The Common Gaol for the County was at Nottingham. The keepers or custodians of the Gaol named in the Records are:

1606    Ralph Low
1613    William Low
1613    John Sturtivant (late Master of the House of Correction)
1659    Robert White
1686    James Martin

There were also other officers with duties of oversight and inspection of the gaol:

On 2nd October, 1654, John Graves, one of the Chief Constables of the Wapentake of Rushcliffe, was nominated "to have the oversight of the Gaole in ye place of Mr. John Story."

On 19th April, 1658, an Order was made that Nathan Newton one of the Chief Constables of Broxtowe Wapentake "doe take upon him the over-sight of ye Comon Gaole for this County for the Cuntrys weekly allowance for bread for the prisoners therein and to see the same duly distributed, instead of Mr. W. Jackson, Chief Constable."

On 12th July, 1680, an Order was made to pay £5 to Mr. Thos. Cooke "for his care in inspecting the Gaole."

There are a large number of Orders in the latter part of the century for payment of sums for the supply of "Bread to the Gaole, for the Reliefe of the poor prisoners therein."

On the 21st July, 1630, the following Order is entered in the Records:

"At Assizes held at Nottingham 15th July, 6 Car. I., 1630. fforasmuch as it appeareth to us that a very great charge is laid uppon the Countrey, by allowing bread to all or most of the prisoners in His Majts gaole within this County, not haveing regard to their necessity and wants wee have therefore agreed that hereafter noe prisoner comitted to the Gaole for debt shall have any allowance of bread or other thinge from the Countrey unles it be graunted and allowed him by foure Justices of peace of the same County neere adjoyneing to the place where the prisoner dwelt, under their hands nor in such case if it may better appeare to the Justices of Peace at their quarter Sessions after, that he hath of his owne, whereupon conveniently to releeve himself, and they see cause to withdraw the same allowance.

Which we have thought fit to declare under the hands," &c, &c.

The following entries relate to the expense of maintaining prisoners in the gaol:

On 19th April, 1604, the Constable of Tuxford was ordered "to sell instantly for a reasonable price the goods and chattels of John Barker, of Tuxford, butcher, and the monies thus obtained to send to the gaol at Nottingham for the relief and necessary maintenance of the same John, there expended."

On 1st October, 1632, William Boardman convicted for perjury and sent to gaol was ordered to be liberated "by reason of his indigence by which he is likely to be burdensome to the County for his maintenance there," and was ordered to stand in the pillory at Mansfield in the next market day there for the space of an hour together.

On 13th April, 1655, a man was ordered to pay 18d weekly "towards the reliefe of his wief now prisoner in ye County Gaole."

There were a number of Orders for the removal of prisoners from the County Gaol to the House of Correction, there to be set at work, &c.

The following entries are in reference to the repair of the County Gaol:

On 4th October, 1613, an Order was made to collect £4 3 4 for repaire of the gaole.

On 7th January, 1659-1660, Petition of Robert White, gentleman, keeper of His Matie Gaole for this County showing "yt ye said Gaole was in parte ffallen down and other parte thereof soe Ruynous that there wanted Roome and conveniency both for habitacon and safe custody of ye prisoners therein whereby some escape of prisoners had been, and others very likely to happen. By ye approbacon of his Excellency ye Lord Marquesse of Newcastle Lord Leiftenant of this County and by ye appointment and direction of ye most of ye Justices of Peace ffor this County It was referred to Clifford Clifton, Henry Sacheverell and Robert Harding Esqres whoe have certified ye contents of ye said Petition to be true, and they finde ye charge of building Repaires of ye said Gaole will at ye least amount to ye some of £300." An Order was made to raise this sum in the several Hundreds.

On the 12th July, 1686, there is a note that the "County Gaol at Nott much out of repaire," and an Order was made to levy £9 1 1 for such repair.

On the 10th January, 1686-1687, complaint of Mr. Martyn that "ye walls belonging to ye Gaol yard are to low and yt several bricks therein are decayed. And he having some prisoners now in custody yt are desperate and will leave noe means unattempted to make their escape," an Order was made to "heighten the walls."

On the 4th April, 1687, £12 8 2 was paid for repairing the Gaole.

On 3rd August, 1692, there was a payment of £14 3 0 unto Thos. Vickers mason, Hunt Shepperd, blacksmith, Stephen Wragg, carpenter, and Francis Wells, glazier.

On 19th October, 1694, £20 was estreated on Bassetlaw Hundred for repair of the County Gaol at Nottingham.

On 4th October, 1697, £5 15 8 was paid for repairing the County Gaole.

On 7th April, 1699, a payment of £66 3 was made "for Cisterns and Pipes and other Instruments for conveying fresh water to ye County Gaole."


