‘in solitary confinement’

A letter from a man saying that he has been locked in solitary confinement for nearly two weeks, 7 September 1861 Catalogue ref: MH 12/6848

Poor Law Union: Bethnal Green

Union counties: Middlesex


Bethnal Green Workhouse

September 7th, 1861

Gentlemen, I humbly beg to draw your attention to these few lines which I have written concerning the most cruel treatment I have received.  For nearly a fortnight I have been confined in a small cell in solitary confinement. For 9 days, and one pound of oakum beyond the regular task of the house has been given me to do. I am sorry to say Gentlemen that I am suffering from a fractured thigh and locked in a solitary cell [from] which I am writing these lines. I must tell you the truth gentlemen that on my first admittance into this house, although being so ill I was placed in the stone yard and there kept until the medical man ordered otherwise. Now the master, to work out his own malicious designs, has kept me in a closed solitary cell and has kept me for three days on bread and water on account of my not being able to complete so heavy a task of work. Furthermore, Gentlemen, I must add that insane paupers has been confined with me for the last two days, not knowing whether they are dangerous or not.  I have stated my case to the visiting committee on Thursday last and the answer I received was that they had nothing to do with it. I was told, it was entirely up to the master to do what he thinks proper … My affliction and the awful treatment I have received at his command is almost too shocking to relate. I hope you honoured gentlemen will excuse the writing of an unfortunate inmate of the workhouse. I humbly appeal unto your honours, gentlemen to condescend and take my case into consideration to see whether it is lawful for them to confine an inmate for a week or two together in a solidary cell with insane people. I humbly trust to your honoured gentlemen as protectors of such as are unable to protect themselves, that you will consider it.  Hoping you will put a stop to such cruel proceedings and enquire into the cause of it, I remain a humble inmate of Bethnal Green Workhouse.

James Molland.

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