Also see the glossary entry for counter/compter.
The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:
Open location in Google Maps: 51.513683, -0.089833
Poultry Compter, Wood Street, a sheriff’s prison, which stood a little to the east of Grocers' Hall Court; Chapel Place led directly to it. It was the only prison in London with a ward set apart for Jews (probably due to its proximity to the Jewry), and was the only prison left unattacked in the riots of 1780. It was a brick building of fifteen wards—the king's, the prince's, the upper, middle and women's wards, and the Jews' ward. There was a chapel, and the leads were used for exercise grounds.
John Bradford, one of the most illustrious of the Marian martyrs, was imprisoned here from January 30 to June 30, 1550. Here he was persecuted with "conferences," but as nothing could stir his fortitude, "he was suddenly conveyed out of the Compter, in the night season to Newgate; and from thence he was carried to Smithfield." Dekker and Boyse, two unfortunate sons of song, were long inhabitants of the Poultry Compter. Here died Lamb, the conjuror (commonly called Dr. Lamb), of the injuries he had received from the mob, who pelted him (June 13, 1628) from Moorgate to the Windmill in the Old Jewry, where he was felled to the ground with a stone, and was thence carried to the Poultry Compter, where he died the same night The rabble believed that the doctor dealt with the devil, and assisted the Duke of Buckingham in misleading the King. The City had to pay heavily for their negligence in not protecting the unfortunate man. The last slave imprisoned in England was confined (1772) in the Poultry Compter. This was Somerset, a negro, the particulars of whose case excited Sharpe and Clarkson in their useful and successful labour in the cause of negro emancipation.
Some four houses west from this parish of St. Mildred is a prison house pertaining to one of the sheriffs of London, and is called the Compter in the Poultry. This hath been there kept and continued time out of mind, for I have not read of the original thereof.—Stow, p. 99.
First Officer. Nay, we have been scholars, I can tell you,—we could not have been knaves so soon else; for as in that notable city called London, stand two most famous universities, Poultry and Wood Street, where some are of twenty years' standing, and have took all their degrees, from the Master's side, down to the Mistress's side, the Hole, so in like manner, etc.— The Phoenix, by T. Middleton, 4to, 1607.
Prisoners committed by the Lord Mayor were sent to the Poultry; prisoners committed by the sitting aldermen to Giltspur Street prison. The prisoners were removed from the Poultry Compter to White Cross Street prison shortly after the latter was completed.
---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.