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In Jail with Charles Dickens
written by "Trumble, Alfred"
... Chamber was abolished, the warden’s power of exacting enormous fees by putting in irons does not appear to have ceased also, for the wardens continued to exercise their tyranny, “not only in extorting exorbitant fees, but in oppressing prisoners for debt, by loading them with irons, worse than if the Star Chamber were still existing.” In 1696 the cruelties and the extortions of the wardens were made public, but it was not until 1727 that the enormity of the system of mismanagement came fully before the public, and indescribable was the excitement and horror it caused. A Parliamentary 97 committee was then appointed, and the result of their labors was the committal of Wardens Bambridge and Huggins, and some of their servants, to Newgate. They were tried for different murders, yet all escaped by the verdict of “Not Guilty.” Hogarth has, however, made them immortal in their infamy, in his picture of Bambridge under examination, whilst a prisoner is explaining how he has been tortured. Twenty years after, it is said, Bambridge cut his throat. In consequence of these proceedings the Court of Common Pleas, January 17, 1729, established a new list of fees to be taken, and modified the rules and orders for the government of the Fleet. The rents, perquisites, and profits of the office at the above period were £4,632 18s. 8d. per annum. James Gambier succeeded Bambridge in the wardenship, was succeeded by John Garth, and to him followed John Eyles, and in 1758 Eyles’s son succeeded him in the office, which he held for sixty-two years. He was succeeded in 1821 by his deputy, Nixon, who died in 1822. The next appointed was W. R. H. Brown, he being the last of the wardens of the prison. In the riots of 1780 the Fleet was destroyed 98 by fire, and the prisoners liberated by the mob; consequently a great part of the papers and prison records were lost, though there remain scattered books and documents of several centur...

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