Conclusion

Historical Eye

Conclusion, references and bibliography


Cardinal Henry Manning wrote in 1888: ‘Those who live among the statistics and have seldom, if ever, lived among the poor, little know how poverty brings temptation and temptation both vice and crime.’134 Too often historians are guilty of living among the statistics and this is certainly true of many who have explored the Twilight City’s streetwalkers and vagrants from 1885-1905. The numbers and percentages, particularly Charles Booth’s, are illustrative but lack the immediacy and detail of written observation, commentary or archived reports. And it is the latter sources that provide the insight needed to build a more nuanced understanding of the Twilight City’s vagrants and streetwalkers.

 

With regards to vagrants, we have seen how each person had their own unique story; one vagrant might have lost his job due to infirmity, while another lacked the skills to do anything other than basic manual work. Some became unemployed as changes in taste rendered their work obsolete, while others lost their jobs because new technologies were more efficient than manpower. Many owed their destitution to alcoholism and an inability to shake off addiction, while others indulged in heavy drinking once the slide into vagrancy was complete.

 

The late-Victorians and early-Edwardians were well aware Twilight City vagrants could no longer be simply divided into ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ categories as the reasons for their misfortune became known and debated in greater detail. As Reaney pointed out in 1888: ‘Hundreds, nay thousands, who to-day are idle and thriftless, were not always thus, and came to their sad condition by cruel force of circumstance.’135 There were also thousands of requests, like Mr. Cavanagh’s letter, that something be done to alleviate the problems. These were just some of the seeds that started to germinate with the Labour Exchanges Act of 1909, although help for destitute families and the concept of state-subsidised housing took much longer to achieve, with the first meaningful moves included in the Housing Act of 1919.

 

Harsh terminology and universal condemnation of vagrants erupted if they were deemed to have encroached on mainstream spaces during daylight hours, particularly London’s parks. In this context, vagrants were seen by many as a threat to physical safety and public health, with many complainants demanding they be re-consigned to the Twilight City or removed from the metropolis entirely. But many of these searing condemnations also included calls for tangible and progressive solutions and arguments solely based on the vitriolic language employed fall at this particular hurdle.

 

Meanwhile, the historical understanding and investigation of the Twilight City’s streetwalkers has been relatively comprehensive, although some of the conclusions have missed the mark. Walkowitz’s claim most streetwalkers chose to prostitute themselves and stopped on their own volition is problematic. So too is her argument that many streetwalkers were independent in ways respectable women could never aspire to. This might be true of the few successful prostitutes navigating the Bright Light City, but those on the periphery – the majority –  found life incredibly difficult as they struggled to cover costs, maintain stable relationships and, for many, to halt excessive drinking.

 

Most historians have overlooked the tawdry side of streetwalking, both on the lives of prostitutes and those who lived with its consequences. The case study of the two shopkeepers in Endersleigh Gardens reveals the seediness: foul language, doorways used as latrines and sex in public spaces. There is nothing particularly independent or free-spirited about this type of prostitution, only various levels of exploitation, degradation and disappointment. In addition, some streetwalkers may well have been overseen by a pimp or bully, with a cut taken from her earnings for ‘protection’.

 

Closely tied to the arguments concerning vagrants using the parks, we have also tracked anger and frustration levelled against Twilight City streetwalkers encroaching on spaces the mainstream deemed off limits. The situation was amplified when complainants believed the police or local authorities were failing to enforce decorum, despite their inability to distinguish prostitutes from respectable women. By contrast, those in authority who encountered streetwalkers on an almost daily basis, such as policemen walking the beat, often came to sympathise with these women and afford them leeway before intervening or arresting.  

 

Finally, the lives of the Whitechapel murder victims offer useful source material for the historian as comprehensive details of their lives were recorded shortly after their death. These women suffered grinding poverty and had little by way of a support network. But very few people spoke ill of them when questioned and many were at pains to stress their popularity, albeit none of the victims could be relied upon to cover debts or rent owing. However, the latter point underlines one of their primary goals when still alive: the battle to simply keep a roof over one’s head. That they achieved this, and kept a sense of individuality and some degree of agency, was nothing short of a minor miracle. 

