Extracts from Daniel Defoe’s Account of London

Selected by Pat Rogers
Introduction and Contents


There are in London, and the far extended bounds, which I now call so, notwithstanding we are a nation of liberty, more publick and private prisons, and houses of confinement, than any city in Europe, perhaps as many as in all the capital cities of Europe put together; for example:


Public GAOLS.
The Tower. The Clink, formerly the
     prison to the Stews.
Ludgate. Whitechapel.
King’s Bench. Finsbury.
The Fleet. The Dutchy.
Bridewell. St. Katherines.
Marshalseas. Bale-Dock.
The Gatehouse. Little-Ease.
Two Counters in the
city. [Wood Street
and Poultry
New Prison.
One Counter in the
Tottil-Fields Bridewell.
St. Martin’s le Grand. Five night prisons, called
Round-houses, &c.


Tolerated PRISONS.
Bethlem or Bedlam. The Black Rod Officers
One hundred and nineteen
Spunging Houses.
Cum aliis
Fifteen Private Mad-
Three Pest-houses.
The King’s Messengers
The Admiralty Officers
The Sergeant at Arms’s
Officers Houses
Tip-staffs Houses.
Chancery Officers Houses.


N.B. All these private houses of confinement, are pretended to be little purgatories, between prison and liberty, places of advantage for the keeping prisoners at their own request, till they can get friends to deliver them, and so avoid going into publick prisons; tho’ in some of them, the extortion is such, and the accommodation so bad, that men choose to be carried away directly.

This has often been complained of, and hopes had of redress; but the rudeness and avarice of the officers prevails, and the oppression is sometimes very great; but that by the way.