Extracts from Liverpool Life, Chapter XXIV
The Borough Gaol, Walton
The Liverpool Borough Gaol at Walton is one of the finest structures of the kind, and one of the largest local prisons in the kingdom. It was opened in 1855, and stands with its surrounding grounds on 23 acres of land, and cost the corporation about £180,000. It is constructed on the separate and silent system, and contains above 1,000 cells, but such is the extent of crime in Liverpool that it has already been found too small for its purpose, at the sessions before last, the numbers confined in the prison had reached 661 males and 616 females, so that an enlargement at no remote day will become a necessity. The actual number of cells for the separate confinement of ordinary criminals is 1002, of these 595 are on the males, and 407 on the female side of the prison. There are also in addition 30 dark cells for the punishment of refractory prisoners. Provision has also been made for 19 male and 3 female debtors and there are 28 separate cells and 4 convalescent rooms in the hospital department.
The site of the gaol is on the side of the public road leading from Liverpool to Ormskirk, and is nearly contiguous to the junction of the East Lancashire and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. The entire frontage of the gaol faces south and extends in length upwards of 1,000 feet. The depth backwards is about 600 feet. The form of the site is that of a parallelogram, and the whole of this is surrounded by a wall 18 feet high, the four angles of the parallelogram being occupied by hexagonal warder houses with flat roofs. The front wall is recesses to a certain distance, to admit immediately outside the gates, of houses for the governor and chaplain, which have pretty gardens in front, and form handsome residences. The main entrance is a beautiful architectural object, being flanked on each side by twp square Norman towers, with dressed brick fronts and stone dressings, connected by a groined stone archway, in which are inserted the outer and inner gates. The whole structure in its internal arrangements is not so much one entire prison as two separate prisons for the opposite sexes. The female prison is managed, subject, to the supervision of the governor by a matron and female turnkeys, and no officer on the male side has any key, or other means of access to it. Nearly the whole building is vaulted. The internal appearance of the gaol, supposing the brick wall dividing the two prisons be removed, we have then before the eye in one continuous range a corridor 820 feet long, and at right angles, directly in front, another 130 feet long, both 16 feet wide, and 55 feet high to the summit of the roof, terminated at three ends by stone bay windows the whole width and height of the corridor. On each side of these corridors are rows of cells for prisoners, four tiers in height, and approached by light galleries, with iron balustrades and brackets.
The cells are 13 feet in length, 7 feet wide and 9 feet in height. The furniture is sufficiently simple and consists of a table, stool, wash-hand basin, comb, a tin to drink out of, a wooden saltbox and wooden spoon, and a hammock for a bed, with blanket and rug. There is also a water closet pan, and a tap, which turns both ways, and gives the necessary supply of water. There is an ingenious arrangement to prevent prisoners wasting water, a sufficient supply for each is run by pipes from the cistern into a series of slate troughs in an upper gallery of the building. Each of these troughs is divided into compartments bearing a number corresponding with that of the cell below, which draws from it its supply. The water is let on periodically so that if any of these compartments be needlessly wasted, the delinquent can be traced. A printed copy of the rules relating to the treatment and conduct of the prisoners is suspended in each cell, and in case the prisoner cannot read, it is the duty of one of the gaol officials to read these rules to him. The food is passed in through a small aperture which opens out as a shelf in the door of the cell, and there is a pierced eye-hole by which the turnkeys can look in upon the prisoner at any time, without being observed by him. Each cell is also furnished with a bell, which strikes out the number of the cell where it has been sounded, so that the officer in attendance can see even from the extreme end of the corridor where his services are required. The officers are to be seen quietly walking about, and although there is a population of above 1200 persons within a very narrow compass everything is as silent as the tomb, the light sombre, the whole effect saddening and impressive.
The prison bell rings every morning a 5.30, when all the prisoners have to rise, air their beds and cells, and wash ready to begin work at 6am, when another bell rings to commence work. The bell is rung again every night at a quarter to the hour before bedtime, when each prisoner is expected to sling his hammock and prepare for bed. The retiring hour is 8pm, there is a slight variance in these times according to the season of the year.
The diet of the prisoners differs according to the scale, there are 9 different scales at the gaol and the scale of the prisoner depends upon the "class" in which they are placed. The rules state that "every prisoner maintained at the expense of the borough of Liverpool shall be allowed a quantity of plain and wholesome food, and that scales and legal weights and measures shall be provided for the purpose of weighing and measuring any article of food at the request of the prisoner."
The following are the prescribed rates of diet :- 1st class consists of convicted prisoners for any term not exceeding 7 days, these have for breakfast, a pint of oatmeal gruel, for dinner a lb of bread, and for supper also a pint of oatmeal gruel. The 2nd class consists of convicted prisoners for any term exceeding 7 days and not exceeding a month, breakfast a pint of oatmeal gruel and 6 oz of bread, dinner 12 oz of bread, supper the same as breakfast, for dinner female prisoners get only half the quantity of bread, and those males of this class employed in hard labourer have in addition a pint of soup per week. 3rd class consist of convicted prisoners employed at hard labour for terms exceeding a month, but not more than 2 months, and convicted prisoners confined for from one month to 4 months. Their diet is for both breakfast and supper a pint of oatmeal gruel and 6 oz of bread. The dinner varies according to the day of the week, Sunday and Thursdays consist of a pint of soup and 8oz of bread, Tuesdays and Saturdays 3 oz of cooked meat, 8 oz of bread and 8 oz of potatoes. On the three other days the midday meal is made up of 8oz bread and 1b of potatoes. Females of the same class are exactly the same, with only a less allowance of bread. 4th class consists of prisoners sentenced to upwards of 2 months and not less than 4 months, the diet is a little better than that of 3rd class, the difference consisting in the allowance of a pint of soup on three days of the week instead of 8 oz of bread. 5th class consists of convicted prisoners employed at hard labour for terms exceeding 4 months. On Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays the breakfast consists of a pint of oatmeal gruel, 8 oz of bread, dinner 4 oz of cooked meat, 1b of potatoes and 6 oz of bread, and on three alternative days breakfast consists of a pint of cocoa "made of three and a half ounces of flaked cocoa or cocoa nibs, sweetened with three-quarters of an ounce of molasses" and 8 oz of bread. Prisoners sentenced to solitary confinement get the ordinary diet of their respective classes. Those for examination before trial, and misdemeanants of the 1st division who do not maintain themselves, deserters, destitute debtors, and others not especially provided for, get the same diet as prisoners of the 4th class. Prisoners under punishment for prison offences for terms not exceeding three days are supplied with bread and water only, at the rate of 1b of bread per day.
The ingredients of which the soup and gruel are made are strictly defined by prison rules. The soup is to contain per pint, 3 oz cooked meat, 3 oz of potatoes, 1 oz of barley, rice or oatmeal, and 1 oz of onions or leeks, with pepper and salt. The gruel to contain 2 oz of oatmeal per pint and on alternative days to be sweetened with three-quarters of an ounce of molasses and seasoned with salt. In seasons when the potato crop has failed, 4 oz of spilt peas made into a pudding may occasionally be substituted, but not more than twice per week. Boys under 14 are placed on the same diet as the females. There are many sham plaints of sickness with the view of being sent to the hospital, where the diet is as good as the surgeon chooses to direct. On one occasion a fellow appealed to the chaplain, promising if he could use his influence with the doctor to get him a better diet, he would turn Protestant at once! And the reverend gentleman is convinced that he could have as many of such converts as he might wish on the same easy terms.
Liverpool Mercury Sept 14th, 1857
Extracts from Liverpool Life, Chapter XXV
The Borough Gaol, Walton
The prisoners confined at the Borough Gaol consist of those summarily convicted or sent for trial by the magistrates and of those convicted at the sessions for felony or misdemeanour. Should one be sentenced to penal servitude, from that moment he becomes a Government prisoner, and is only temporarily detained, subject to an order of removal to one of the national convict prisons. The time of his detention here varies to suit the convenience of the directors of the convict department, and at this moment there are 102 prisoners in the gaol under the new mode of sentence. The system of penal servitude as a substitute for transportation, in view of the public complaints respecting the supposed abuse which has been made of the ticket-of-leave system, a recent order has been issued by the Home Office, fixing the maximum of time which may be remitted from the sentence of each prisoner in case of good and satisfactory conduct, from a length of sentence of 3 yrs with good conduct can be reduced to 2yrs 6months, a sentence of 12 years can be reduced with good conduct to 9 years. About 10,000 persons graduate annually through the borough gaol, and the average number of prisoners received and discharged reaches to upwards of 30 a day. The total expense in maintaining and managing the prisoners for the past year was £14,553, an increase from the previous year of £1818. The average cost per head was 6s-8d, being 9d per week per head more than last year [The cost of maintenance at the workhouse only runs to about 2s-11d per head per week]. With deductions being made for the prisoners earning, and the sums charged to the Treasury for the maintenance of prisoners convicted at the sessions etc, we find £11,272, being 5s-2d per head per week, as the actual and entire cost of each prisoner to the corporation of the borough.
