Mary Morris was a Matron in Wicklow Gaol who married the turnkey, Edward Storey.

Mary Morris the Matron

What did Mary Morris do?

During the 19th century, various acts of prison reform helped to improve conditions for prisoners. As a result, Mary had responsibility for:

  • Female prisoners’ medical wellbeing;
  • Prison work for women and girls;
  • Basic schooling  for women and girls.

Mary Morris provided female inmates with a moderate education while being rehabilitated inside the prison system. She acted as school mistress, teaching the ‘three Rs’: Reading; Writing; Arithmetic. Classes were held in a refectory type room.

In the interest of self-sufficiency, work for female inmates included:

  • Knitting;
  • Sewing;
  • Mending clothes;
  • Weaving;
  • Spinning;
  • Washing.

How much did Mary Morris earn?

Edward Storey was eventually made Governor of Wicklow Gaol. When this happened, both his and Mary’s salary increased to the extent that bribes from the prisoners – in theory at least – were no longer needed. Mary earned £40 per annum which, in today’s money, is about €3850. Her husband earned over three times that.

With their combined salaries, as well as lodgings in the governor’s house, Mary Morris and Edward Storey would have enjoyed excellent living conditions for the time. The couple lived and worked in Wicklow Gaol until death parted them, when Mary died in 1885.

Daily life for prisoners