The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4
The Marshalsea Prison.
This is a court of law and a prison, intended at for the determination of causes and differences among the king's menial servants, and was under the control of the knight marshal of the royal household, and removable at pleasure. Stowe informs us,
This court had particular cognizance of murders, and other offences committed within the king's court; such as striking, which was anciently punishable by the loss of the offending hand. Here also persons guilty of piracies, and other offences on the high seas were committed. For the latter purpose it is still continued, though the offenders are tried and convicted at the , and executed at the , .
The dispensation of the law in the Marshalsea, and the Court, is by the following judges: the lord steward of the household, the knight marshal, deputy marshal, steward, &c. The causes are conducted by counsel, and attornies; here are also marshalmen, or tipstaffs, and subordinate officers. The attornies are of , London, none others being suffered to practice in these courts. The court has jurisdiction miles round (exclusive of the city of London) for actions of debt, damages, trespasses, &c. and subject to be removed to a higher court of law, when above
Mr. Howard describes the old prison as
In the year , the Kentish rebels broke down the houses of the Marshalsea and King's-bench, in ; took from thence the prisoners, broke down the house of sir John Immorth, the marshal of the Marshalsea, and King's-bench, &c. In , the of Richard the , after St. Bartholomew's day, the king kept a great council in the castle of Nottingham, and the Marshalsea of the king was then kept at Loughborough upwards of days. Sir Walter Manny was marshal of the Marshalsea in the year of the reign of Henry VI. William Brandon, esq. in the year ; during his presidency the prisoners of the Marshalsea, at that time removed back to , broke out, and many of them being taken, were executed; especially such as had been committed for felony or treason.
A dangerous insurrection in , in , was occasioned by the serving of a warrant from the lord chamberlain, by of the knights marshal's men, upon a feltmaker's servant, who was committed to the Marshalsea, with others; that had been accused to his lordship by the knights marshal's man, without cause of
|offence. The officer entered the house where the warrant was to be served, with a dagger drawn, alarming the man's wife who sat by the fire with a young infant in her arms; and after having taken the prisoners, committed them to the Marshalsea, where they lay days without having it in their power to answer the supposed offence. Upon this the servants of the felt-makers made this a common cause, and assembled together out of and Blackfriars, with a great number of men, to rescue those that were committed to the Marshalsea. The pretence of their meeting was occasioned by a play on the sabbath; which, besides its profanation, gave opportunity to commit various disorders.
The lord mayor, sir William Webb, hearing of the tumult, hastened with of the sheriffs, to the scene of disorder; and having dismissed the multitude by proclamation, seized some of the ringleaders, and committed them to prison, to be farther punished as they deserved; he sent next morning for the deputy and constable of the borough, with others who were present, from whom he found, by the testimony of the inhabitants, that the occasion of the riot had been through the misconduct of the marshal's men; and to add to the provocation, when the populace had assembled, the knight marshal's men having sheltered themselves within the Marshalsea, issued forth with their daggers drawn, and bastinadoes in their hands, beating innocent passengers; and afterwards drew their swords, by which several persons were slain; this had increased the tumult.
The inhabitants of also complained
The lord mayor upon these informations applied to the lord treasurer, that they might be admonished of their behaviour, and receive more discretion in serving their warrants.
The lord mayor apprehending also great danger in the city, when the apprentices and others who had raised the insurrection should be punished, it having been generally known that the marshal's men gave the occasion, wrote to the lord treasurer, and urged that their punishment should be impartial, as well upon the knight marshal's men, who excited the disorders by their indiscreet and violent behaviour, as upon the rioters; adding, that in case it were not done, notwithstanding the great care that the magistracy had and meant to take to keep good order; and he supposed that the magistrates of this city never had the inhabitants under better regulation, yet they were in doubt, that this mischief could not be thoroughly abated if the measure recommended was not adopted. The lord treasurer attended to the representation, and peace was restored.
Mr. Bray says,
At the extremity of this prison is a small court yard and building for Admiralty prisoners, and a chapel.
 Vol. iii. p. xxix.