Scottish Prisons 18th and 19th Century

Irish Prisons

English Prisons (coming soon)



Most of the female convicts to Van Diemen's Land started their imprisonment or punishment in local prisons of the United Kingdom and Ireland.  Our researchers will be looking into the conditions, life and administration of these prisons.  This page is still under construction.


Prison Food

As listed by John Grant Stewart M.D. Surgeon & Superintendent of the Nautilus 1838 in his Surgeon's Journal.  The surgeon further compares the prison diet to the ship's food rations in the general comments section of the journal.


Prison Diet for Females

(Information of prisoners on board)

Dornoch, Sutherland

d in money given in lieu of rations

Leicester County

Breakfast: ½ pint of gruel & ½ pint milk

Dinner: ½ pint of beef soup & 1# potatoes.

Supper: pint of gruel

Small loaf, (mainly ½ quartern) daily


4d in money in lieu of rations.

A shop kept in jail by gaoler.


Porridge & milk or small beer for breakfast.

Broth with two-penny & penny rolls for dinner.  No supper.

Leicester Town

Pint of peas soup & 1# potatoes daily

About ½ pint oatmeal two days in week.

1/2 quartern loaf every other day.

Dalghelly (Wales)

No note.

Nottingham Town

A quartern loaf daily; & 1 qt milk 4 days in week, 3oz other days, 1# oatmeal weekly.


1½# bread daily, & 1 pint milk Ms & Ws.

7d a week in cash for coals & which is laid out in tea & coals by each in turn.


No note

Haverford West

20# flour & 1½# cheese weekly.

Gruel ad libit for breakfast, dinner & supper.

Newgate London

Gruel ad libit, twice a day; potatoes & beef 4 times a week; 1¼ brown bread daily.  Dinner peas soup ad libit.

Hereford (before trial)

1 pint of gruel & penny loaf, breakfast.

“             “              “                   dinner

After trial for six weeks

1 quart of peas soup for dinner & two days in the week 1# potatoes in lieu.

Penitentiary Millbank

Breakfast 6 oz bread & ½ pt milk thickened with flour .

Dinner 6 oz meat & 1# potatoes 4 days in week; bread & cheese other 3.  Supper pint gruel & 6 oz bread.  On bread and cheese days 26 oz bread instead of 18 oz; & on Monday onion with cheese.

Edinburgh (Jail)

Breakfast porridge with pint of milk.

Dinner: Broth & ½ [? illegible] of bread.

On Saturday: Bread & cheese with pint of small beer.

Supper: Porridge & milk.


½ quartern loaf daily.  Porridge with ½ pint milk.  There seems an omission in the notes of Perth diet.  The women looked well fed.

Edinh (Bridewell]

Breakfast: Porridge & ½ pint of beer.

Dinner: Broth 2 pints (cow head)

Quartn of bread Mondays & Wedness.

½ bread every Thursday.


Pint of gruel daily for breakfast, ½ quartn loaf every other day; ½ peck [loaf] potatoes weekly; pint of gruel for supper.  Meat & potatoes given raw.


Porridge & milk Breakfast.

About quart of good soup & #i bread no solid meat; no supper; Convicts & 12 month - prisoners allowed 1 penny’s worth more bread than 30 or 60 day prisoners.

York (Castle)

Gruel morning & evening ad libit.  ½# beef one day in week & potatoes ample for dinner. 3 days gruel for dinner & 3 ox head soup milk potatoes.

1½# bread.

York House of Correction Harefield.

Gruel night & morning 5 times a week; other times broth.  Dinner (Sund. large rice pudding), Monday onion & bread; Tuesday gruel; Wed 6 oz meat; potatoes & bread; Thursd: gruel.  Frid: ox head soup with peas.  Saturday gruel & pimento.

NB           # = pound

ad libitum = as much as they desired


No notes; considered full by prisoners.





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For academic referencing (suggestion only) Database: [http address], FCRC Female Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land database, entry for xxxx ID no xxx, accessed online [date].

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