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Penal Servitude: Convicts and long-term imprisonment, 1853-1948

Johnston, Helen; Godfrey, Barry; Cox, David J.


Barry Godfrey

David J. Cox


Penal Servitude is the first comprehensive study to examine the convict prison system that housed all those sentenced to penal servitude during this time. The research details the administration and evolution of the system, from its creation in the 1850s and the building of the prison estate to the classification of prisoners within it. Exploring life in the convict prison through the experiences of the people who were subjected to it, the authors shed light on various details such as prison diet, education, and labour. what they find reveals the internal regimes, the everyday endurances, conformity, resistance, and rule breaking of convicts, and the interactions with the warders, medical officers, and governors that shaped daily life in the system. Reconstructing the life histories of hundreds of convict prisoners from detailed prison records, criminal registers, census data and personal correspondence, Penal Servitude illuminates the lives of those who experienced long-term imprisonment in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Johnston, H., Godfrey, B., & Cox, D. J. (2022). Penal Servitude: Convicts and long-term imprisonment, 1853-1948. Montreal; London: McGill-Queen's University Press

Book Type Authored Book
Publication Date 2022-01
Deposit Date Feb 21, 2022
Publisher McGill-Queen's University Press
Series Title States, People, and the History of Social Change
Series Number 5
ISBN 9780228009092
Public URL
Publisher URL