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HOUSE OF COMMONS,
KING'S BENCH, FLEET, AND MARSHALSEA
THB COMMITTEE appointed to enquire into the State of
The King's BENCH, FLEET, and MARSHALSEA PRISONS, and to report their Observations thereupon, together with any Improvement which may be practicable therein; and who were empowered to enquire into the State of the New Prison, building in the City of London, for the reception of Debtors, and into the arrangements made for the better management of the Prisons of Newgate, Ludgate, Giltspur. street, and The Borough COMPTERS, since the Report of the Committee of This House, on those Prisons, in the Year 1814 :-HAVE, pursuant to the Order of the House, examined the Matter to them referred, and agreed upon the
following REPORT. Your Committee find the Marshalsea of the King's BENCH to be under the jurisdiction of the Court of King's Bench, and that it is a national and not a county prison. Persons arrested for debt, or confined under the sentence, or for contempt, of the Court, are imprisoned therein.
The Marshal is, at the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the King's Bench, appointed by the King, either by sign manual or. by letters patent, in virtue of the Act of the 27th of George the Second. William Jones, Esq. the present Marshal, was nominated by sign manual on the 19th of March, 1791, and he holds his office, according to the terms of the warrant, “for so long time as he shall behave himself well, and shall be resident within the walls or rules of the prison, and no longer."
There is no salary attached to the office of Marshal of the King's Bench; his income is derived from fees on commitments and disa charges, and from other sources, such as the rent of rooms in the prison, profits on the sale of porter, ale, and wine, the rent of the coffee-house, &c. &c.; but his principal emoluments arise from granting the rules, or the liberty of living without the walls of the prison, within a certain area. The average gross amount of revenue derived from these sources, may be estimated annually, for the last three years, at 5,0001. 15s. 8d. according to an account delivered in by the Marshal; the expenses and outgoings, including the payment of clerks, turnkeys, watchmen, taxes, &c. &c. are 1,7301. 9s. 6d. leaving a net income to the Marshal of 3,2701. 6s. 2d. To this must be added the fees taken on bails and judgments, which are calculated at 3201. per annum; making on the whole a sum of not less than 3,5901. Amongst these emoluments, that on beer sold in the prison amounts to 8721. and that on the rules to 2,8231. per annum.
The outgoings consist principally in salaries, taxes, and law expenses, and the small sum of 751. for repairs; though the Committee observe, that by the 17th clause of the 27th of George II. ch. 17. “ the Marshal of the Marshalsea of the King's Bench for the time being shall at his own cost and charges, by and out of the fees and profits incident to the said office, well and sufficiently repair, and keep in good-repair, the said prison, and all the buildings and appurtenances thereunto belonging.”
The officers of the prison are all in the appointment of the Marshal, and consist as follow:
The Deputy Marshal is Mr. Josiah Boydell : This gentleman has nothing to do with the management of the prison, and has no salary, but his emoluments arise from fees taken under the rules and orders of the Court, dated 1759, and which amount from 350. to 4001. per annum, and would, it is stated, be considerably increased, if the fees were not voluntarily relinquished in all cases of poverty and distress. The duties of this officer are to attend the Chief Justice in court, and to accompany him to the royal levees.
* It does not appear to Your Committee, that there is any clear distinction made between the repairs that are to be done by the Marshal, aod those that are te be executed by the Government.
The situation of Clerk of the Papers was held by a nephew of Mr. Jones, who is dead. No new appointment has taken place, but the Marshal receives the profits of the office, which, arising from fees, may
be estimated at from 6001. to 7001. per annum. The office of Clerk of the Rules is held by the Marshal himself ; who pays also three clerks fixed salaries. There are in addition, three turnkeys and four watchmen, whose incomes are derived partly from salaries and partly from fees and emoluments arising out of the prison.
The Chaplain is the Rev. William Evans, who is appointed by the Marshal : he has no salary, but he receives a fee on the commitment of each prisoner, which is paid to the Clerks of the Judges at their chambers.
The prison contains within the walls about 200 rooms, 8 of which are called state rooms, and are let for 2s. 6d. each per week, unfurnished; the remaining 192 are (or ought to be) occupied by the prisoners, who are compelled to pay weekly ls. for a single room, also unfurnished : if two persons live in the same room 6d. each, if three 4d. But the Marshal states, that he never demands any rent from those who are unable to pay. On a prisoner's arrival at the gate, he is called upon to pay his commitment fees, whịch amount to 10s. 2d. Your Committee, have been assured that, whether the fees be paid or not, he receives on demand a chum ticket (as it is called) which is a ticket of admission to some room in the prison. Your Committee however, observing that the Marshal seems to consider he has a right to refuse the ticket if the fees be not paid, think it essential to remark, that a question as to the legality of such a refusal was put to Mr. Templer, the visitant in 1791, and his answer was, “That any prisoner, immediately on going into prison, has a right to the possession of a room or a part of one, if any shall be found capable of receiving him, although at such time he should be unable to pay any fees.” The principle upon which this chummage takes place may be thus explained : Supposing the 192 rooms in the prison are occupied by one prisoner each, and there is an arrival of fresh persons, which in term time often occurs to the mber of 20 or 30 of a night, and chum tickets are demanded from the chum-master; if the prisoner so requiring a ticket is of decent appearance, and has the
air of good circumstances, one is given him upon a room already occupied by a person of his station in life; but if the applicant be poor, he receives his ticket upon a room held by one who is enabled to pay him out, that is to say, to give him so much per week, which generally amounts to 5s. whereby he yields to the existing occupier the whole right to his room, and pays for his lodgings with persons
of his own class and situation : so that it is not uncommon to find 6 or 8 persons of the poorer classes sleeping two in a bed, or on the floor, in rooms of the dimensions of 16 feet by 13 ; some also of these sleep at the tap on benches and tables, and as many as 48 have slept there at one time. The choice then of the chummage is thus perfectly optional with the chum-master, who is one of the turnkeys, and has the sole management of the business as far as the ordinary rooms are concerned; but those of a better description, from their situation, are considered as being at the disposal of Mr. Brooshooft, the first clerk to the Marshal, who has in point of fact the direction and management of the whole prison. The prisoner who has sold his share of his room is considered as entitled to re-enter it whenever he chuses to break the bargain, it lasting only for one week; but it appears in evidence that this right has been denied or is evaded, and that persons who have interest with the officers of the prison may either keep a room free from chummage, or prevent those who are chummed upon them from returning to their rooms, if the payment of 5s. per week be regularly made in this latter case, the person insisting on his right to return is shifted from his own room, and chummed on another.
No care seems to be taken to acquaint the prisoners, on their first entrance of the prison, that a chum ticket is to be obtained on application. Some have been several days within the walls, paying a heavy rent for their lodgings, before they learnt from their fellow prisoners that they had a legal right to a share of a room. The ordinary proceeding is for one of the turnkeys to take the prisoner on his arrival to the coffee-house, the master of which provides a room at the cost of about 3s. a night, or a lodging is engaged from some one of that numerous class of persons who, having been long in the prison, gain their livelihoods by letting out their own rooms, or their share of a room, to new comers. Eight and ten shillings