THE TURN OF THE CENTURY
There is a gap in our knowledge about the immediate developments after 1860. No doubt more erudite researchers could fill some of that, but the Governor's Journal for the period 1898 to 1905 has also been preserved. They were not unfortunately so fulsome in their recording as Robert Hosking. It does give however, the Governor's first hand account of those issues he perceived as significant at the turn of a previous century. There is a lot of material to condense, and I have tried to make sense under various headings, the first being a generic title of `General Administration'. It might be worth reminding readers that this period spans 3 different Governors:
1891 – 1900J B Manning 1900 - 1905Capt F Johnson 1905 - 1920Major 0 E M Davies
What is interesting to note reading the whole of the Governor's Journal from 1989 to 1905 is how readily it mirrors the Journals still entered daily by current governors. Gone is the free flow recording of Robert Hosking, and the more staccato style of noting key events in brevity has become the common theme of each of the governors. This issues of note are not unexpected, the prison roll, deaths in custody, assaults on staff, leave, night visits, suicides, stores and cash checks, visits by Inspectors and meetings of Visiting Committee, destruction of property by prisoners. Notable differences from today include Quarterly Inspection of Quarters, weights and measures checked regularly every 6 months, the authorising special letters and suppression of letters, and corporal punishment and executions.
Pentonville was now as far as can be determined what we now regard as a local prison, receiving from a number of courts and moving prisoners on. Two issues in particular will be of pertinent note to current staff. `Prison lock-up delayed to 10.15 p.m. due to late arrival of a prisoner.' `Late locking up at 10.40 in consequence of late and larger receptions (94). All quiet and regular.' `I visited during evening and was present when last escort returned from Bedford at 10.45 p.m.' `Prison not closed to 11.15 on account of late arrival of 16 prisoners from West Ham Borough Sessions.'
The other feature was overcrowding. `Unlocked 1177, 20 transferred to Wormwood Scrubs, and 20 more tomorrow to ease pressure of numbers.' The entries continue for several weeks with large reception numbers and transfers regularly to Scrubs, St Albans, Bedford, Chelmsford and Ipswich, Maidstone, Northampton,
Leicester, Oxford, Reading, Lewes, and Cambridge.
There is a very odd entry for the 3 November 1989. `Eight Jews received from Wandsworth and 8 prisoners to Wandsworth in exchange.' There is no explanation given for this. It is known that Pentonville had (still has) a synagogue. Whether there is more to it is not revealed.
All this movement had its effect on the regime of the prison. An entry reads `Wheel (whether this was the treadmill is not clear, as its use had died out in many establishments by now, however any other explanation does not spring to mind) stopped due to paucity of officers, they being employed on escort.'
What also has happened somewhere along the line is that the original regime which was all single cells, has gone. The numbers tell us that there must be by now an element of doubling up, a situation that was only to get worse as the years roll on.
If we believe overcrowding is a modern phenomena then history will negate that view. In August 1899 the Governor reports `on account of the heavy receptions I was unable to locate all the prisoners in cells and was compelled to put 17 in the mattress shop to sleep.' This is a persistent problem `2 April 1902, 29 prisoners kept last night in the Reception Room there being no cell accommodation for them.'
The other entry that staff will recognise all to well reads `locking of prison delayed to 10.30 by the Orderly Officer PO Rees, not being able to make the numbers agree. It was a clerical error.' The other procedure that was still in place when I joined the service, but 'progress' has removed, is the way staff were acquainted with new instructions. 'Standing Order 32 read to officers on parade by the Chief Warder'.
Religion still featured largely in the life of the prison. Divine Services were still held a.m. and p.m. on a Sunday. By now the balance of the religious background to prisoners had changed and there was an RC Priest in post in addition to the Chaplain. It is also recorded that when on duty, the Governor attended both services. There is also a noticeable trend of the Governor gradually deputising the in-charge role to the Deputy Governor on a more frequent basis. The only event that prevented Chapel Services, was `smallpox'. This was a constant concern in the prison with outbreaks occurring every so often. Even so it is only briefly recorded '15 April 1902' Chapel and Prisoners Visits discontinued till further orders on MO recommendation `smallpox'. `1 May 1904 no services on account of smallpox'.
The only other event recorded that ever prevented Chapel was a fire in October 1904. `A fire broke out in the carpenters shop at 5.30 a.m..; it was extinguished by about 7 a.m. but not before the roof had been destroyed at the East end. In consequence of the fire there was no service in the Chapel and the officers returned from breakfast 15 minutes later than usual.
