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Title: Lives of Famous London Beggars - With Forty Portraits of the Most Remarkable.
Author: Smith, John Thomas
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lives of Famous London Beggars - With Forty Portraits of the Most Remarkable." ***

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Transcriber's Note.

There are thirty plates, located at the end of the text, that depict
individuals described in it. They have been moved to follow the text
that describes them. They are annotated "London Published as the Act
directs [date] by J. T. Smith No. 4 Chandos St Covent Garden."

Inconsistencies in hyphenation and spelling have been retained.

Italics are indicated by _underscores_. Small capitals have been
replaced by full capitals and a superscript by ordinary font.

[Illustration: ST MARTIN

_The Patron Saint of the Beggars. From a rare print in the possession of
Thos. Lloyd, Esq._]




[Illustration: Publisher's Mark]



_Mr Granger, at the close of his Biographical History of England, says,
"I shall conclude this volume with observing, that Lord Bacon has
somewhere remarked, that biography has been confined within too narrow
limits; as if the lives of great personages only deserved the notice of
the inquisitive part of mankind. I have, perhaps, in the foregoing
strictures extended the sphere of it too far. I began with Monarchs, and
have ended with Ballad-Singers, Chimney-Sweepers, and Beggars. But they
that fill the highest and the lowest classes of human life, seem, in
many respects, to be more nearly allied than even themselves imagine. A
skilful anatomist would find little or no difference, in dissecting the
body of a king and that of the meanest of his subjects; and a judicious
philosopher would discover a surprising conformity, in discussing the
nature and qualities of their minds."_

Beggary, of late, particularly for the last six years, had become so
dreadful in London, that the more active interference of the legislature
was deemed absolutely necessary; indeed, the deceptions of the idle and
sturdy were so various, cunning, and extensive, that it was in most
instances extremely difficult to discover the real object of charity
from the impostor.

Concluding, therefore, from the reduction of the metropolitan beggars,
that several curious characters would disappear by being either
compelled to industry, or to partake of the liberal parochial rates
provided for them in their respective workhouses, it occurred to the
author of the present publication, that likenesses of the most
remarkable of them, with a few particulars of their habits, would not be
unamusing to those to whom they have been a pest for several years.

In order to convince his readers that he does not stand alone as a
delineator of mendicants, he begs leave to observe, that several of the
very first-rate artists have studied from them.

Michael Angelo Buonarotti often drew from beggars; and report says, that
in the early part of his life, when he had not the means of paying them
in money, he would make an additional sketch, and, presenting it to the
party, desire him to take it to some particular person, who would
purchase it. Fuseli, in his life of Michael Angelo, says that "a beggar
rose from his hand the patriarch of poverty." The same artist, in one of
his lectures, delivered at the Royal Academy, also observes, that
"Michael Angelo ennobled his beggars into Patriarchs and Prophets, in
the ceiling of the Sistini Chapel."

Annibal Caracci frequently drew subjects in low life. His "Cries of
Bologna," etched by Giuseppe Maria Mitelli, pub. 1660, in folio, are
evidently from real characters. It will also be recollected, that some
of the finest productions of Murillo, Jan Miel, and Drogsloot, are
beggars. Callot's twenty-four beggars are evidently from nature; and
among Rembrandt's etchings are to be found twenty-three plates of this

Sir Joshua Reynolds frequently painted from beggars, and from these
people have originated some of his finest pictures, particularly his
"Mercury as a Pickpocket," and "Cupid as a Link-boy." His Count Ugolino,
was painted from a pavier, soon after he had left St George's Hospital
from a severe fever. Mr West painted the portrait of a beggar, on the
day when he became a hundred years old; and considered him as a
pensioner for several years afterwards. The same person was used also as
a model by Copley, Opie, &c. Who can forget the lovely countenance of
Gainsborough's Shepherd's Boy, that has once seen Earlom's excellent
engraving from it? He was a lad well known as a beggar to those who
walked St James's Street thirty years ago. The model for the celebrated
picture of the Woodman, by the same artist, is now living in the
Borough, at the venerable age of 107.

Mr Nollekens, in 1778, when modelling the bust of Dr Johnson, who then
wore a wig, called in a beggar to sit for the hair. The same artist was
not equally fortunate in the locks of another great character, for on
his application to a beggar for the like purpose, the fellow declined to
sit, with an observation that three half-crowns were not sufficient for
the trouble.