 

 

References

1) White, Jerry, London in the Nineteenth Century (Jonathan Cape, 2007), p.90

2) Vasili, Paul, The World of London (Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Riverton, 1885), p.iv

3) Inwood, Stephen, City of Cities: The Birth of Modern London (Macmillan, 2005), p.378

4) Gilnert, Ed, East End Chronicles (Penguin, 2006), p.87

5) Inwood, City of Cities: The Birth of Modern London, p.8

6) Ibid, p.7

7) Baker, H. Barton, Stories of the Streets of London (Chapman and Hall, 1899), p.65

8) Inwood, City of Cities: The Birth of Modern London, p.278

9) White, London in the Nineteenth Century, p.58

10) Constaple, Hope, London After Dark, (H Clements, 1894), p.52

11) Ibid, p.55

12) Idem

13) Morrison, Arthur, 'Whitechapel', The Palace Journal (24 April, 1889), www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

14) Cowper, Katie, (Knowles James, editor), Some experience of work in an East End district, Nineteenth Century Vol.18 July-December (Kegan Paul, Trench, 1885), p.785-86

15) Work 16/508

16) Inwood, City of Cities: The Birth of Modern London, p.95

17) Steadman-Jones, Gareth, Outcast London: A study in the relationship between classes in Victorian Society (Peregrine Books, 1976), p.287

18) London, Jack, The People of the Abyss (Pluto Classic, 2001 [First published in 1903]), p.3

19) Ibid, p.151

20) Ibid, p.152

21) Ibid, p.49

22) Booth, Charles, Condition and Occupation of the People: Tower Hamlets 1886-1887 (Edward Stanford, 1887), p.28

23) Pearsall, Ronald, The Worm in the Bud (Sutton, 2003), p.284

24) Reaney, G S, How to help; or Pen and Pencil Sketches of the East End (James Nisbet, 1888), p.23

25) Besant, Walter, East London (Chatto & Windus, 1903), p.240

26) Machray, Robert, The Night Side of London (Bibliophile Books, 1984 [first published in 1902]), p.18

27) Idem

28) Krausse, A S, Starving London: The story of a three weeks’ sojourn among the destitute (Remington, 1896), p.51

29) Idem

30) Ibid, p.52

31) Constaple, London After Dark, p.7

32) Ibid, p.32

33) Ibid, p.35

34) Baker, H. Barton, Stories of the Streets of London (Chapman and Hall, 1899), p.253

35) Letter from Mr. Cavanagh to Metropolitan Police, 1887, Mepo 2/181, National Archives

36) Constaple, London After Dark, p.20

37) Ibid, p.20-23

38) Ibid, p.23

39) London, The People of the Abyss, p.59

40) Idem

41) Ibid, p.60

42) Police report, 3/8/1887, National Archives, Mepo 2/181

43) London, The People of the Abyss, p.61

44) Ibid, p.62

45) Article on Vagrants in Hyde Park, Saturday Review, September 1901, National Archives, Work 16/508

46) ‘Yours of Bayswater’, Reply to editor, Saturday Review, September 1901, National Archives, Work 16/508

47) Letter by Cecil Raleigh to the Office of Works, 19/03/1902, National Archives, Work 16/508

48) Letter by C. Stewart, Clerk of London County Council to the Office of Works, 14/09/1898, National Archives, Work 16/508

49) Idem

50) Police report dated 01/09/1887, National Archives, Mepo 2/181

51) The Daily Chronicle, editorial comment, 17/07/1903, National Archives, Work 16/508

52) The Daily Telegraph, editorial comment, 13/04/1904, National Archives, Work 16/508

53) Besant, Walter, East London (Chatto & Windus, 1903), p.238

54) Ibid, p.248

55) Booth, William, In Darkest England (William Burgess, 1890), p.30

56) Ibid, p.27

57) Idem

58) Idem

59) Ibid, p.28

60) Idem

61) Idem

62) Idem

63) The Morning Post, On the Thames Embankment, 29/12/1897, National Archives, Mepo 2/645, p.7

64) Ibid, p.7

65) Idem

66) Ibid, p.9

67) The Morning Post, clipping, February 1898, National Archives, Mepo 2/645

68) The Morning Post, On the Thames Embankment, 29/12/1897, National Archives, Mepo 2/645, p.9

69) Idem

70) The Morning Post, clipping, February 1898, National Archives, Mepo 2/645

71) Police report dated 18/02/1898

72) Police notes on the prosecution of Edith Hill for breaching Vagrancy Act, 1890, National Archives, Mepo 2/242