Cooking is conducted in the basement of the establishment by the prisoners, under the supervision of one paid cook, at a salary of £75-8s per annum. The food is cooked by steam in large copper boilers, and the kitchen considering the amount of work that is done daily, is a model of cleanliness and good order. Each prisoner's supply being put in his can, hoists are set in motion and the food is raised by this means to the various tiers of the respective wards branching out of the main corridor, and, placed in carriages which rest upon the upper rail of each balcony, is pushed along to the various cells, and so distributed with every facility and an astonishing economy of time. There is a benevolent regulation that "no prisoner is to be set to work immediately after each meal" a physiological advantage which the poor workman outside does not always enjoy.
By the prison regulations, each male prisoner on entrance is supplied with, a jacket, waistcoat, trousers, stock, shirt, pair of shoes or clogs, a pocket handkerchief, a cap, and a pair of braces. Each female prisoner is supplied with, a jacket, bedgown, petticoat, pair of stockings, shift, pocket handkerchief, neckerchief, day cap, night cap, apron etc. If prisoners wear singlets or drawers of both, on fist coming into the prison, they are to be supplied with such articles accordingly, and also they, and all other prisoners, may be supplied with additional clothing or bedding as the medical officer may deem requisite for their health. The bedding allowed to each prisoner, is composed of a hammock, mattress, or bed filled with straw or coir, two blankets and a rug or coverlet. Bedding may be deprived from time to time as a punishment. The clothing of the males is a sort of duffel, of coarse grey cloth, and the different classes are shown by the colour of the jacket or other facings, those summarily convicted are all in grey, those convicted at the sessions for felony have yellow facings for the first conviction and red for a second. Those convicted at the sessions for misdemeanour, have no distinctive colour in their attire, wearing only a red or yellow badge on one arm. This is a useful guide to the turnkeys and other officers. Each prisoner on admission has attached to his jacket in yellow figures [last years were red] his register number, [entered in the prison book] sewn on a narrow piece of cloth attached to the arm. He carries on him on a cloth label attached to a button hole on his jacket, the number of his cell. The attire of the female prisoners is distinguished in the same way by plain, yellow and red facings No prisoner without his registration and cell number is allowed to leave his cell. The hair of no prisoner is ever cut at all unless required for the purposes of cleanliness and health. Formerly a released prisoner might be known at once on his discharge by the close "bowl crop" which he got in gaol, but now if a prisoner objects to having his hair cut it is not done, and if a man wished not to be shaved it is questionable if he would be forced. It is a rule that male prisoners shall be shaved at least once a week, but since the "beard movement" began it would be regarded as too cruel to carry it into strict execution.
When prisoners first arrive they are taken into the reception ward, where they are stripped and carefully searched, and all necessary entries made in a book kept for the purpose, they are measured and weighed, and a strict personal description is recorded. They are then made to go into a warm bath, where they get a necessary cleansing, this is about one of the most unpopular institutions of the prison with the majority of the persons sent there. The clothes of the prisoners are taken from them and first put into a large dry boiler, heated by steam, for the purpose of being stoved. The temperature of the boiler is very high and can be raised to nearly 200 degrees. There is no sulphur used as at the workhouse, the heat alone is sufficient not only to remove disinfection, but to kill the "crawlin ferlies" the dead carcases of these are sometimes brushed off in battalions. The clothes of each prisoner are then taken and rolled up, duly ticketed and put away on shelves in the storeroom, which has the appearance of an exaggerated pawnshop. They are there ready at a moments notice, either to put on for trial, or for their release.
There are cells in the reception ward where the new prisoners are first conducted, and on the next day they are all paraded for medical inspection. The prisoners are not stripped for the occasion, but the arms and breasts are bared, it being held that the usual diseases of this class of society will be almost certain to show themselves cutaneously, but if any prisoner has any specific ailment he steps out of rank and acquaints the surgeon with the fact. They are then classified and taken to the respective cells which they are to occupy whilst in prison.
The great majority of prisoners are sentenced to hard labour in addition to their confinement, the work as a general rule is not hard at all, and we are inclined to think that labour of any kind in the solitude of imprisonment is a solace rather than a pain. The difference between separate and "solitary" confinement consists of those sentenced to the latter are not allowed any occupation whatever as a diversion to the mind. This is found to be so trying a punishment that it shall never exceed one month in all, as the human mind would not be able to bear more. The industrial pursuits carried on at the gaol at Walton consist principally of opening junk and oakum picking, mat making and weaving matting, rope making, sewing knitting, but a deal of work such as tailoring and shoemaking is also done for the gaol. The total number employed at profitable labour last year was 674, the actual amount of earnings sold and work done was £1117, about 11d a week for each prisoner. As far as possible a man is put to his own trade, but the disadvantage in Liverpool is that a large proportion is unskilled, these are only fit to pick oakum, the least profitable of all pursuits. It becomes a moral duty on the part of those charged with the management of our prisons to see that the labour of criminals shall not be brought into such competition as to injure the honest and well-conducted artisan, and yet there are individuals outside, who are actually injured by the work done in our gaols. Even in the poorest of all occupations, the picking of oakum, there are several poor families in New Bird St and other similar streets in the Park, who contrive to subsist on oakum picking. At the Industrial Ragged Schools in Soho St, the making of paper bags was introduced, the master of the establishments was felicitating himself upon having found profitable employment for the boys, which would injure no one outside, when he was called upon by a person living in Limekiln Lane who complained that the bread had been taken out of his mouth by setting the ragged boys to do that which had afforded the sole subsistence of himself and his family before.
In rope-making only well behaved prisoners in whom confidence can be placed are engaged in the work. Some of the matting made in the gaol is beautiful, and vast quantities of the stronger kind of mats, suitable for hotels etc, are exported to America. From the general shortness of the sentences in the borough gaol no systematic attempt is made to teach the prisoners trades, as there might be in a county or convict prison. In his report to the magistrates in 1855 the governor called attention to one disadvantage in respect to the labour department which would be consequent on the removal to Walton. The goods manufactured in the old gaol were sold by retail there, but it cannot be expected that persons would go all the way to the new gaol to make a purchase, and he suggested that to effect the sale of the various articles manufactured in the prison, it would be requisite to have a depot in the town, or to have a person to solicit orders in Liverpool and elsewhere. So far the suggestion has not been acted upon.
Liverpool Mercury Sept 21st, 1857
Extracts from Liverpool Life, Chapter XXV1
The Borough Gaol, Walton
The hardest labour in the gaol consists in turning cranks which, raise water from wells below to eleven large cisterns upon the roofs of the different wards. The cranks are all together on each side of a long ward, and the prisoners in pumping are placed, in narrow compartments, separated from each other. To those accustomed to labour the work can scarcely be said to be too severe, of the 20 so employed, we observed the sweat standing on the brow of one. A turnkey is in attendance to see that there is no speaking, or other attempt to communicate, but he has no occasion to urge them on. Each man has a certain quantity of water to raise, this is shown by an indicator, a very ingenious piece of mechanism, situated outside, so that the prisoner himself cannot tell how he is progressing, but the turnkey by walking along can see at a glance the strength and willingness each man has brought to bear. There can be no shamming, and any attempt at it exposes the man to the liability of punishment. It is a rule of the prison that no female or boy under 16, shall be employed in the labour of this kind.
