master to become better familiar with the laws that regulated the prison system.
The three major reports are here reproduced from their first published versions rather than from The Journals of the House of Commons, where they were later printed from transcriptions of the original journals.12 For the first publication, an official report ordered by the House, the printer probably took few liberties with Oglethorpe’s text; but in the Journals the editors normalized paragraphing, punctuation, capitalization, and sometimes spelling.
Printed for Robert Knaplock, Jacob Tonson, John Pemberton, and Richard Williamson. MDCCXXIX.
BY Vertue of an Order of the HOUSE of COMMONS, this Day made, I do appoint Robert Knaplock, Jacob Tonson, John Pemberton, and Richard Williamson, to Print this Report, and the Proceedings of the said House thereupon: And that no other Person presume to Print the same.
AR. ONSLOW, Speaker.
Appointed to enquire into the State of the GOALS of this Kingdom.
Jovis 20 die Martii, 1728.
MR. Oglethorpe, from the Committee appointed to enquire into the State of the Goals of this Kingdom, made a Report of some Progress which the Committee had made in their Enquiry into the State of the Fleet Prison, with the Resolutions of the Committee thereupon; and he read the Report in his Place, and afterwards delivered the same (with Two Appendixes) in at the Table, where the Report was read, and is as follows, viz.
The COMMITTEE having, in pursuance of the Order of this House (of the Twenty Fifth Day of February, 1728) to enquire into the State of the Goals of this Kingdom, Adjourned to the Fleet, and at several Times examined into the State of that Prison, have made some Progress therein, which they have thought fit to lay before the House.
THE Committee find That the Fleet Prison is an ancient Prison, and formerly used for the Reception of the Prisoners committed by the Council-Table, then called the Court of the Star-Chamber, which exercised unlimited Authority, and inflicted heavier Punishments than by any Law were warranted.13
And as that assumed Authority was found to be an intolerable Burden to the Subject, and the Means to introduce an Arbitrary Power and Government, all Jurisdiction, Power, and Authority belonging unto or exercised in the same Court, or by any the Judges, Officers, or Ministers thereof, were clearly and absolutely dissolved, taken away, and determined, by an Act made in the Sixteenth Year of the Reign of King Charles the First.14
And thereby the Committee apprehend all Pretences of the Warden of the Fleet to take Fees from Archbishops, Bishops, Temporal Peers, Baronets, and others of lower Degree, or to put them in Irons, or exact Fees for not doing so, were determined, and abolished.
That after the said Act took place, the Fleet Prison became a Prison for Debtors, and for Contempts of the Courts of Chancery, Exchequer, and Common-Pleas only, and fell under the same Regulations as other Goals of this Kingdom.
That by an Act of the 22d and 23d of King Charles the Second, the future Government of all Prisons was vested in the Lords Chief Justices, the Chief Baron, or any Two of them, for the Time being; and the Justices of the Peace in London, Middlesex, and Surrey; and the Judges for the several Circuits; and the Justices of the Peace, for the Time being, in their several Precincts:15 And pursuant thereunto, several Orders and Regulations have been made, the last of which is hereunto annexed (in the Appendix marked Letter A) which the present Warden of the Fleet hath not regarded or complied with, but hath exercised an Unwarrantable and Arbitrary Power, not only in extorting exorbitant Fees, but in oppressing Prisoners for Debt by loading them with Irons, worse than if the Star-Chamber was still subsisting, and contrary to the great Charter,16 the Foundation of the Liberty of the Subject, and in defiance and contempt thereof, as well as of other good Laws of this Kingdom.
It appears by a Patent of the Third Year of Queen Elizabeth, recited in Letters Patents bearing Date the Nineteenth of King Charles the Second, That the Fleet Prison was an ancient Prison, called Prisona de le Fleet, alias, The Queen’s Goal of the Fleet; and that certain Constitutions were then established by Agreement between Richard Tyrrell,17 Warden, and the Prisoners of the Fleet, and a Table of Fees annexed, in which the Fees to be paid by an Archbishop, Duke, Marquis, Earl, or other Lord Spiritual or Temporal, are particularly mentioned, and the Fine ascertained which they are to pay for the Liberty of the House and Irons; and that these Constitutions and Orders were confirmed by the said Letters Patent of King Charles the Second: Which Letters Patent grant the Office of Warden of the Fleet, and of the Keeper of the Old Palace at Westminster, the Shops in Westminster-Hall, certain Tenements adjoining to the Fleet, and other Rents and Profits belonging to the Warden, to Sir Jeremy Whichcot and his Heirs for ever. And the said Sir Jeremy rebuilt the said Prison at his own Expence, as a Consideration for the Grant thereof.18 But the said Prison, and the Custody of the Prisoners, being a Freehold, and falling by Descent or Purchase into the Hands of Persons incapable of executing the Office of Warden, was the Occasion of great Abuses, and frequent Complaints to Parliament, till at length the Patent was set aside.19
And a Patent for Life was granted to Baldwyn Leighton Esq; in consideration of his great Pains and Expences in Suing the former Patentees to a Forfeiture;20 and he soon dying, John Huggins Esq; by giving 5000l. to the late Lord Clarendon, did, by his Interest,21 obtain a Grant of the said Office for his own and his Son’s Life.
That during the time the said Huggins possessed the said Office of Warden of the Fleet, Thomas Periom,22 a Prisoner in that Prison, charged with 40000 l. Debt, (the greatest Part thereof to the Crown) escaped, having the Liberty of the Rules by Permission of the said Huggins, for which Escape Huggins pretends he hath obtained a Quietus; and since that time Joseph Vains, charged with 10000 l. Debt to the Crown, having like Liberty of the Rules, also escaped.23
That Thomas Dumay made several Voyages to France, whilst a Prisoner in the Fleet, and in Custody of the said Huggins, and there bought Wines, some of which were delivered to the said Huggins, and Dumay drew several Bills whilst in France to the value of 320l. on Richard Bishop one of the Tipstaffs of the said Prison,24 who paid 300l. and the said Huggins paid the rest. That by the punctual Payment of the said Bills Dumay acquired a Credit in France, and drew for a further Sum, and then returned to England, and when the Bills came for Payment the said Richard Bishop refused to accept them, and the Merchants upon Dumay’s Return endeavouring to get the Money of him, who was the Drawer of the Bills, found him a Prisoner in the Rules, and had no Remedy.
