John Howard, the eighteenth century prison reformer once lodged on this site. The tablet was erected on 31st December 1906 by the Warrington Society. The unveiling ceremony took place in May 1907, on the anniversary of the publication of Howard's work, 'The State of the Prisons in England and Wales'. Mayor Griffith pulled back the green curtain, and addressing those who had gathered for the ceremony, saying that although there had been many memorials to John Howard, he did not think there were any to beat this in beauty or appropriateness, because he was in a way a Warrington man.
John Howard (1726-1790). John Howard became famous for the 'State of Prisons in England and Wales', which was written and published in Warrington in 1777 at Egres Press in Horsemarket Street. He was born in Hackney and the fortune left to him by his father in 1742 allowed him to travel. In 1756, the year after the death of his wife, he travelled to Lisbon. He was captured by a French Privateer and taken to Brest Prison. A short captivity left a lasting impression of the bad treatment given to prisoners of war. He married for a second time and moved to Cardington, near Bedfordshire, where he became the High-Sheriff. He recognised that many prisoners were being held unfairly in prison without being tried and even when they had been found innocent, until family and friends bribed the jailers to let them out. He began a series of tours around Great Britain and Ireland investigating the conditions of prisoners. He wrote about what he observed and made recommendation. As a result of these actions, two laws were passed in 1774, one providing a fixed salary for jailers, the other enforcing cleanliness. Much of the remainder of his life was spent touring the prisons on the mainland and the continent. He visited Warrington many times during his life, for many months at a time. In 1774 he was visiting the northern countries to re-invigorate his prison studies.