The late Mr Nathaniel Hone, in the year 1850, painted the portrait of
James Turner, a common beggar, who valued his time at a shilling an
hour. Captain Baillie has made an etching of this picture.

That truly spirited painter, Mr Ward, made similar overtures to a lame
sailor, who thought fit to reject them and prefer his begging occupation.

One of the many fine things produced by Flaxman, is a figure of a blind
sailor, Jack Stuart, mentioned in page 19 of this work. The artist has
introduced him in a beautiful monument, erected in Campsal Church, to
the memory of Misses Yarborough.

Beggars have not only been useful to artists as models, but serviceable
to them in other instances. Francis Perrier, who was born of poor
parents, when a boy entered into the service of a blind beggar, for the
express purpose of getting from France to Rome to pursue his studies in
that city; and Old Scheemaker, the sculptor, Nollekens's master,
absolutely begged his way from Flanders to Rome for the same purpose.

Though the biographical part of this publication exhibits some curious
customs of the London beggars which have fallen within the author's
observations, and though it may in some instances be deemed original,
yet he confesses that he has adopted the usual craft of the common
vender, who invariably puts the best sample into the mouth of the sack.
Such, he needs not state the truly interesting Introduction to be; it
was written and presented to him by his honoured and valuable friend,


The present work is very far from being offered as a general view of
that peculiar branch of pauperism, which includes the many wandering
classes of mankind that are supported by the casual and irregular bounty
of others, or by means that have at least the appearance of industry or
honourable ingenuity; for that would be a task requiring the united
efforts of the historian, the legislator, and the antiquary. It may be
deemed sufficient to submit to the reader's notice, such accounts and
gleanings as immediately relate to the particular characters which are
here once more embodied and presented to him by the aid of the graphic
art. In the mean time, a slight sketch of the state and progress of
mendicity in former ages may be neither unacceptable nor without its use.

The Beggar's calling, if not one of the most respectable, may doubtless
be regarded as one of the most ancient. In every part of the globe where
man is congregated, the inequality of his condition, the too frequent
indolence of his habits, or the shifts to which human misery is
occasionally reduced, will compel him to depend for his support on the
generosity of his fellow-creatures, and even sometimes lead him to
prefer this disgraceful state of existence. The sacred volume has
supplied us with evidence of the mendicant profession at an early
period. King David, when imprecating curses on the head of his enemy,
prays that "his children be continually vagabonds, and _beg_;"[1] and
the story of Ulysses and the beggar Irus, as related in one of the
oldest works extant, is known almost to every one.

The state of mendicity among the Greeks and Romans is but obscurely
recorded, nor have any specific laws or regulations that they might have
framed relating to that subject been transmitted to us. The beggars in
Horace, who lamented the death of the musician Tigellinus, were probably
of the common kind, though some have supposed them to have been
fortune-tellers or prophets. Their dress would be of the ragged sort,
the _mendicula impluviata_ of Plautus. We learn from Seneca, that the
beggars of his time practised every species of imposture, and even
amputated their limbs for the purpose of exciting compassion.