The said John Huggins owned to the Committee, that so many Prisoners had escaped during the time he was Warden, that it was impossible to enumerate them, he having kept no List of the Persons so escaped.
He also owned to the Committee that in his Time Oliver Reed made his Escape when there was a great Funeral, and whilst the Doors were open he went off; that afterwards being retaken he the said Huggins sent him to a Spunging-house, kept by Richard Corbett, one of the Tipstaffs belonging to the said Prison, where he was locked up, Ironed and Stapled down by his Order, tho’ not condemned by any Court of Justice.25
That it appeared to the Committee, That in the Year 1725, one Mr. Arne an Upholder was carried into a Stable which stood where the Strong Room on the Master’s Side now is, and was there confined (being a Place of Cold Restraint) till he died, and that he was in good State of Health before he was confined to that Room.26
That the said John Huggins growing in Years, and willing to retire from Business, and his Son not caring to take upon him so troublesome an Office, he hath for several Years been engaged in continual Negotiations about the Disposal of the said Office, and in August last concluded a final Treaty with Thomas Bambridge and Dougal Cuthbert Esqrs; and for 5000l. to be paid unto him, obliged himself to surrender the said Patent for his and his Son’s Life, and procure a new Patent for the said Bambridge and Cuthbert, which the said Huggins did accordingly obtain, and Cuthbert paid in Money, or gave good Security to pay 2500/. for one Moiety of the said Office of Warden, and Bambrìdge gave Land and other Security, which the said Huggins was then content with, for 2500/. being for the other Moiety of the said Office.27
That upon Inspection and Examination on the Common Side of the Prison, in the three Wards, called the Upper Chappel, the Lower Chappel, and Julius Caesar’s, Ninety three Persons were Confined, who are obliged to lye on the Floor, if they cannot Furnish themselves with Bedding, or Pay I s. per Week to such Prisoner as is so provided.
That the Lyons Den and Womens Ward, which contain about Eighteen Persons, are very Noisom, and in very ill Repair.
That there are several Rooms in the Chappel Stairs, for each of which 5l. a Year is now paid, but did formerly belong to the Common Side, and for which nothing was paid, until charged by Mr. Huggins at 3l. a Year each. And on this Floor, there are several Persons who are uncertain what Chamber-Rent they shall be obliged to pay, and are at the Mercy of the Warden.
That in some Rooms Persons who are Sick of different Distempers are obliged to lye together, or on the Floor; One in particular had the Small-Pox, and two Women were ordered to lye with her, and they pay 2s. 10d. per Week each for such Lodging.
That in all the Rooms (except very few) the Furniture is provided by the Prisoners, and those which are furnished by the Warden are extreamly bad.
That there was a Regulation by the Judges in Trinity Term 1727,28 by which the Warden ought to furnish all the Rooms, and in such Case the Prisoners to pay 2s. 6d. per Week for each Room so furnished; but now there are several Rooms, in each of which there are two, three and four Beds, and in each Bed two, and sometimes three Persons, who pay 2s. 10d. each per Week, for such Lodging.
That the Walls which secure the Prison are 25 Foot high, with Pallisadoes on the Top, and in good Repair, and no seeming possibility for any Prisoner to Escape.
That at the End of the Place called the Bare, a Watch-House was built about a Year since, wherein are kept several Muskets and Bayonets, as are likewise several others in a Room fronting Fleet-Ditch, whereas formerly only Pikes and Halberts were kept in that part of the Prison which is called the Lodge.
That several Men called Watchmen, and under the Pay of Mr. Bambridge, belong to the Prison; one of which Bambridge ordered to fire upon Captain Mackpheadris29 upon the Dispute which happened between them, but the Watchman fearing the Consequence, refused to obey him.
That the Windows of the Prison are in very bad Repair, to the great prejudice of the Health of the Prisoners, tho’ by a late Order of the Judges they ought to have been kept in good Repair by the Warden.
That there are three Houses adjoining and belonging to the Prison, which are kept as Spunging-Houses by Tenants to Mr. Bambridge, as Warden, in one of which, kept by Corbett,30 26 Prisoners are confined.
That many of these Prisoners pay 2s. a Day for the Use of a Room in this House, and for Firing 1 s. and the other Prisoners 1 s. a Night for a Bed, but, notwithstanding such Payments, they are obliged to lye two or more in the same Bed. The Sums paid by these Twenty Six Prisoners, (Two at 1s. per Day, and Twenty Four at 1s. for the Use of the Lodgings only, being in the whole 1 l. 8s.) amount Yearly to 511l. besides the Money paid for Firing at 1 s. a Day by such as have any, and 1 s. a Day for their Board.
Some of these Prisoners not being able to pay the 1 s. a Day for Eating, procured Necessaries to dress their own Meat, but Corbett, the Tipstaff, would not suffer them so to do, and they are under the Necessity of being supplyed by their Friends, or starve.
That Lieutenant Jenkin Leyson (now a Prisoner with Corbett) paid the following Fees upon his being taken into Custody, for one Action, viz.31
It also appeared upon the Examination of several other Prisoners, that they paid the like Fees for every single Caption. And,
That every Prisoner removed by Habeas Corpus from one Place to another, pays to the Tipstaff 4s. 2d. every one brought out the Country by Habeas Corpus, and committed in Court for want of Bail, pays 13s. 4d. and every Prisoner carried to Westminster-Hall by Habeas Corpus, in Order to be Charged in Execution, pays 10s.
That every Prisoner pays at his Entrance into the House of the Tipstaff 6s. towards a Bowl of Punch.
That Thomas Hogg who had been about three Years a Prisoner in the Fleet Prison, and was then discharged by Order of Court, about eight Months after such Discharge, passing by the Door of that Prison, stopped to give Charity to the Prisoners at the Grate, and being seen by James Barnes (one of the said Bambridge’s Agents and Accomplices) the said Barnes seized and forced him into Corbett’s Spunging-House, where he hath been detained ever since (now upwards of Nine Months) without any Cause or Legal Authority whatsoever.33
That Corbett being examined touching the Discharge of his Prisoners, own’d he never made any regular Entry, and that all the Original Discharges of Prisoners committed to his Custody since Mr. Guybon’s Time were not received by him from the Warden,34 but left with the Turnkey, from whom he only receiv’d verbal Directions.