Although it did not affect Chapel, the other feature of the time was the incident of thick fog in November and December particularly. This had the effect of all outdoor work being stopped on these occasions.
It is clear that by this period there was a Prison Commission (the equivalent of today's Prison Board), and some of the appointees were specialists such as the Medical or Controller of Industries. It is not clear whether there was a separate Inspectorate, as the Journal appears to use the title Commissioner or Inspector inter¬changeably. What is evident is that they visited regularly and would enquire into the administration of the prison in some detail. They would see prisoners, and staff on a full parade and all stores and cash would be checked. The Medical Commissioner would inspect the diet, the feeding arrangements and the state of the kitchen as well as more direct medical matters. The `Chairman and Controller of Industries', was particularly interested in associated labour. On 22 June 1899 there was a full scale visit: `The Secretary of State Sir Matthew White Ridley, Sir Llewelyn Rigby, Under Secretary, Mr Ruggles Brise, Chairman of the Prison Commissioners, Colonel Beamish, Surveyor, and Mr Duncan, Controller of Industries, visited at 10.30 to see the workings of associated labour and to observe the effects of different systems of lighting in the cells.'
There appears that the Commissioners were interested in every facet of the prison. `On 24 December 1900 Mr Turpin from Head Office, visited the prison and had an interview with me respecting the airing and pressing of prisoners private clothing.' Clearly these were now retained and stored and not sold off as they were in 1842.
It might be felt that the interest of the media into prisons is a modern phenomena. This is clearly not the case, it is recorded on 10 November 1898, that a Mr A Hickman, Editor of the Woodford Mail visited the prison for the purpose of writing an article. It will become apparent a little later on at an early date the press became quite invasive.
Having to produce prisoners for court has always placed a heavy demand on resources. This applied just as much a century ago. The desire of the Governor to get the escorting staff back as soon as possible is fully illustrated by a magical entry in 1899. `Prisoner John Bishop left for Liverpool to attend County Court. After his departure a telegram was received from the solicitors to say the case was settled. I therefore stopped the escort by telegram at Rugby and they returned to the prison in the evening.' One great advantage of the telegram system and using trains for escorts!
It is clear that the Governor and senior staff worked long hours. The added imposition of having to make frequent night visits, is clearly something that was something of an irritation. Even at this stage, the Governor would find excuses for not doing so. Each missed visit had to be recorded. This became even more pronounced with later governors. However even Manning and Johnson found excuses on occasion. `Did not visit at night last week due to an inflamed foot.' `Did not visit at night last week due to a heavy cold.' It was not just `adversity' that prevented such visits. `I endeavoured to visit at 11.30 last night, but after pulling the bell for about 15 minutes I failed to make the Gatekeeper hear, which shows that communication is by no means perfect.' Again a month later, `Tried to visit the prison at night, but could not rouse the Gatekeeper, the bell not working.'
Another event involving the night period is quite revealing of the compassion that existed despite a more severe regime. The mother of George Hunston who is dying in the hospital arrived from Amsterdam and when visiting her son at 6 p.m. expressed a great desire to remain with him until the end, this was agreed. I agreed until locking up time, then visited and allowed her to remain in the hospital. He died in the hospital at 4 a.m.., and as his mother could not speak good English, she remained in the hospital until after unlocking.
It was not just night visits that necessitated the Governor coming into the prison at night. It would appear that fines could be paid at any time of the day or night. `The outer gate was opened at 11.30 to receive fine for 730 Hill. An assistant warder had to go for the Deputy Governor at 12.30, returning at 12.45. The Deputy Governor came in at 12.50 to let the man out and the prison was locked up again at 12.55. The parties paying the fine were very abusive of the Gatekeeper, and the prisoner himself did not wish to be disturbed, would have preferred to remain to 9 a.m. the next day and get a reduction in fine.' `Gate opened at 1.10 a.m. to let out prisoner 1180 on payment of fine.' `Outer gate opened at 12.47 to pass messenger out for the D/G and at 12.55 to pass him and the prisoner out whose fine was paid. Woman paying the fine was drunk.' The problems of ensuring the correct prisoner was released have always been there: `A woman came to pay the fine of Thos Daly. Just before he left she said `This is not my husband' so he was kept. The real Thos Daly came later and was released at 6.40 p.m. The commitments were identical.'