Every due and consistent regard being paid to the health of the prisoners, they are at intervals, in addition to the labour carried on, given a certain amount of exercise in the open air. There are five promenades for this purpose in the gaol grounds. Suppose a large yard duly enclosed, where there is laid down and flagged three or four concentric circles, the innermost is the smallest, as the distance to be travelled is less, the oldest or infirm are placed upon it, in the other circles there is a rough classification and graduation according to strength. The prisoners, the moment they are marched in these circles are expected to keep in continual motion, to observe a due distance from each other, not to stare about and not to speak. It would be regarded as a breach of discipline round the head, as the great object aimed at under the separate system of imprisonment is that no prisoner should form any intimacies to be matured when they meet outside. Turnkeys are in attendance, keeping the strictest watch on every movement and every look. The sight of so many prisoners promenading round these circles is very striking and to some extent ludicrous, in the inner circles the men move slowly, whereas in the outer circles the walk is brisk, and those engaged in it appear quite in earnest in their pace.
The punishments for refractory conduct in the prison, the most severe which can be inflicted by the governor is that of solitary confinement for 3 days in a dark cell, on bread and water, anything beyond this is in the hands of the visiting magistrates. There are 30 of these dark cells situated in the basement of the prison, but they are not much used, a reduction of diet as a rule being found sufficient to keep down breaches of discipline. They would only be employed in such a case as resistance to an officer, or continuing contumacious after a reprimand or lighter punishment having been given. Some entries in the punishment book :- "Thomas J--------, talking in chapel, one day bread and water, --------, dancing in his cell and marking the prisoner's sheet of rules, one day close confinement on bread and water, 5 men for talking on the exercise ground, bread and water, ------, being in bed a two in the afternoon, one day bread and water, shouting to each other in the cells, one day close confinement on bread and water, disobedience of orders, in running oakum through the hammock ring [an easier expedient than teazing it with the hands] one days confinement with bread and water, E. P, unnecessarily ringing his bell, repeatedly kicking his cell door, singing and shouting in his cell, on day close confinement in a dark cell on bread and water, Charles M, continued refusal to work, one day dark confinement, a boy going into another prisoner's cell, resisting the officer, and most insolent in the yard, two days on bread and water."
In regard to one of the offences in the last case, we were told that in telling the prisoners off along the landings some of them will slip suddenly, if they can unobserved, into another's cell, and tear a leaf out of a book or do some other act to get him into trouble, not from ill-will towards the other prisoner, for they are not supposed to know each other, but from sheer mischief. One day a prisoner was engaged in cleaning the floor, and walking along with the bucket, he was caught in the act of ringing the bell of one of the cells, the occupant of the cell might be punished for unnecessarily ringing, no motive can be supposed for such an act but that of wanton malice. The old gaol birds know that their comfort depends upon their good behaviour, and it thus often happens that the worst characters outside are the best in, but there are some of ungovernable temper. We heard of one man who was often in. "We shall have him here again in a few days," was the observation of one of the officials, he is noted for all kinds of tricks. He was in the gaol 16 years ago, and once when brought before the present governor for breach of one of the rules, which was pointed out to him, he impudently remarked, "What do you know about it ? I belonged to this gaol, sir, before you did!" He was never brought in for a shilling's worth of dishonesty, but always for rows with the police. On one occasion he broke his cell windows, and was told he must take the consequences, that he must go back and occupy the same cell, it was December and there was no heat in the place. He begged to have the windows mended, but was made to suffer for three days the consequences of his outrage, the windows were then repaired, on an earnest promise from him that he would behave himself for the remainder of the time, and though he has since been frequently in prison he has not offended again. Contrary to what would be supposed, when it is that a large proportion of the female prisoners are prostitutes and characters of that kind, there are fewer breaches of discipline amongst the females than males. Their invariable offence is, "talk" talking at exercise, talking on the landing after being cautioned.
The governor has the power to hear complaints, and punish for prison offences by privations or otherwise. It is also his duty to attend personally along with the surgeon all inflictions of corporal punishment, but the lash is very little used, only in extreme cases and when ordered by a magistrate. He has no power to put handcuffs or any other description of irons upon a prisoner except in case of absolute necessity, and has then to enter in his journal the full particulars, and give notice forthwith of the fact to a visiting justice, nor can he continue the irons upon any prisoner for longer than 24 hours, without a special order from one of the visiting justices.
Confinement in the dark cells, even for one day and night must be a very severe punishment, the place contains no furniture and the only bed or bedding consists of a wooden bunk in an inclined position. When the door is closed, Cimmerian darkness reigns within, and the cells are so situated in the basement that the prisoner cannot hear the slightest noise to break the solitude, he is of course visited from time to time, his only food is bread and water. The most refractory soon become obedient under this punishment, with old prisoners there is very little occasion for the dark cells to be used. A young woman who when imprisoned there created a great uproar, and on being visited declared that the Devil had visited her in the cell! A search was made to ease her mind, and it was discovered that a cat had got accidentally locked in when she was taken down, and creeping up to her when she had laid down, had occasioned the fright.
Rules which are laid down for the guidance of the governor, some seem a little curious. He has not to be absent from the gaol without leave, except when unavoidably necessary, then to record the cause of his absence in his journal, visitors to officers are not allowed to sleep in the prison without the permission of a visiting justice, he has to exercise is authority with firmness, temper and humanity and enforce the like conduct on the subordinate officers, he has to inspect the prison frequently, and to occasionally go through the prison at an uncertain hour of the night, he is not to allow trees against the outer walls, or implements likely to facilitate escape, to direct prisoners to wash themselves at least once a day and their feet once a week, all prisoners to have a tepid bath once a month, except debtors and misdemeanours of the 1st division. To see that every prisoner be supplied with clean linen at least once a week, and clean flannel once every 14 days, to see that bedding is well aired every day, to direct that the prisoners sheets be washed once a month, and for those under medical treatment once a fortnight, and that those used by one prisoner are not passed on to another until disinfected. To direct that prisoners have three meals a day, and at least two of these to be warm. To allow prisoners before trial to maintain themselves, giving them every facility for that purpose. To direct that Jews are not to be compelled to work on the Sabbath [Jews will thus have two holidays per week. To give notice of the death of any prisoner to a visiting justice, to the coroner and the prisoner's nearest relative, and an inquest has to be held in the case of every death occurring in gaol. The governor also has to prohibit gaming of any kind, and to seize and destroy all instruments of gaming. To inform relatives of prisoners under the age of 16, the day and time of their discharge etc. He has to inspect or cause to be inspected, all letters and parcels to and from prisoners, except such as is addressed to a visiting justice or other authority, but confidential communications, prepared as instructions for defence, may be personally delivered by prisoners to their legal advisors without being inspected by the governor. The responsibility is great, but the office a proud one. The matron has almost a similar set of rules for the government of the female part of the prison, and has in addition to report in writing, daily to the governor the general condition and conduct of her department. She is placed for all general purposes connected with the management, under his immediate supervision and control.
Liverpool Mercury Sept 28th, 1857
Extracts from Liverpool Life, Chapter XXV11
The Borough Gaol, Walton
The gaol at Walton requires a large staff of officers for its successful management, from the corporation accounts from last year, the officials consist of, Mr William JAMESON, the governor, Rev Thomas CARTER, chaplain, Mr Francis ARCHER, surgeon, who has also a resident assistant, a chief clerk, two other clerks, a head turnkey, 1st class turnkey, taskmaster and taskmistress, with an assistant each, matron, 3 schoolmasters, 3 schoolmistresses, a day and night watchman, male and female storekeeper, cook, porter, servant, with a tailor, ropemaker, bricklayer, smith and plumber. There are also 55 discipline officers, or turnkeys male and female, the yearly salaries of the former being £1489-16s and of the latter, 21 in number at £294-16s. The salary of the governor is £550 per year, with a free house, the chaplain £400 a year, with a like privilege. The surgeon £200 a year and his assistant £103-8s-7d. A row of about 40 very neat cottages have been erected for the male turnkeys and other officers, outside the walls, yet in the immediate neighbourhood of the prison, but, with the exception of the schoolmistresses, the whole of the female officers reside within the gaol.