73) Walkowitz, Judith, Prostitution and Victorian Society (Cambridge university Press, 1980), p.16

74) Idem

75) Ibid, p.17

76) Ibid, p.19

77) Ibid, p.13

78) Ibid, p.17

79) Pearsall, Ronald, The Worm in the Bud (Sutton, 2003), p. 295-96

80) Ibid, p. 299

81) Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society, p.13

82) White, London in the Nineteenth Century, p.309

83) Booth, In Darkest England, p.50

84) London, The People of the Abyss, p.137-138

85) Chesney, The Victorian Underworld, p.317

86) Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society, p.29

87) White, London in the Nineteenth Century, p.314-15

88) Chesney, The Victorian Underworld, p.334

89) Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society, p.20

90) Chesney, The Victorian Underworld, p.316

91) Constaple, London After Dark, p.15

92) Idem

93) Ibid, p.16

94) Cozens, Thomas J, A, Dark Deed: A Tale of Modern Life (founded on fact) (Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent, 1890), p.53

95) Machray, Robert, The Night Side of London (Bibliophile Books, 1984 [first published in 1902]), p.16

96) London, The People of the Abyss, p.59-60

97) Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society, p.29

98) Girouard, Mark, Victorian Pubs (Studio Vista, 1975), p.17

99) Files relating to the prosecution of Alfred Rubery landlord of the Wayland Tavern for allowing prostitutes to frequent his premises, National Archives, Mepo 2/384

100) The Daily News ‘An Autumn Evening in Whitechapel’, 03/11/1888,

www.casebook.org/victorian_london/autumnev.html, www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

101) London, The People of the Abyss, p.152

102) Idem

103) Idem

104) Letter by Mr. Elton to police complaining of streetwalkers in Endersleigh Gardens, 22/02/1892, National Archives, Mepo 2/293

105) Letter by Mr. Stocken to police complaining of streetwalkers in Endersleigh Gardens, 22/02/1892, National Archives, Mepo 2/293

106) Police report on interview with Mr. Elton, 26/02/1892, National Archives, Mepo 2/293

107) Police report on fellow-up interview with Mr. Stocken, 03/03/1892

108) Police report on follow-up interview with Mr. Elton, 26/02/1892, National Archives, Mepo 2/293

109) Police report on prostitutes in Hyde Park, 18/07/1892, National Archives, Mepo 2/5815

110) Police report on prostitutes in Hyde Park, 27/08/1894, National Archives, Mepo 2/5815

111) Police report on discussion with the Colonel of 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, 28/8/1903

112) Pick-me-up No. 46, Vol II. August 17, 1889

113) Booth, In Darkest England, p.53

114) Begg, Paul, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History (Pearson, 2005), p.105

115) Horsler, Val, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper (National Archives, 2007), p.26

116) Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p.107

117) Horsler, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper, p.26

118) Casebook.org, Polly Nichols, www.casebook.org/victims/polly.html, www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

119) Horsler, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper, p.28

120) Casebook.org Annie Chapman, www.casebook.org/victims/chapman.html, www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

121) Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p.188

122) Horsler, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper, p.36

123) Idem

124) Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p.292

125) Ibid, p.289

126) Ibid, p.290

127) Idem

128) Casebook.org, Mary Jane Kelly, www.casebook.org/victims/mary_jane_kelly.html, www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

129) Horsler, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper, p.68

130) Idem

131) Casebook.org, Mary Jane Kelly, www.casebook.org/victims/mary_jane_kelly.html, www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

132) Horsler, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper, p.68

133) Chesney, Kellow, The Victorian Underworld (History Book Club, 1970), p.319

134) Cardinal Manning, (Knowles James, editor), A Pleading for the Worthless, Nineteenth Century Vol.23 Jan-June (Kegan Paul, Trench, 1888), p.134

135) Reaney, G S, How to help; or Pen and Pencil Sketches of the East End (James Nisbet, 1888), p.83

 

Bibliography

 

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Besant, Walter, East London (Chatto & Windus, 1903)

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MA work

'Those who live among the statistics and have seldom, if ever, lived among the poor, little know how poverty brings temptation and temptation both vice and crime'

Creed of the Assassins


New York Saloons 1845-1895


Cathedrals of consumption


TheTwilight City


William Morris and the Thames


Top of the docks


The Devolved City

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