Debtors' Gaol, Halifax


General Points about the Debtors' Gaol

From 1662, the debtors' jail was next to The Duke of Leeds pub

on the left-hand side going down Gaol Lane and not far from Northgate

In 1706, the inmates had to pay 10/- a week for food and 2/- for their cell.

It was also known as the Gaol for the Court of Requests.

In 1711, there was an uproar at the jail in which

Prisoners brake the partition of the Gaole and was soe turbulent that ... stronger fortifications be erected

The additional work cost £15.

In 1845, it was written that

The prison is appurtenant to the Manor of Wakefield.

Up to within a few years, a public house called The Duke of Leeds was kept in connection with the gaol; but the union between the prison and a public house had wisely been dissolved.

The gaol is kept by F. Scott, bailiff of the Lord of the Manor

At the 1841 census, John Marchant and 7 members of his family were listed at the Gaol, along with 28 prisoners. Later in 1841, there were only 5 prisoners.

In 1842, the prisoners were boarded at rates of up to 1 guinea per week.

A Report by the Inspector of Prisons [1842] notes that, with reference to the general management of this discreditable gaol, the keeper states

There are no rules or orders sanctioned either by the magistrates or the officers of the Manor of Wakefield, for the regulation of the debtor's gaol in Halifax. There are no fees charges upon the prisoners. The only charges made are garnish money. 4/6d out of which 1/- is always deducted by the prisoners to purchase brushes, coal-skeps, or other necessaries required by them in their rooms, and the remaining 3/6d is expended among themselves in drink or eatables, as they may think proper. The charge for chamber money is 2/- per week, for beds and washing bed clothes etc, which beds and washing are found and provided for by the gaoler. There is no charge made for maintenance; each prisoner provides for himself, as he or his friends can afford and think fit. There is a sum of 40/- a year charged and payable out of some property in Halifax, to be expended in the purchase of bread for the use of the prisoners, and which is distributed to them the last Friday in each month proportionately. There is no other allowance for the gaol or prisoners. I have in a former Report strongly animadverted upon the impropriety of the combination of public house and prison, nor am I at all surprised at the outrageous circumstances of which it has been the theatre, seeing that the gaolers of these private jurisdictions are completely beyond the exercise of any direct superintendence or control

In 1851, there were 13 prisoners in the jail.

In the early 19th century, the 14 debtors detained in the jail had to pay £24 a year plus window tax. This was the jailer's only source of income.

The gaol closed in 1868 and was moved to Chapeltown.

The premises continued to be used as the Duke of Leeds Inn

Keepers of the Debtors' Gaol

Keepers and Governors of the gaol have included

Inmates of the Debtors' Gaol

Prisoners recorded at the Gaol have included

Chaplains of the Debtors' Gaol

The Chaplain of the Halifax Union Workhouse was also Chaplain of the Debtors' Gaol:

See Rev Thomas Markey

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 09:25 / 10th September 2021 / 8174

Page Ref: MMD369

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