During the middle ages, we meet with a few legislative acts relating to
the vagrant classes. In a capitulary of the Emperor Charlemagne, beggars
were prohibited from wandering about the country; and another ancient
law of the Franks is cited by Beatus Rhenanus in his German chronicle,
by which every city is ordered to maintain its own poor, who are
nevertheless to be compelled to manual labour, or otherwise not to be
entitled to relief; a vagrant life is also strictly prohibited. For a
considerable time the kingdom of France was much infested with a set of
itinerant beggars, usually known by the appellation of _Truands_, and
their occupation by that of _Truandise_; from which terms our own
language has adopted an obvious word of much significance. These people
likewise gave name to one of the streets of Paris, called _La
Truanderie_; and, under pretence of begging alms, committed the most
atrocious crimes and excesses practising every kind of fraud and
imposture; so that the name gradually became the representative of every
thing that was bad and infamous. In later times they were called
_Argotiers_. They assumed the form of a regular government, elected a
king, and established a fixed code of laws, and a language peculiar to
themselves, constructed probably by some of the debauched and licentious
youths who, abandoning their scholastic studies, associated with these
vagabonds. The facetious author of a poetical life of the famous French
robber Cartouche, has given a very humorous account of the origin of the
word _Argot_, which, at the expense of graver etymologists, he derives
from the ship Argos; contending that this _jargon_, a term that would
perhaps have supplied the real and perverted meaning of the other, was
either invented by the navigators of that celebrated vessel, for the
purpose of deceiving his majesty of Colchos, or constructed by Agamemnon
at Argos, and transported afterwards to Troy, where the Greek generals
used it to harangue their soldiers. The same writer has likewise
compiled a dictionary of the language in question, which is given at the
end of Cartouche's history. Their king assumed the title of the _Great
Chosroes_, in imitation of the Persian monarch of that name, and
his officers had their several cant denominations contrived with
considerable ingenuity. One of these sovereigns thought fit to prefer
his own name, and was called _Roi de Thunes_. This fellow used to be
drawn triumphantly through the streets in a little cart by two stout
dogs, and at length finished his career on a gibbet at Bourdeaux. The
new members of this honourable fraternity were graciously received by
the monarch, and consigned to his officers for instruction. These taught
them to counterfeit wounds, sores, and ulcers, by means of the juice of
celandine and other herbs; to make preparations of grease, &c., for the
purpose of hindering dogs from barking, and many other tricks and
contrivances essential to the profession of a beggar. The necessary
qualifications for an officer at court, was the possession of masks,
rags, plaisters, bandages, crutches, and other matters calculated to
excite charity and compassion; a candidate for the monarchy, which was
elective, must have passed through one or more offices, and have sported
a limb in all appearance shockingly diseased, but curable in a day's
time. The royal habits were composed of a thousand bits of rag, of
various colours. Every year the king held a council of his officers and
subjects, who reported their proceedings, and paid him the legal and
accustomed tribute money; offences were inquired into, and summary
punishment inflicted. Many of the above officers were runaway scholars
and debauched priests, who taught the novices the _Argot_ language, and
performed other duties which exempted them from the usual tribute to the
sovereign. These impostors were divided into numerous classes, assuming
various appellations. Those who counterfeited maimed soldiers were
called _Narquois_, corresponding with our Rufflers. The little urchins,
who before the establishment of regular hospitals were permitted to beg
in groups, and appeared as half-starved, were denominated _Orphelins_,
or _Orphans_. Fellows assuming the character of broken merchants and
tradesmen, called themselves _Marcandiers_ and _Rifodés_; these,
pretending to have been ruined by war, by fire, and other calamities,
made use of false certificates of their loss, and were frequently
accompanied by their wives and children. The _Malingreux_ were the
dropsical and otherwise diseased impostors, who frequented the churches,
and demanded alms to enable them to make pilgrimages and perform masses
to particular saints. The _Hubins_ shewed certificates of having been
bitten by wolves or dogs, and placed themselves under St Hubert's
protection. The _Coquillarts_ pretended to have made a pilgrimage to St
James or St Michael, and sold their cockle-shells even to those fools
who had done so. The _Sabouleux_ counterfeited demoniacs, by means of
soap held in the mouth, with which they produced their foam, and
exhibited false wounds on their heads and bodies, which they pretended
to have inflicted on themselves during their fits. These last were the
most faithful subjects of the _Great Chosroes_, and paid him a much
higher tribute than any of the rest. Besides the above, there were the
_Pietres_, the _Courtaux_, the _Polissons_, the _Capons_, the
_Francmitoux_, and a variety of others, all assuming different
characters, to defraud the unwary in every possible manner. These
particulars have been collected together as exhibiting a general view of
the manners and practices of the begging tribe in the kingdom of France,
where the regulations concerning them appear to have been very frequent
and severe. In the reign of Francis I. many edicts of the court issued
against them, by some of which all the beggars in Paris were compelled
to clear the city sewers and ditches, and to assist in repairing the
fortifications; and for this purpose the police officers seized upon all
that were able-bodied and competent to work. Many were banished to the
provinces, and if they continued to beg, and refused to assist in the
vintage, they were ordered to be hanged. Whipping was the more general
punishment; and where licensed, they were not suffered to go about in
troops, but confined to travel in Paris only, to prevent robberies and
other mischief. Those who could not labour, on account of infirmity,
were maintained in hospitals, or by contributions at the churches, where
they were not permitted, as at present, to beg, under pain of whipping.
In the admirable Pictures of Paris by Mercier, there is an interesting
article on the sturdy beggars of that city, where their noisy orgies at
their places of rendezvous, when they have stripped themselves of their
false limbs and hideous plasters, are eloquently described. He mentions
one cruel and wicked practice among these impostors, namely, that when
they steal other people's children for want of their own, they distort
and even dislocate the members of the unfortunate victims, to give them
what they impiously term the arms and legs of God Almighty.

