News:
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Author Topic: Chatham Convict Prison  (Read 31989 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Lyn L

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1127
  • Appreciation 84
Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2009, 18:27:27 »
My Gt Grandmothers nephew was an assistant warder at Chatham Convict Prison from 1888 to Sept 1891 when he was transferred to Portsmouth prison, he was a Hampshire man born and bred but moved back to Chatham with his family and between 1901 and 1905 became a warder at Chatham Prison, where would that have been then ?? It's on the forum somewhere I'm sure, but where.  After leaving the prison service he was at one time Verger at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton and later a Verger at St Marks in Gillingham, lived in Marlborough Road Gillingham but died in 1935 at 42, Magpie Hall Road, Chatham which was the workhouse . At one point he'd been a warder at Dartmoor Prison, but was moved to Portland Prison after disciplinary action, he'd given concessions to a prisoner apparently, who then escaped !! oops.
Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life tryi

Offline Riding With The Angels

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 981
  • Appreciation 36
    • Ghost Connections
Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2009, 18:21:59 »
Do you know where this was and whats there now?

Offline kyn

  • Administrator
  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7407
  • Appreciation 419
    • Sheppey History
Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2009, 16:16:59 »
File ADM 195/7 at
National Archives. Kew

Offline kyn

  • Administrator
  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7407
  • Appreciation 419
    • Sheppey History
Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2009, 10:16:43 »
Archives have a picture of the memorial at St Mary's Island before it was transfered to St Georges Church, apparently its a very rare photo!

Offline Riding With The Angels

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 981
  • Appreciation 36
    • Ghost Connections
Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2009, 23:13:03 »
The memorial behind St Georges Church HMS Pembroke








merc

  • Guest
Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2009, 22:20:21 »
I've got a small write up of the Convict prison on my website...but it's no where near as long and impresive as Kyn's though ;D

I got an email a while ago from a lady who found out one of her ancestors had spent time at the prison.
Here's a small quote from it:

"My ancestor killed his wife!  The towns people were so sympathetic they had a collection for his defence, he only got 12 years penal servitude, which I should imagine was extremely light in those days."

Offline WildWeasel

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 134
  • Appreciation 2
  • How do Road Gritters get to work ?
Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2009, 22:16:19 »
Excellent....I thought it was true..
WW
If it's too hard I can't do it !

Offline kyn

  • Administrator
  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7407
  • Appreciation 419
    • Sheppey History
Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2009, 22:11:18 »
Can't find the other one but i think it was started by Merc  ???

Here is the Surgeon's one
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=127.msg2871#msg2871

Offline kyn

  • Administrator
  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7407
  • Appreciation 419
    • Sheppey History
Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2009, 22:07:18 »
The skulls of the prisoners buried at St Marys Island were moved to St Georges Church at HMS Pembroke.

The grave is on Burntwick Island, a surgeon that effectively commited suiceide to help poeple on a ship suffering from disease.  He gave his life to help others and unfortunatly does not seem to have any sort of memorial on the mainland.

I will find th elinks and post them.

Offline WildWeasel

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 134
  • Appreciation 2
  • How do Road Gritters get to work ?
Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2009, 21:19:32 »
I grew up in lower Gillingham and was aware from a young age of stories about "Prison Hulks" on the Medway...

One was regarding French prisoners of war that were captured during the Napoleonic era...They died of disease ( probably Yellow Fever "
and were buried on the site of what became the Gillingham Gasworks....The story goes  that once development of the site began and the bodies were discovered they were transported under cover of darkness to St Mary's Island ( in the Dockyard ) for re-burial.

When St Mary's was re-developed during the 80's/90's following the closure of the yard the bodies were again moved
( I dont know where to ) but this attracted the attention of the French authorities who sent a delegation to Gillingham to ensure that the unfortunate souls were re-interred in consecrated ground....

The other memory I have is of a grave way out on the marshes off lower halstow ( Stangate Creek I believe )
It was reputed to be the grave of a doctor who tended the prisoners on the hulks and eventually succumbed to disease himself I remember being shown this on a fishing trip once & it was maintained with fresh flowers on it.....

Dont know how much of this is urban legend but it would seem to be feasible....

WW
If it's too hard I can't do it !