In the seventh year of the reign of James I. (1609), an Act was passed which required that there should be a House of Correction in every Shire to set idle persons to work. A governor or master was to be appointed of every house so provided. The governor was to have power to set rogues, &c. to work and to punish them "by putting fetters or gives upon them, and by moderate whipping of them."

On the 30th September, 1611, the following entry appears:

"John Sturtivant, of Norwell, gentleman, according to the form of Statute 7 Jas. I. is now elected named and constituted by this Court here to be the governor or Master of the House of Correction at Southwell now sought for, erected, and provided for the said County to make and do in the same House all and singular those things which are in this matter by rigour of the Statute specially enjoyned."

The first master was in office for a short time only when he was appointed Governor of the County Gaol, as appears by the following entry on 10th January, 1613.

"At this Sessions the Constable of the Court complained that John Sturtivant lately chosen master or governor of the House of Correction at Southwell, by negligence and default permitted divers vagabonds delivered to him by warrant of the Justices to go at large and escape within the space of a year to the terror of the lieges of the lord the King and the no small grievance of the Country while the said John Sturtivant had nothing else to attend to. And that the said John Sturtivant had now taken upon himself the custody of the gaol for the County of Nottingham and especially applied himself to the care of it so that he could not attend to the custody of the House of Correction as diligently as is needful." An Order was made that John Sturtivant be immediately removed from the custody of the House of Correction, and John Lund, of Lambley, yeoman, was chosen and appointed Master and Governor in his stead.

The office of Governor or Master was held as follows:

1611 to 1613 John Sturtivant.
1613 to 1622 John Lund, Lambley, yeoman
1622 to 1632
Edward Issott, Bulcote, yeoman
1632 Edward Herne, of Bulcote, gentleman elected "by the general voice of all the Justices in open Court"
Samuel Thompson, gent., in reference to whom the following entry appears on the 3rd April, 1654: "Whereas Samuell Tompson, gent., was heretofore placed by Order of Sessions to be Master of the House of Correction and in pursuance thereof did take an house in Newark and gave his attendance from time to time upon the said service and hath neglected his other employment. Ordered that another person be master of the Correction house."
1654 John Herring, of Southwell, appointed
1660 (After the Restoration) George Taylor, of Gonalston, yeoman, elected
1685 Mr. Roger Conde elected.

In 1619 Rules and Regulations in regard to the House of Correction were made as follows:

At Assizes held 14th March, 1619:
Orders conveyed and set down by the Justices of the Peace in the County of Nottm for ruling, ordering and governing of the House of Correction in Southwell in the sd County wch from time to time must be observed, performed and kept or els the Maister thereof must be punished and removed from the same.

1. First the Maister thereof must inhabite and be couchant in and upon the same continually and if upon necessary occasion he happen to be absent by the space of one day or two dayes in a week he shall provide a substitute and leave in his stead a sufficient Deputy to see the same well ordered in his absence, except it be by licence first obteyned under the hands of ffoure Justices of the Peace of the said County.

2. Secondlie he shall whip and punish all such persons as are committed to his custody at the receiving of them and according to ye direccon of the Justices that shall send anie unto him by warrant, according to ye quality of the offence and condicon of the party, to the end that the house may be a house of terror to dissolute and incorrigible people.

3. Thirdlie he shall provide to have under him such as can sett them on work by spinning and weaving of haircloth and sackcloth and by spinning of Jersey woollen or lynnen yarne, and those that are unfitt for that, h'e shall cause them to knock hemp or do such other bodily labor in the said house whereby they may best earne their maintenance.

4. ffourthlie he shall not suffer anie to go out of the said house of correccon (not so much as to work with anie of the town or country) unles it be by warrant from some Justice of peace first hereunto had and obteyned except it be in time of Harvest, to work at Harvest work, and not then without sufficient security for their return every nyght to the said house.

5. He shall not at anie time deliver release or discharge anie committed to his custody and governmt without the consent and warrant of two Justices of the Peace of the County aforesaid first thereunto had and obteyned. Whereof one Justice to be him of whom the said party was committed to the sd house of correccon.

To which Order these Justices have set their hands:

P. Stanhope   W. Cooper   Gervase Tevery
Gervas Clifton   Ro. Sutton   John Digby
J. Thornhagh   Henr. Sacheverell   Tymothy Pusey
Geo. Lassells   John Wood   Will. Moseley

On 29th April, 1633, an Order was made to repair the House of Correction at Southwell at an estimated cost of £33, "it having become very ruinous and in great decay for want of opportune repair."

In 1652 the building of a new House of Correction was necessary:

"At this Sessions, 10th January, 1652-1653, the Court taking into consideration the great want of a House of Correction in this Countie by reason whereof manie great inconveniences and mischiefe daily befall the Countrey Doth therefore now Order and appoint that the some of £200 be forthwith levied upon the whole countie for the speedy building of an house of correcon for the said Countie at Southwell upon the Countreys ground there where the old decayed house did stand." The £200 was to be paid to Edward Cludd, Esqre who was authorised to receive and disperse the same, and, when the same is finished to give an account to the Justices of this County.

