The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Fleet Prison

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FLEET PRISON, or FLEET, a historic prison in London, so called from its situation by the side of the Fleet (q.v.). In it were confined debtors, bankrupts and persons committed for contempt of the courts of chancery, exchequer and common pleas. It existed from the 12th century until its abolition in 1846. During its long existence it housed temporarily many prominent persons, amongst whom may be mentioned William Penn, who was there in 1707. A vivid description of its life, customs and abuses may be read in Dickens' ‘Pickwick Papers.’ Perhaps the most outstanding of the last were the so-called “Fleet Marriages” (q.v.).