Offline kyn

  • Administrator
  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7407
  • Appreciation 419
    • Sheppey History
Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2009, 17:53:44 »
Gateway to the prison

Parade ground

Governors residence

Governors residence and prison

Warders viewing the damage from the riot in 1861

Brickfields on St Marys Island

Offline kyn

  • Administrator
  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7407
  • Appreciation 419
    • Sheppey History
Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2009, 16:15:50 »
Enjoy...

During the 1800's convict hulks were moored in the River Medway at Chatham.  The first of these hulks was Zeeland who arrived in 1810, she was soon accompanied by Leviathan, a third rate 74-gun ship that was launched from Chatham Dockyard on the 9th October 1790.  Leviathan had served in the fleet during the Napoleonic wars, had been used as a convict hulk in Portsmouth and after her stint there she became a target in 1846.  Other convict hulks that were used in Chatham were the Nassau, the Bahama, the Crown Prince, the Canada, who was adapted into a hospital ship, and the Dolphin.  The Dolphin held between 650 and 700 convicts under Captain George Lloyd and was set on fire on 16th October 1829, arson was suspected.

A letter from Mariner John Walton, to his wife Catherine, from the Prison Hulk Nassau, in 1813, gives an idea on the serious threat of disease that the prisoners feared whilst held upon the hulks.  He says:

I am in prison but I am not much in want... we was taken on the first day of August and carried into the Orkney Islands... I was very sick of the fever when we arrived at Chatham I met with Brother Mason but I did not know him I was so near dead.

Some prisoners were able to serve a probationary period before being pardoned under the condition they were deported, these prisoners then joined an emigration ship and were taken to Australia.  The prisoners were accompanied by prison Warders on the ships and this resulted in many of the Warders themselves emigrating, two of these were Arthur Wallace and his brother John Alexander McKane Wallace who sailed out of Chatham on the ship Palmyra in 1846, their younger brother James had already left Chatham the previous year.

In 1850 a prison was constructed to hold 1,200 long-term convicts on the site of what is now Greenwich University, the old Naval barrack, site at Chatham Maritime, construction was complete in 1852.  The convicts were forced to work long hours in unhealthy and strict conditions, punishments were inhumane and beatings were regular by the Warders.  The result of such treatment was a major riot in 1861, the prisoners had being outraged at punishments on others within the prison, some men had had their meals reduced greatly.  During the riot the police and troops were called upon to gain control of the 850 convicts however the Warders had managed to drive them back into their cells by the time they had arrived.  Many of the prisoners involved in the riot were chained in their cells for up to a week as punishment with other being dealt three-dozen lashes of the cat o'nine tails.

The prisoners were treated so badly that some were driven insane, many attempting to escape and a few years after the riot a Warder was murdered.  Work undertaken by the prisoners included the construction of an extension to the Royal Dockyard nearby, the extension included the great basins, dry docks and numerous buildings.  They operated a brick field built upon St Mary's Island, drained the marsh land and built the land up by eight feet to allow the building works to take place.

In 1867 two prisoners were hanged on the 10th January at Maidstone Gaul, these two prisoners, one male and one female, were both charged with murder and it was decided to hang them together, probably to save money.  20 year old James Fletcher battered Warder James Boyle to death with a hammer whilst serving at Chatham Prison, whilst Ann Lawrence, 29 years old and from Tunbridge Wells, had murdered her four year old son, Jeramiah, to avenge an argument she had had with her jealous partner, Walter Highams.  After the boys murder she then attacked Walter with the intent to kill him.  

Henry Hayer was one of many prisoners to be held at Chatham Prison, he had been committed on the 17th July 1869 at Wrexham for Shopbreaking and stealing, he at first was sent to Ruthin Assizes but was later moved to Chatham and was released on the 14th August 1873.

Another prisoner held at Chatham was John Pilling, a 27-year-old labourer from Crompton.  He had been arrested for the murder of two elderly women who had been beaten over the head with a hammer in Oldham during December 1879.  Although Pilling had given an alibi and stated there was no motive for him to carry out the killings he was convicted the following year and sentenced to twenty years, he fought for his sentence to be overturned telling all who would listen that the police were too hasty, incompetent and that the description of the murderer was not the same as his description.  Pilling finally had a committee of supporters who raised a petition and he was released early from prison in 1893.

James McKevitt was sentenced to fifteen years in 1881 for attempting to blow up the City Hall in Liverpool, with good behaviour he managed to have three years and 112 days removed from his sentence for good behaviour.  After his release he gave an account of his time spent in prison, he spent a few months after his conviction at Millbank, London, before being sent to Chatham Prison where he stayed for ten years.

