Turnkey


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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.

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References in classic literature ?
One or another on 'em,' said the turnkey, repudiating beforehand the refusal of all his suggestions.
'Got a room now; haven't you?' the turnkey asked the debtor after a week or two.
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.
'Well!' replied the turnkey, folding his paper on his knee, so as to get with greater convenience at the top of the next column.
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.
"He is worse than that, -- he is a devil!" returned the turnkey.
"By all means," replied the governor, and he signed to the turnkey to open the door.
The stout turnkey having been relieved from the lock, sat down, and looked at him carelessly, from time to time, while a long thin man who had relieved him, thrust his hands beneath his coat tails, and planting himself opposite, took a good long view of him.
'Why, I don't rightly know about to-night,' replied the stout turnkey. 'You'll be chummed on somebody to-morrow, and then you'll be all snug and comfortable.
'Have you nothing else to ask him, sir?' inquired the turnkey.
Cornelius saw nothing but the golden brocade cap, tipped with lace, such as the Frisian girls wore; he heard nothing but some one whispering into the ear of the turnkey. But the latter put his heavy keys into the white hand which was stretched out to receive them, and, descending some steps, sat down on the staircase which was thus guarded above by himself, and below by the dog.