On 2nd October, 1654, the Court was informed that the house of Correction for ye County at Southwell "is not yett fully finished, that the out Court is not walled in, nor any backside or casmt without doores, and something within the house alsoe not finished."

On 20th April, 1655, it is mentioned that complaint was made at the last Assizes "that the house of Correction and a wall for the out Court thereto belonging was not finished and that all the money already raysed being expended it will require the sume of ffifty pounds more for the finishing and compleating thereof." An Order was made that the amount be raised.

The salary paid to the Governor was £20 per annum.

On 10th July, 1654, five pounds was ordered to be paid to the Governor "to provide bolts, shackles, and other tools and utensils necessary for the House of Correction."

On 2nd October, 1654, the Court was informed "that many disorderly and wandering persons are now in the house of Correction and more upon occasion likely to be sent thither for the detayning and punishing of whom the master of the Correction house hath been at a greate troble and charge for ye want of Lockes, bolts, gives, beetles, and divers other implements." An Order was made that £5 be paid to the Master of the House of Correction.

On 6th October, 1658, Petition of John Herring Master of the House of Correction showing that "the sd house is in some decay for want of repaire and that there is a greate want of stock to sethe Prisoners on worke and alsoe of boults shackles locks and diverse other ymplemts necessary for the said prisoners which the petitioner is not able to doe atte his owne charge by reason of the smallness of his Salary being but £20 a yeare In consideration therefore that the Petitioner shall repaire the sd House of Correction both now and from tyme to tyme hereafter and provide all necy ymplements for the same to be and remain for ye publique use of ye cuntrey And shall alsoe receive all prisoners comitted to him in open Court and convey them to prison at his own charge and likewise keepe a Stocke of his owne for setting his prisoners on worke," it was Ordered that his Salary be increased to £30 a yeare.

The following are later entries in reference to repairs, &c.:

On 16th July, 1684, it was Ordered that the House of Correction be repaired by the whole County.

On 17th April, 1686, £3 6 8 was ordered to be levyd "to finde Stock and "repair ye house of Correction."

On 10th January, 1689-1690, £11 8 11 was ordered " for repaire of House of Corr."

On 20th January, 1695-1696, an Order was made "to inspect House of Correction and repair the same."

The following entries have reference to acts of default on the part of the Master:

On 28th April, 1620, John Lund, Governor of the House of Correction was fined 10/- "for not attending in Court during a whole Session."

On 12th April, 1675 it was Ordered that "if ye Master of ye house of Correction does not show good cause for ye voluntary escape of Will Heiley at Newark Sessions yt hee bee bound to ye next Assizes at Nott."

On 5th October, 1612, a warrant was issued against a husbandman of Bothamsall for a certain abusive word against John Sturtivant, Master of the House of Correction.


Imprisonment in the Stocks was a frequent form of punishment for petit larceny, idle and bad behaviour, vagrancy, &c, &c. The prison was a more expensive method of punishment.

It was the duty of the Inhabitants of parishes to provide Stocks, and there were many presentments for default in doing so.

On 11th July, 1604, the Inhabitants of Winkberrow were presented for not repairing the Stocks.

On 11th January, 1608-1609, the Inhabitants of South Scarle were presented for not having sufficient Stocks.

On 12th January, 1622-1623, the Inhabitants of Sutton super Lound were presented for not repairing the Stocks.

On 21st April, 1626, the Inhabitants of Mansfield were presented for defective Stocks and other instruments of punishment.

On 15th July, 1653, the Inhabitants of Everton were fined for "not haveing a paire of Stocks "

"Breaking the Stock " was a common offence.

Imprisonment in the Stocks often took place on Sunday:

On 6th October, 1606, the Constable of Barton was ordered to sett Alice Taylor and Izabell Woolloce in the Stocks at Barton "on Sunday next cominge."

On 11th July, 1608, it was Ordered that Mary Hasserd should undergo "on Sunday next imprisonment at Colston Bassett in the Stocks during morning and evening prayer and there confess her fault." The offence is not stated.

On 12th April, 1613, for petty larceny, Helen Beardsley at Ratcliffe "on the Lords day next coming, after morning service to submit to imprisonment in the Stocks for the space of one hour, and that Robert Key and Elizabeth Lamyng at Ratcliffe before morning service and during the time of service to submit to imprisonment in the Stocks for the space of 3 hours and be stripped to the waist and whipped."

The term of imprisonment was usually for a few hours only, but a long imprisonment was sometimes ordered, e.g.:

On 13th April, 1607, John Peck, of Orston, was ordered to undergo imprisonment in the Stocks "for the space of one day."

