Petitions to the Westminster Quarter Sessions: 1733

Petitions to the Westminster Quarter Sessions, 1620-1799.

This free content was born digital and sponsored by the Economic History Society and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the cost of transcribing eighteenth-century items was funded by a later Economic History Society Carnevali Small Research Grant: ‘Poverty, Taxation and Regulation: Petitions to Local magistrates in Eighteenth-Century England’ and the other costs, including photography and transcription of seventeenth-century items and editorial work, were funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Grant: ‘The Power of Petitioning in Seventeenth-Century England’ (AH/S001654/1). CC-NC-BY.


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The prisoners for debt in the Gatehouse. WJ/SP/1733/01 (1733). LondonLives reference: LMWJPS653960002

To the worshipfull his majesties justices of the peace for the liberty of Westminster in their general quarter sessions assembled

The humble petition of the prisoners for debt confined in his majesties prison of the Gatehouse Westminster

Sheweth that Francis Geary the keeper of the prison and his agents have been guilty of the severall extor tions and abuses following, that is to say they have taken two pence in the shilling out of the sacrament money, and proportionably out of all other eclesiastical charities for writing down the names of the persons intituled thereto and carrying the said names to the abbey. That they have inserted the turnkey and his wife and severall others no ways intituled to the said charities in such lists.

2d that the said Geary and his agents on or about July last secreted a gift of the Lady Robinson's, of ten shillings and applied it to their own use. And also that they extorted six pence a man out of a late gift of 12 stone of beef and sixty loaves of bread, or else they would have deprived those who had refused to pay the same of their share of such charity. And did actually take one stone of beef and five loaves of bread from one prisoner, which was given by another, and which bread and beef they eat in their own family.

3. That they neglect to put up any list of such charities as belong to the said prison by which means the prisoners are ignorant of their relief, and consequently great sufferers, and that they also stopt out of a publick charity £4..10..0 being due to the said Geary from a felon before they made a general distribution by means of which the other prisoner's proportions were greatly diminished and two debtors did not receive one farthing.

4. That the said Geary and his agent's neglect to furnish the goal as it ought to be, and extort for the lodgings more than is allowable by act of Parliament, though not a quarter furnished and in those very rooms frequently lodge felons, and other disorderly persons committed in the night time with the persons who pay for the said rooms more than is allowed by Parliament as aforesaid.

5. That the said Geary and his agents extort three shillings and six pence of every prisoner who comes in contrary to and in defiance of all law, which 3 shillings 6 they dispose of in the following manner. One shilling to Mistress Geary, 3 pence to the turnkey 's wife and 3 pence to Geary's maid, and the other two shillings, is [spent?] in Bignold's bed chamber or lodge.

6. That the said Geary and his agents, particularly the turnkey and his wife frequently threaten the to beat the prisoners, and refuse to admit persons to come to them by which they suffer great inconvencies and are hindered from providing necessaries for themselves, according to the allowance of the act of Parliament. And lastly that the said Geary suffers the said goal to be so exceeding nasty for want of washing and cleaning that it [illegible] will, if not soon [prevented?] be of very ill consequence, and in danger of breeding a sickness.

Your petitioners therefore most humbly implore your worships to take this [illegible] their calamitous case into your tender and humane consideration, and to [appoint?] a committee of your worships to inspect the said prison and examine into the truth of the severall facts above stated all which we doubt not to prove intirely to your worship's satisfaction, and we do humbly beg your worships to assist us with such relief in the premisses as your worships in your great judgment and humanity shall think lawfull necessary and proper

And your petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray etc.

  • J Innes
  • John Wilson
  • James Gerard
  • Ann Allen
  • Edward Gregory
  • Anthony Ivory
  • Mary Willton
  • John Johnson

John Elphick, Mary Roberts and [...] Paterson. WJ/SP/1733/01/002 (1733). LondonLives reference: LMWJPS653960006

To the worshipfull bench of justices at Westminster in sessions assembled

The humble petition of the subscribers

Sheweth that there is at present one Innys a prisoner in the Gatehouse on a criminal prosecution for stabbing a man, surrendered by his bail, who is of soe turbulent a nature as gives great disturbance to the whole goal

That your petitioners who are debtors are [illegible] continually insulted by the said Innys because they refuse to signe petitions to this honourable bench against Master Geary the keeper though there is no manner of reason for the same your petitioners being used with great humanity and the said Innys even goes up and down from room to room in the said prison offering money to loan to such poor prisoners as he thinks he can prevail with to signe such complaints, though he the said Innys himself had been used with great indulgence which is an encouragement to his insolence

