skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 166719 Find in a Library
Title: Clink Prison (c. 1509-1780)
Journal: American Jails  Volume:10  Issue:3  Dated:(July/August 1996)  Pages:87-91
Author(s): J M Moynahan; S J Trent
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 5
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article traces the history of the Clink Prison (1509- 1780), which was located in Southwark, a suburb of London.
Abstract: After the establishment of the Norman Kings in England, the Bishop of Winchester was given land (about 70 acres) along the river in Southwark. This property was under the jurisdiction and control of the Bishop. In 1109 William Gifford, Bishop of Winchester, had the Winchester House Built. This palace would remain for more than 500 years as the residence for the bishops when they were in London. The residence and land became known as the "Liberty of the Clink." The palace contained a number of "cells" that were used to accommodate monks, priests, and other members of the clergy who had broken ecclesiastical codes. These cells were necessary since members of the clergy were immune from punishment under civil law. The clergy were thus responsible for punishing such wrongdoers. It is assumed that the cells were built when the palace was originally constructed, but they may have been added later. The Liberty of Southwark had with it the ancient Saxon privileges, which included giving the administration of justice and punishment to the Bishop, along with the power of imprisonment. The cells attached to the palace that were used to punish clergy were the forerunners to the Clink Prison. Sometime in the early 1500's the Bishop of Winchester opened his own prison, known as the Clink. It was here that troublemakers and petty criminals were imprisoned under the Bishop's authority. It was later used for more serious offenders and for religious heretics and Protestant and Catholic prisoners of conscience. Holding prisoners up until the time it was destroyed by fire during the Gordon Riots of 1780, it was not rebuilt. This ended two and one-half centuries for a prison whose name would live into modern times as synonymous with imprisonment. 26 notes, a 17-item bibliography, and 3 illustrations
Main Term(s): History of corrections
Index Term(s): England; Foreign correctional facilities
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.