Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2016 - 7/31/2016

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Prisoners and Gaolers in Early Modern England

FAIN: FT-248894-16

Rachel Judith Weil
Cornell University (Ithaca, NY 14850-2820)

A book-length project pertaining to imprisonment and detention in England, 1600-1800.

I seek funding to complete archival research in the United Kingdom on conflicts between prisoners and gaolers in Early Modern England, and to write up the results. Prisoner-goaler conflict sheds light on relations of power and notions of freedom and rights as they played out in the early modern English prison. My analysis of these conflicts forms a section of a longer manuscript in progress which explores the phenomenon of custodial (as opposed to punitive) detention from approximately 1600-1800. The larger project asks what "mere detention" that was not intended as punishment looked like, and what it meant for English society to hold in custody people who were not in any formal sense "guilty."

Media Coverage

"Merely Detained or Punished?" (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Caitlin Hayes
Publication: Cornell Research
Date: 11/2/2016

Associated Products

Early Modern Prisons (created the entire website with one collaborator, ongoing posts) (Blog Post)
Title: Early Modern Prisons (created the entire website with one collaborator, ongoing posts)
Author: Rachel Weil
Author: Richard Bell
Abstract: Early Modern Prisons is a collective effort to find out what it was like to be locked up in the early modern period. We are interested in the economics and government of the prison, the fees, the food, how alcohol was sold, how news circulated, diseases, smells, sex, lice, irons, close confinement, charity, garnish, ancient privileges, violence, how prisoners organized and protested. We want to know what practices of detention tell us about contemporary notions of freedom and unfreedom, and how places of detention figure in the great early modern political debates about rights, tyranny, abuse, freedom and legality. We are interested in all kinds of prisoners, from debtors to convicts, from prisoners of war to inmates of bridewells and plague houses.
Date: 9/15/2016
Primary URL:
Website: Early Modern Prisons