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Home > Crime and Punishment in Durham > Prison Reform > The work of John Howard

 The work of John Howard

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Extract from The State of Prisons by John Howard, 1777. Click to enlarge.

Extracts from The State of Prisons in England and Wales by John Howard, 1777 (DUL ref: Winterbottom+ K2/1)


John Howard toured the country in the 1770s visiting many gaols, bridewells and houses of correction, including Durham. He published his findings in 1777 in a book entitled The State of Prisons in England and Wales. We are going to use his findings for Durham (an enlarged version of the source and a transcript are available) to see what the prison was like at the end of the eighteenth century.

1. Who works in the gaol?

2. The Gaoler received no salary so how did he make money from his job?

3. What was the maximum number of prisoners at the county gaol?

4. Does anything surprise you about the number of debtors and felons that were imprisoned at this time?

5. How did the Gaoler get his job? (Note: durante Beneplacito means 'during pleasure', ie for as long as the Bishop likes.)

6. If the Bishop runs the prison, what does that tell us about his role in the running of the county? Think about the law and criminals.

Finished? Move on to the next page to find out more about conditions in Durham Gaol.




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