The other aspect of administration that was still undertaken centrally and regarded as significant enough to record in the Journal, was that of the granting of special letters and the suppression of abuse in correspondence. Letters were only allowed infrequently, so the number of requests for special letters was numerous. Each appears to have merited an entry. The length prisoners would go to obtain such a privilege is illustrated by an entry, in this case for a visit, but the same issues prevail. `Special visit granted to G Bell for death of child. Visit not sent as an enquiry with police reported reason was false.' The manipulative nature of prisoners does not change! Letters were strictly about family matters only; any deviation from that led to the letter being withheld. `Suppressed letter without name or address, and continuing news about betting.' 'Para removed from letter to C Singleton'. `It is a great shame that such bad food should be supplied to you, it is slow starvation considering the amount of flesh you have lost since you have been there.' `Struck out of the letter of Alfred John Child' `and to have to endure on each occasion the posing of a pedantic old parson.' `Letter by J Belcher suppressed and forfeited on account of its insolent and insubordinate nature.' `Letter to G Wilson returned to writer as it contained news of the day `Russia v Japan', Whittaker Wright's trial and suicide, and a reference to the Secretary of State re prisoners' complaints.' `The following passage obliterated from letter to W H Stiles.' `I hear nothing about Burgess and fear no-one seems strong enough to move the powers that be, you now have Col Lynch in the condemned cells, of course he won't be hanged but I think he will get a long time.'
It is slightly ironic that passages that were removed from prisoners' correspondence and never saw the light of day have been preserved for posterity in this way. The last entry also indicates the other major change at Pentonville. From 1902 it became a `hanging prison' taking over this function from Newgate. The entries in the Journal on this are so prosaic that it gives the impression it was not seen as particularly significant, just part of the job. The very first entry just records simply, `John McDonald who was convicted of wilful murder at CCC and sentenced to death was placed in my custody today.' The next entry reads, `The executioners rope was tested today in my presence.' Two days later `A second executioners rope was tested today in my presence.' `The Under Sheriff and I superintended the testing of the Executioners Apparatus by Billington at 5 p.m.' '30 September 1902. Execution of John McDonald took place at 9 a.m. in the presence of myself, the Under Sheriff and Medical Officer. Coroners inquest at 12.30 p.m. which I attended, Billington was the Executioner, Pierrepoint assisted him.'
The details of the second execution were entered with equally little fuss. `23 October Henry Williams under sentence of death was received at 9.55 p.m.' 27 October Mr R R Metcalf Acting Under Sheriff arrived at 11.30 a.m. and informed Henry Williams of the day and hour fixed for his execution.' `11 November, Henry Williams execution at 9 a.m. in the presence of myself, Dr Wilson and Under Sheriff. Coroners Inquest at 2 p.m. Verdict `he died at Pentonville Prison according to the laws and was duly executed and died from Fracture of the Vertebrae and Separation of the Spinal Column instantly.'
Two other areas of administration are of interest. There was a fire party of both staff and prisoners, they practiced on a weekly basis. `Fire hydrants, hose and fittings tested and fire parties of officers and prisoners exercised in use of them.' The speed and efficiency of such parties is to be envied. `The fire appliances were tested and found in good order, fire bell rung at 1.59 the officers at once assembled and water playing on Reception roof at 2.2 p.m..'
Secondly, due vigilance against fraud has been ever with us. `A meeting of Discharged Prisoners Aid Society Sub-Committee held at 11 a.m. The Secretary Major Higginson was suspended pending investigation of his accounts.' `I attended a meeting of DPAS at Mr Justice Wills Chambers at 4.15. The Secretary of the Society was told that proceedings would be taken against him. for falsification of accounts.'
The great disappointment was the lack of significance about the entry in respect of the momentous event of the turn of the century on 31 December 1899. It simply records `Jan 1st 1900, visited last night - all correct except that the entrance door to the infirmary was on the single.'
Although the Prison Act of 1877 had transferred all prison establishments from local to central government, it is still a surprise to see the degree of mobility amongst staff. `April 1898 Compounder W H Windsmill joined on transfer from HM Convict Prison Portland.' `June 1898 Asst Warders George Thomas Applegate and Joseph Groves joined on transfer from Chelmsford.' `1 September G E Clark joined transferred from Bedford, and Assistant Warder D Williams transferred to Liverpool'. `8 May 1999 Mr Dodd from Durham joined as Chief Warder.' '15 Sept Principal Warder David Jones transferred to HMP Lincoln on promotion to 3rd Class Chief Warder.' `George Rees joined from HMP Plymouth on promotion to Principal Warder.'