With respect to the vagabonds of Spain, who will be found to resemble,
with small difference, many of the classes above described, it will be
sufficient to refer the reader to those excellent novels, Lazarillo de
Tormes, and Guzman de Alfarache. The manners of the Italian mendicants
and impostors are admirably depicted, with many entertaining stories, in
the very curious work of Rafael Frianoro, entitled, "Il vagabondo, overo
sferzo de bianti e vagabondi," _Viterbo_, 1620, 12mo, in which the
catalogue of names of the parties, and of the impostures practised, far
exceeded those of any other country.

Della Valle, in his travels to the East Indies, informs us, that the
beggars there make use of a trumpet to express their wants, frequently
terrifying the people into charity by their loud clamours. Of the
Chinese mendicants, some particulars will be found in explaining one of
the plates of this work.

It would amount to positive negligence, if, in the present sketch, those
wanderers that are usually known among ourselves by the appellation of
Gypsies, and on the continent by that of Bohemians, on account of their
first appearance in that country, were passed over without some notice;
but their history has been so learnedly and copiously detailed by M.
Grellmann, that it may be thought sufficient on this occasion to advert
to the English translation of that excellent work by Mr Raper, published
1787, in quarto.

Nor should the mention of the orders of mendicant friars be omitted,
who, no doubt, had their prototypes in the knavish priests of Cybele. Of
these persons there were four orders,--viz., the Augustinians, the
Carmelites, the Dominicans, and the Minorites. They wandered from place
to place, professing poverty, and exciting the charity of others. They
had assumed and acquired an unlimited control over the consciences of
the deluded victims of their artifice, and at length became particularly
odious to the monks and the clergy in general, continuing nevertheless
to maintain their power and influence, from the marked favour and
protection of the Roman Pontiffs, who regarded them as some of their
best friends and supporters. In our own country these people encountered
a most bitter and inveterate enemy in the celebrated Wickliffe, who, in
his sermons and other works, declaimed against them with much vehement
eloquence as thieves, hypocrites, and children of Judas Iscariot;
telling them that Christ never commissioned any one to appear in the
character of a beggar; and that, although he preferred a state of
poverty, he never demanded alms himself, nor allowed of others doing it,
but in cases of extreme necessity.

Another set of ecclesiastical mendicants were those pseudo-monks, who,
among many other irregularities, scrupled not to take to themselves
wives, whilst their brethren contented themselves with concubines. These
were branded by the regular monks with the appellation of _Beghards_,
and are specially termed _sturdy beggars_, in a very bitter invective
against them by Felix Hammerlein, a civilian and canon of Zurich, in the
fifteenth century, who emphatically calls them the legitimate sons of
Belial. Many other writers declaimed against them with great acrimony,
and some of the more rigid Papists seem to have classed them among the
_Lollards_, an appellation that has very much arrested the attention of
the learned in etymology, though without any certainty as to its origin.

The records of our early history supply few, if any, materials that
throw light upon the subject before us; and the laws of the Saxons, as
well as those of our British ancestors, are entirely silent as to any
regulation concerning vagrants or mendicants of any kind. A curious
incident however in the life of Edward the Confessor, as related by his
historian Alured of Rievaulx, is worthy of being mentioned. This
sovereign is said to have been remarkable for his benevolence to the
poor, many of whom he privately supported. Among these was one Ralph, a
Norman, a miserable object, whose limbs were shockingly contracted by
disease. This man, scarcely able to creep along on his knees, as was the
usual practice with such persons, and urged by necessity, the mother of
invention, was the first who is reported as making use of a hollow
vessel of wood, in the form of a bason, in which he placed his hinder
parts, guiding and supporting his crippled limbs by means of his hands,
and thus sailed along, as it were, upon the ground. On the king's death
he made a pilgrimage to his tomb, and addressing himself to the monarch
as if alive, was healed, as says the legend, of his disease.