The chief object of the prison authorities is to drive the convicts into insanity by every possible device.  The food furnished is of the worst quality, and the treatment of prisoners is abominable.  For breakfast we were allowed eight or nine ounces of bread, which was uncooked and wet, with a pint of water to wash it down.  We got no dinner of any kind, and for supper we had the same allowance of unbaked dough and water as for breakfast.

As for bedding I had to lie on a plank, with two old rugs as the only clothing allowed, even in the depths of winter.  No shirts were furnished.  We were allowed at times a mattress, which resembled an old sack filled with lumps of straw, was was harder and more uncomfortable than the bare plank.

I worked in Chatham Prison for eight years as cleaner, until at length my health broke down, owing to wornout shoes and constantly wet feet.  It was then  found necessary to admit me to the hospital, where I remained seven months.  I have been ever since lame and do not expect that I can ever recover my health, my constitution has been so badly broken by the terrible suffering I had to endure.

When asked about the conditions of the other prisoners he described three Irish-Americans, Dr Gallagher, James Gilbert and John Daly.

Dr Gallagher, who is an American citizen, has been driven insane by the treatment he received.  He is now in Portland, and is employed cleaning tinware.  The other prisoners are so fully convinced of his insanity, that they are afraid of him.  I wonder the American Government does not interfere in his behalf.

James Gilbert is in a frightful condition from persecution of the Wardens.  His health is utterly broken down from the bad food and harsh treatment to which he has been subjected.  He is now in the hospital, and may drop dead any day from heart disease, caused by the hardship he has suffered.

The keepers take every occasion of sneering at a Catholic Prisoner and insulting him because of his religion.  At Chatham they were in the habit of peeping after the Catholic prisoners and sneering at them when going into the confessional.  In this conduct they were aided and abetted by the highest prison officials.

For the first six months after my imprisonment I was three of four days in the week in the punishment cells for trifling violations of rules which I either did not understand or could not comply with.  To save my life I could not pick the three pounds of oakum with my fingers that I was required to pick, and the keepers were desirous of discovering the least pretext for inflicting punishment of the most barbarous kind.

Reports of the mentioned Dr Thomas Gallagher came to light after his release and found that as well as being insane, which was described by warders at Chatham as a sham, he has numerous bruises, badly set bones that had been broken and obvious other wounds from his brutal treatment.  Dr Gallagher had been imprisoned for treason, accused of trying to force the government, with use of dynamite, to grant Irishmen the freedom of their country.  The Irish fought to have him released when they heard of his conviction with Americans joining the fight, they did eventually win and he was released thirteen years later but it was too late, the man was a broken shadow of his former self!  On his journey back to America Dr Gallagher was accompanied by Dr Anthony McBride of Chancery Lane, London, who had been sent to travel with him by the Amnesty Association of Ireland and Great Britain.  Dr McBride is reported saying:

I never saw Dr. Gallagher until I met him at Waterloo station, in London, whence we started for this ship.  He is insane, hopelessly so, and is no chance of helping him even a little just now, because he is and has been in a hurly-burly that keeps him at the top pitch of mania.

His body bears evidence of awful treatment.  There are indentations all over it.

A doctor knowing the insane condition of his mind and the bruised condition of his body could say nothing than that he was practically battered into insanity.

There is a very marked depression on his breast, and on examination I found that three of his ribs had been broken, and you can feel where the bones were badly set.

There is a large indentation on the chest, and I should say that was caused either by somebody stamping on him or by someone striking him with a heavy, blunt instrument.

All over his body are scars that indicate frightful treatment.

On the voyage over I had a terrible time with him.  I don't believe I have slept more than four hours in all.  He was restless, irritable, and sometimes fierce.  He would get up and dress himself half a dozen times in a single night.

Once he had what seemed to me to be almost a lucid interval.  I had asked him "Did they beat you there?" (Portland Prison)

His reply:
Did they beat me? They murdered me, murdered me!

Dr Gallagher was first incarcerated at Chatham Prison and was later moved to Portland however reports by fellow prisoners had also shown he was showing signs of insanity whilst at Chatham, suggesting he had received some very bad treatment there.

