1775 "Infamous Richard Steel" Prisoner Reward For Recapture American Revolution
Three Weeks after Lexington & Concord, a Reward is Paid for the Recapture of “the infamous” Richard Steele Who Escaped the First American Prison
Manuscript Document signed "George Wyllys", as secretary treasurer for Hartford, Connecticut, two pages (one sheet), 6" x 8", May 1775. A fine colonial document which reads: "At a General Assembly... at Hartford on the Second Thursday of May... 1775. On the memorial of Arnout Cannon showing that at great trouble & expence he had apprehended & brot [sic] from New York the infamous Richard Steel so that he might be recommitted to Newgate Prison and praying for a reimbursement of his expence & a reward for his trouble... It is thereupon by this assembly granted & ordered that the treasurer of the Colony pay ... the sum of eleven pound twelve shillings & nine pence money in compensation of his charge & expence and also the further sum of Three pounds money as a reward for his risque [sic] and service in full of the engagement specified in the advertisement for taking up the said Richard Steel." Docketed May 30, 1775 by Cannon on the verso, indicating his receipt of the funds. With an additional notation that the Order was Audited May 13, 1776.
Steel would make one more escape from New-Gate on Aug. 24, 1775, but did not return. According to an account in The Courant, he joined the British army, deserted, was captured and executed.
The first prisoner arrived at Newgate Prison on December 22, 1773, the first official prison in America. He escaped 18 days later. Subsequent prisoners were equally resourceful and many escapes -successful and unsuccessful- were to follow. Richard Steele, a "notorious villain and burglarian" held the record of three escapes from Newgate. Political prisoners (Tories) were confined here during the Revolutionary War.