Bodmin Jail is a historic former prison situated in Bodmin, on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.

Bodmin Jail was designed by Sir John Call and built in 1779 by prisoners of war, and was operational for 150 years, in which it saw over 50 public hangings. It was the first British prison to hold prisoners in individual cells.

The Debtors Act of 1869 abolished imprisonment for debt so the prison had spare space that was taken over by the Admiralty for naval prisoners. Eventually, the naval prison occupied an entire wing of the building, before it was closed in 1922.

During World War I the prison was deemed worthy of holding some of Britain's priceless national treasures including the Domesday Book and the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

The first hanging was apparently in 1785, but the finishing date of the jail was in 1788. Executioners were paid about £10 a hanging. The last person to be hanged was in 1909, subsequent executions took place in Exeter Prison.

The jail closed in 1927. Since that date, there has been no prison within the county of Cornwall.

John Henry Gooding, alias Frank Digby Hardy (5 April 1868 – 28 October 1930) was an English naval writer, journalist, soldier, career criminal and would-be spy during the Irish War of Independence. Born in Devonport, Plymouth to a middle-class family, he was educated in London before gaining notoriety in his native Devon as a bigamist and a cheque forger. Imprisoned numerous times throughout his life, he was enlisted by British intelligence to capture Irish Republican Army leader Michael Collins in 1920.

Hardy was born John Henry Gooding on 5 April 1868 in Devonport, the only son of John Rowcliffe Gooding (1837-1908) and Elizabeth Ann Furzeland (1849-1875), although he would later have four half-siblings through his father's remarriage in 1877. His father, a longtime employee of the Royal Navy, enlisted Hardy at the Royal Hospital School, Greenwich, essentially a place of education for children of naval servicemen. The school recommended him to The Royal Observatory, Greenwich in 1883 and he worked under William Christie as a computer until his resignation and return to Devonport in 1884. There he married his first wife, Eliza Ann Willcocks (1865-1954) in 1885 and fathered three children with her. In 1886 he experienced his first term in prison; six weeks for forgery whilst working as a clerk in a store serving Devonport Dockyard. He was granted leniency as he had a young wife and child.

Joining the Royal Navy in October 1886 as a writer, Hardy maintained an excellent service record until his desertion on 5 July 1888 after misappropriating ship funds. He spent fifty-nine days in the naval prison at Bodmin Gaol, Cornwall before returning to Devonport. Once back, he applied to join the Theatre Royal in Plymouth in 1890, but the attempt was in vain. He sought solace in petty crime and was sentenced to time in Plymouth Prison for the theft of a bicycle and neglecting his family. His 1886 and 1890 stays in prison solicited testimonials from Christie, his old employer, and it was on his recommendation that he was able to join the navy in 1886.