Another report of the extreme punishments that occurred at Chatham Prison was written by James Douglas, a Warder at the prison.  He said:

I was specially appointed to look after Burke and Shaw upon their return from Millbank,.... and I had occasionally to exercise Rossa, he being handcuffed behind. He was placed in handcuffs every morning about 6.45, and at nine or ten o'clock I have taken the cuffs off to enable him to dress himself for the purpose of taking one hour's exercise. The cuffs were replaced behind him as soon as he was dressed. After exercising I took off the cuffs, as I had done before, to enable him to take off his cap, stock, braces and shoes, which articles he was not allowed to retain by the rules relating to the separate cells. After this he was handcuffed behind, and remained so till the dinner hour, when the manacles were placed in front, to enable him to eat his food. Dinner over, he was again handcuffed behind, and the same thing went on before and after supper. The fetters were kept on until 7.30 p.m., and then taken off for the night .... the time extending over a period of thirty days.

Another man commented about the treatment of Rossa and his handcuffs and said:

Was but a trifle compared with other punishments inflicted on him. He was confined in a cell where they had constructed an open iron privy, without water or other means of cleansing. This emitted such an intolerable stench as to almost suffocate him. Day and night he was kept in this horrible place, fed on bread and water for 28 days at a time.....he was frequently put into a dark cell, without bed or other means of sleeping, except the cold, damp floor.

Rossa himself wrote a letter stating:

I have already told you about the hypocrisy of these English masters who, after placing me in a position which forced me to get down on my knees and elbows to eat, are now depriving me of food and light and giving me chains and a Bible. I am not complaining of the penalties which my masters inflict on me it is my job to suffer but I insist that I have the right to inform the world of the treatment to which I am subjected, and that it is illegal to hold back my letters describing this treatment. The minute precautions taken by the prison authorities to prevent me writing letters are as disgusting as they are absurd. The most insulting method was to strip me once a day for several months and then examine my arms, legs and all other parts of my body. This took place at Millbank daily from February to May 1867. One day I refused, whereupon five prison officers arrived, beat me mercilessly and tore off my clothes.

Once I succeeded in getting a letter to the outside, for which I was rewarded by a visit from Messrs. Knox and Pollock, two police magistrates.

How ironical to send two government employees to find out the truth about the English prisons. These gentlemen refused to take note of anything important which I had to tell them. When I touched upon a subject which was not to their liking, they stopped me by saying that prison discipline was not their concern. Isn't that so, Messrs. Pollock and Knox? When I told you that I had been forced to wash in water which had already been used by half a dozen English prisoners, did you not refuse to note my complaint?

At Chatham I was given a certain amount of tow to pull out and told that I would go without food if I did not finish the work by a certain time.

Perhaps you'll still punish me even if I do the job in time, I shouted. That's what happened to me at Millbank.

How could it? asked the jailer.

Then I told him that on July 4 I had finished my work ten minutes before the appointed time and picked up a book. The officer saw me do this, accused me of being lazy and I was put on bread and water and locked in a dark cell for forty-eight hours.

One day I caught sight of my friend Edward Duffy. He was extremely pale. A little later I heard that Duffy was seriously ill and that he had expressed the wish to see me (we had been very close in Ireland). I begged the governor to give me permission to visit him. He refused point-blank. This was round about Christmas 67 and a few weeks later a prisoner whispered to me through the bars of my cell: Duffy is dead.

One notable Assistant Warder at the prison was Charles Edwin Jacobs from Portsmouth.  He was a sea-going dockyard craftsman and later served at Chatham Prison from 1884 to 1893.  Why the change of jobs?  E. Kinch was a Chief Warder at Chatham, so must have been involved with the treatment of the prisoners.  Major Arthur Griffiths was an Inspector of Prisons from 1878 to 1896, he started his prison service at Chatham Convict Prison as an Assistant Deputy Governor in 1870 and was transferred to Millbrook two years later as Deputy Governor.  Major Griffiths was a former Major in the 63rd West Suffolk Regiment and was an author of many books regarding crime and punishment.  He also was the first to publicly describe three suspects for the Whitechapel Murders in 1894.

After the completion of the Victorian extension at Chatham Dockyard local work ran out for the prisoner sand they were transferred to other prisons, the prison soon became run down and was closed in 1893.  Two years later the buildings were demolished and Royal Naval Barracks, named HMS Pembroke, was constructed on the site.

 

BloQcs design by Bloc
SMF 2.0.11 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines