The rich and gory history of the Clink Prison.
In 1129, Henry of Blois, brother to King Stephen (and grandson to William the Conqueror) was invested Bishop of Winchester, and became second in power only to the King himself. His Thames fronted residence, Winchester Palace (of which The Rose Window of the Great Hall is still visible today), was completed in 1144 and contained two prisons within the palace grounds: one for men, and one for women. Thus Bankside became subject to the laws of ‘The Liberty (or jurisdiction) of the Bishop of Winchester’ (later the ‘Liberty of The Clink’) and was governed accordingly.
The name ‘Clink’ seems to have been attached to the prison in the 14th century. One of the most commonly argued derivatives is that of the sound of the blacksmith’s hammer closing the irons around the wrists or ankles of the prisoners, although the Flemish word ‘klink’ meaning ‘latch’ (perhaps referring to the latch on the gaol door) could also have influenced its attachment. Whatever the etymology, the prison subsequently bequeathed this name to all others, resulting in the development of the expression, "to be thrown in The Clink."
During its remarkably long span, besides the usual drunken vagrants, vagabonds and other seemingly petty criminals, The Clink also housed more historically significant criminals. Famous examples include Sir Thomas Wyatt The Younger (son of the Renaissance poet of the same name), who rebelled against Queen ‘Bloody’ Mary I; John Rogers, the man responsible for translating the Bible into English from Latin during the reign of the aforementioned Roman Catholic Queen; Royalist supporters during the English Civil War, and Puritans who went on to become the first Pilgrim Fathers, settlers of the New World in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts in the United States.
Throughout this long existence, The Clink did not remain unscathed however; several attempts to destroy the prison were enacted through rebellion, such as during the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381, or during Jack Cade’s rebellion of 1450, both of which resulted in the rebuilding of The Clink, with the latter resulting in a new, two-storey men’s prison on the site of what is now The Clink Prison Museum. It endured until 1780, when Lord George Gordon, dissatisfied with the favours granted upon Catholics during the ‘Papists Act’ as a result of the American War of Independence, assembled The Protestant Association and broke into The Clink, releasing all of the prisoners and burning the building to the ground.
The Clink was never rebuilt, and as somewhat of a happy postscript, none of the prisoners seem to have ever been recaptured. Today, all that remains of Bankside’s once most notorious prison is the stonework of Winchester Palace, the passage ‘Clink Street’ and that which has been preserved within The Clink Prison Museum, including an original wall.
Inmates imprisoned due to an act of trespass conducted in a dilatory manner.
Paul Crosse, Pears Shattle,Harry Joanysserson, Wendall Gretlose, John Hewhet
due to discharge from obligation without quittance being given (presumably running
away from the master he was apprenticed to) John Wright found guilty of trespassing
John Norys convicted clerk, escorted from here to Farnham by two paid men
on hired horses, with an extra horse for himself.
Ellen Butler imprisoned as an unlicensed prostitute
John Samoun, before being hung as a villain the bishop received £21 5s. 3d
from John’s possessions and goods
John Boys and Thomas Terying paid £5 5s. for the terms of their lives.
John Bocher and John Estyler imprisoned.
Margaret Hathewyk appears to have been a brothel keeper
John Boys and John Hakett transferred to Winchester Prison escorted by three horsemen.
1486 – 1529
Thomas Peryell imprisoned in Clink from for refusal of bail,
contempt of writ, and other unknown issues.
Laurence Vaux – Catholic, died in prison due to starvation and ill treatment – author of a catechism
Dr Taylour removed from The Clink and moved to the Counter by St Mildred’s Church in the Poultry Counter.
Venerable Richard Leigh – arrested for keeping a book called ‘My Lord Leicester’s Commonwealth’
and also aiding the escape of the Venerable William Dean from Bridewell.
Leigh was moved to the Tower in 1588.
Henry Pratt – Secular Priest.
Priest Saxy – hung himself in his cell rather than face torture.
Alice Skeyling, widow – taken to court for meat and drink paid for by Lord Audley.
Henry Babington of Co – found guilty of trespassing.
Thomas Hopkins – Assault on Walter Upton and refusal to pay for the dying of 4 yards of cloth.
John Stones – debt of £15 owed to blacksmith.
John Rogers – published the Matthew Bible.
Bishop Hooper published the Matthew Bible.
Jane Gouldwar pleading for release in 1580 having been in prison,
bringing up a family, for 12 years.
