From the Middle Ages until the mid-19th
century, Europeans who did not pay their debts were commonly imprisoned, a practice which made it all the harder for them to earn the money to repay their creditors. In the UK, debtors’ prison’s were eliminated with the Debtors Act of 1869. Debtors are still imprisoned in Dubai and – under certain specific circumstances – in Greece and some US states.
Debtors’ prisons featured in Charles Dickens’ books, notably Little Dorrit, as the author’s father was imprisoned for a time in the Marshalsea.