Deputy Governors appeared to come and go with a degree of rapidity;
Feb 24 1899 - Lieutenant Lionel Saunders joined as Deputy Governor, Vice Major Cotterell transferred to Borstal on promotion.
June 27 1899 - Capt Eccles joined as D/G, Vice L Saunders who was paid up yesterday inclusive and transferred to Wormwood Scrubs.
April 17 1900 - Capt Eccles, D/G, paid up to this date inclusive and struck off strength on transfer to Borstal Prison.
May 8 1900 - Capt Grenville Edwyn Temple joined as D/G from Hull Prison.
Sept 2 1901 - Capt Temple struck off register on transfer. Capt Holland joined on transfer from Parkhurst.
April 30 1902 - Capt Holland on duty at Holloway until further orders.
May 16 1902 - Mr Blake joined the Prison as Deputy Governor on temporary duty.
Jan 3 1903 - F W H Blake, D/G transferred to Borstal Prison.
5 April 1903 - Maj E R Reade joined service yesterday on appointment as Deputy Governor.
July 13 1904 - Major Reade transferred to Dartmoor.
Oct 7 1904 - Major James Stuart Knox joined from Chelmsford as D/G vice Major Reade.
Not only were the staff mobile, they were clearly expected to go where directed or face the consequences. `29 July 1899 I have suspended from duty by order of the Commissioners A N V Willesford for gross insubordination in refusing to go to Wakefield when ordered.' `1 August 1899 Asst Warder Willesford dismissed from the service and paid up to 31st Aug for gross insubordination.' Other staff were suspended and dismissed for more recognisable offences. `Warder Russell suspended from duty for coming into the prison drunk and bringing a bottle of rum with him.' `Asst Warder G A Woods suspended for trafficking.'
Pentonville also received staff as it appears to have been a training centre for healthcare staff. '18 April 1898 probationary nurse who had been under instruction at the hospital since 14 February left to report to Portland Prison.' `11 July 1898 Asst Warden Richard Grimshaw from Newcastle, and Asst Warden J W Knight from HMP Winchester joined for 2 months instruction in Hospital nursing.'
Pentonville also appears to have taken the lead in catering. `Asst Warden W Davis from Holloway joined for instruction in cooking and baking.' Other establishments specialised in other aspects `Asst Warder Slater returned from being instructed in basket making at Dartmoor Prison.'
Pentonville was also a hub for those appointed as Governors. `March 1898 Major R William Andrews reported himself here for a fortnights duty before taking up his appointment as Governor of the Military Prison Cork.' `June 1898 Major G A Penrhys-Evans, Governor Malta Military Prison reported himself here for a fortnight's instructional duty.'
The hours worked by the Governor and the demands upon him were considerable. They appear to have taken their toll upon the health of a number of them. Although J B Manning is technically recorded as the Governor until 1900, he appears to have been off sick for most of 1899, and Capt Johnson appears to have assumed the mantle from 16 Feb 1899. He himself soon appears to ail and is off sick with lumbago, his wife was seriously ill and his sister died. He missed a number of night visits due to ill health, and sometimes came in late, delegating rounds to the D/G. What is also of note is that the Governor had to reside in his official quarters permanently and required authority to be away. '1901, I slept away from my prison house yesterday, and will continue to do so for the next 3 nights the same having been approved.'
The other snippet of information gleaned from the Journal is that the Governor now had one afternoon off a week. 'Tues 4 July 1905, took my afternoon off today instead of Wednesday as the Governor of Chelmsford is coming.'
It is known by this time that Pentonville was a busy local, receiving up to 90 prisoners on some days, and repeatedly having to arrange overcrowding drafts to make space. There is little reference to the behaviour of prisoners, such incidents that did occur have a familiar ring, i.e. roof climbing and escape. `5 December 1901, 4732 Daniel Tayney a patient under observation in hospital rushed from his cell when the door was opened to collect slops, ran across the Infirmary exercise yard and climbing up to the ventilating pipes at the corner of B Hall got onto the roof where he remained all day and all night. I visited the prison at 10.15 p.m. remaining to after midnight, the Chief Warden was in from 10.55 p.m. till 3.15 a.m.., but prisoner refused to descent from the roof.' 6 December, Being cold, hungry and thirsty Tayney came down from the roof of A Hall at 12.05 p.m.’
