Ancestry UK

Town Gaol, Taunton, Somerset

Taunton had a small Town Gaol on Magdalene Lane (now Street).

In 1784, John Howard described it as:

Two insecure and offensive rooms in an old house rented by the keeper at £10 per annum. No court: no sewer: no water accessible to prisoners. Keeper no salary. Fees, 6s. 8d. no table. Licence for beer.

1782, Aug. 1, Prisoners 2, and one prisoner of war.

In 1812, James Neild reported that the gaol had become the Red Lion public house, with the constable as its keeper. It was by then used only as a lock-up house for a night.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • No individual records identified for this establishment — any information welcome.
  • The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU. Has a wide variety of crime and prison records going back to the 1770s, including calendars of prisoners, prison registers and criminal registers.
  • Find My Past has digitized many of the National Archives' prison records, including prisoner-of-war records, plus a variety of local records including Manchester, York and Plymouth. More information.
  • Prison-related records on Ancestry UK include Prison Commission Records, 1770-1951, and local records from London, Swansea, Gloucesterhire and West Yorkshire. More information.
  • The Genealogist also has a number of National Archives' prison records. More information.


  • Prison Oracle - resources those involved in present-day UK prisons.
  • GOV.UK - UK Government's information on sentencing, probation and support for families.