The general government and regulation, reside primarily in the magistrates for the borough, who at the quarter sessions appoint two or more justices to visit the prison during the ensuing quarter. The visiting justices meet the week after the quarter sessions to make convenient arrangements for their subsequent visits, which must be monthly at least, and on these occasions their duty is to inspect the several wards, cells, infirmaries, yards, solitary and punishment cells, and other departments, and inquire from time to time of each prisoner whether he or she has any complaint or application to make. They also inspect the several journals, registers and account books of the prison. All officers may be suspended by a visiting justice, but their dismissal must be by the same authority by which they were appointed. The appointments are made by the magistrates subject [as regards the subordinate officers] to the confirmation of the town council. The visiting justices are to call at the cells of each prisoner once a month at least, oftener if necessary, they have the power to allow particular prisoners food, clothing or other necessities, besides the usual allowance, to suspend any of the rules for misdemeanants of the 1st division, reporting the fact to the Secretary of State for his direction, they may direct that prisoners under sentence of transportation be kept to hard labour if their health permits. They have the power to report any offender who may have shown "extraordinary diligence or merit" to the quarter sessions in order that the magistrates may if they think proper, recommend such a prisoner to royal mercy, and to give to meritous offenders on their discharge a moderate sum of money as will enable them to return to their homes. Power is bestowed on them for the punishment of refractory prisoners. They are required to make a report in writing to every quarter session on the state and condition of the prison, what repairs, additions, or alterations have been made or are required, of any abuses they have observed, or received information, in the management of the prison, as well as of the general state of the prisoners, as to moral, discipline, employment, hard labour, and observance of the rules.
The subordinate officers, male and female are instructed strictly to conform to the rules of the prison, to obey the directions of the governor and to assist him in maintaining order and discipline. They are directed to conduct themselves towards prisoners, "with firmness and self respect, yet with kindness and humanity" and to observe a strict impartiality in enforcing a complete observance of the rules. They are expected to exhibit a correct moral deportment before the prisoners and at all times strive to acquire a moral influence over them, so as to promote their improvement and reformation. No officer is allowed to strike a prisoner, except when compelled to do so in self-defence, nor must they threaten or taunt them with any allusion to their situation or previous character, nor in any manner to treat them with harshness, or address them with violent or abusive language. They must listen patiently to a prisoners complaints and requests, giving him or her a civil answer and reporting the application if necessary to the governor. If a prisoner should wish to see a visiting justice, the governor, chaplain or surgeon they are required immediately to report the fact, so that the request may be complied with as soon as possible. They are never to unnecessarily converse with a prisoner, nor are they to allow any familiarity on the part of the prisoner towards themselves. They are also to abstain from any connection or intimacy with prisoners when discharged. All subordinate officers are required to pay strict attention to cleanliness of person and dress, and always when in prison to wear their uniforms. They are on no account to take out of the gaol any keys entrusted to them, but to deposit them on leaving with an officer appointed to receive charge of them. They are debarred from having any pecuniary dealing with prisoners, all gossiping and unnecessary conversation about private matters or otherwise between officers while on duty is forbidden, the governor has the power of imposing fines on them, not exceeding 5s, for any breach of the rules. An officer cannot enter a prisoner's cell at night unless accompanied by a colleague, and then only in a case of a prisoner's sickness or an emergency.
The chief warder is one of the most important executive officers of the gaol, he could act if necessary as deputy governor, and has to reside constantly at the prison. He has to instruct the other officers and servants in their duties, and the keys of the departments on the male side of the prison are under his charge. He has to satisfy himself, before the prison is locked up for the night, that everything is safe and in good order. The other warders or turnkeys are responsible for the maintenance of proper order or discipline in parts of the prison assigned to them. They are to pay particular attention to the ventilation of the cells, corridors and passages in their respective wards and see that thermometers are placed in different parts, returning the degrees of temperature in their daily reports. The taskmaster and taskmistress have charge of the labour carried out in the gaol and are to make themselves acquainted with the nature of such manufacture which is introduced, and give their opinions on any contracts, purchases or sales within their departments. The male storekeeper receives, examines and keeps an account of all stores connected with the victualling, clothing etc of the prisoners. He delivers provisions to the cook, sends and receives all articles to and from the wash, and is required to promote economy in every branch of the establishment. The reception warder and female storekeeper receive prisoners on their arrival, search them, and see them duly bathed and clothed, and are enjoined to prevent any prisoner being stripped or bathed in the presence of any other prisoner. They have to enter in a book kept for that purpose, money, watches, rings or jewellery taken from a prisoner, transferring them into the possession of the 2nd clerk, but all other property is kept by them, and they are personally responsible for any deficiency which may appear afterwards. The infirmary warders have charge of the sick in hospital and are frequently to visit the patients in their care, ensure they take their medicines ordered for them and give notice so that the medical officer can be apprised, when the sick prisoners are worse. They must keep such lights burning during the night as the governor or medical officer directs, take care all bottles issued be returned to the surgery. The cook has to manage the cooking for the whole prison, and is responsible for the cleanliness of the kitchen, coppers, cans and other utensils, and also for the right mixture of all ingredients and the sufficient boiling and preparation of the food. He is expected to immediately report any defect in the quality of the provisions, and has to carefully lock up and keep out of reach of the prisoners assisting him any food which they might be tempted to take.
The gatekeeper or porter is an important officer in the establishment, in attending to his most specific duty of turning the lock, he has to see that the subordinate officers record the time of their coming to and leaving the prison. He has to enter the stores coming in to the prison in a cheque receipt book, and has not to permit any wine, spirits, beer, snuff, tobacco or other articles prohibited by the rules to pass into the prison without an order from the governor, and has the power for that purpose to search baskets, clothes etc of male visitors. He has also to inspect and keep ready the arms and ammunition belonging to the gaol. The assistant gatekeeper is the officer in special charge of the male debtors, and he also attends to the receipt and distribution of coals and coke throughout the prison, taking care there is always a sufficient supply on hand.
The night watchman is on duty 8pm till 6am. After commencing his round he has to keep patrolling around the prison, within the boundary wall, from that time until he goes off duty. He must pull the outer watch clocks and at 5.30 am he rings the large bell for the prisoners to rise and the officers to assemble, then proceeds to collect the keys to the gates, and finally at 6am as he is leaving, rings the bell for the prisoners to begin work. The night watchman also attends to putting out the gas outside the prison, and any occurrence of importance in his watch, whatever the hour, must be immediately reported to the governor. The gaol is locked at 10pm each night, when the principal keys are deposited with the governor, after that hour no subordinate officer can pass in or out of the gaol. A number of male officers sleep within the prison by rotation every night and by them the night watch in the interior is maintained all night relieving each other every two hours.
The engineer has charge of the ventilating and warming apparatus, the steam engine, the fires, the pumps, locks, boils and other matters and things which might be required to attended to from time to time by the governor He also has to see that all work denominated smith's and tin mans work be regularly attended to, and to inspect various scales, weights and measures in use. The plumber has charge of the cisterns, gas fittings, water closets and taps, and also to see to the glaziery of the windows. The tailor, shoemaker, weaver, roper, bricklayer, mason, and other trade officers employed are to instruct the prisoners in this work and manufactures carried out in the gaol, and to see that the prisoners in their care are supplied with all necessary tools and materials.
Visits to prisoners, those committed for examination are allowed to see one or two persons, their friends and relations, every Tuesday and Friday, between 10am and 12 midday. Prisoners committed for trial are allowed to see their friends but only on Tuesdays. Prisoners convicted, unless at sessions, cannot see anyone until after the expiration of the first 3 months of their imprisonment, and subsequently at the end of every 3 months. A relaxation in the rules is made in the case of sickness. The interviews are not private an apartment has been fitted up in the gaol for the purpose, the prisoners are introduced into narrow compartments, partitioned off with close wire grating in front, their friends occupy a similar box opposite, there is a passage a yard wide between where the turnkeys stand to prevent improper communication, there are 8 compartments on each side of the room. The grating is so close that it is scarcely possible to recognise each others features, unless the face is pressed close to the wire, the distance such that all must speak loudly in order to be heard.
Liverpool Mercury Oct 5th, 1857
Extracts from Liverpool Life, Chapter XXV111
The Borough Gaol, Walton
The privileged division for the 1st class misdemeanants, no prisoner can be placed in this division except by order of the judge or court before whom she or he were tried. Those of this class are not to be placed in a common reception cell, and having been searched for dangerous weapons or articles calculated to facilitate escape they are permitted retain or subsequently receive any money and effects, provided that in the opinion of the governor "the effects" are not improper or dangerous. They are not to be placed with any other class of prisoner and can wear their own clothing. Prisoners in this genteel division are also permitted to maintain themselves, or to receive at reasonable hours any food, clothing, bedding or other necessities, subject to examination as will prevent "extravagance or excess" They are hospitably permitted to procure for themselves a very liberal allowance of wine or malt liquor, the wine not to exceed 1 pint, the liquor a quart in 24 hours. They do no work except clean their apartments and make their beds. At their own request they can procure employment, and the necessary tools and materials to execute it. They are allowed exercise in the open air either alone or with other prisoners of the same division, without the supervision of an officer unless the governor should consider it expedient. They can have at their own expense any quantity of books or newspapers, and can see visitors for a reasonable time every day. They may write or receive letters subject to the inspection of the governor, and can only be punished for disobedience or abuse of any of the prison rules. Not a bad life if you are wealthy.
