The Stockhouse, otherwise called the Town Gaol or Borough Gaol, in Kingston upon Thames was situated within what is today the Bentall Centre in Clarence Street. It was one of the four prisons in Kingston from 1264-1890 and existed from medieval times until 1829. It took its name from the stocks that once were installed within the gaol to prevent the escape of prisoners. The establishment was basically a debtors’ prison, but until about 1800 when Assizes and Quarter Sessions were held in Kingston felons awaiting trial were held there. The unpaid gaoler of the Stockhouse was a corporation franchisee who kept an alehouse on the site called “The Hand & Mace” to supplement his income from imposition of fees for various services provided to debtors. The paper describes the Stockhouse and the conditions for debtors and felons. It outlines the criminal process and imprisonment for debt in Kingston, including its Court of Record. Some felons held in the goal, including, in 1681, Margaret Osgood who was burned at the stake in Kingston Market Place and in 1726, the notorious Edward Burnworth and his gang, hanged on Kingston Hill, are identified, as are some of the debtors that were held there.
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