Sir Thomas Malory, His Turbulent Career: A Biography

By Edward Hicks | Go to book overview

Chapter XII
NEWGATE GAOL. THE LONDON LIBRARY

NEWGATE GAOL, to which Sir Thomas Malory was finally committed, -- after periods of confinement in the Tower of London, Ludgate Prison, and the Marshalsea, -- was used at this period as a place of detention both for prisoners of State and for ordinary criminals. One offender of the same category as Sir Thomas had just been released from there, namely, William Wyghall, of Nottingham, yeoman, who " for certain offences against the cathedral Church of St. Peter, York, and John, cardinal and archbishop of that church," had been committed to Newgate. Wyghall, however, having "merited the benefit of absolution by the cardinal," had on February 20, 1452, received pardon "for all felonies, murders, escapes, and all other offences and any consequent outlawries." As the Bastille of the day, Newgate was an object of popular wrath during Wat Tyler's Rebellion, -- it is recorded that " the mob brake up the prison of Newgate," -- and it was rebuilt partly, if not wholly, at the expense of Lord Mayor. Richard Whittington, a "Warwickshire lad,"1 who passed to his reward some 25 years before

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1
Long Compton, on the Gloucestershire border, claims to have been his birthplace. "Dick Whittington's cottage" is in the village. The superior claim of Pauntley, Glos., is based on an admittedly incorrect assumption. See Mr. F. Were's article in the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archmological Society's Proceedings, vol. xxxi, p. 286. This was published in 1908, but the makers of Gloucestershire guide-books still gaily repeat the error.

-65-

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