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your worships would please to interpose your authority for their ease and quiet by ordering the said Master Geary the keeper to restrain the said Innys from coming among your petitioners or otherwise to releive your petitioners as to your wisdome seems meet

And your petitioners shall ever pray

  • John Elphick
  • Mary Roberts
  • [illegible] Paterson

Francis Geary, keeper of the Gatehouse. WJ/SP/1733/06/003 (1733). LondonLives reference: LMWJPS653980003

To the worshipfull his majesty's justices of the peace for the city and liberty of Westminster in sessions assembled.

The humble petition of Francis Geary keeper of the Gatehouse.

Sheweth that your petitioners being justly charged with a breach of trust with respect to the escape of James Taylor his prisoner, whereby he incurred the censure and displeasure of this court, and the consequence thereof a fine of five pounds, and having nothing to offer in his defence or excuse that may render him the favour and indulgence of the court but his humble and hearty concern for the offence and firm resolution of being more watchfull and carefull to keep up to the due execution of his office for the future.

Your petitioner in most humble manner prays that his submission and promise may obtain his pardon and remission of the said fine.

And your petitioner as in duty bound shall ever pray etc.

  • Francis Geary

Francis Geary. WJ/SP/1733/06/004 (1733). LondonLives reference: LMWJPS653980004

To the worshipful bench of justices for the city and liberty of Westminster

The humble petition of Francis Geary

Sheweth that your petitioner humbly thanks this worshipfull bench and honourable gentlemen of the committee (that inspected into the abuses of the Gatehouse prison) for their favorable report; which they were so pleased to make to this honourable court, in favour of your petitioner: and according to the order given him, on Friday the 15th: of this instant; the petitioner, with all submission will obey the said order, only excepting against one article (which is under written) in the said order in case your worships thinks proper, which is to the great prejudice of your petitioner

That your petitioner, will in person attend, the second day in every quarter sessions, whilst he continues in his office; and deliver to the honourable court, an account in writing, of all charities, that comes into the said goal (between the time of holding every such quarter sessions) and how the same was distributed, so far, as the same shall come to his hand, power, or knowledge and your petitioner will take care, that all such charities brought to the said goal, shall be duely distributed amongst the prisoners; and that he will give a receipt to the person, or persons, that brings the same; and also that he will procure a note, signed by the prisoners, to testify the giving of such receipt and distribucion of such charities.

That your petitioner, will cause to be put up, in some publick part of the said goal, a list of his fees, to be taken, from debtors, trespassers, felons, as settled by act of Parliament and this honourable court; and replace the same, as often as defaced: and likewise he will put up, a coppy of the cause, in the statute, of the 22d. and 23d. of Charles 2d, and not suffer debtors and fellons to lodge together in one room; neither will he presume, to put any prisoner, in that room called the debtors common side, untill it be, to the satisfaction of this honourable court. And it's to be observed, that only one person, and but for two night, has lain in the said room for three years past.

That your petitioner; appeals, to this honourable court; against that part of the order videlicet that the keeper of the Gatehouse prison, at any time after notice of this order, shall not take any fees, sumes of money, or other things whatsoever, in lieu, of, or under pretence of fees, from any prisoner whatsoever, brought thither in the night time, and not committed by some justice, or justices of the peace, of the said city and liberty of Westminster which said clause, in the said order, is so prejudicial to your petitioner, considering the small number of prisoners that have been committed to the said goal of late, that your petitioner lies under an apprehension, that he must inevitably lose all his substance, as he has laid out in purchasing the said goal, and never be able to pay his rent, or keep the prison in repair, as the following reasons will make appear

That your petitioner, or his deputy, are obliged to rise out of their beds, at all hours in the night to take in prisoners; which most commonly comes in drunk, and makes great disturbances in the said goal, which causes many times the whole family to sit up all night, burning fire and candle; especially in the winter season. But in case the said prisoners are sober, then the maid of the house, also, is obliged to rise for to put them to bed; for which bed, or beds; your petitioner takes no more than one shilling for a week, [so?] lodging from [other?] people and very often times not one farthing; which usage to prisoners, is not to be met with, in any goal, in or about London; which can be proved by persons, that have been committed to the very worst of [prison?] and for the very worst of beds, were demanded to pay half a crown down, before they were admitted to go therein; and often times to the better sort, three shillings and sixpence per week, if they lay but one night there.