Debtors are much worse off, they usually averaged about 12, at this time there were 12 one being a female. The small wing fitted up for them is in the neighbourhood of the reception ward. They are confined to separate cells so far as sleeping is concerned, but have a day room in common, and an exercise yard to themselves. There are two classes of debtors, those who are destitute, and those who are enabled to contribute to their own support in gaol. On admission they are placed in the reception room by an officer, where they are examined but not in the presence of any other prisoner, in order to ascertain if they have any dangerous weapons, liquor, tobacco or other prohibited articles, after which they are assigned the cell they are to occupy. They are required to make their own beds, clean their cells, dayrooms and airing yard every morning, to keep the furniture and utensils clean and neatly arranged, to keep themselves "clean and decent" and to conform to such regulations for that purpose that the governor may lay down. When not receiving any allowance from the prison, they may receive from their friends or purchase food and clothing, and debtors of this class are allowed a pint of malt liquor a day. Articles of food can only be received once a day. No part of the food, liquor or other articles is to be sold or exchanged with any other debtor, transgressors will have their drink stopped. No debtor is allowed the use of tobacco or spirituous liquor unless by a written order of the medical officer. Debtors are allowed to work and follow their own trades and professions, provided their employment does not interfere with the government of the prison, and such debtors as may find their own implements, and are not maintained at the expense of the gaol are allowed to receive the whole of their earnings, the proceeds of the labour of destitute debtors is subject to a moderate deduction. They are all required to attend divine service unless they are ill, but are accommodated by themselves in the chapel, being cut off by a curtain from the observation of the other prisoners. Debtors are allowed to see their friends or relations three days a week, subject to regulations to prevent improper communication, especially between persons of different sexes. They may write and receive letters, subject to inspection of the governor. They may wear their own clothes and it is against the rules to place any of them in separate confinement, but the governor has power to hear complaints against them touch disobedience and such offences as assault, cursing and swearing, indecent behaviour, irreverent conduct in chapel, may be punished by close confinement and bread and water for up to three days.
The duties of the medical officer are that he is to visit the prisoners once a day more often if necessary and twice a week he or his assistant must visit every prisoner, whether criminal or debtor. As a general rule prisoners who are slightly ailing are treated in their cells, and he reports to the governor any variation of diet that may be necessary. The wing of the gaol devoted to the hospital is limited in its extent and very prison like in all its arrangements, the cells here are approached by a narrow passage, so narrow that no more than two men could scarcely walk abreast. There are convalescent wards, where the separate system is somewhat departed from and the invalids are grouped together for mutual aid. Once a month in the presence of the governor or matron he makes a "searching and minute inquiry" into the health of every prisoner committed or sentenced for 3 months or upwards, and must daily visit prisoners in solitary or close confinement. He has general supervision over every arrangement of the gaol likely to affect the health of the inmates, he has a large discretionary power over the diet of the prisoners in the extremes of youth and old age, and must see that no prisoner under punishment is subjected to such a reduction of diet as can injure health. Additional clothing or bedding can be ordered by him and whenever he has reason to believe that the mind or body of a prisoner might likely to be injured by the treatment of discipline, he reports the case to the governor, with such directions as he might think proper, and the chaplain's attention is called to those whose state of mind appears to require his special care. He has to make a daily record on sick prisoners in "English" and not in "Latin" as used by practitioners outside. All prisoners before release are examined by him, and none are discharged under any acute or dangerous distemper, unless the patient himself requires it.
The total number of applicants for medical relief in the gaol year ending September 1856, was 5681, a large proportion of those were of the most frivolous character, stimulated by the hope of an improved diet. During the same period the greatest number of sick at one time 52 and the daily average 28. Only 289 of the total number of patients treated were sent to the prison hospital, and diarrhoea appears to have been the most prevalent complaint. There was also 45 cases of itch. The total number of prisoners put on extra diet for the year was 39, 2 prisoners were moved to lunatic asylums and one pardoned on medical grounds. There were 5 deaths during the year and 15 births in the gaol, the previous year there were 3 deaths, the mortality low considering 10,000 prisoners pass through annually, and 14 births in that year were the surgeon had expressed his sorrow that in some instances the same person had given birth to children in the prison more than once before. We assume that a certain class of women finding themselves in an interesting condition, commit some petty offence for the sake of cheap accouchement in gaol.
Attempts are made from time to time to impose upon the surgeons, all such "old soldiering" is made to recoil upon those who simulate to be sick. An anecdote of one prisoner in the old gaol, Jemmy M---, who was quite notorious for his tricks, affected to be seized with illness one day and the surgeon was sent for in haste. The afflicted patient appeared to be in the last stage of collapse, he could not speak, and had not the slightest appearance of sensation, was as rigid as a cataleptic and had to be raised like a stone. They could not get him even to open his eyes. The surgeon had a medical friend with him at the time, and with a pulse beating with remarkable regularity, it did not require much examination to satisfy them the fellow was feigning. "Oh we shall soon bring him to his senses, " said the surgeon, out loud "It is a very bad case in deed. Let him be carried to the hospital, shave his head and blister him." Jemmy heard all this unmoved, he never stirred and was carried to the hospital a dead weight, and laid stretched upon the bed. The surgeon's assistant was directed at what must be done. "Now, Mr J, cut the hair off his head as close as you can, then we must have it shaved and blistered." The assistant began by plying the scissors to the back of the head, when the poor sufferer emitted a groan. The hair was beginning to fall off, as the patient supposed, and it was announced that the blister was ready, when he gave an alarmed start and began suddenly to revive. At length his speech was restored and he said, "What are you doing?" with a frightened air. The laugh of those in attendance showed him that his trick had been discovered, when, rolling on his side, Jemmy, who a moment before had been in articulo mortis, appeared as well as ever and exclaimed, "Well, it's of no use, but why don't you give me more grub?"
Liverpool Mercury Oct 12th, 1857
Extracts from Liverpool Life, Chapter XX1X
The Borough Gaol, Walton
The system of separate confinement, has a most depressing effect upon the mind, and it is a melancholy fact that that although the new gaol has only been open 2 years there have already been 4 suicides, besides numerous attempts. On the 22nd December 1855, a boy named Joseph DAVIES, aged 12 hung himself in his cell, no motive could be assigned for him having done so, he had been about 3 weeks in prison, and had only 5 weeks remaining. His conduct had been good and orderly, and on the evening preceding his death the officer who locked him up observed him to be cheerful. In October 1856 a man named John LLOYD, who had been sentenced to 6 years penal servitude also hung himself in his cell. The third case occurred in July this year, the body of a lad named William SCARRY, also only 12 years old was found suspended in his cell, life being quite extinct. The last case occurred a few weeks ago and was that of Robert LOVETT, aged 24, son of Mr LOVETT, eating-house keeper, Williamson Square, who committed suicide by suspending himself by one of his braces to a hook in the wall of his cell. The charge against him was that of an aggravated assault upon his mother. In all these cases a verdict of felo de se was returned, and the burials, took place in the dead of night, without any religious ceremony, in the new cemetery at Walton. Some prisoners simulate insanity, or feign attempts to commit suicide for the purpose of being removed from separate confinement, the imposition is very easily detected. Tow prisoners attempted to commit suicide, one by throwing himself over the iron railing in the uppermost ward of the division in September 1855, and the other by attempting to hang herself on the 10th of March 1856, but both recovered. Six other prisoners feigned attempts to hang themselves, but there was no clear evidence they had no such intention. The times when these attempts are most frequent is immediately after committal or after conviction at the assizes.
