Farringdon Without History of the Most Interesting Places, Leading Events; and Some Account of the Eminent Men connected therewith, since the year 1600

Francis, Adolphus Decimus

1870

Newgate

Is supposed to derive its name from the fact, that it was the last gate, or newest gate built, enclosing the City of

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London on the west. The original gate was erected in the time of William the Conqueror, but destroyed by the discontented populace that marched to Smithfield under the leadership of Wat Tyler. The present structure owes its origin to Sir Richard Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London.

Newgate is a prison of detention for persons who have to be tried for various offences committed in the Cityof London or in the County of Middlesex ; it is also the place of execution for criminals sentenced to suffer the extreme penalty of the law in the county of Middlesex. The chief court of judicature held herein is the Central Criminal Court, the arena in which the most eminent jurists this country has produced have won their spurs. The celebrity of Old Bailey wit and repartee is world-wide. An alderman of the City of London is compelled by the legal enactments of the court, to sit on the Bench with the principal judges who try the causes here; and the sheriffs are bound to furnish a special bill of fare for their dinner. Two dinners are provided each day the court sits, at three and at five P.M., and each must be alike; both must include marrow puddings and rump-steaks; and not unfrequently has it been noted that aldermen maintain their reputation for gastronomy by indulging their epicurean proclivities at both dinners.

Daniel de Foe was imprisoned in Newgate for writing a

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pamphlet of a semi-political and religious character, entitled "The Shortest Way with the Dissenters ;" he was sentenced to the pillory, to be fined and imprisoned; but the punishment was a failure, for exulting thousands accompanied him daily from the pillory to Newgate, and the pillory itself was decorated with garlands of flowers. De Foe was the author of " Robinson Crusoe," one of the most charming romances in our language, and said to be founded on the true history of the residence of Alexander Selkirk on the desert isle of Juan Fernandez. Dr. Johnson remarks of the author, and his opinion will be endorsed by all who read De Foe: " Was there ever anything written by mere man that the reader wished longer, except Robinson Crusoe, Don Quixote, and the Pilgrim's Progress?"

The Press-yard, one of the feudal horrors still in existence, shows to what length the mind of man, under the debasing effects of example, will go. The punishment of the Press-yard consisted of thumb-screws, weights, and presses. The thought of having one's thumbs pressed in a kind of vice until the joints cracked, and the blood spurted forth; to be placed bodily on a slab of stone, and to have weights piled on one's chest and stomach, until nature could nought heavier bear, seems the perfection of torture and not punishment, seems calculated to engender crime, not repress it, by making men familiar with the sight of blood, and indifferent to the agonies of their fellows, and

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debases human nature to the levle of the brute. That such barbarity should have existed so lately as , seems beyond belief. One of the ancient customs of Newgate, and which is still carried out, is that two watchmen shall mount guard on the roof every night.