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Handcuffs, London, England, 1840-1900

‘NEWGATE PRISON’ is stamped in bold letters upon these heavy handcuffs. If you were wearing these you were in trouble. They were made by Hiatt and Company. It was founded in 1780 as a maker of ‘Prisoners’ Handcuffs, Felons’ Leg Irons and Gang Chains to the Trade’. The iron cuffs are seen with their key. They were used at the infamous Newgate Prison in London which is thought to have existed in some form from at least the 1100s. It underwent numerous rebuilds over the centuries. It was notorious for its harsh regime, poor sanitation and overcrowded conditions. Disease epidemics such as ‘jail fever’ often occurred there. Jail fever is a form of typhus. The Central Criminal Court, known as the ‘Old Bailey’, now stands on the original site of the Prison.

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Glossary: handcuffs

Shackles for the hand, generally consisting of a divided metal ring which is locked around the wrist; usually made in pairs of rings connected by a short chain or bar.

Glossary: crime and punishment

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