And so they came to the Rose Tavern and took all the gentlemen and their servants and carried them to the Counter, compter in the poultry, counter in the poultry, for I haue not read of the originall thereof, from the Master's side down to the Mistress's side, have took all their degrees, jew poultry prison, john strype poultry, machyn poultry compter, machyn poultry counter, poultry compter, poultry counter, stow survey of london prison, This hath beene there kept and continued time out of minde, thomas middleton poultry, tudor prison poultry
The What in the Where now?
That was my reaction the first time I came across this place-name in the state papers. Turned out it used to be a prison in London’s west-end.
The Poultry refers to a street between Cheapside and Cornhill, which was the centre of the poultry trade in the city.
Compter is a term for a prison, deriving from the French compter, to count (counter was also commonly used in the records). It must be that the counter was literally a table on which a prisoner counted out his due money to secure release from custody.
So the Compter in the Poultry was an old prison for debtors, run by the sheriff.
It was first mentioned in the records in 1477 – Le counter in le Pultree – but that gives no indication of the antiquity of the place. Continue reading