Report from Judges Botsford and Parker on the State of Prisons.


   In compliance with your Excellency's desire, we visted the Gaol in this place on the 24th December last, accompanied by Mr. White, the High Sheriff, and inspected all the apartments.

   The building is altogether too small for the present wants of this City and County, and does not admit of any separation or classification of the Prisoners, even of the most obvious necessity, viz:

    Between Convicts and those committed for trial;

    Between Felons and Convicts for minor offences;

    Between Juvenile and other offenders.

   The only division which appears to have been regularly observed is that of the sexes. The Debtors principally confined within the walls of the Gaol, are those for small debts upon executions from the City Court; who are obliged to remain fourteen days before they can obtain support from their creditors, frequently destitute of the ordinary necessaries of life, and relying on the charity of the Gaoler, or their fellow prisoners.

    There appeared, as far as we could judge, as much attention paid to the comfort and security of the prisoners, as the present state of the premises would admit; and in no instance was any complaint made to us of ill usage, or of any other suffering than such as was necessarily produced by the confined dimensions and crowded state of the apartments, and want of cleanliness in some of the prisoners:

    We beg leave to accompany this Report with a ground plan (or rather sketch) of the Gaol, which will serve to explain our remarks, and those of the Sheriff.

    Thinking also, it would be in fulfilment of Your Excellency's wishes to obtain such further information respecting the past and present state of the Gaol, and the regulations therein observed, as could be furnished by the High Sheriff and the visiting Magistrates, we addressed severally communications to them, which with their replies, we beg also to enclose. We have pleasure in stating to Your Excellency that the Justices, at their last Session, determined to erect a new Gaol; and that the House of Correction, when completed, will remedy many of the evils which we now complain of.

    We have the honor to be

    Your Excellency's very faithful and

    obedient servants,

    W. Botsford

    R. Parker.

    His Excellency Major General Sir John Harvey, K.C.B. and K.C.H.,
Lieutenant Governor, &c.,

About the electronic version
Report from Judges Botsford and Parker on the State of Prisons.
[electronic resource]
New Brunswick. Commission to Inquire into the State of Prisons.
Creation of machine-readable version: Anne Crowell, University of New Brunswick Libraries.
Creation of digital images: Troy Stanley, University of New Brunswick Libraries.
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About the print version
Report from Judges Botsford and Parker on the State of Prisons.

New Brunswick. Commission to Inquire into the State of Prisons.
John Simpson, printer to the Queen 1840 Print copy consulted: University of New Brunswick Libraries
Note: At head of title: Prisons.
Note: Appointed "in compliance with [His] Excellency's desire."
Note: In: New Brunswick. House of Assembly. Journals of the House of Assembly of the Province of New Brunswick, 1840, Appendix, pp. ccxxxi-ccxxxii.
Note: Ground plan and communications mentioned in the Report were not located for scanning.    Prepared by the University of New Brunswick Libraries, in partnership with the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Legislative Library under contract for SchoolNet, with the assistance of the University of New Brunswick Libraries Electronic Text Centre.

   An abstract has been created for the electronic version of this text. It was written by Hart Caplan, University of New Brunswick Libraries.

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  • Prisons -- New Brunswick.

Revisions to the electronic version
5/25/99 Editor Elizabeth Hamilton, Project Manager, SchoolNet project no.1269, University of New Brunswick Libraries.
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    Abstract: Report of Judge Botsford and Parker on the State of Prisons, 1840

       In December of 1839, a Commission was struck to examine the state of prisons. Because the legislation which brought this Commission into existence is unknown, it is unclear what Commissioners Parker and Botsford were referring to when they stated that they "visited the Gaol in this place". It is possibly the prison in Saint John since the county houses of detention were usually referred to as "gaols".

       Nevertheless, there is some historically pertinent material that can be extracted from the report of this Commission. For instance, it stated that the prison in question made only one distinction in the incarceration of inmates, namely the sex of the offender. The Commissioners noted that juvenile and adult prisoners were housed together; felons and those convicted of minor offences were housed together; and those already convicted and those awaiting their trial were housed together. The Commissioners also reported on the use of the prison for the confinement of debtors.

       The report made no significant recommendations, but it did include a description of the conditions in which prisoners lived. It claimed that those interned did not suffer excessively from lack of space or lack of cleanliness


    W. Botsford
    R. Parker .

    Résumé : Rapport des juges Botsford et Parker sur l'état des prisons, 1840

       En décembre 1839, une Commission était créée pour examiner l'état des prisons. Étant donné qu'on ne connaît pas la législation à l'origine de l'enquête de la Commission, on ne sait pas vraiment ce que les commissaires Parker et Botsford voulaient dire lorsqu'ils mentionnent qu'ils ont "visité la prison à cet endroit" (le texte anglais utilise le terme Gaol). C'est peut-être la prison de Saint-Jean, étant donné que c'est le nom que l'on donnait aux lieux de détention de comté.

       Néanmoins, on peut tirer du rapport de la Commission un certain nombre d'observations historiques pertinentes. Par exemple, on mentionne que la prison en question ne faisait qu'une seule distinction dans l'incarcération des détenus, soit le sexe du contrevenant. Les commissaires mentionnent que les jeunes et les adultes étaient emprisonnés ensemble, que les criminels et les auteurs d'infractions mineures étaient emprisonnés ensemble et que les prisonniers qui avaient déjà été trouvés coupables et ceux qui attendaient leur procès étaient emprisonnés ensemble. Les commissaires mentionnent également l'utilisation de la prison pour l'incarcération des débiteurs.

       Le rapport ne présente pas de recommandations importantes, mais il fournit une description des conditions dans lesquelles vivaient les prisonniers. Il indique que les personnes incarcérées ne souffraient pas particulièrement du manque d'espace ou du manque de propreté.

    W. Botsford
    R. Parker .