In The Profligate Son, historian Nicola Phillips hauntingly reconstructs this kin tragedy from a lately stumbled on trove of letters and court docket records. After Mr. Jackson’s acquisition of a fortune in the course of his carrier for the East India corporation in Madras used to be undermined via fake accusations that ruined his occupation, he invested all his destiny pursuits in his simply son. William grew up in nice convenience and used to be despatched to the easiest faculties within the state. but if the relations moved to London, the teen rebelled opposed to the loneliness and infrequently brutal regimes of public education and escaped to discover the pleasures of the city together with his filthy rich buddies. His makes an attempt to provoke his friends led him into disastrous degrees of debt that ended in his imprisonment and ever extra unlawful efforts to meet his collectors, which appalled his prudent, sternly moralistic father. Mr. Jackson made up our minds that the single method to wrestle his son’s wayward habit used to be to fully lower him off. In doing so, he condemned William to repeated imprisonment and a deadly voyage to an Australian penal colony. In Sydney William sought to rebuild his existence with a family members of his personal, yet even there his father’s legacy introduced additional tragedy.
A masterpiece of literary nonfiction as dramatic as any Dickens novel, The Profligate Son transports readers from the steamy streets of India and the dependent squares and seedy brothels of London to the sunbaked beaches of Australia, tracing the arc of a existence lengthy buried in history.
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Additional resources for The Profligate Son: Or, A True Story of Family Conflict, Fashionable Vice, and Financial Ruin in Regency Britain
31 Like many inmates, William handed his idle hours ingesting, playing, and whoring with prostitutes who slipped neglected throughout the prison’s porous protection along the varied other halves and daughters bringing nutrients for inmates. Such actions had develop into extra stress-free because he had all started sharing the hire of an condominium at the Master’s aspect with Captain Joseph Bradley, a fellow inmate of comparable rank and disposition with whom he had struck up a friendship. regrettably, William selected his first dinner at domestic to bitch approximately what he considered as negative remedy by way of a “brutal turnkey” for forcing him out of a comfy room simply because he couldn't have enough money the two guineas every week hire, yet he passed over to say the wear and tear that he and Bradley had performed whereas within the room. Such used to be Mr. Jackson’s outrage at his son’s therapy that he made a few excuse to withdraw after dinner and proceeded immediately to the criminal to check the reality of the problem. as well as the allowance of one guinea per week he paid William, Jackson had additionally paid extra charges for a enhanced room for his son, and he now demanded to grasp from the warden why any prisoner will be forced to sleep within the universal taproom. The turnkey on responsibility that evening was once summoned and speedy apprised Jackson of the dissolute habit that had culminated in his son’s expulsion. William and Bradley’s revels had often integrated bringing prostitutes into the legal, and their excesses had ended in damaged home windows and chairs. The turnkey was once much more disenchanted as the furnishings belonged to him and whilst he complained in regards to the harm, they'd in simple terms laughed at him. Mr. Jackson again grimly to Gloucester position and past due that evening, after the servants have been abed, challenged William to provide an explanation for the turnkey’s model of occasions. Father and son back faced one another throughout a chasm of other values as William part denied and part admitted what had occurred. on the end of this interview, William bade his father an icily well mannered sturdy evening and set out in darkness to make his as far back as penitentiary and the borrowers’ tradition that was once now extra everyday than that of his kinfolk. To penal reformers, the Fleet and different prisons have been notoriously missing in provision to make sure the morality and in their unlucky inmates. “Your Lordships can't probably shape an idea of the profligacy and licentious sex among the sexes, and need of morals, and defiance of each measure of decency within the King’s Bench, the Fleet and Marshalsea,” the reformer James Neild had warned the Committee on Imprisonment for Civil Debt in 1809. It was once renowned that prisoners have been frequently visited via prostitutes and different “abandoned girls” who mingled with crowds of alternative viewers every day. certainly, the Fleet had won a name for being the biggest brothel in London. In 1812 one attorney argued that indefinite confinement for debt had a deplorable and inevitable influence at the debtor’s morals: there's an incessant continuance, of insurrection and affliction, indecent language, reviling, blasphemy, gaming, and drunkenness and sexual debauchery, and nearly each species of vice to which human nature is companies.