The Committee could not get from Mr. Bambridge, or his Officers, any List of such Prisoners as have the Liberty of the Rules and Precincts of the Fleet Prison; but the Committee obtained, by another Hand, a List of Three Hundred and Eighty Two Persons, with an Account of what each Person hath paid to the Warden for such Liberty, and the annual Gifts every Christmas, amounting to near 2828l. 17s. 4d. and it appeared to the Committee that the Prisoners for the greatest Debts have not sign’d the Book. That the Gratuity to the Warden for the Liberty of the Rules, is exacted in proportion to the Greatness of the Debt; and if all paid, that Account would be Three times the before-mentioned Sum. These Sums so paid appear to be very extraordinary Exactions from the Prisoners, and are the more unreasonable because all Prisoners who have the Liberty of the Rules enter into Bonds in very great Penalties, with sufficient Sureties, for not escaping, the least of which Penalties are always double the Sums they stand committed for.
Mr. Cotton, Clerk of the Papers, upon his Examination concerning the Money taken by him for Day-Rules granted to Prisoners, confessed that every Prisoner who has the Liberty to go abroad in Term-Time pays 5s. 6d. for each Day, and for the first and last Days of the Term 6s. which he said is divided in the following Manner, viz.
And that in about two Years Time one Gentleman paid 30l. for obtaining Day-Rules.
That an Act having passed in the Sixth Year of the late King, for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors, Mr. Fytche did thereupon declare in the Name of the said Mr. Huggins (who had directed him so to do) that unless every Prisoner within the Rules would give him two Guineas they should not be listed, in order to be discharged in pursuance of that Act,35 for that he the said Huggins would refuse to swear them his Prisoners, as that Act required, and would not suffer his Deputy to do it; but a List was delivered of about Twenty Prisoners then in the Rules, who were discharged; having given two Guineas each to Huggins, for inserting them in the List, and for swearing them to be his Prisoners; and three hundred Prisoners were carried up to Guild-hall in order to their Discharge, but some were refused to be listed, and lost the Benefit of the Act, because they had not Money enough to pay for being put into the List.
That Mr. Huggins being examined touching an Instrument signed by him in November 1724, appointing Richard Corbett one of the Five Tipstaffs of or belonging to the Fleet Prison, acknowledged that he had no Power by Vertue of any Patent from the Crown to Constitute such Tipstaff, but that when he came to his Office he found that such an Officer had been so constituted, and he took that for a Precedent to do the same.
That there are five Commitment-Books, wherein the Names of all Prisoners committed to the Fleet Prison are or ought to be entered. The Commencement of the Date of the first Book is the twenty sixth of March 1708, and the last the sixth of May 1728, to this Time.36
There is one Book wherein the Names are inserted of those Prisoners who are removed to the Fleet by Habeas Corpus, beginning in Michaelmas-Term 1727, to this Time.
There is one Lodge-Book, wherein the Prisoners Names are entred when they come into the Prison, beginning November 1728.
There is one Security Bond-Book without Date.
That he the said Mr. Huggins, on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, the First, Second, and Third of March 1728, (since the Committee was appointed) did exonerate or discharge out of the Commitment-Books One Hundred and Nineteen Persons, for several Sums, amounting to about 17099l. 6s. 7d.
He owned that he has in his Custody Fifty Two Discharges more, which ought to have been long since discharged, and amount to very great Sums of Money.
That by the Dates in the List which Mr. Huggins delivered to the Committee of One Hundred and Nineteen Persons so discharged, and the Fifty Two to be discharged, it appeared that many of them ought to have been discharged in the Years 1718, 1719, 1720, and so on to this Time.
That there are two Escape-Warrants, one of which the Judge grants, the other the Warden; that which the Judge grants, carries the Prisoner to Newgate, there to remain during Life, unless the Debt be paid; and that which the Warden grants is on some Information, or Pretence, that the Prisoner is out of the Rules, and so remands him to the Prison.
One ill Use which is made of keeping the Prisoners so long on the Commitment-Book, is, That the Warden may at his Pleasure Issue his Escape-Warrant against any such Person continued on the Commitment-Book, and carry him to the Spunging-House, or to the Prison, and there detain him until he squeezes from him all the Money that can possibly be got.
Another ill Use, and Inconveniency is, That Persons who have been Seven Years or more out of the Rules, or out of the Prison, (their Names remaining in the Commitment-Book) return, after having contracted new Debts, and so become Prisoners again fraudulently, to obtain the Benefit of the usual Acts for Relief of Insolvent Debtors.
That the Date of the Habeas-Corpus Book being but in Michaelmas-Term 1727, the Date of the Declaration-Book the 23d of January 1728, and the Date of the Lodge-Book November in 1728, the Committee conceive from such late Dates that there must be a Concealment of former Books of that kind, or that they are destroyed; either of which must tend to the great Prejudice of the Prisoners and the Creditors, and to the suppressing the Truth in this Enquiry.
That since the said Thomas Bambridge has acted as Warden, the Books belonging to the Office of the Warden have been very negligently kept, and the Discharges not duly entred, to the great Prejudice of many of His Majesty’s Subjects; and he hath not regularly taken Charge of the Prisoners committed to his Care by his Patent; and hath not, as he himself confesseth, ever had any Authentick List of the Prisoners in the Rules delivered him, so he cannot have executed the Trust of keeping his Prisoners in safe Custody, when he did not know who or where they were.
The Committee find that the said Thomas Bambridge, who for some Years acted as Deputy-Warden of the Fleet, and is now actually Warden of that Prison, hath himself been aiding and assisting in an Escape; That He caused a private Door to be made through the Walls of the Prison out of the Yard where the Dogs are, the Key of which Door was kept by himself, and he with his own Hands opened the Door and let out Boyce, the Smugler,37 charged at the King’s Suit with upwards of 30000l. and was afterwards seen at Islington, and hath been several times let out of the Prison by Bambridge.