That your petitioner or his deputy (and many times other persons which they hire) are obliged to attend night prisoners, to the justices; some times three or four days together, and to all part of the city and liberty of Westminster and many times stays in an ale house, four or five hours, waiting for the justices to [there?] great loss of money and time, which is very considerable.

Therefore your petitioner most humbly prays; that the worshipful bench, would be so pleased to repeal the order of night prisoners, for no goaler before your petitioner, was ever denyed taking half fees for there trouble, for such prisoners, brought to prison in the night time; or any releif, as to your worships goodness, and clemency thinks most meet.

And your petitioner shall for ever pray etc.

  • Francis Geary

The churchwardens and surveyors of the highways of St George Hanover Square. WJ/SP/1733/06/006 (1733). LondonLives reference: LMWJPS653980006

To the right worshipfull his majestys justices of the peace for the city and liberty of Westminster att their general quarter sessions assembled

The humble petition of the church wardens and surveyors of the highways of the parish of Saint George Hanover Square in the liberty of Westminster and county of Middlesex

Sheweth that the highways causeways and pavements to be repaired by the said parish are now so broken and out of repair that they cannot be sufficiently amended and repaired for this present year commencing from Christmas last at less charge than three hundred and fifty pounds and upwards which may be raised by a rate of two pence half penny in the pound upon the inhabitants owners and occupiers of lands houses tenements and hereditaments within the said parish.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray your worships to grant your petitioners an order of this court to enable your petitioners to make an assessment of two pence halfpenny in the pound upon all and every the inhabitants of the said parish for repairing the said highways causeways and pavements as by the statute in that behalf is made and provided

And your petitioners will ever pray etc

  • Philip Blanchard}
  • William [Cler?]}
  • surveyors of the highways

William Betts, a prisoner in Tothill Fields bridewell. WJ/SP/1733/06/007 (1733). LondonLives reference: LMWJPS653980008

To the worshipfull Sir John Gonson knight and the rest of his majesties worshipfull justices of the peace for the liberty and city of Westminster.

The humble petition of William Betts now a prisoner in Tothill Fields bridewell.

Most humbly sheweth. That your petitioner at the last general quarter sessions held by your worshipps at Westminster your petitioner was convicted of keeping a disorderly house.

That your petitioner humbly beggs leave to offer that the prosecution against him was more out of [illegible] principal of revenge, than justice or conscience.

That your petitioner has a large family and by the sentence past upon him he and they must be inevitably ruined

That your petitioner is heartily sorry that he has done any thing that deserves your worshipps censure and heartily and sincerely promises that for the future he will so regulate his way of living that it shall not be offensive to your worships or any other persons whatsoever

Your petitioner therefore most humbly beggs your worshipps out of your great mercy and goodness to pardon his offence and to order his discharge at your next adjournment and your petitioner as in duty bound shall ever pray

  • William Betts

Wee several of the inhabitants being housekeepers and near neighbours to the abovesaid William Betts do humbly certify that the said William Betts is an object of mercy and compassion and having a large family, [illegible] wee humbly recommend him to your worshipps as such as witness our hands.

  • Lancelot Hullam
  • William Lamb
  • Michael Garnon
  • Robert Anderson
  • George Stringer
  • Thomas Perrey
  • Tolly Turner
  • George Banke
  • Andrew Meale
  • John McKoon
  • John Illingworth
  • William Edwards John Hawksley
  • W Foxall
  • Adam Pope.
  • Thomas [Bere?]
  • William Cox
  • Isaac wright
  • Anthony Dillingham
  • William Loaden:

Robert Paterson, prisoner for debt in the Gatehouse. WJ/SP/1733/06/008 (1733). LondonLives reference: LMWJPS653980010

To the honorable Sir John Gonson chairman and the rest of his majesties justices of peace etca. etca.

Robert Paterson prisoner for debt in the Gatehouse Westminster

With due respect most humbly sheweth.

