Manuscript Group 929, Newark Town Jail, Newark, NJ, Record book, 1830 – 1831, 1852

Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 929, Newark Town Jail, Newark, NJ

Record book, 1830 – 1831, 1852, 0.1 linear feet / 1 volume

Call Number: MG 929



List of debtors and state prisoners in confinement at the Newark Town Jail, kept by Sheriff Jacob K. Mead (1782-1848).

Historical Note:

The second Newark, New Jersey jail was built in 1700 and was located near the first courthouse in the area of Broad Street and Branford Place.  It was a two-story building with cells on the first floor.  The second floor served first as courtrooms, then as a debtor’s prison, and finally as the residence of the jail keeper.  The jail was replaced in 1907 with a new prison located at Newark and Wilsey Streets.

Police protection in Newark, New Jersey originated in the 1790’s with local efforts at fire protection.  At a meeting of the Newark Fire Association, three hundred citizens volunteered to serve on a night watch and, in rotating squads of sixteen, patrolled the streets in search of fires, criminal mischief, and curfew violators.  Lawbreakers were brought to the watch-house and jailed according to the decision of the person in charge that evening.

In 1800, orchards were still plentiful in the city, and fruit theft was a major problem.  As a result, a committee of thirteen formed a patrol and raised an account of $100 to use as a reward for those apprehending fruit thieves.  As orchards gave way to population growth, it is likely that this force evolved into a general constabulary.  These records from 1830-1831 list the names of 34 men called constables and it is likely that this was still largely a volunteer force.


Monumental Inscriptions, Essex County, Vol. 1A, The New Jersey Historical Society.

A History of the City of Newark, New Jersey, Vol. 1 (Lewis Historical Publishing, New York, 1913).

Provenance Note:

The source of this volume is unknown.

Scope and Content Note:

This volume consists of prisoner records kept by Sheriff Jacob K. Mead (1782-1848) at the Newark Town Jail from October 1, 1830 to October 18, 1831.  The volume also contains five pages of account information from an unknown company, possibly a Newark coal merchant, dating from 1852.

The jail records consist of sixteen pages of the names of inmates in the debtor’s prison and nine pages of names of inmates in the regular prison population.  Beside each of the debtor’s names are the name of the plaintiff, the date of the debt, the name of the constable, the debt amount, added costs, date of discharge, and number of days served.  Most of the debts were less than $20, and most debtors were incarcerated for less than two days.

Listings of prisoners held for criminal offenses include the date of capture, the suspects name, offense, name of the apprehending constable, and date of release or transfer to state prison.  Typical criminal offenses include drunkenness, assault, forgery, theft, adultery, and disorderly conduct.  Many pages have been removed.

Related Collections:

Manuscript Group 203, Newark Police Department, First Precinct Complaint book

Manuscript Group 208, Ichabod C. Nettleship (1832-1886), Secret Service investigator, Papers

Manuscript Group 1249, Joseph Schott Collection: Regarding history of the Newark Police Department

Processed by Luis Delfino, June 2001 as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records

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