Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Convict Ancestors and Newgate Prison

While on our recent visit to London we walked up to the Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court), at the corner of Newgate Street and the Old Bailey, just inside the City of London . There we found a plaque locating the site of Newgate Prison.

In nineteenth century London, the Old Bailey was a small court next to Newgate Prison. Behind the walls, dark prison cells housed prisoners awaiting trial, execution or transportation.

These were the paths trodden by many of the convicts that were transported to New South Wales. It is fascinating to walk in the footsteps of our convict ancestors and take in the sad history of the places from whence they came on their journey to New South Wales.

Newgate was a medieval prison built in 1188 on the site of a gate in the old Roman London Wall (bailie). It was destroyed and rebuilt many times in its history. In particular, the old prison was demolished in 1777 as the above photo attests. A new prison was built and in 1783 the site of London's gallows from moved from Tyburn to Newgate.

In the Museum of London , one of the exhibits was a door from Newgate Prison circa 1780. It was in this atmosphere then that we find our convicts.

If you are researching a convict ancestor, and would like a ready summary of the information that is available, you should go to our website at:http://www.historyservices.com.au/convicts.htm