That William Kilberry was allowed by Bambridge to go out of the Prison and the Rules thereof, though charged at the Suit of the Crown with the Sum of 5820l.38
That William Booth, charged with 5820l. at the Suit of the Crown, though committed close Prisoner, was also suffered to go out of the Prison and the Rules thereof.39
That William Talure, committed by the Court of Common-Pleas for 740l. upon mesne Process, and charged with Forgery, hath been suffered to go out of the Fleet Prison to Wem in the County of Salop, where the Committee are informed he still remains.40
That the said James Barnes (tho’ a Prisoner in the Fleet Prison upon Execution) hath been permitted during this Enquiry to come from thence to Westminster to the said Bambridge, when in Custody of the Messenger to the Serjeant at Arms attending this House.41
The Committee find that the said Bambridge hath by himself and his Agents often refused to admit Prisoners into the Prison, though committed by due course of Law, and in order to extort Money from them, hath often, contrary to an Act of the Twenty Second and Twenty Third of King Charles the Second,42 without their free and voluntary Consent, caused them to be carried away from the Prison Gate unto a publick Victualling or Drinking House, commonly called a Spunging-House, belonging to him the said Bambridge as Warden, and rented of him by Corbett his Tipstaff, and hath there kept them at Exorbitant Charges, and forced them to call for more Liquor than they were inclined to, and to spend more than they were able to afford, to the defrauding of their Creditors, and the distressing of their Families, whose Substance they are compelled there to consume; and for the more effectual making them stretch their poor Remains of Credit, and to squeeze out of them the Charity of their Friends, each Prisoner is better or worse treated according to his Expences, some being allowed a handsome Room and Bed to themselves, some stowed in Garrets, three in one Bed, and some put in Irons.
That these Houses were further used by the said Bambridge as a Terror for extorting Money from the Prisoners, who on Security given have the Liberty of the Rules; of which Mr. Robert Castell was an unhappy Instance, a Man born to a competent Estate, but being unfortunately plunged in Debt, was thrown into Prison; he was first sent (according to Custom) to Corbett’s, from whence he by Presents to Bambridge redeemed himself, and, giving Security, obtained the Liberty of the Rules; notwithstanding which he had frequently Presents, as they are called, exacted from him by Bambridge, and was menaced, on refusal, to be sent back to Corbett’s again.
The said Bambridge having thus unlawfully extorted large Sums of Money from him in a very short time, Castell grew weary of being made such a wretched Property, and resolving not to injure farther his Family or his Creditors for the sake of so small a Liberty, he refused to submit to further Exactions, upon which the said Bambridge ordered him to be recommitted to Corbett’s, where the Small-Pox then raged, though Castell acquainted him with his not having had that Distemper, and that he dreaded it so much, That the putting him into a House where it was would occasion his Death, which, if it happened before he could settle his Affairs, would be a great Prejudice to his Creditors, and would expose his Family to Destruction; and therefore he earnestly desired that he might either be sent to another House, or even into the Goal itself, as a Favour. The melancholy Case of this poor Gentleman moved the very Agents of the said Bambridge to Compassion, so that they also used their utmost Endeavours to disswade him from sending this unhappy Prisoner to that Infected House: But Bambridge forced him thither, where he (as he feared he should) caught the Small-Pox, and in a few Days dyed thereof, justly charging the said Bambridge with his Death; and unhappily leaving all his Affairs in the greatest Confusion, and a numerous Family of small Children in the utmost Distress.
It appeared to the Committee, That the Letting-out of the Fleet Tenements to Victuallers for the Reception of Prisoners hath been but of late practised, and that the first of them Lett for this Purpose was to Mary Whitwood, who still continues Tenant of the same, and that her Rent has from 32l. per Ann. been encreased to 60 l. and a certain Number of Prisoners stipulated to be made a Prey of to enable her to pay so great a Rent; and that she, to procure the Benefit of having such a Number of Prisoners sent to her House, hath, over and above the encreased Rent, been obliged to make a Present to the said Bambridge of Forty Guineas, as also of a Toy, (as ’tis called) being the Model of a Chinese Ship made of Amber set in Silver, for which Fourscore Broad-Pieces had been offered her.43
This is the first Method of extorting Money from the unhappy Prisoners; and when they can no longer bear the Misery and Expence of a Spunging-House, before they can obtain the Privilege of being admitted into the Prison they are obliged to comply with such exorbitant Fees as the said Bambridge thinks fit to demand, which if they do not, they are sure, under various Pretences, of being turned down to the Common-Side, if not put in Irons and Dungeons; and this has been done to those who were willing and offered to pay the Fees established by the Regulation made by the Judges of the Common-Pleas in Trin. Term 1727, which ought to have been hung up in some publick Place in the Prison, to which the Prisoners might have free Access, but was secreted by the said James Barnes, pursuant to the Orders of the said Bambridge; which Table of Fees seems to be unreasonable, because it obliges Men who are committed for not being able to pay their Debts, to pay such Sums of Money as their Curcumstances render them altogether unable to comply with.
And this Table of Fees was fraudulently obtained by the said Bambridge, for it appeared to the Committee, That upon Complaint of the Prisoners of the Fleet to the Court of Common-Pleas, the Order made by Lord Chief Justice Herbert,44 establishing the Fees of that Goal, was ordered to be read, which Order was founded upon Institutions made in the Year 1651, in which was a Table of Fees, two Items whereof being taken away, the rest remained as follows;
And the said Bambridge read the said Order, and instead of reading the particular Items, he read only the said Sum Total of 2l. 4s. 4d. and thereby he induced the Judges to believe that the said Sum was the Fee due to the Warden, and accordingly they ordered that 2l. 4s. 4d. to be paid as due to the Warden for a Commitment-Fee, and ordered the other Fees due to the Chamberlain, Goaler, and others, to be paid, over and above the said 2l. 4s. 4d. and the same have been ever since taken, besides the 7s. 4d. to the Warden upon the Prisoner’s Discharge, notwithstanding they are all included in the 2l. 4s. 4d.
The said Judges of the Common-Pleas seeming to be of Opinion that every Action to which a Prisoner was rendred in Discharge of his Bail was a seperate Commitment, and that there was a seperate Commitment-Fee due upon each Action; the said Bambridge has thereupon received Six or Seven times 2l. 4s. 4d. of a single Person, as his bare Commitment-Fees, whereby the Prisoner has paid Six times for the Liberty of the House and Irons, Six Dismission-Fees, for Six Obligations (tho’ none given) Six Fees to the Chamberlain, Porter, Goaler, &c. and Six Gallons of Wine; and the Prisoner pays the Chamberlain, Goaler, &c. for his Discharge besides.
