Imprisoned at Lincoln Castle for her Quaker beliefs, Elizabeth Hooton complained to the authorities about the gaol's 'disorder and wickedness'

Religious groups such as the Quakers, who didn't follow the established Anglican Church, were greatly persecuted for their beliefs. In 1654, Elizabeth Hooten (1628– 1672) the first woman Quaker preacher, was imprisoned in Lincoln Castle gaol for five months.

Back then, gaols were run as private businesses and were often situated in ancient and crumbling buildings. Prisoners had to pay for their keep and unscrupulous gaolers charged excessive fees for food and bedding. Men, women and children were locked up together in filthy surroundings ─ without fresh water, sanitation, or work to enable them to pay their keep.

While incarcerated, Elizabeth wrote to the authorities describing the grim conditions and the abusive female gaoler. She demanded that something be done: 

It is a place of great disorder and wickedness, so that for oppression and profaneness I never came in such a place… This is required…to reform this place…that there may be some better order amongst the men and women which is prisoners, to keep them asunder and set them to work, and set them at liberty which is not able to pay the fees…

Crime, punishment and prisoners

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