The next two centuries of English history are equally barren of incident
to our purpose. From that time, however, the statute laws of the kingdom
furnish abundant regulations concerning the vagrant classes, and it has
therefore been thought worth while to submit to the reader's notice the
following extracts and abridgments.

The statute of labourers, made in the 23d year of Edw. III., recites
that there are many sturdy beggars, who prefer a life of indolence to
active labour, and commit theft and other crimes; and therefore, with a
view to discourage such practices, and compel these persons to work for
their living, it enacts that none, on pain of imprisonment, shall, under
colour of pity or of alms, give anything to those who are competent to
labour, or presume by such means to "_favour them towards their

By Stat. xii. Rich. II. c. 6, every beggar who is able to work shall be
put in the stocks, and such as are unable to work shall abide in the
cities and towns where they be dwelling at the time of proclaiming this
statute; and if the inhabitants shall not be able to maintain them, then
the said beggars shall withdraw themselves to other places within the
hundred, rape, or wapentake, or to the places of their nativity, within
forty days as above, and there continually abide during their lives; and
all that go in pilgrimage as beggars, but are able to work, shall be
punished with the stocks, unless they have letters testimonial from a
justice of the peace. The sheriffs and gaolers are also charged with the
custody of beggars, though it does not appear for what particular
offence. Religious persons and hermits who beg must have licence from
their ordinaries, and scholars of the universities from their
chancellors, under the like penalties.

The Stat. xix. Hen. VII., adverting to the rigour of the last-mentioned
regulations, and to the great expense of confining vagabonds and beggars
in prison, enacts, that an immediate discharge from the gaols shall take
place, and all beggars be set in the stocks for a day and a night,
without other food than bread and water, and then sent to the place of
their nativity, or where they may have resided for the space of three
years. It also enacts, that such beggars as are not able to work be
passed to their own towns, where only they are to be allowed to beg.

By Stat. xxii. Hen. VIII., persons unable to work are to be licensed by
certificate from mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs, or justices, to beg within
certain districts; and if they be found begging without such licence,
they are to be set in the stocks for three days and three nights, and
fed only on bread and water, or else whipped, at the discretion of the
magistrate, who is afterwards to give the party a licence and dismiss
him. Persons being "whole and mighty in body, and able to labour," and
found begging, are to be whipped at the cart's tail till blood come, and
then dismissed to their own district, receiving a licence, stating their
punishment, and authorising them to beg by the way. Scholars at the
universities begging without licence, to be punished as above. Persons
wandering about with unlawful games, and fortune-tellers of all kinds,
to be punished for the first offence by two days whipping; for the
second, by like whipping, with subsequent pillory and loss of one ear;
for the third, the like punishment, with loss of the other ear. The
licence was in these words,--"Memorandum, that A. B. of Dale, for
reasonable considerations, is licensed to beg within the hundred of P.
K. in the county of L.;" and the licence after whipping is as
follows,--"I. S., whipped for a vagrant strong beggar, at Dale, in the
county of L., according to the law, the 22 July, in the 23 year of King
Henry the Eighth, was assigned to pass forthwith and directly from
thence to Sale, in the county of M., where he saith he was born, or
where he last dwelled by the term of three years, and he is limited to
be there within fourteen days next ensuing, at his peril," &c.

By this act, persons delivered from gaol, or acquitted of felonies, who
could not pay the usual fees, were to be licensed by the keeper to raise
such fees by begging for the space of six weeks, on pain of whipping for
default of such licence.

By the 27th Hen. VIII., further provisions were made for the labour and
employment of vagabonds and beggars. Churchwardens to gather alms for
supporting the poor on Sundays and holidays. Begging children, between
the ages of five and fourteen years, to be placed under masters of
husbandry; and those between the ages of twelve and sixteen to be
whipped for running away. Beggars offending again after the first
punishment, to be marked by cutting off the upper gristle of the right
ear; and if found still loitering in idleness, to be indicted as felons
at the quarter sessions, and on conviction to suffer death. The
mendicant friars are specially excepted in this act, which provides many
additional supports for the poor besides the vast donations from the
still existing monasteries, and the almshouses and hospitals.