It is the duty of the schoolmasters and schoolmistresses immediately to report to the chaplain any case of peculiar depression of mind which they may happen to observe, and if he should be of the opinion from their report or his own observations, that a prisoners mind is likely to be injured by the discipline he is required by the rules to immediately report in writing his impressions to the governor, the surgeon, and one of the visiting justices, recording the fact of such report in his journal, and a similar responsibility rests upon the governor and surgeon likewise
Some of the reports, one reads, "He has received a letter announcing his mother's death, thinks of hanging himself." Another, "I have just left so and so, he seems in a odd state of mind, and declares that he will never eat another mouthful of food in the gaol, which will not be long." The chaplain instantly visits him, the man was unplaiting some stuff to make mats of, and behaved in a way that he did not consider him safe to be left alone. An eye was occasionally kept upon him in consequence. Within 20 minutes when an officer went in the ordinary course to take his work off him, he found him suspended by the neck. He was cut down taken to hospital, and bled, it was with great difficulty that he was brought round. It was the opinion of those in the gaol that he had no more idea of destroying himself than anyone outside, he had just been sentenced and his motive was to excite sympathy. Another report says, "On visiting S. C. G, I found him in a very sullen and cross temper, vowing vengeance on an officer who had reported him, and threatening to kill him or himself or both. The prisoners have no knives and only wooden spoons to eat their soup, but it is necessary for those engaged in mat making to be entrusted with knives. One lad so employed had conceived a hatred for one of the officers, and plunged the knife at him, the officer was aware of him and leaping aside the knife lodged in the door. There was an old fellow in the convalescent ward who wanted sadly, to be considered mad, his plan was when any officer approached to begin talking incoherently about some act of incendiarism in which he alleged he had been engaged, but he was unaware of the fact being known that he was quiet and rational enough, when he thought he was not being observed by anyone connected with the gaol
The governor in his last report says, " Out of the number of persons who are from time to time committed to this prison there will be some predisposed to insanity, or whose minds are weak, or who are subject to delusions or other mental affections, and it is probable that the separate confinement of such may have a tendency to cause their maladies to be more fully developed."
Of the 9139 commitments last year to the borough gaol, 3588 of the prisoners had never been there before, 972 had been committed once before, 590 twice, 471 three times, and 2906, had been previously committed four times and upwards, of these 2906, 840 were adult males, 1880 more than double were adult females and 186 juveniles. Of the 1880 adult females, the greater portion had been sent for prostitution, obscene language, indecent conduct and drunkenness. The prostitutes swell the number of re-committals, many of them passing 8 to 10 times through the gaol in the course of a year. The suppression of vice and immorality thus becomes a ratepayers question, even if there were not higher grounds of action. The only places open to receive them on their release from prison are their former habitations, where through necessity or the influence of the keepers of these houses of infamy, they are forced afresh into dissipation and profligacy, and consequently speedily find themselves back into gaol, which becomes in one sense their home. When a woman has become a prostitute, it is not only very difficult for her to regain a respectable position in society, but, the lamentable effects of her depravity, generally lead her on to a greater amount of vice and crime, until she has lost all shame, self-respect, and hope of recovery.
Confinement is a punishment even to the most hardened, but nearly the only hope of real and permanent reformation resides in the earnest efforts of a good chaplain, addressed to juvenile offenders and those committed for a first offence, this can only be done by keeping them on the separate system away from the hardened criminals, his richest harvest will be reaped in the field indicated few can have any idea if the extent of good which an active chaplain of a gaol has in his power to perform. Some notes that were written in the chaplain's journal and "character book" :- " A respectable tradesman in an inland town, who had a small family, had married again. Tow of the older daughters, although they had no fault to find in their new household arrangement, felt that their further services at home would be no longer necessary and resolving to ease their father of the burden of their maintenance, came to Liverpool with the view of gaining employment. In this, they were not successful, one of the daughters returned home, the other was deceived by a retail tradesman here, who threw her off, and she became destitute. She was sent to gaol, having been found in the streets at an untimely hour. This was the first time she had been in prison, and one of the teachers finding her both in education and manners to be a superior girl, drew the chaplain's attention to her. That gentleman had a serious talk with her and being also favourably impressed, opened a correspondence with her father, in which, overcoming the hard but natural scruples of the parent by considerations of Christian duty and the certain ruin that was impending over his child, he consented to take her home again, and will come for her on her release. Under the associated system the chaplain would not have particularly noticed her amongst the crowd of other criminals. She has probably been saved, in the old gaol she would have been lost, certain it is that her conduct has since been without reproach".
There are a great many cases of like character, one foolish girl had been in the habit of going to dancing houses, where she was corrupted. The chaplain sent her home to Cheltenham, where she has since conducted herself well, and with great propriety, and is at present living with a family to whom she has given every satisfaction. There were also two fine-looking girls who had been brought by a procuress from Nottingham, one in consequence of advice she got in prison went home. The old procuress with marvellous generosity, or perhaps from a fear of consequences, paid her fare to Nottingham, but went there immediately afterwards and brought another in her stead. A fourth case was that of three girls described as of superior bearing, who had also been allured from homes at a distance and had been living in a disreputable house. In spite of all kindly remonstrance, two on their release from prison went back to their former vicious course of life. On the third, the good counsel of the chaplain was not lost, and on her discharge went to the house where she had lived for her clothing, and gave proof of her sincerity by voluntarily returning in the evening to the gaol. She was accommodated in the schoolmistresses house for a few days till arrangements could be made for her to return home. A girl was discharged after three years imprisonment, her father came to meet her and conduct her home. He was an old decrepit man, she had grown so much in the three years that it was found necessary to find her new clothing. During the time she had spent in the old gaol she had been taught needlework by some benevolent ladies who at that time visited the establishment, effecting great good to the children. At one time she did some needlework which produced 8s beyond the amount paid to the gaol account, this amount was given to her and she returned home with her father to Wigan.
An extract from a report made by one of the female teachers, " Some particulars regarding Ann F, discharged after 12 months. Her excellent conduct and apparent penance excited my interest and sympathy and that of the officers generally. Her husband and family were respectable tradespeople, but, owing to her habits of intemperance, had ceased to notice her. Her husband consented to do something for her and visited them on her behalf. Her father and brother allowed her to go home with them till further arrangements could be made. I interested a town missionary on her behalf, and got her work, but, when I went to see her on Saturday night, and to receive the work which a tailor had employed her to do, I found her in a state of intoxication. I again saw her husband, and he expressed his great sorrow that all attempts to lead her back into the right path had been fruitless." The wretched woman, for an offence induced by drink, has since been sentenced to penal servitude. A female whom the chaplain had assisted and sent off home seemed very grateful, she was brought back the next day for an assault, and in default of bail was committed for 12 months. A woman named SMITH was committed for 6 months for an assault, she had been four times in gaol for similar offences, but, was always remarkably well conducted in gaol. The chaplain on the last occasion raised the means to send her back to Workington, where she had a sister in circumstances to assist her. She, however, slipped on shore just as the steamer was about to sail, and was re-committed the next day. Some of the juvenile offenders have been assisted to emigrate, and one kind-hearted magistrate contributed liberally to sending one girl to America, where it would appear her only relatives reside. To the astonishment of those who had interested themselves on her behalf, she came back in the same ship. The mate had seduced her, and she came home as servant to the Captain's wife. On landing here the fellow told her he did not want her, and she might get to America as best she could.
Liverpool Mercury Oct 19th, 1857
Extracts from Liverpool Life, Chapter XXX
The Borough Gaol, Walton
Amongst the appointed public duties of the chaplain of the Borough gaol are that he shall on every Sunday, Christmas Day and Good Friday, and on public fast and thanksgiving days, perform the appointed morning and evening services of the Church of England, and preach a sermon. He has also daily to read prayers and a portion of scripture in the chapel, and in case of his sudden absence the duty is provided for in another way. The sacrament must be administered by him four times a year, to such persons who desire it and whom he may consider in a proper frame of mind. As far as possible he is to see every prisoner in private to direct his advice and instruction, in the case of prisoners before trial he shall refrain from any inquiries which may tend to draw from them admissions of guilt. He has frequently to see the sick and attend at reasonable times all prisoners who may require his spiritual advice and assistance, paying special attention to juveniles, and daily visit prisoners in solitary or close confinement. If he observes that the mind of a prisoner is likely to be injured by the discipline or treatment, he reports the fact to the governor, surgeon and one or more of the visiting justices. He directs the distribution of books to the prisoners, and sees that there is a proper supply of reading lessons, slates, copy books and other materials for instruction. The schoolmasters and schoolmistresses act together under his direction and superintendence. He makes an annual report as to the religious and moral instruction and condition of the prisoners.