That your honor's petitioner having been so often and vilely [abused?], assaulted, and in danger of my life by Francis Geary [keeper?] am advised before I go further to lay before this honorable court what followeth videlicet

On Sunday 10 June last said Francis Geary did in a most rude and impudent manner, assault my wife by taking her by the shoulders violently pushing her backwards out of his door and tearing her cloaths calling her bitch and whore, and all this without any provocation, she only going to visit a gentleman debtor who lodged in the house of said Geary. And;

On Wednsday 27 June aforesaid, he the said Geary did in a most unbecoming way, come and pull by the arm my wife out of his yard, a place which every prisoner that has the free= dom of, is oblidged to pay 3 shillings 6 pence under the name of garnish and pushed her out of said door, dragging her along, at same time grievously pinching her side, calling her bitch and whore, and many other opprobious names insulting, as= saulting, and grossely abusing me, threatning me much holding his fist to the side of my head, who durst not do any thing in her or my behalf, for he would have sworn mutiny etca. against me. And;

on Thursday 2d. August instant said Francis Geary did most vilely use your honours petitioner by assaulting him holding his fist to my head, which if his turnkey had not prevented would inevitably have knocked me down; calling one rogue and scunderell, crying out that he would make me repent it before before he had done with me. All this without any provocation only I had paid him over and above what I owed him, allthough he owes me upwards of £20. for putting his books in a regular form, etca. writting out his kalendar's for a year past and had he taken my advice the accidents had not happened his jail, that to his shame lately has. What can this his saying his saying he will make me repent, but that he has some bad design against me, my wife or some of my friends who come near me, which your honor's petitioner begs you will be pleased to consider.

Many more of his villanies might be added, such as his having, and still keeping a loose and disorderly house etca. Which for fear of encroaching any further on your honours time shall not now mention, although delay in punishment is no cause of forgiveness, all which can be as easily proved as that he has a nose on his face, and as sure as he has said nose, so surely shall he be prosecuted as far as the law of Great Brittain will permitt.

Said Francis Geary has no manner of way fullfilled any of his promises he made in his petition of 22d. June last past to this honourable court, which is in great derision and contempt to his sacred majesty, and said honourable court, and which shall be prosecuted as such, before I have done with him, having a coppy of said petition of Geary's by me.

Wherefore your honours petitioner most humbly begs your honours would be pleased to take into consideration these irregularitys of Geary's, and so order it, that your honor's petitioner may live and enjoy the privileges that are allowed to all debtors, and that I, my wife, and friends may not be any more in danger of our lives, etca.

and your honours petitioner will as in duty bound etca.

Gatehouse 8 August 1733

  • Robert Paterson

Edward Gregory, debtor in the Gatehouse common side. WJ/SP/1733/06/009 (1733). LondonLives reference: LMWJPS653980012

To the honorable Sir John Gonson chairman, and the rest of the honorable bench of justices of his majesties peace etca.

Edward Gregory aged 83 years, prisoner for debt in the Gatehouse Westminster

Most humbly sheweth that your honor's petitioner has been here in confinement since 17 August last past in which space of time all my friends have left me I am now in the most deplorable condition imaginable for since 25 May Francis Geary keeper has turned me on the common side, a place worse than the Spanish Inquisition it wanting several material repairs such as the plaistering over head to be helped scarsely one can go in to it without pound weights falling on their heads, a continual dust falling down when any one passes over head, one of the windows said Francis Geary has lessened by a half allthough, he will barefacedly endeavor to affirm that he has made a new window in it whereas said window was made when the goal was built, as may be easily seen when compared with the windows adjacent thereto, at said window there is a chimney of a shade, allmost in a levell with said window, which fills said common side with a continued smoak, very insufferable that eclipses that very little light that is therein. Said shade is a meer imposition and in fringement on the privileges of the jail as well as on the common passage

Likewise said Francis Geary, openly and avowedly, keeps me from the privilege of the begging box; which in all goals is allowed to the debtors of the common side, and he allows people to be partakers of said box, who by all appearance have no need of it and who ly on the masters side etca this he persists in allthough I have demanded my dues several times of said Geary, or his deputy