The said Bambridge likewise takes a Fee of 3l. 6s. 8d. from every Prisoner committed by the Exchequer or Chancery, whereas there is no such Fee due, nor any Distinction in the Table of Fees between the Commitment of one Court or another.
And notwithstanding the Payment of such large Fees, in order to extort further Sums from the unfortunate Prisoners, the said Bambridge unjustly pretends he has a Right as Warden to exercise an unlimited Power of changing Prisoners from Room to Room; of turning them into the Common Side, tho’ they have paid the Master’s Side Fee; and inflicting Arbitrary Punishments by locking them down in unwholsome Dungeons, and loading them with torturing Irons; some Instances of which follow: viz.
Jacob Mendez Solas, a Portuguese,45 was, as far as it appeard to the Committee, one of the first Prisoners for Debt that ever was loaded with Irons in the Fleet; The said Bambridge one Day called him into the Gate-house of the Prison, called the Lodge, where he caused him to be seized, fettered, and carried to Corbett’s, the Spunging-House, and there kept for upwards of a Week, and when brought back into the Prison, Bambridge caused him to be turned into the Dungeon, called the Strong Room of the Master’s Side.
This Place is a Vault like those in which the Dead are Interr’d, and wherein the Bodies of Persons dying in the said Prison are usually deposited, till the Coroner’s Inquest hath passed upon them; it has no Chimney nor Fire-place, nor any Light but what comes over the Door, or through a Hole of about Eight Inches square. It is neither Paved nor Boarded; and the rough Bricks appear both on the Sides and Top, being neither Wainscotted nor Plaistered: What adds to the Dampness and Stench of the Place is, its being built over the Common-Shore, and adjoining to the Sink and Dunghil where all the Nastiness of the Prison is cast. In this miserable Place the poor Wretch was kept by the said Bambridge, Manacled and Shackled for near Two Months. At length, on receiving Five Guineas from Mr. Kemp, a Friend of Solas’s, Bambridge released the Prisoner from his cruel Confinement. But tho’ his Chains were taken off, his Terror still remained, and the unhappy Man was prevailed upon by that Terror, not only to labour gratis for the said Bambridge, but to swear also at random all that he hath required of him: And the Committee themselves saw an Instance of the deep Impression his Sufferings had made upon him; for on his surmising, from something said, that Bambridge was to return again, as Warden of the Fleet, he fainted, and the Blood started out of his Mouth and Nose.
Captain John Mackpheadris, who was bred a Merchant, is another melancholy Instance of the cruel Use the said Bambridge hath made of his assumed Authority. Mackpheadris was a considerable Trader, and in a very flourishing Condition until the Year 1720, when being bound for large Sums to the Crown, for a Person afterwards ruined by the Misfortunes of that Year, he was undone. In June 1727 he was Prisoner in the Fleet, and altho’ he had before paid his Commitment-Fee, the like Fee was extorted from him a Second time; and he having furnished a Room, Bambridge demanded an extravagant Price for it, which he refused to pay; and urged, That it was unlawful for the Warden to demand extravagant Rents, and offered to pay what was legally due: Notwithstanding which, the said Bambridge, assisted by the said James Barnes and other Accomplices, broke open his Room, and took away several things of great Value, amongst others, the King’s Extent in Aid of the Prisoner (which was to have been returned in a few Days, in order to procure the Debt to the Crown, and the Prisoner’s Enlargement) which Bambridge still detains. Not content with this, Bambridge locked the Prisoner out of his Room, and forced him to lye in the open Yard, called the Bare. He sat quietly under his Wrongs, and getting some poor Materials, built a little Hut to protect himself, as well as he could, from the Injuries of the Weather. The said Bambridge seeing his Unconcernedness, said, Damn him! he is easy. I will put him into the Strong Room before To-morrow; and ordered Barnes to pull down his little Hut, which was done accordingly. The poor Prisoner being in an ill State of Health, and the Night rainy, was put to great Distress. Some time after this he was (about Eleven a Clock at Night) assaulted by Bambridge, with several other Persons his Accomplices, in a violent manner; and Bambridge, tho’ the Prisoner was unarmed, attacked him with his Sword, but by good Fortune was prevented from killing him; and several other Prisoners coming out upon the Noise, they carried Mackpheadris for Safety into another Gentleman’s Room, soon after which Bambridge coming with one Savage, and several others, broke open the Door, and Bambridge strove with his Sword to kill the Prisoner; but he again got away, and hid himself in another Room. Next Morning the said Bambridge entred the Prison with a Detachment of Soldiers, and ordered the Prisoner to be dragged to the Lodge, and Ironed with great Irons; on which he desiring to know for what Cause, and by what Authority he was to be so cruelly used; Bambridge replyed, It was by his own Authority, and Damn him, he would do it, and have his Life. The Prisoner desired he might be carried before a Magistrate, that he might know his Crime before he was punished; but Bambridge refused, and put Irons upon his Legs which were too little, so that in forcing them on[,] his Legs were like to have been broken; and the Torture was impossible to be endured. Upon which the Prisoner complaining of the grievous Pain and Streightness of the Irons, Bambridge answered, That he did it on purpose to torture him: On which the Prisoner replying, That by the Law of England no Man ought to be tortured; Bambridge declared, That he would do it first, and answer for it afterwards; and caused him to be dragged away to the Dungeon, where he lay without a Bed, loaded with Irons so close rivetted that they kept him in continual Torture, and mortified his Legs. After long Application his Irons were changed, and a Surgeon directed to dress his Legs, but his Lameness is not nor ever can be cured. He was kept in this miserable Condition for Three Weeks, by which his Sight is greatly prejudiced, and in danger of being lost.
The Prisoner, upon this Usage, petitioned the Judges, and after several Meetings, and a full Hearing, the Judges reprimanded Mr. Huggins and Bambridge, and declared That a Goaler could not answer the Ironing of a Man before he was found guilty of a Crime; but it being out of Term, they could not give the Prisoner any Relief or Satisfaction.
