1) A regional word for a lock-up or prison.

The OED has references in c.1515 and c.1540 to kidcotes in York and Bridlington. However, ‘kid’ has several meanings, including firewood and young goat, and the origin of the compound term is said to be uncertain. The editors speculated that it referred initially to one such gaol and was then transferred to others, as in the case of ‘bridewell’, and the eventual spread of the term across Yorkshire supports that view. In fact, kidcote has a much longer history in York, and at least two gaols in the city were so called: 1423 ‘the prison called the woman kytcote on Ouse Bridge’

1487 Also I bewit xls to be disposed ... in meate and drynke emonge the prisoners of the castell and kytcottes in York . These early spellings which have ‘kit’ as the prefix draw attention to another York reference from that century: 1482 it was agreed ... that the said Brompton, Lent and Gyllmyn shold be set in the Kytton, thar to abyd to soch tym as it lyst the Counsell odyr wys to be awysid [advised] and farther to be punyshid apon thar beyryng . The inference may be that the original place in which prisoners were kept was a cote, a hovel fit only for harbouring an animal such as a cat. Or perhaps, since Kit was short for Katherine, from the early fourteenth century at least, suitable for harbouring women prisoners, as in 1423. The OED quotes: 1600 Such foolish Kittes of such a skittish kinde, In Bridewell booke are euery where to finde. There are other early spellings with ‘kid’ as the prefix: 1430 Et lego xxs ad emendum panem, cervisiam, et carnes bovinas et multonum dandas prisonariis in Castro Ebor. in les Kydcotes et in prisona domini Archiepiscopi Ebor., York

1450 In mercede Radulphi Somer ... reparantium defectus fenestre camere et de le Kydcote per ij dies, York. This spelling became usual thereafter: 1536 withoute the pryson doore callyd the Mayres Kydcote, York

1589 it is agreed that Robert Pearson shall presentlye viewe the Sheriffes kydcote ... the same to be repaired, York. Evidently, the Mayor and Sheriff each had his own prison or kidcote and the plural continued to be in frequent use: 1639 To the poore prisoners in the Kidecoates, York. It seems quite likely that the word originated in York and spread from there to other Yorkshire towns, ultimately also to neighbouring regions. Bridlington’s kidcote dates from before 1540 and there was also one in Pontefract about the same time: 1535 ‘for breaking the laudable customs of the said town the defendant commanded the plaintiff to be had to the Kydcote ... which is the place of imprisonment ... for such offenders'. It seems that kidcotes came to be seen as municipal prisons, and eventually most towns felt they had a right to such a place. In 1728-9, for example, the principal inhabitants of Huddersfield presented a petition to the magistrates claiming they were much infested and oppressed with vagrants, so that the constable, for want of a kidd coat or prison hath been obliged to charge persons to his aid in secureing ... such vagrants. It was ordered that one be built at the Expence of the Township and erected by the Constables.

dates 1423 1430 1450 1482 1487 1535 1536 1589 1639 1728-1729

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