Wherefore your honor's petitioner most humbly implore's your honor's protection in this imposition, that you would be pleased to take into consideration this my wretched state, and as far as is consistant with justice and equity you would order and command said Geary to give me my just dues which he has so long kept from me. That said common side may be repaired, that I or any who come [there?] may not be in danger of being knocked in the head, or smoothered in the ruins of an old plaistering etca. And that the clause of an act of Parliament Carolus 2 may be put up in a publick place in the jail, which said honourable court ordered said Geary to put up sometime ago, and which he promised to do, in his petition of 22d. June last (2d day of quarter sessions) which is contempt of said honourable court he has left undone, nor has he acted according to any promise he made in said petition etca. That felons may not be allowed to come near, nor drink, and nor riot before my door [illegible] [place?] in all ages, that has belonged to said doctors common side, till [foresaid?] Francis Geary has made new customs, which before a lord chief justice he he would, shake like the quaking asptree, to hear rehearsed, (the fox run's as long as he has feet) your honors petitioner humbly declares that tis not out of malice, hatred, or envy that I address my self to to this honorable court; (in which the Kings real person is allways to be supposed to be present) he the said Geary rather ought to be pityd than envied, he being conducted and led on by a parcell of old woemen like Judith Geary his wife etca. who would be much better employed in preparing themselves to appear before that impartial tribunal where they and I, on account of our great age, must inevitably be soon arraigned. Your honor's condescension and commiseration in this my pityfull case, will [bay?]an eternal obligation on him who will as in duty bound, for ever pray etca. 8 August 1733.

  • Edward Gregory

It may be fully observed that above said Judith wife of Francis Geary very maliciously meddles and concerns herself with the charities that good Christian people sends here, I say she endeavours to conceal from one part, that the other part, her creatures and tools may have the more, whereas she has no bussiness with such affairs, nor indeed of any use in the jail, she not having stood [straight?] on her feet these several years, consequently could be of no use were all the prisoner making their escape.

  • Edward Gregory

To the honorable Sir John Gonson etca and the rest of the honourable bench of justices etca.

The humble petition of Edward Gregory debtor in the Gatehouse common side

paratextReferred to Master Faine Master Farwell Master Ludby Captain Burden and Master Harper or any two to view and report at the adjournment day

Thomas Bones. WJ/SP/1733/06/005 (1733). LondonLives reference: LMWJPS653980020

To the right worshipfull his majesties justices of the peace in general quarter sessions assembled.

The humble petition of Thomas [Bones?]

Sheweth that your petitioner was about Michaelmas last bound an apprentice to Charles Stanton of the parish of Saint James in the liberty of Westminster butcher, and that your petitioner has been frequently beat and bruised by his said master in a barbarous manner, so that he cannot follow his employment with safety, and your petitioner particularly sheweth that on 7th. instant his said master broke open your petitioners box, and being asked by the worshipfull Justice Lambart (when afterwards summoned) why he did so, answered, that he did not know but your petitioner might have more in his box than belonged to him, however, upon searching your petitioners cloaths which were in said box, found a shilling, the property of your petitioner which he took away, and afterwards between the hours of ten and eleven at night, without any provocacion, beat and wounded your petitioner with a horse whip in a most inhumane manner, and kicked and dragged him about the room, and swore if he did not go to bed he woud murder him; upon which ill usuage of your petitioners said master, your petitioner made his case known to justice Lambart who granted a summons for his said master to appear, which he did, accordingly and your petitioner being then striped before said justice, there were upon your petitioners back and arms several violent marks and bruises, and particularly in the small of his back a wound of a fingers length, whereupon your petitioners said master was bound over; and your petitioner further sheweth that on 11th. instant he was by his said master ordered to carry a joint of meat to one Arnolls in Charles Street Westminster which he accordingly did, and a person or two (unknown to your petitioner) followed him into said Arnolls house (who being a constable) they shewed a warrant and desired said Arnoll to serve it on your petitioner but Arnoll begged to be excused, having some business of greater importance to be dispatched, whereupon, one Master Bunt said Arnoll's partner was sent for, who served said warrant on your petitioner which done, said Bunt with the aforesaid two others, carried your petitioner before justice Cotton, and after a slight examinacion, a mittimus was pretended to be made, and your petitioner was threatned to be sent to Bridewell if he did not come to some agreement with his said master, so that your petitioner being very much terrified at such threatnings as aforesaid, did sign a general release, (which your petitioner believes was ready filled up) and then he was discharged out of custody and returned home, when your petitioners said master had some little conference with him about the matter, and particularly, amongst other things, charged your petitioner (that if any questions shoud be asked him about it) to say, that he signed such release freely and without compulsion, but your petitioner being terrified as aforesaid, chose rather to sign such release as aforesaid, then to go to jail

  • Thomas Bones

Your petitioner therefore humbly prays this worshipfull court will grant an order for his said master to appear and shew cause why your petitioner should not be discharged from his said indenture of apprenticehood

And your petitioner shall ever pray