Latymer – ‘an old priest’
(not to be confused with Bishop Latymer, burned to death 1555)
Robert Clibon – released for six month period to go to Bath and recover from illness.
Anthony Tyrrell apparently a Jesuit tasked by the Pope to assassinate Elizabeth I,
served as a spy in The Clink vainly trying to implicate William Weston in Babington Plot,
though he did implicate John Lowe and John Adams, both of whom were executed at Tyburn in 1586
Anne Launder - imprisoned 22nd March 1586; Anne died in The Clink 1589, John in 1591.
Jasper Heywood, a Jesuit locked up here, later moved to The Tower. Nephew of Sir Thomas More.
John Launder – John imprisoned 18th June 1584, John died in The Clink in 1591
Venerable William Way (aka Flowers and May) – imprisoned for his religion, taken to Newgate for questioning, 1588.
John Lowe and John Adams – Friends of Father Weston, believed to be influential
among the heretics of The Clink;
hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn in 1586 over their complicity in the Babington Plot.
Richard Claybourne – a gentleman imprisoned for refusing to attend service (Protestant service presumably).
Father William Weston – Jesuit arrested 3rd August in connection with Babington Plot,
put in The Clink on 11th September and questioned several times.
John Jones – Franciscan, executed 1598
Henry Barrowe and John Greenwood – released from The Clink 1592, founded the Independent Church (Puritan),
returned to The Clink in 1593 and then hung at Tyburn.
(The Independent Church congregation eventually sailed to America on the Mayflower).
John Greenwood was previously imprisoned in The Clink in 1586 ‘for reading scripture’ (presumably in a very Puritan manner!);
after six weeks Barrowe visited him, and the keeper refused to let him out again!
Francis Johnson, Puritan, during his time in The Clink he secretly married a widow,
Johnson was released in 1596, and may have become involved with the Barrowists.
St John Rigby – non-attendance at church over 2-3 years, hanged 1600
John Gerard – Jesuit, moved here from the Poultry Compter in after his friends had bribed Young
to move him (whoever Young was).
Said Mass in the Clink and took confessions – even to the point of converting other prisoners and some of the guards!
Seems to have been a highly impressive character – even after he was tortured in The Tower, he went on to escape!
William Houghton – actor and playwright imprisoned for debt
(a friend of a friend of Shakespeare’s brother in law
– this would appear to be the much vaunted Shakespeare connection –
Houghton worked for the Henslowe/Alleyn company, rather than that run by
John Jones – Franciscan, executed 1598
William Albaster – refusal to attend church in 1599.
Thomas Preston – Heretic, last surviving monk of Westminster.
Robert Davison – wrongfully arrested for murder of Edward Woodye
John Duke – famous actor locked up for a debt of £8.
Adam Dowse – arrested as ‘an impudent spy’.
Francis Barnaby – Catholic priest
William Clark – Bye Plot conspirator, executed December 1603.
Henry Jacob – Congregationalist, begged for release and promised good behaviour.
Henry Lok – poet and debtor.
Mr Collington – Heretic.
John Colleton – secular priest.
George Blackwell – died in Clink.
Richard Davies and William Davies – Catholics, sent to Wisbech Prison to be with other Catholics
Father Edmond Cannon – Jesuit.
Father Thomas Preston, lived richly in The Clink.
John Dayley and Thomas Leake – moved to Clink from Newgate to be held in close confinement.
Matthew Wilson, aka Edward Knott, Jesuit.
St John Southworth – Catholic priest, imprisoned here with 15 others
Jasper Loberick – Heretic.
John Lothropp’s fellow Puritans were released in 1634, but Lothrppp was considered
too dangerous, and retained. He eventually sailed to the New World on The Griffin.
Reverend Lothorpp – Heretic, escaped to America.
Thomas Preston - Benedictine.
Spent many years in prison and died in the Clink Prison, 5 April.
John Ogle, quite possibly prisoner of the Civil War,
as there was a Lord Ogle fighting for the king in the West Country,
notably holding Winchester in 1645.
Sir Kenelm Digby – prisoner of Civil War.
William Wilkinson – released from Winchester House on bail
(another possible prisoner of the Civil War)
Ambrose Terrent – petition for his release from his wife Hanah, 1648 (a Royalist?)
Robert Cox – died in The Clink.
Prusanna Carnall – prostitute, (that must be a professional name).
Margaret Clark – conspiracy to arson.
Thomas Bamlett – probably debtor.
Henry Broncker – probably released