Journal Fragments


Samantha Gerlach


Fleet Prison

By Thomas Hosmer Shepherd, 1845. © Corporation of London


Friday, December 1st

London is a pretty amazing place! I should visit it again when we get back home. We all agreed to split up today, so that our research would go quicker. I'm researching prisons, so I decided to visit the Tower of London today. I managed to find someone to give me some information about it, although many men were reluctant to talk about it with me, since I am a woman. The Tower of London is a place of shops, exhibits, and buildings, yet it also holds prisoners. Its history dates back to the thirteenth century and is a popular place for tourists. Many executions take place here; Tower Green and Tower Hill are the two most common places of execution. Wellclose Square is the largest place of detention. It is poorly maintained and I remember learning that in 100 years it will be closed due to the filth and overcrowding. Obviously prison life is bad in any time, but it is especially so in the Eighteenth Century. There are some City Compters here, too, but I don't think they're worth checking out.


Sunday, December 3rd

I'm in so much trouble! It all started earlier this morning. I was really cold, but couldn't find anywhere with a fire to get warm. Finally, I found a building with several people huddled around a fire. I made my way towards the warmth, but as I did the fire spread and the building started to burn. Some watchmen came buy, and some of the other people in the house accused me of starting the fire. I couldn't understand why, but before I knew it I was being charged with arson. That is a crime punishable by death! They're sending me off to Fleet Prison until it is time for my punishment. I had read that the courts went easier on women in the Eighteenth Century, but apparently they made an exception in my case. Still, at least I'm not going to the Newgate prison. I don't have the money to get preferential treatment.


Tuesday, December 5th

No word from CJ or Meghan. I was hoping that they'd figure out what happened to me and try to straighten it out. Not with my luck, I guess. I overheard someone talking to a prison official today. His name was John Howard. He is some sort of prison reformer, if I remember correctly. The Fleet itself is interesting. This prison was built after the Norman Conquest and it lasts until the reign of Queen Victoria. Prisoners are able to beg through a large grill and passers-by donate money. A lot of the other prisoners here are just held temporarily. They were sentenced to transportation, which means they will be sent to the colonies, either in America or Australia. I don't know what I'm going to do about my sentence of death. There's still a chance that one of the others will come by. Maybe I can at least get my journals out of here, so that someone can learn my fate...