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This Day in Georgia History

February 21, 1730

Oglethorpe Committee Began Second Investigation

A year after the Gaols [Jails] Committee had been appointed to investigate abuses in England’s prisons, chairman James Oglethorpe launched a second round of investigations. In 1729, he and the committee had concentrated their attention to Fleet Prison, where Oglethorpe’s friend Robert Castell had died from smallpox. This new round of investigations, which lasted through May, would focus on the king’s prisons in Southwark and Marshalsea. Oglethorpe’s work on the Gaols Committee had two important consequences for Georgia. First, it exposed the plight of England’s imprisoned debtors, leading him to consider the broader questions of the causes and solutions of poverty. Second, his humanitarian efforts were widely noted – both in Parliament and in the press – which would aid his efforts as a leader in the movement for a new colony in America to send England’s worthy poor.