The British Empire and its effect on Plymouth

Mill Prison

Mill Prison in Millbay, Plymouth was built to house an overflow of prisoners from the Prison hulks of the American War of Independence and later the French Revolutionary wars and the War of 1812. Between 1777 and 1783, some 10,000 prisoners passed through Plymouth of which an incredibly small number of just 179 died showing that hygiene and food must have been of a reasonable standard in an era not known for its care of prisoners. It seems as if the jailers discriminated in favour of the American prisoners who they viewed as common kinsmen over the plight of French and Spanish who were brought in. The Americans were consistently given better food and treated less harshly than the Europeans were. An example of this was illustrated by the extraordinary honours afforded to Captain William Henry Allen on his death in 1812.

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