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Hogarth, My Mum 1700-2000

By 1776 transportation to the New World had been interrupted by the American War of Independence and old sailing ships known as hulks were dragged up the Thames and stuffed with up to 70,000 prisoners. This was to be an expedient that lasted till 1859. In 1779 the government introduced an Act which created a new form of hard labour for prisoners in the hulks. It commenced with dredging the river Thames - a profitable precursor to expanding trade with the colonies - and made provision for building Millbank penitentiary amongst others. The penitentiary was the largest in Europe. It became the 19th Century cesspit for containing the rowdiest of the political mob.