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Brentsville in Prince William County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

County Jail

Brentsville

 
 
County Jail Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), July 5, 2020
1. County Jail Marker
Inscription.  
Built by 1822 with the Courthouse and Clerk’s Office, the Prince William County Jail, or gaol, was larger than most jails built in Virginia at that time. Debtors, runaway slaves, thieves and murderers awaited trial here in timber-lined rooms. Initially, nearby taverns provided the inmates’ meals. Later records refer to a Jail kitchen.

The Jailer or Sheriff supplied and maintained the Jail using local tax monies and fees that prisoners paid. Occasionally the Jailer personally funded the Jail’s upkeep and was reimbursed. County record books list several orders for items such as jail locks, buckets, blankets, beds, and stoves. The Civil War left the Jail in bad repair. The County borrowed money from citizens to repair the Jail. Records of numerous escapes are evidence that the building was never fully secure.

(caption under center, top picture) The 10-acre Prison Bounds were recorded on November 30, 1822.
Prince William County Deed Book #8, 1820-1823

… a room about ten feet square on the second
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floor, with an iron grating over an ordinary sized window … and a solid wooden door. It is furnished with an iron bedstead, on which was a mattress for comfort, and over the head of which a shaw was thrown for a pillow, two chairs, one however with only three legs … A fireplace leading to an open chimney was near the head of the bed. The walls of the room were bare and needed whitewashing.

Quotation: The Alexandria Gazette of August 29, 1872, described a Brentsville jail cell.

The County Sheriff

The Sheriff held a lucrative position in the County. He kept a portion of the taxes he collected and received fees for services he provided such as issuing warrants, administering punishment and summoning witnesses. He maintained the Jail, oversaw elections, and kept order in the Courthouse.

The Sheriff was appointed by the Governor and served a two-year term. He was also a County Magistrate. The position often rotated among the Magistrates. By the end of the 19th century, changes made throughout Virginia limited Sheriffs’ authority and the fees they received. Sheriffs retained their court and officer functions. In 1870, the Sheriff’s position became an elected office, which it remains today.

(caption under middle, lower
County Jail Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), July 5, 2020
2. County Jail Marker
picture) Above
: These items are like those that the Jailer had in his possession on June 6, 1849: tin cups, plates, knives, chamber pots, and blankets.
Reel 28, Prince William County Court Ordr Book 1846-1850

(caption under right, lower picture) Sheriff John Hooe, Jr. failed “…to preserve order…” in the County Court on November 2, 1830. Clerk of the Court Philip D. Dawe wrote this summons, commanding the County Coroner to deliver it to Hooe. Hooe was to appear before the Justices on the first Monday in December, 1830.
Clerks’ Loose Papers
 
Erected 2007 by Prince William County and the Friends of Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical month for this entry is June 1775.
 
Location. 38° 41.378′ N, 77° 29.982′ W. Marker is in Brentsville, Virginia, in Prince William County. Marker can be reached from Bristow Road (Virginia Route 619) 0.2 miles west of Izaak Walton Drive, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 12235 Bristow Road, Bristow VA 20136, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 12 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. County Courthouse (here, next to this marker); The Public Lot
County Jail marker in its previous orientation image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., September 26, 2007
3. County Jail marker in its previous orientation
(here, next to this marker); Brentsville Courthouse (here, next to this marker); Brentsville Jail (here, next to this marker); Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre (a few steps from this marker); Brentsville (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Brentsville (within shouting distance of this marker); One-Room School (within shouting distance of this marker); The Town (within shouting distance of this marker); Clerk's Office (within shouting distance of this marker); Tavern Square (within shouting distance of this marker); Haislip-Hall House (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Brentsville.
 
More about this marker. Prince William County and the Friends of Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre added several markers to this area in May 2007. This marker is between the Jail and Courthouse buildings.
 
Front of Brentsville County Jail image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., September 26, 2007
4. Front of Brentsville County Jail
Back of Brentsville Jail image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., September 26, 2007
5. Back of Brentsville Jail
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 8, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 4, 2007, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,623 times since then and 29 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 5, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   3, 4, 5. submitted on October 4, 2007, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.

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Jun. 12, 2024