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Nov 29, 2017
This week’s theme
Toponyms

This week’s words
faience
laconic
newgate
timbuktu
campanile

Newgate: London's Prototype of Hell
Newgate: London’s Prototype of Hell
By Stephen Halliday

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

newgate

PRONUNCIATION:
(NOO/NYOO-gayt)

MEANING:
verb tr.: To imprison.
noun: A prison or a prison-like place or situation.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Newgate, an infamous prison in London, in use since the 13th century, rebuilt many times, and torn down in 1902. The prison is so-named because originally it was located on the site of Newgate (a gate in the Roman London Wall). Earliest documented use: 1592.

NOTES:
Some notable guests of the Newgate prison and their serious crimes:
  • William Penn, the founder of the state of Pennsylvania, for criticism of religion. While in prison, given paper to write a retraction, he instead wrote his treatise No Cross, No Crown
  • Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe for his satirical pamphlet about religion The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters
  • John Walter, the founder of The Times, for libel on the Duke of York
The prison also had people come in for minor crimes, such as murder. For example, Ben Jonson, playwright and poet, got in for killing a man in a duel, but was released after reciting a Bible verse.

Newgate was a private prison, so inmates had to pay for everything: room, board, getting shackled and getting unshackled, and so on. Often, they were double-billed, but that may have been due to computer errors. Software was not as reliable in the 13th century.

Because running prisons for profit is such a humane thing to do, we have private prisons, even in the 21st century. Check out this report of an undercover investigation of a private prison.

USAGE:
“One fair contunding* of that whelp .. would be reward enough for being Newgated by the Speaker.”
Alan S. Bell (ed.); Lord Cockburn: Selected Letters; Birlinn; 2005.
* contund: to bruise by beating

See more usage examples of newgate in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
If I can do no more, let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won. -Louisa May Alcott, writer and reformist (29 Nov 1832-1888)

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