There are three schoolmasters and three school mistresses in the gaol, acting under the orders of the chaplain they are more like scripture readers or home missionaries than secular instructors. They reside outside and go to their duties at 8am, and leave at 5pm having an interval of an hour and a half for dinner. They go from cell to cell and each man is visited at least every second day. The prisoners are taught reading and writing, having for the latter the use of a slate, there are no copy books on the males side. The schoolmistresses will some times read to the prisoners, but the masters do not, they will go to a cell and find that the prisoner scarcely knows his letters, they will spend 10 minutes with him and show him what to do till they see him again. In the next cell they may find the prisoner is already tolerably instructed, will explain any difficulty that may have occurred in the reading and then pass on. They will sometimes talk to the prisoner in reference to his conduct, but are not allowed to communicate any news, or to be the bearer of any message to him. Rules have been laid down to the teachers by the chaplain, which is never deviated from, namely prisoners who can read are to be supplied as follows, those sentenced to one month and under, Testament and prayer-book, two months and more then one, Bible and prayer book, with the use of slate and pencil if requested, three months and upwards, Bible prayer book, library book, slate, pencil and book of arithmetic. All persons who are unable to read the above named are to be supplied with such elementary books as are suited to their capabilities. The chaplain in his report for 1855 says the religious status and knowledge of the prisoners may be inferred from the fact that the information of at least one half extends little if at all beyond the mere knowledge of the existence of a God.
A case in the chaplains "character book" "-------, a young man aged 21, has been brought up in Liverpool as a whitesmith and locksmith, does not know the meaning of Redeemer, but believes it is God. Does not know what He did to redeem him. Has heard of Jesus Christ, but does not know who He was, cannot say any prayers, because he never "larned any." In respect of those with superior education who occasionally pass through the prison there was one of superior intellect. He first applied to the chaplain for Butler's Analogy of Religion, which was lent to him, and while in gaol he got through six books of Euclid. He was a converted Jew, of strong reasoning powers, and a good linguist too. He declined the first parcel of books which was tendered to him saying, "These are entertaining, but get me something to think about" The charge against him was that of robbery of silver parings, his sentence was 12 months imprisonment.
The vast proportion of prisoners in the Borough gaol are committed for very short terms, from 73 to 76% in fact for terms not exceeding a month. Taking 9139 prisoners who passed last year through the gaol, and deducting 612 remanded prisoners who were subsequently discharged or committed to Kirkdale for trial, 6263 were sent for terms not exceeding a month, more than a half of these being adult females. 935 for 1 to 2 months, 777, for 2 to 3 months, 159 3 to 6 months, 141, above 6 months not exceeding a year, 39 above 1 and not exceeding 2 years, 63 were sentenced to penal servitude, 9 transported, 69 left for trial, and 72 were acquitted. The Government out of the Consolidation fund pays for the food and clothing for those convicted at the sessions, and allows 6d per day for deserters
Liverpool Mercury Oct 26th, 1857
Extracts from Liverpool Life, Chapter XXX1
The Borough Gaol, Walton
The female part of the prison, here the prisoners are employed in sewing, knitting, sorting wool, washing and cleaning and occasionally they have oakum given them to pick. There are only 407 cells in this part of the gaol, but as at one time there have been 600 women in, the separate system has in a large measure had to be departed from, and 200 of the women have had to sleep with 200 others, placing 400 in association. It is not lawful to put 2 male prisoners together, there must be either one or three, females, however can sleep two in a cell. A fearful proportion of the female prisoners are prostitutes, we took from the book one days committal to ascertain their nativity, 20 resulted in, 5 from Liverpool, the other 15 are Galway, Hull, Mayo, Queen's County, Glasgow, Whitby, Belfast, Newry, Dublin, Carnarvon, Birmingham, Kilkenny, Bury and Londonderry. One of the females was entered as having been 82 times previously in prison. Of 30 names we took at random, 8 had never been previously in prison, 3 in once before, 3 in twice before, 2 three times, 1 five times, 1 nine times, 2 fourteen times, 1 fifteen times, 1 sixteen times, 1 eighteen times, 1 twenty tomes, 1 twenty-one times, 1 twenty-three times, 1 twenty-four times, 1 twenty-eight times, 1 forty times and 1 fifty-six times ! 15 had been sent the present time for drunk and disorderly conduct The remainder of the charges were profane language [the delinquent in this case was entered as a sempstress] indecent exposure, not accounting for property, stealing cotton, stealing a dress, illegally pawning, stealing a watch, obstructing the street, one had been sent on an information under the Sanitary Act, and two for fighting. To nearly one half of the names there were one or more aliases attached.
On the subject of the discharge of the prisoners, about 30 are released each morning. The males are sent out at 7am, the females an hour later. They are simply put outside the gate and left in absolute freedom to the influence of such impressions as they may have received during their confinement. We can sympathise with the emotions of some of these outcasts when, friendless and helpless, they are restored to the full and unwelcome glare of the day. Take the case of a man imprisoned for a first offence committed under the influence of some overpowering temptation, supposing him to be an artisan or labourer, he will have lost his former work, and is consequently penniless, and degraded in his own eyes, he has lost the spring to self exertion, his punishment now to commence. He directs his steps to the city, burdened with a senses of shame, conscious of the increased temptations which will now beset his path. We cannot but consider it desirable that there should be some organised means of helping on by encouragement the reformation of such an individual. Confirmed thieves and the worse classes of criminals generally have some "pal" in waiting ready to welcome them back to their old haunts, and to rub off by laughter any sanctimonious expression of feature that they may display. The whole gang leave the gate in a body, and are generally noisy, uproarious and disorderly as to be a nuisance to the residents along the whole line of road. The dwellers in the quiet little village of Walton have no reason to be thankful to the corporation for carrying the Liverpool gaol out in that direction, and the evil, is much aggravated in the winter months, the prisoners being released at an hour whilst it is still dark, there have been several cases of robbery both on the road to and in the village of Walton committed by these liberated incorrigibles.
The case of females who have been in prison is still worse in respect to the chances of reformation than that of males, from the more adverse circumstances with which they have to contend, and the difficulty of again succeeding in life when once the character is gone. "My interference" says the chaplain has very frequently been sought by both sexes, but especially by females, to obtain for them an asylum suited to their circumstances, or the means of employment on their discharge from custody. In few instances only have my offices availed, and in those few even I have been pained to witness some cases of disappointment. My experience has told me not to be too sanguine even under the most promising circumstances, but I have seen enough likewise, when appearances have been in the last degree discouraging, to justify the hope that were public interest and sympathy awakened in behalf of such unfortunates to a greater extent, and some effort made for their protection in the earlier stages of their crime, many might be saved from further degradation, and from the almost hopeless wretchedness incident to their mode of life." "It is true" he adds, "there are the Penitentiary and the Benevolent Institution for such characters, and the County House of Refuge for discharged female felons to whom the additional reproach of prostitution does not attach, the two former, however, are quite inadequate, the first mainly from the extreme, and needless stringency of its rules, the second owing to want of funds."
The stringency of rule referred to in respect of the Penitentiary is that admissions are allowed only one day a week, Tuesdays, and supposing a prisoner is discharged on any other day, there is the danger in the interval of her falling under the influence of one of her own companions. One young girl who had been leading a vicious course of life, and who, while in prison, resolved on her release to enter the Penitentiary, her discharge took place on a Wednesday and so strong was she in her determination that she voluntarily remained within the gaol till the following Tuesday came. She was then despatched in the charge of an officer to the institution, the chaplain was mortified to learn she left the Penitentiary the next day. The only explanation is the fact that on her way there a man who recognised her, and whom she recognised, presented himself at different points on the road, and the officer observed signs passing between them.
The Benevolent Institution is situated in Toxteth Park, the Magdalen Asylum is also open, on recommendation, but the establishment from which the chaplain receives most assistance in his benevolent efforts for the reformation of his criminal flock is the County House of Refuge, situated in Mount Vernon Green, Edge Hill, an institution admirably conducted, and most effective in its exertions to restore many who were "ready to perish" to usefulness and happiness.