Notwithstanding this Opinion of the Judges, the said Bambridge continued to keep the Prisoner in Irons till he had paid him Six Guineas; and to prevent the Prisoner’s recovering Damages for the cruel Treatment of him, Bambridge Indicted him and his principal Witnesses at the Old Baily, before they knew any thing of the Matter; and to support that Indictment, he had recourse to Subornation, and turned Two of his Servants out of Places which they had bought, because they would not swear falsly that the Prisoner had struck the said Bambridge, which words he had inserted in Affidavits ready prepared for Signing, and which they knew to be false. As soon as they were apprized of it, they applyed to the Lord-Mayor, who ordered the Grand-Jury down to the Fleet, where they found that Bambridge was the Aggressor. But the Bill against the Prisoners being already found, the Second Enquiry was too late.
The Prisoners being no longer able to bear the Charges of Prosecution, which had already cost 100l. and being softned by Promises and terrified by Threats, submitted to plead Guilty, on a solemn Assurance and Agreement made with Bambridge before Witnesses, of having but One Shilling Fine laid upon them; but so soon as they had pleaded Guilty, Bambridge took Advantage of it, and has continued Harrassing them and their Securities ever since.
The Desire of Gain urged the said Bambridge to the preceding Instances of Cruelty; but a more Diabolical Passion, that of Malice, animated him to oppress Captain David Sinclair in the following manner.
At the latter end of June or beginning of July last, the said Bambridge declared to the said James Barnes, one of the Agents of his Cruelties, That he would have Sinclair’s Blood; and he took the Opportunity of the first Festival Day, which was on the first of August following, when he thought Captain Sinclair might, by celebrating the Memory of the late King, be warmed with Liquor so far as to give him some Excuse for the Cruelties which he intended to inflict upon him. But in some Measure he was disappointed, for Captain Sinclair was perfectly sober, when the said Bambridge rushed into his Room with a dark Lanthorn in his Hand, assisted by his Accomplices James Barnes and William Pindar, and supported by his usual Guard, armed with Muskets and Bayonets, and without any Provocation given, run his Lanthorn into Captain Sinclair’s Face, seized him by the Collar, and told him he must come along with him: Captain Sinclair, tho’ surprized, asked for what and by what Authority he so treated him? Upon which Barnes and the rest seized Captain Sinclair, who still desiring to know by what Authority they so abused him? Bambridge grosly insulted him, and struck him with his Cane on the Head and Shoulders, whilst he was held fast by Pindar and Barnes. Such base and scandalous Usage of this Gentleman, who had in the late Wars always signalized himself with the greatest Courage, Gallantry and Honour in the Service of his Country upon many the most brave and desperate Occasions, must be most shocking and intollerable; yet Captain Sinclair bore it with Patience, refusing only to go out of his Room unless he was forced; whereupon the said Bambridge threatned to run his Cane down his Throat, and ordered his Guard to stab him with their Bayonets, or drag him down to the said Dungeon called the Strong Room, the latter of which they did, and Bambridge kept him confined in that damp and loathsome Place, till he had lost the Use of his Limbs and Memory, neither of which has he perfectly recovered to this Day.46 Many aggravating Cruelties were used to make his Confinement more terrible; and when Bambridge found he was in danger of immediate Death, he removed him, for fear of his dying in Duress, and caused him to be carried in a dying Condition from that Dungeon to a Room where there was no Bed or Furniture; and so unmercifully prevented his Friends having any Access to him, that he was four Days without the least Sustenance.
It appeared to the Committee by the Evidence of a Surgeon and others, who were Prisoners in the House, that when Captain Sinclair was forced into that loathsome Dungeon he was in perfect Health.
Captain Sinclair applyed for Remedy at Law against the said Cruelties of Bambridge, and had procured a Heabeas Corpus for his Witnesses to be brought before the Sessions of Oyer and Terminer, when the said Bambridge by colour of his assumed Authority as Warden, took the said Writs of Habeas Corpus from the Officer whose Duty it was to make a Return of them, and commanded him to keep out of the way, whilst he himself went to the Old Baily, and immediately indicted Capt. Sinclair and such of his Witnesses as he knew he could not deter by Threats or prevail with by Promises to go from the Truth.
Captain Sinclair had Temper enough to bear patiently almost unsupportable Injuries, and to reserve himself for a proper Occasion, when Justice should be done him by the Laws of the Realm.
But the said Bambridge has forced others by Wrongs and Injuries beyond human bearing, to endeavour the avenging Injuries and Oppressions which they could no longer endure.
And it appeared to the Committee, that the said Bambridge, in order to avoid the Punishment due to these Crimes, hath committed greater, and hath not only denyed Admittance to the Sollicitors, who might procure Justice to the injured Prisoners, and in open Defiance to the Law, disobeyed the King’s Writs, but hath also seduced some by indulging them in Riot, and terrifyed others with fear of Duress, to swear to and subscribe such false Affidavits as he thought fit to prepare for them, on several Occasions; in all which Wrongs and Oppressions John Everett also acted as one of the said Bambridge’s wicked Accomplices.47
That the said Bambridge being asked by the Committee, By what Authority he pretended to put Prisoners into Dungeons and Irons? Answered, That he did it by his own Authority, as Warden, to preserve the Quiet and Safety of the Custody of the Prison.
But it appeared to the Committee by the Examinations of many Witnesses, that, before the time when Gybbon and the said Bambridge acted as Deputy-Wardens under Mr. Huggins, the Quiet and Safety of the Custody were very well preserved without any use of Irons or Dungeons.
That the two Dungeons, called the Strong Room on the Master Side, and the Strong Room on the Common Side, were both built within these few Years; and that the old Method of punishing drunken and disorderly Persons was putting them in the Stocks; and the Punishment of those who had escaped, or attempted to escape, was putting them upon a Tub at the Gate of the Prison, by way of publick Shame, or securing them, without Irons, in their proper Rooms for some Days.
And that the said Dungeons were built in defyance of and contrary to the Declaration of The Lord King,48 when Lord Chief Justice of the Common-Pleas; who, upon an Application made to him on behalf of the Prisoners of the Fleet, when Mr. Huggins and —— Gybbon urged,49 that there was danger of Prisoners escaping, DECLARED that they might raise their Walls higher, but that there should be no Prison within a Prison.