`Saturday 1 October 1898 - 1749 George Smith employed as a stoker in the Bake House effected his escape about 6.15 this morning, he had been instructed with a ladder to clean the walls and the top of the ovens. He passed the ladder through the coke shoot which had not been properly fastened, mounted the boundary wall, dropped into the Governor's garden and got away. He was chased for some distance by a free labourer. Search parties were sent out and information circulated amongst the police and a Report sent to the Commissioners.' 4 October Major Clayton, Inspector of Prisons attended and made enquiries into the escape.' `22 October George Smith who escaped was captured yesterday and brought back to Pentonville today.' Clearly escapes were regarded with the utmost seriousness and inquired into at the highest level.
The most unfortunate prisoner was a Mr Gedasky, '13 May, Israel Gedasky dropped down dead at 4 p.m. as he was walking to the front gate for discharge, his sentence having expired.'
Other information is a bit scant. Some indication about priorities can be gleaned from references to correspondence and visits. `Refused a visit to 898 George Deans from 5698 George Smith released on 13 September.' `Suppressed letter from discharged prisoner 6881 Hills on account of it being about other thieves.'
`Suppressed letter to W Silby who complains of his treatment.' `Allowed Bernard Abrahams to write a special letter and send notice of proceedings to strike him off the role of solicitors.' `Allowed Mrs Laws to have an interview with her husband respecting the disposal of a brewery.' `George Sullivan special letter about property, he having no chance of making arrangements before conviction.'
In addition to capital punishment, corporal punishment remained in place in prisons, although it had ceased in public in 1861. The extent of its use was much more limited than might be expected. It is clear that the use of corporal punishment had to be recorded in the Governor's Journal, a typical entry is; `16 March 1898 Thomas O'Rourke, 20 lashes with a cat pursuant to sentence of Central Criminal Court. The punishment inflicted at 11.05 a.m.. by Asst Warders Rochester and Hays in presence of Medical Officer, Chief Warden and myself.' `4 April 1898 Arthur Matthews received 15 strokes of the cat'o'nine tails pursuant to sentence of CCC.' There is no reason to believe that entries were not made, in which case the use of corporal punishment in this period was 1898, 12 occasions, 1899, 15 occasions, 1900, 2 occasions, 1901, 9 occasions, 1902, 2 occasions, 1903, only 1 occasion, 1904, 4 occasions. The majority of these were imposed by the Court as part of the sentence, the norm appears to be 20 lashes with the cat. There were occasional exceptions when a Court inflicted a punishment of the birch rod instead of the cat. `Oct 19th 1899, Corporal punishment Frederick Scorrar, 12 strokes birch rod pursuant of court order.' The Medical Officer could remit the full punishment. `Alfred Payne 4 strokes inflicted, the remaining 16 strokes being remitted by the MO.' `7 strokes with cat'o'nine tails inflicted on Timothy Bryan, the remaining 13 strokes remitted by order of the MO, the prisoner having fainted.'
The Governor had no power to authorise corporal punishment, but the Visiting Committee did have such authority, but invariably they authorised birching, and normally for a serious assault on staff. This was not that common, being used on a single occasion in most years, the exception being 1900, 5 occasions and 1904, 4 occasions. `24 September, monthly meeting of the VC 3457 J Churchill sentenced to 18 strokes with the birch rod.' `2 June 1899 Corporal punishment of 18 strokes with the birch rod inflicted at 11 a.m.. on Charles Clark pursuant to sentence passed by Visiting Committee and confirmed by Secretary of State.' `29 November 1900 Special meeting of VC held at 3.30 for trial of 2 prisoners who had assaulted officers.' `5 December corporal punishment of 19 strokes with the birch inflicted at 11.30 on the two prisoners for assaults on officers.'
The Visiting Committee, made up of local magistrates were in place at all prisons even before Nationalisation. Pentonville being the first centrally funded and administered prison had commenced with a Board of eminent Commissioners. At some date unknown, this had reverted to a Visiting Committee.