Prisoners who live at a distance are generally on their discharge allowed a very small sum out of the gaol fund to help them on their way home. Sometimes one half of the cost is allowed by the parish, and the chaplain has a good arrangement with Mr ROUNTHWAITE of the City of Dublin, Company, for passing on at a diminished charge, on their release, such prisoners as may belong to the sister isle. Occasional grants are made in aid of any very special case out of the money of the police court poor box which is jointly administered by Mr MANSFIELD and the Mayor, but, unfortunately this fund, has so many pressing calls upon it that it is always at a low ebb. With the exception of these few small sources of uncertain revenue, the chaplain to give effect to his systematic benevolent efforts for the reformation of criminals, has to beg, but the best of friends gets weary of importunity, and he is largely out of pocket by the aid which he is continually rendering. Still he is not always without his reward. In one instance, two fine young girls who had been temporarily led astray found their way to prison. Almost uncontaminated by crime, they had no friends in Liverpool, and after their first false step nothing but ruin appeared to await them on their discharge. They had relatives, however, in the United States and there the girls were anxious to proceed, but lacked the means. The chaplain interested himself of their behalf, and as it was mid-winter when they were discharged they were sent in the first instance to the County House of Refuge, and in the spring means were raised for procuring them a free passage. They have been away for some time now, and it was difficult to say whether all the kindly efforts made on their behalf had not been thrown away, but the other day the chaplain had the gratification of receiving a letter from them :-
Lockport, September 14, 1857
Respeed friend you will think us very ungrateful not writing to you before this but realy we could not wright any soner for we wanted to get setled before we rote to you in the first place we ware 6 weaks on the sea and when we got to new york we learned that Lockport was 2 hundred miles further than we expced, so before we rote to uncle and receved an ancer we ware detaned. A weak in new york but we arived safe in lockport and found them all well, thank God for all is merceses to us, and all out frends ware very glad to see us, and we have every hopes of doing well and we have both got good situations, plase give our kind love to Mrs YOUNG and famely and I ham sure we will ever think of her kindnes towards us and I hope you will except the same, and with gods help we hope we will be able to reward you for your kindness to us, if you would please to right a fue lines to Mother to let her now we are safe hear you will dow us a great kindnes.
Respetely yours Mary S, and Elizabeth S.
Mrs YOUNG is the matron of the County House of Refuge.
Another instance showing the trust which is often placed in the good offices of the chaplain by discharged prisoners. A woman confined in the old gaol many years ago was sentenced to transportation, and was forwarded to Australia, leaving an only son behind her in this country. Behaving well in the colony, she was liberated after a time, and entered into service. In this situation she saved a little money, and forwarded to England a draft for £7 for her son. She had not known his address and so sent the money to the present chaplain of our Borough Gaol, accompanied by the singular explanation to that gentleman that she thought he would be the likeliest person to know where her son was, as in all probability he would be in prison. As to the son, whatever his training may have been, or whatever may have been those promising signs in youth which led the mother to form such a hopeful opinion of her child, the man appears to have falsified the promise of the boy, so far as the gaol of Liverpool is concerned and the chaplain had therefore no means of tracing him, though he advertised for him in the public papers, and adopted other means to discover his whereabouts. The writer had not sent her address and the money was therefore withheld till a claimant would appear. This year she wrote to the mayor, telling him of the sum she had forwarded to the former chaplain, and requested his worship to inquire as to its appropriation, and as to whether her son had been met with and what his circumstances were. This letter was handed to Mr CARTER, who has renewed his inquiries, but so far without effect.
Liverpool Mercury Nov 2nd, 1857
Extracts from Liverpool Life, Chapter XXX11
The Borough Gaol, Walton
The chapel at the gaol is situated immediately within the inner gates, although somewhat limited in its accommodation, it is a very fine and appropriate structure, plain, but decent, and lacking, to the extent of baldness, in any attempt at ornament, it may yet be pronounced beautiful, from the harmony of its parts and the evident excellence of the workmanship and materials. The body of the church is large enough for the accommodation of the whole number of male prisoners usually in gaol, and there is a gallery at the west end appropriated to the females. A small side gallery, has been put up on each side of the eastern entrance, one for the use of the governor, the other for the chaplain's family, and so situated that they command a view of the whole interior. The church is lighted by 8 sunburners, the ventilation in summer assisted by open windows. There are two services each Sunday. The male prisoners attend both, but as the gallery will accommodate only half of the female prisoners, a moiety attend the morning and the remainder the evening service.
About 10am the prisoners are released from their respective cells and marched under the charge of turnkeys in single file into the chapel, where they are told off into their various seats. A few debtors may be seen at one side, cut off from the view of the other prisoners by a blue curtain on a brass rod, privileged gaol aristocrats they seemed to be. A number of turnkeys turning their backs upon the pulpit and facing the prisoners, mount high stools, some in the midst of the prisoners, and from their commanding position are enabled to scrutinise the behaviour of every hapless wretch before them, woe betide the one who shall turn round, exhibit restlessness, let alone the slightest approach to disorder. There are about a dozen of these high seats in the body of the church, and each turnkey is assigned a certain number of prisoners to be kept closely under his eye, the system is certainly efficient, absolute silence reigned during the whole service, except when an old woman seemed seized with an hysteric affection, and was immediately removed. We must congratulate Mr CARTER on the extreme orderliness of his flock, there was an evident attention paid to every word which was uttered, quite startling in its effect.
There is a choir and small organ in the chapel, provided by the Town Council. Precisely at 10.30 am Rev Mr CARTER mounted the reading-desk and gave out the first hymn, "Awake, my soul, and early rise, And pay the morning sacrifice." The prisoners arose as one man at the appointed time, but very few, if any, joined in the singing of the hymn. The service proceeded, and the responses to the litany were intoned, but although each prisoner had a prayer book in his hand, very few joined in. The whole of the assigned prayers were gone through, including the communion service. The Reverend gentleman took his text from the 15th chapter and 28th verse of Matthew.
On observing the congregation during the sermon the great majority of the female prisoners appear young, and too many evidently belonging to a certain class. The saddest sight was to observe the several old women, whose age, and the fact of offence at such an age, pointed to one probability, the termination in prison of a worthless and dishonoured life. There were grey haired men, bald headed men, some wore spectacles, still the great majority appeared young fellows, in the very prime of manhood. Yet there was an evident air of debility about the majority, that characteristic shrinking of the head into the shoulders certainly argued little for the crotchet which some people entertain that the diet of the prisoners is abundant and that they lead pleasant lives. It was painful to observe the half-idiotic look of so many of them. The sermon over, and benediction pronounced the prisoners were marched back in the same order to their cells.
In respect to the position of the Roman Catholics in the gaol, they are excused, on special application, from attendance at the chapel. Amongst the defined duties of the governor is, "That upon the special application of a prisoner of a religious persuasion differing from that of the Established Church, he shall allow such prisoner to absent himself or herself from chapel, and in accordance with the spirit of the law, shall allow a minister of such persuasion, at the request of any such prisoner, to visit him or her in order to give him or her the instruction and counsel which he or she should otherwise receive in his or her class or private cell from the chaplain, under such restrictions to be imposed by the visiting justices as shall guard against the introduction of improper persons, and prevent improper communications."
The jealous contest which has for some time been carried on at the Select Vestry for the right of registration of the workhouse children as Protestant or Catholic does not yet seemed to have reached the gaol, where all is harmony, so far as polemics are concerned. Is there less anxiety for the salvation of a prisoner than a pauper ? At all events there are no competing claimants for the duty. Bearing on the is matter it is a fact that one-third of the population of Liverpool are Irish, the bulk of these being to the lower classes, one half of the prisoners committed will belong nominally at least to the Roman Catholic faith. How many plead conscientious scruples to escape attendance at the prison chapel ? At our attendance on the Sunday, out of 1,000 or so of the prisoners, only 14 males and 3 females!. We can readily suppose that under a separate system of confinement the prisoners look forward to the Sabbath services in the chapel, were it for no other reason than to break the dull monotony and routine.
The sacrament is administered by the chaplain at least four times a year. Formerly, when notice was given of it, a large number of prisoners wished to communicate, but no such profanity could be permitted and the number admitted each time rarely exceeds 20. The chaplain, astonished by the number of applicants for this Christian privilege, inquires not only to the state of mind, but the motives of the applicants, and it turned out that the general idea was that those who are communicants would immediately be placed upon a better diet! "Why do you wish to receive the sacrament now!" asked the chaplain of an Irish prisoner. "Well, sir, I will just tell you," was the reply, "I was in hospital some time ago, and took the blessed sacrament, and I got strong in the ankle joints, and well soon. I have been in bed for some time, bad in my back and stomach, and I thought if I took the sacrament it would do me good perhaps" "And why do you wish to receive the sacrament?" he asked another. "Well, indeed sir, " was the answer, "I have received a great deal of kindness whilst here, and I thought in only a proper compliment to pay you!"