Merely Detained or Punished

By: Caitlyn Hayes,  Cornell Research
November 22, 2016

Prisoners of seventeenth and eighteenth century England made some surprising requests. One high-level political detainee in the Tower of London asked for a leave to take the spa waters at Bath. A Lancashire inmate complained that the beer sold in the prison was overpriced and brewed with brine. Prisoners wrote to magistrates about their lack of access to markets, the difficulties their wives and friends had in visiting them, and being cheated out of the money and beef donated for their benefit.

“How prisoners complain and what they complain about tell us a lot about their living conditions, their sense of what they were entitled to, and the complex power relationships between prisoner, jailers, and the authorities," says Rachel Weil, professor of history.

To read more about Weil's research, click here.

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