At the commencement of the reign of Edw. VI., a most severe and
extraordinary statute was made for the punishment of vagabonds and
relief of poor persons. It does not appear who were the contrivers of
this instrument, the preamble and general spirit of which were more in
accordance with the tyrannical and arbitrary measures of the preceding
reign, than with the mild and merciful character of the infant
sovereign, who is well known to have taken a very active part in the
affairs of government. It repeals all the former statutes on this
subject, and enacts, that if any beggar or other person, not being lame
or impotent, and after loitering or idly wandering for the space of
three days or more, shall not offer himself to labour, or being engaged
in any person's service shall run away or leave his work, it shall be
lawful for the master to carry him before a justice of peace, who, on
proof of the offence, shall cause the party to be marked with a hot iron
with the letter V on the breast, and adjudge him to be his master's
slave for the space of two years, who shall feed him "on bread and
water, or, at his discretion, on refuse of meat, and cause the said
slave to work, by beating, chaining, or otherwise, in such work or
labour (how vile soever it be) as he shall put him unto." If the slave
should run away, or absent himself for a fortnight without leave, the
master may pursue and punish him by chaining or beating, and have his
action of damage against any one who shall harbour or detain him. On
proof before the justice of the slave's escape, he is to be sentenced to
be marked on the forehead or ball of the cheek with a hot iron with the
letter S, and adjudged to be his master's slave for ever; and for the
second offence of running away, he is to be regarded as a felon and
suffer death. The children of beggars to be taken from them, and, with
other vagrant children, to be apprenticed by the magistrate to whoever
will take them; and if such children so apprenticed run away, they are
to be retaken, and become slaves till the age of twenty in females, and
twenty-four in males, and punishment by chains, &c., and power to the
master to let, sell, or bequeath them, as goods and chattels, for the
term aforesaid. If any slave should maim or wound the master in
resisting correction, or conspire to wound or murder him, or burn his
house or other property, he is to suffer death as a felon, unless the
master will consent to retain him as a slave for ever; and if any
parent, nurse, or bearer about of children, so become slaves, shall
steal or entice them away from the master, such person shall be liable
to become a slave to the said master for ever, and the party so stolen
or enticed away restored. If any vagrant be brought to a place where he
shall state himself to have been born, and it shall be manifest that he
was not so born there, for such lie he shall be marked in the face with
an S, and become a slave to the inhabitants or corporation of the city
for ever. Any master of a slave may put a ring of iron about his neck,
arm, or leg, for safe custody; and any person taking or helping to take
off such ring, without consent of the master, shall forfeit the sum of
ten pounds.

This diabolical statute, after remaining for two years, was repealed, on
the ground that, from its extreme severity, it had not been enforced,
and instead of it the xxii. Hen. VIII. was revived. The taking
apprentices the children of beggars was, however, continued; but instead
of slavery for the offence of running away, the punishment of the stocks
was substituted. In the last year of King Edward's reign, further
provisions for supporting the poor were made, by gathering alms at
church by the parish officers, who were "gently to ask and demand of
every man and woman what they of their charity will be contented to give
weekly toward the relief of the poor, and the same to be written in a
register or book." The collectors are empowered to make such of the poor
labour as they shall think fit; but none are permitted "to go, or sit
openly, _a begging_."

The last statute that it will be necessary to refer to, is that of the
xxxix. Eliz. c. 4, for the punishment and suppression of rogues,
vagabonds, and sturdy beggars, by which houses of correction are for the
first time established; and all persons calling themselves scholars, and
going about begging, fellows pretending losses by sea, persons using
unlawful games, fortune-tellers, procurers, collectors for gaols and
hospitals, fencers, bearwards, common players of interludes, minstrels
(except such players as are licensed by any baron of the realm),
jugglers, tinkers, pedlars, common labourers able in body but begging
and refusing labour for reasonable wages, persons delivered from gaol
and begging for fees, all persons whatever that beg in any manner as
wanderers, and all gypsies or pretending to be so, shall be adjudged
rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars, and be liable to the punishment
of whipping till the blood come, and passed to their respective
parishes, and committed to the house of correction until further
provision by work, or placing in almshouses. If any of the above persons
shall appear to be dangerous to the inferior sort of people, or will not
otherwise be reformed, they shall be committed to the house of
correction or county gaol, and at the quarter-sessions, if necessary,
banished from the kingdom to such places as shall be assigned by the
privy council, or otherwise be sent to the galleys of the kingdom for
life, with pain of death on returning from banishment. No vagabonds or
beggars to be imported from Ireland, Scotland, or the Isle of Man, or,
if already here, to be sent back to their respective countries. No
diseased poor persons to be suffered to repair to the baths of Bath or
Buxton for cure, unless they forbear to beg, and are licensed by two
justices; and that the above cities be not charged with finding relief
for such persons. This statute not to extend to children under seven
years old, nor to _glassmen_ of good behaviour, travelling with licence,
and forbearing to beg.

