This collection consists of records from three gaols which operated in Somerset:
- Registers of Prisoners (1808-1843)
- Description books (1821-1843)
Shepton Mallet Gaol
- Registers of Prisoners (1856-1879)
- Description books (1855-1878)
- Gaol registers (1810-1879)
- description books (1807-1859)
The original County Gaol was Ilchester, where the prison was also described as a house of correction and accommodated both felons and debtors. The last prisoners were transferred from Ilchester gaol at the beginning of 1843, the site being sold in 1848. The house of correction at Wilton became the County gaol in February 1843, when debtors were admitted, while Shepton Mallet gaol continued as a house of correction, serving the eastern part of the county. Some debtors were also imprisoned there.
Gaol Registers provide the following details for each individual: forename, surname, place of origin and received date. Other details such as details of admission and discharge, charges, crimes and sentences are often available, in addition. Description books provide personal information about the prisoner and can include age, height, eye and hair colour, marital status, details of residence, occupation and other defining marks.