The following appears to be a sensible method of punishment:

On 16th July, 1658, Suzan Tym, of Laneham, convicted of stealing one child's blanket, was ordered to be stockt three hours "with the blanket before her."


There are not many references to the use of the Pillory.

On 11th October, 1678, Elizabeth Ridall, of South Leverton, was ordered "to Pillory." The offence is not stated.

On 11th July, 1692, it was ordered "that Wm Key shall be taken into ye custody of ye Sheriffe of this County and to be sett in ye comon pillory at Newark tomorrow betwixt ye houres of noon and one of ye clock and shall also pay 10/- to Saml Martin and Thos. Martin whom he offered to press."

The Pillory was used as a punishment for perjury:

In 1633, Gabriel Eaton for this offence had to "stand in the pillory in the open market at Bingham being the nearest market town to Trowell where the offence was committed."

In 1638, John Kitchen for perjury was sent to gaol until Thursday, July 19th without bail or mainprise, and that on Thursday, July 19th, he be by the Sheriff placed in the collistrigin anglice pillory at Mansfield for the space of two hours together having both his ears fastened to the same pillory with nails according to the Statute."

There is one instance of the Pillory being used to punish a disloyal subject:

On 8th April, 1690, Daniel Clay, of Mansfield, was ordered to be sett upon ye Pillory on ye next market day betwixt ye houres of 12 and 1 with this inscription on his forehead "for speaking these words 'God dam King Willm and Queen Mary and yt K:J: both should and would come again.'"


Imprisonment in the Stocks was generally followed by whipping, which was the most common of all punishments, and was administered to men and women alike, without any consideration for sex.

The usual form of Order was that the culprit "be stript naked from his or her wast upwards and whipt by the Constable until his or her body be bloody."

The whipping took place in the towne or village where the offence was committed or in the nearest market town on the next market day.

There are many Orders in the Records for the whipping of felons at the gaol door by the keeper of the gaol.

There are references to whipping posts at Newarke and at Mansfield.

The following is the only instance recorded of whipping at the Cart's tail:

On 10th July, 1693, ffrances Holmes, the mother of a Bastard, was ordered to be tyed to ye tail of a cart and then stript from her wast upwards and be soundly whipt from one end of Elton to ye other end of ye sd towne."


The Cucking Stool was a common instrument for the punishment of Scolding women.

There were many presentments for being Common Scolds.

On 7th July, 1606, Sarah Johnson, of Codlingstock, was presented "for being a common scold and drunkard,"

On 5th October, 1612, the wife of a laborer was presented "for being a common scold in her house."

On 10th January, 1619-1620, an Order was made that Anna, wife of Martin Sugar, of Arnold, "be dipped tomorrow in ye Cuckstool for scolding."

On 9th April, 1624, Grace, wife of Henry Heefield, of Worksop, "a common scold to suffer penalty in the Cuckstoole for her offence."

On 6th October, 1680, it was Ordered that the towne of ffiskerton "doe erect a cuckstoole within a fortnight upon ye penalty of £5 and that ye wife Elizabeth Leeming be cucked 3 times by ye Constable of ye said towne."

On 5th October, 1681, it was ordered that the wife of Thos Parker, of North Muskham, "bee cucked."

On 8th October, 1652, the Constable of Worksop was presented for not repairing the Cuckstool.

The following entries in regard to the Cucking Stool at Southwell are interesting:

On 10th October, 1654, there was a complaint by "ye Constable and other Inhabitants of the parish of Southwell that there haveing usually beene a Cucking stoole in ye said parish for punishment of scoulding and brawling women which did disturb ye peace and neighbourhood of the parish which said Cucking Stoole in the tyme of the late warres was broken and destroyed, the want whereof hath emboldened and encouraged many leud and turbulent women to continue in their unquiet and unpeaseable behaviour to the greate disquiett of their neighbours." An Order was made that "a new Cucking Stoole be made and sett up in ye same place where ye old one stood."

On 3rd October, 1655, Elizabeth Banes, of Southwell, spinster, "standeth presented in this Court for a comon scold and the Court also further informed yt the sd Elizabeth by reason of her continuall brawling and extraordinary turbulent spirit doth soe dayly vex and disquiet her neighbours that they cannot follow their callings and occasions inquietness to their extreame troble and vexation." The woman was ordered "to be cuckt in the Cucking Stoole at Southwell."

Apparently the Cucking Stool was not used solely for the punishment of Common Scolds, but for other offences as well:

On 12th July, 1685, it was Ordered that "the several persons yt abuse ye officer or ye constable bee cucked at ye diskrecon of Mr. Stanhope and Mr. Mullineux in the execucon of their office at Mansfield."

It would be interesting to know if any of the "several persons" above referred were men. Their names are not recorded.