That upon the strictest Enquiry, the Committee could not find that any Prisoners in the Fleet for Debt had been put in Irons, before the said Mr. Huggins had the Office of Warden.
That it is not the only Design of the said Thomas Bambridge to extort Money from his Prisoners, if they survive his inhuman Treatment, but he seems to have a further View, in case it causes Death, of possessing himself of their Effects. One remarkable Proof of which the Committee think proper here to insert, viz.
Mr. John Holder,50 a Spanish Merchant, was a Prisoner in the Fleet, and had a Room which he fitted up with his own Furniture, and had with him all his Books, Accounts and Writings, and other Effects, to the value of about 30000l. which he declared by Affidavit, upon the following Occasion.
The said Thomas Bambridge by force turned the said Mr. Holder over to the Common Side, and took possession of his Room in which all his Effects were.
Mr. Holder remonstrated strongly against this Usage, and Bambridge refusing to restore him to his Room or Possession of his Effects, he made a proper Affidavit in order to apply to the Judges for Relief, and declared that he feared his Effects might be Embezelled whilst he was thus unjustly forced from them, and that he feared Bambridge’s cruel Treatment of him would be the Cause of his Death: The Miseries of the Common Side, which he dreaded, had such an Effect upon him, (being a Man of an advanced Age, and accustomed to live in Ease and Plenty,) that it threw him into such a fit of Sickness as made his Life despaired of, and in his Illness he often Declared, That the Villain Bambridge would be the Occasion of his Death. Which proved true, for Bambridge finding Mr. Holder like to die in the Duress which he had put him into, (for his own sake, to avoid the Punishment inflicted by Law upon Goalers who so inhumanly destroy their Prisoners) permitted him to be carried back to his Room, where in a few Days he died of the said Sickness, contracted by the said forcible Removal of him to the Common Side by Bambridge, as aforesaid.
Mr. Holder by his last Will appointed Major Wilson and Mr. John Pigott Trustees for his Son,51 a Youth of about 13 Years of Age, who had accompanied him in the time of his Confinement.
This Young Gentleman after his Father’s Death locked up his Effects in several Trunks and Boxes, and delivered the Keys thereof to Mr. Pigott as his Trustee, who locked up the Room and took the Key with him; But the said Thomas Bambridge caused the said Room to be broke open by Thomas King, another of his Accomplices, and caused the said Effects to be seized, after that he, Bambridge, had forced Mr. Pigott out of the Prison (though a Prisoner in Execution) and locked down Major Wilson (the other Trustee) in the Dungeon, to prevent their taking any Inventory in behalf of the Heir at Law, then an Orphan.
These evil Practices of letting out Prisoners, extorting Exorbitant Fees, suffering Escapes, and exercising all sorts of Inhumanity for Gain, may in a great measure be imputed to the Venality of the Warden’s Office; for the Warden who buys the Privilege of punishing others, does consequently sell his Forbearance at high Rates, and repair his own Charge and Loss at the wretched Expence of the Ease and Quiet of the miserable Objects in his Custody.
Upon the whole Matter, the Committee came to the following Resolutions, viz.
Resolved, That it appears to this Committee, That Thomas Bambridge, the Acting Warden of the Prison of the Fleet, hath wilfully permitted several Debtors to the Crown in great Sums of Money, as well as Debtors to divers of His Majesty’s Subjects, to Escape; hath been guilty of the most Notorious Breaches of his Trust, great Extortions, and the highest Crimes and Misdemeanors in the Execution of his said Office; and hath Arbitrarily and Unlawfully loaded with Irons, put into Dungeons, and destroyed Prisoners for Debt under his Charge, treating them in the most Barbarous and Cruel Manner, in high Violation and Contempt of the Laws of this Kingdom.
Resolved, That it appears to this Committee, That John Huggins Esq; late Warden of the Prison of the Fleet, did, during the time of his Wardenship, wilfully permit many considerable Debtors in his Custody to Escape, and was notoriously guilty of great Breaches of his Trust, Extortions, Cruelties, and other high Crimes and Misdemeanors in the Execution of his said Office, to the great Oppression and Ruin of many of the Subjects of this Kingdom.
Serjeants-Inn Hall, Trinity Term, 1727.
The TABLE of FEES Ordered by the Judges to be paid by the Prisoners of the Fleet, to the Warden and his Agents, and to be hung up in the Hall of the said Prison.
WHEREAS several Matters in Controversy between the Prisoners and the Warden of the Fleet were heard by the Right Honourable Sir Robert Eyre Knight, Lord Chief Justice of His Majesty’s Court of Common-Pleas at Westminster, the Honourable Robert Price Esq; Sir Francis Page Knight, and Alexander Denton Esq; Justices of the said Court, at Serjeants-Inn Hall in Chancery-Lane, on Monday the 24th Day of April, on Wednesday the 26th Day of the same Month of April, on Monday the 1st Day of May following, and on Friday the 5th Day of the same Month of May, in Easter Term, in the 13th Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King George, Annoq; Domini 1727: Upon which Hearing the Lord Chief Justice of the said Court came to the following Resolutions, viz.
That when a Prisoner dies in the Fleet, the Warden shall detain the Body no longer than till the Coroner’s Inquest be finished, which shall be done with all reasonable Speed; and immediately afterwards the Body shall be delivered to the Prisoner’s Friends or Relations, if they desire it, without Fee or Reward.
That this is the Duty of the Warden, and belongs to him, to keep the Prison-House and Windows in necessary and good Repair, and to keep the Bog-House and Dunghil as clean and free from Stench and Noisomness as possible.
That a Table of Gifts and Bequests made for the Benefit of the Prisoners in the Fleet, expressing the particular Purposes for which the same were given, be prepared by the Warden, and hung up in the Hall of the said Prison.
That the Ward-Gates be opened at five of the Clock in the Summer, and seven of the Clock in the Winter, and do stand constantly open in the Day-time, according to the Order made the 17th Feb. 1727.
And whereas this Court, upon further Consideration of the Premisses, this present Trinity Term in the 13th Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King George, is of Opinion that the said Resolutions are just, It is hereby Ordered that the same be observed by the Warden and Prisoners, and all other Persons therein concerned.
A LIST of Bequests &c. which the Warden of the Fleet has set up in the Common Hall in the said Fleet-Prison, the 20th June 1727, which he allows of.
