Family History Federation

Exeter City Prison – Deserters In Custody – 1819-1843

This booklet was compiled by members of the Devon Family History Society in co-operation with the Devon Records Office. The booklet provides an extract of some information and further details may be obtained from the Devon Records Office. Exeter City Prison was founded in the 16th century in the South Gate, at the bottom of South Street. The keeper of the prison lived there and there were rooms for debtors and for those convicted of criminal offences. Those found guilty of misdemeanors were confined either in the House of Correction in Goldsmith Street or in Exeter City Workhouse. Influenced by the movement for penal reform, in 1819 the Chamber of Exeter built a new prison on a site at the junction of Queen Street and Northernhay Street, where the Rougemont Hotel now stands. This combined the functions of the former gaol and the house of correction, housing prisoners awaiting trial, convicted felons, those under sentence of transportation, misdemeanants, debtors and deserters from the armed services. The prison was sold in 1863 and the prisoners moved to Devon County Prison in New North Road, Exeter. Various records were kept on prisoners in the gaol. ECA Book 279 lists prisoners in custody in date order from 1819, and at the back of the book is a section for prisoners who were deserters from the army or marines during the period 1819 to 1843. The register lists the prisoner’s name and regiment and the date he was taken into custody. Although there is a column for his age, this is not filled in for those in prison prior to July 1837. The register also states the date when the prisoner left, and whether he was discharged or marched out of the city as a deserter.


SKU : D140

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