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The Clink Prison

The Clink was a prison in Southwark, which operated from the 1144 until 1780. It was possibly the oldest men's prison and probably the oldest women's prison in England. The prison served as the private gaol of an area owned by the Bishop of Winchester. It held a variety of offenders: debtors, heretics, drunks and harlots, catholics accused of attempting to overhrow the crown, and most importantly to us, Protestant Separatists. Religeous prisons were treated worse than all others and seen as sunversive and traitorous.

In 1592, Henry Barrowe and John Greenwood were released from The Clink, founded the Independent Church. They returned to The Clink in 1593 and were then hung at Tyburn. The Independent Church congregation eventually sailed to America on the Mayflower.

In a cruel turn of fate, it later became official policy to supply the settlers with willing 'slave labour', which began a profitable trade in shipping prisoners to America.


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