AN ACCOUNT of the Profits arising Yearly to the Warden of the Fleet, by Rents payable for Lodgings, and other Rents, Perquisites and Profits which appear to be made therefrom.
Besides the Appointment of the following Officers.
The Clerk of the Papers gave for his Place 1500l.
The Clerk of the Inquiries Place worth 150l. per Annum.
The Turnkey’s Place 50l. per Annum.
The Chamberlain’s Place 40l. per Annum.
The Tipstaff to the Court of Chancery gave for his Place 328 Guineas.
The Tipstaff of the Rolls gave 150 Guineas.
The Tipstaff of the Exchequer, 150 Guineas.
The Tipstaff of the Common-Pleas, 210 Guineas.
The other Tipstaff there 200 Guineas.
THE Resolutions of the Committee being severally read a Second time, were, upon the Question severally put thereupon, agreed unto by the House, and are as follow, viz.
Resolved, Nemine Contradicente, That Thomas Bambridge, the Acting Warden of the Prison of the Fleet, hath wilfully permitted several Debtors to the Crown in great Sums of Money, as well as Debtors to divers of His Majesty’s Subjects, to Escape; hath been guilty of the most notorious Breaches of his Trust, great Extortions, and the highest Crimes and Misdemeanors in the Execution of his said Office: and hath Arbitrarily and Unlawfully loaded with Irons, put into Dungeons and Destroyed Prisoners for Debt, under his Charge, treating them in the most Barbarous and Cruel Manner, in high Violation and Contempt of the Laws of this Kingdom.
Resolved, Nemine Contradicente, That John Huggins Esq; late Warden of the Prison of the Fleet, did, during the time of his Wardenship, wilfully permit many considerable Debtors, in his Custody, to Escape; and was notoriously guilty of great breaches of his Trust, Extortions, Cruelties, and other high Crimes and Misdemeanours in the Execution of his said Office, to the great Oppression and Ruin of many of the Subjects of this Kingdom.
Resolved, That it appears to this House That James Barnes was an Agent of and an Accomplice with the said Thomas Bambridge in the Commission of his said Crimes.
Resolved, That it appears to this House That William Pindar was an Agent of and an Accomplice with the said Thomas Bambridge in the Commission of his said Crimes.
Resolved, That it appears to this House That John Everett was an Agent of and an Accomplice with the said Thomas Bambridge in the Commission of his said Crimes.
Resolved, That it appears to this House That Thomas King was an Agent of and an Accomplice with the said Thomas Bambridge in the Commission of his said Crimes.
Mr. Oglethorpe acquainted the House, That he was directed by the Committee to Move That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, That He will be graciously pleased to direct His Attorney-General forthwith to Prosecute, in the most Effectual Manner, the said Thomas Bambridge, for his said Crimes.
And He Moved the House accordingly.
Resolved, Nemine Contradicente, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty That He will be graciously pleased to direct His Attorney-General forthwith to Prosecute, in the most Effectual Manner, the said Thomas Bambridge, for his said Crimes.
Mr. Oglethorpe also acquainted the House, That he was directed by the Committee to Move That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, That He will be graciously pleased to direct his Attorney-General forthwith to Prosecute, in the most Effectual Manner, the said John Huggins, for his said Crimes.
And He Moved the House accordingly.
Resolved, Nemine Contradicente, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty That He will be graciously pleased to direct His Attorney-General forthwith to Prosecute, in the most Effectual Manner, the said John Huggins, for his said Crimes.
Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty That He will be graciously pleased to direct His Attorney-General forthwith to Prosecute, in the most Effectual Manner, the said James Barnes, William Pindar, John Everett, and Thomas King, for their said Crimes.52
Ordered, That the said Addresses be presented to His Majesty by such Members of this House as are of His Majesty’s most Honourable Privy-Council.
Ordered, That the said Thomas Bambridge be committed close Prisoner to His Majesty’s Goal of Newgate, and that Mr. Speaker do Issue his Warrants accordingly.
Ordered, That the said John Huggins Esq; be committed close Prisoner to His Majesty’s Goal of Newgate, and that Mr. Speaker do Issue his Warrants accordingly.
Ordered, That the said James Barnes be committed close Prisoner to His Majesty’s Goal of Newgate, and that Mr. Speaker do Issue his Warrants accordingly.
Ordered, That the said William Pindar be committed close Prisoner to His Majesty’s Goal of Newgate, and that Mr. Speaker do Issue his Warrants accordingly.
Ordered, That the said John Everett be committed close Prisoner to His Majesty’s Goal of Newgate, and that Mr. Speaker do Issue his Warrants accordingly.
Ordered, That the said Thomas King be committed close Prisoner to His Majesty’s Goal of Newgate, and that Mr. Speaker do Issue his Warrants accordingly.
Mr. Oglethorpe also acquainted the House, That he was directed by the Committee to Move That Leave be given to bring in a Bill to Disable the said Thomas Bambridge to Hold or Execute the Office of Warden of the Prison of the Fleet, or to Have or Exercise any Authority relating thereto.
And he Moved the House accordingly.
Ordered, Nemine Contradicente, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill to Disable the said Thomas Bambridge to Hold or Execute the Office of Warden of the Prison of the Fleet, or to Have or Exercise any Authority relating thereto; and that Mr. Oglethorpe, Mr. Earle, the Lord Percivall, and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in the same.
Mr. Oglethorpe also acquainted the House, That he was directed by the Committee to Move, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill for better Regulating the Prison of the Fleet, and for more effectual preventing and punishing Arbitrary and Illegal Practices of the Warden of the said Prison.
And he Moved the House accordingly.
Ordered, Nemine Contradicente, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill for better Regulating the Prison of the Fleet, and for more effectual preventing and punishing Arbitrary and Illegal Practices of the Warden of the said Prison; and that Mr. Oglethorpe, Mr. Cornwall, Mr. Glanville, and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in the same.
Ordered, That the Report from the Committee appointed to enquire into the State of the Goals of this Kingdom (this Day made to the House, in relation to the State of the Fleet Prison) with the Appendixes, and the Proceedings of the House thereupon, be Printed; and that Mr. Speaker do appoint the Printing thereof, and that no Person, but such as he shall appoint, do Presume to Print the same.