turnkey


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
See: warden

TURNKEY. A person under the superintendence of a jailor, whose employment is to open and fasten the prison doors and to prevent the prisoners from escaping.
     2. It is his duty to use due diligence, and he may be punished for gross neglect or willful misconduct in permitting prisoners to escape.

Mentioned in ?
References in classic literature ?
The turnkey laughed, and gave us good day, and stood laughing at us over the spikes of the wicket when we descended the steps into the street.
That Colonel durst no more take leave of him, than that turnkey durst ask him his intentions respecting a case.
P'raps,' quoth the turnkey, 'she'll take a ackney coach.
Or p'raps,' said the turnkey, offering his suggestions from the the top of his well-worn wooden stool, as he might have offered them to a child for whose weakness he felt a compassion, 'p'raps she'll get her brother, or her sister, to come along with her.
One or another on 'em,' said the turnkey, repudiating beforehand the refusal of all his suggestions.
Why, I don't rightly know about to-night,' replied the stout turnkey.
Weller, who stationed himself at the back of the chair, whispered that the sitting was merely another term for undergoing an inspection by the different turnkeys, in order that they might know prisoners from visitors.
After some discussion, it was discovered that one of the turnkeys had a bed to let, which Mr.
This turnkey had given him to understand that he was lodged, like some few others in the jail, apart from the mass of prisoners; because he was not supposed to be utterly depraved and irreclaimable, and had never occupied apartments in that mansion before.
In the space between, sat a turnkey reading a newspaper, and outside the further railing, Kit saw, with a palpitating heart, his mother with the baby in her arms; Barbara's mother with her never-failing umbrella; and poor little Jacob, staring in with all his might, as though he were looking for the bird, or the wild beast, and thought the men were mere accidents with whom the bars could have no possible concern.
During this melancholy pause, the turnkey read his newspaper with a waggish look (he had evidently got among the facetious paragraphs) until, happening to take his eyes off for an instant, as if to get by dint of contemplation at the very marrow of some joke of a deeper sort than the rest, it appeared to occur to him, for the first time, that somebody was crying.
She was a hired nurse, the wife of one of the turnkeys, and her countenance expressed all those bad qualities which often characterize that class.