All serious adjudications were referred to the VC, not just assaults. `8 June 1899 Henry White esq, Chairman, and Messrs Harsley and Reynolds, met at 3 p.m.. and tried John Churchill for attempting to make a hole through his cell wall with a view to escape. Sentence 14 days close confinement and No 1 diet.' `Tuesday 21 August 1900 Henry White, Chairman, CFC Whitley Esq, CF de Salis and W Reynolds visited to try a prisoner for assaulting Asst Warder, at 2 p.m.. Usual monthly meeting at 3 p.m..' `19 September 1904 VC met at 2.30, 3 prisoners to be tried. A Ramsay 9 days No 1 CC and forfeit 84 marks, J Mitchell 3 days No 1 CC and forfeit 42 marks, J Collins - not tried - medically unfit.' A further reminder that the Medical Officer had to medically fit all prisoners for adjudication.
As well as adjudications, the VC heard prisoners applications. There is little recorded about this but it is mentioned, 2 prisoners requests were refused but the third was `conditionally recommended'. It is also of note that when restraints were used upon a prisoner (even where it was to prevent the prisoner injuring himself) the VC had to be informed. It would appear that after a certain period they had to authorise it. It is also clear, that in addition to the monthly Board meetings there were weekly rota visits by the members who had to make a written report. `7 October 1904 A Preston Esq, Visiting Magistrate, visited the prison but was taken ill suddenly and unable to make any record of his visit.' It is also recorded that the VC took bail recognisance’s for the prisoners. `J Thornley Esq, Visiting Magistrate, visited the prison to take bail of 339 J Fowler.'
Perhaps the strangest function apportioned to the VC was that of certifying prisoners insane. `15 November 1898 monthly meeting of VC, 9422 Brown certified insane.' `March 1903 J Thornley Esq, Magistrate, visited to certify a prisoner insane.' `Jan 1904 Sir John Heron Maxwell, Visiting Magistrate, visited and certified 3 prisoners insane.' `22 August 1905 Martin Latham, Chairman, and Walter Reynolds Esq, members of the VC, attended at 3 p.m.. to enquire into the medical condition of No. 6643 a convict from Dorchester and certified him insane.'
The other point of note is that the Visiting Committee always met for the monthly Board Meeting on a Tuesday. The Board of Visitors who superseded the VC still meet on a Tuesday at Pentonville, preserving the tradition for at least 100 years.
When the prison opened, all prisoners were medically checked to ensure they were fit for the regime at Pentonville. The number of deaths in prison was therefore low, but by the 1850s insanity was a problem. As is recorded earlier, measures were taken to combat this with positive results. By 1898 Pentonville was receiving a `normal' mixed population from the courts. The state of the general health of prisoners is not known. What is known is that the number of deaths in prison had escalated. The number of deaths per year is tabulated as follows:
Deaths in Custody
1898 Nil 1902 7 1899 5 1903 7 1900 6 1904 9 1901 6 1905 (up to Oct) 5
Of these 45, all of them were natural deaths bar one which was a suicide by hanging. A number of the deaths had excess alcohol consumption as a contributing factor. `Coroners inquest on 13257 Campbell, he died from the effects of coma from cerebral serious apoplexy accelerated by habits of intemperance.' `Coroners inquest on 37 year old Eltoni Giovanni Ferrari, died of Syncope from Internal Haemorrhage when suffering from Cirrhosis of Liver, Brights Disease, and Epileptic Fits accelerated by alcohol excess.' `James Watkins died from Sudden Cardiac Failure when suffering from Delirium Pressures the result of excess Alcoholism.' `Died from exhaustion when suffering from Chronic Cirrhosis of the liver accelerated by Alcoholic Excesses.'
Some prisoners clearly were received in a bad state of health. `Feb 1899 David Smith admitted late last night for 5 days for drunkenness died at 5 a.m.. in the hospital.' `James Campbell received this afternoon was found dead in his cell at 7 p.m..' It has to be recalled that there were no free medical services at this time, some prisoners who were sick, volunteered to remain in prison in order to receive further medical treatment. `Prisoner 12155 whose time expired today unable to leave hospital at present.' `John Morgan died at 1.15 p.m.. in the infirmary - his sentence had expired but he was too ill to move.'
