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Ask a Genealogist: Prisoners in the Sugar House

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Can you explain where my ancestor was held prison during the Revolutionary War?  In his pension it says he was an inmate of the "Sugar house" in New York.


Reply by David Allen Lambert, NEHGS Chief Genealogist

"The Sugar House" was the name used in reference to three large sugar warehouses used befre the Revolutionary War. They were all located in New York City.  One was located on Crown Street (now Liberty Street); a second on Rose Street (now William Street); and the last in the northwest corner of the churchyard of Trinity Church.  Within the walls of each of these large structures hundred of American prisoners of war were kept.  These temporary prisons offered horrible conditions.  It is estimated that over 17,000 perished in the Sugar House prisons, and within the British prison ships in New York harbor. Most of what remained of these structures were demolished during the middle of the 19th century.

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