Other causes of death as recorded by the references to Coroners Inquests included. `Died from Syncope and Exhaustion when suffering from consumption.' `From Cancer of the Liver.' `Died from Syncope when suffering from Epilepsy accelerated by the excessive heat.' `Exhaustion when suffering from influenza and chronic bronchitis.' `Cardiac Failure'. `From Syncope when suffering from serious apoplexy, acute nephritis and congestion of the lung.' `Pernicious Audnia'. `Cerebral apoplexy.' `Acute pneumonia.' `Exhaustion and Septiomia following an abscess in the inner ear.' `Heart disease and Rheumatic Fever.' `Acute disease of the Liver and Jaundice.' `Cardiac Failure from Aortic Disease of the Heart.' 'Brights Disease of the Kidneys.' `Acute Meningitis following Cystincereus of the Brain.' `Haemorrhage into the Pericardium from rupture of the right Aureole of the Heart.' `Cancer of the stomach and diseases of internal organs.' `Cancer of the Pancreas.' `From Coma and Convulsions caused by Wroenic poising, when suffering from Brights disease of the Kidneys.' `Meningitis following syphilitic disease.' 'Feural tuberculosis.' `Cancer of the liver.' `Chronic syphilitic disease.' `Aortic Disease of the Heart.' `Delirium Tremors and habit of intolerance.' `Cardiac Failure when suffering from Fatty Degeneration and Atrophy of the Heart.' `Aneurysm of the descending Aorta.'
The 17 December 1904 was quite a dramatic day; `At unlocking No 5177 was found dead in his cell sitting on his chamber pot, 1/2 dressed and quite hot. He had died from a rupture of the Aneurysm of the Aorta.' Then at 1.50 p.m.. No 12385 hanged himself. This is the only record of a suicide in this 6 year period. The Inquest summary reads; 'C.W.(47) found dead in his cell and died from Asphyxia being suspended by the neck by his handkerchief from a peg in his cell and did commit suicide when of unsound mind.'
There were a number of incidents of prisoners threatening suicide, at least 50 in the six year period. A typical example was; `3940 rushed out of his cell and jumped over the railing of B5 and was caught in the netting without injury and was taken to the hospital where he was confined in a loose canvas restraint jacket to prevent injury to himself.' This was standard procedure for any prisoner who was indicating suicidal or self harm tendencies and it was authorised by the Medical Officer. `9 April 1898 C R Confined to lose canvas restraint jacket by order of Medical Officer to prevent him committing suicide.' Some prisoners were very persistent in their desire; 31 July E B canvas restraint jacket under order of MO to prevent him injuring himself.' Aug 4 E B restrained in the body belt by order of MO. Released August 7 at 6.45 p.m.. August 21 E B 1 canvas restraint jacket 11 a.m.. order of MO to prevent injury. Removed 4.20 p.m.. Sept 8. A long saga, but it appeared to work as no further reference is made to this prisoner. The alternative to the loose canvas restraint jacket was the use of the `figure 8 cuffs.' `2 Nov T D restrained in figure 8 cuffs at 8.30 a.m.., then in a straight jacket by MO having threatened to hang himself. Released 5 November at 1.30.' `J C figure 8 cuffs to prevent him doing violence to himself.' Whatever view is taken of
the measures adopted, it remains of note that only 1 prisoner actually took his own life in the 6 year period.
The only other medical statistic of note is that relating to insanity. This had been a cause for concern in the 1850s. In this period there are only 3 recorded cases. `Feb 1898 M C certified insane and removed to Colney Hatch Asylum by Order of the Secretary of State.' `2 Sept 1898 Morton Latham Esq, V C inspected prison as weekly visitor and signed certificate of insanity of 3940.' `25 January 1899 lunatic J M B despatched to Hawell Asylum.'
Most medical conditions were dealt with in the Prison Infirmary. There were 2 clear exceptions to this which appeared to create a degree of fear and dread. The first was scarlet fever, and the second smallpox. `9 March 1898 A V serving 14 days, having developed scarlet fever was released by Order of the Secretary of State and removed to North Eastern Hospital, St Annes Road, Tottenham.' `6 March 1902 T S removed at 8.15 p.m.. to smallpox hospital ship at Long Reach off Dartford.' `22 March A F removed to smallpox Hospital Ship.' `1 June 1902 1 to Smallpox Hospital.'
That some things never change, and that the various parts of the Criminal Justice System do not always communicate with each other, is illustrated by a Rider made by the Jury at an Inquest in July 1901; `Having heard in evidence that the deceased prisoner at the time of his commitment was in a very dangerous condition of health, and that the medical evidence to that fact was given at the Sessions Court, we strongly advise that in such cases the Court should rule that the Medical Officer of the prison should be so informed and a copy of the medical evidence etc should accompany the prisoner.'
That was 100 years ago, and we are still endeavouring to achieve it!.