It is impossible to look upon a more finished picture of the general
manners of the begging classes, a little before the Reformation, than in
the following extract from the once deservedly celebrated satire
entitled the _Ship of Fools_. Although of foreign construction, it is
not the less calculated for the meridian of England; and indeed the
translator has in some degree adapted it to his own country. The author
thus addresses the parties in question:--

"All vacabondes and myghty beggers, the whyche gothe beggynge from dore
to dore, and ayleth lytell or nought, with lame men and crepylles, come
unto me, and I shall gyve you an almesse saluberryme and of grete
vertue. The mendycans be in grete nombre, wherfore I wyll declare unto
you some of theyr foolysshe condycyons. These fooles, the whiche be
founde in theyr corporal bodyes, wyl nourysh and kepe dyvers chyldren.
The monkes have this myschefe and the clerkes also, the whiche have
theyr coffers ful of grete rychesses and treasoures. Nevertheles yet
they applye themselfe in the offyce of the mendycans, in purchasyng and
beggynge on every syde. They be a grete sorte replenysshed with
unhappynes, saynge that they lede theyr lyves in grete poverte and
calamyte; and therefore, they praye evry man to gyve them theyr good
almesse, in release of theyr payne and myserye. And yet they have golde
and sylver grete plentye, but they will spende nothinge before the comyn
people. Somtyme the cursed taketh the almesse of the poore indygente. I
fynde grete fautes in the abbottes, monkes, pryours, chanons, and
coventes, for all that they have rentes, tenementes, and possessyons
ynough, yet, as folkes devoyde of sense and understondynge, they be
never satysfyed with goodes. They goo from vyllage to vyllage and from
towne to towne, berynge grete bagges upon theyr neckes, assemblynge so
moche goodes that it is grete mervayle, and whan they be in theyr
relygyous cloysters, they make them byleve that they have had lytell
gyven them or nothynge; for God knoweth they make heven chere in the
countre. There is another sort of pardoners, the which bereth relyques
aboute with them, in abusynge the pore folkes; for and yf they have but
one poore peny in theyr purses they must have it. They garde togyder
golde and sylver in every place, lyke as yf it grewe. They make the
poore folkes byleve moche gay gere. They sel the feders of the Holy
Ghoost. They bere the bones of some deed body aboute, the which,
paraventure, is damned. They shewe the heer of some old hors, saynge
that it is of the berde of the Innocentes. There is an innumerable syght
of suche folkes and of vacabondes in this realme of Englonde, the which
be hole of all theyr membres and myghte wynne theyr lyves honestly.
Notwithstondynge they go beggynge from dore to dore, because they wyll
not werke, and patcheth an olde mautell or an olde gowne with an hondred
colours, and byndeth foule cloutes aboute theyr legges, as who say they
be sore. And oftentymes they be more rycher than they that gyveth them
almesse. They breke theyr chyldrens membres in theyr youthe, because
that men sholde have the more pyte of them. They go wepynge and
wryngynge of theyr handes, and counterfettynge the sorrowfull, praynge
for Goddes sake to gyve them an almesse, and maketh so well the
hypocrytes that there is no man the whiche seeth them but that he is
abused, and must gyve them an almesse. There is some stronge and
puysaunt rybaudes, the whiche wyll not laboure, but lyve, as these
beggers, without doynge ony thynge, the whiche be dronke oftentymes.
They be well at ease to have grete legges and bellyes eten to the bonis;
for they wyll not put noo medycynes therto for to hele them, but soner
envenymeth them, and dyvers other begylynges of which I holde my pease.
O poore frantyke fooles, the whiche robbeth them that hathe no brede for
to ete, and by adventure dare not aske none for shame, the auncyent men,
poore wedowes, lazars, and blynde men. Alas! thynke thereon, for truely
ye shall gyve accomptes before Hym that created us."

In the year 1566, Thomas Harman, Esq., probably a justice of peace,
published a very singular and amusing work, entitled, "A Caveat, or
Warning for Common Cursetors (runners) vulgarely called Vagabones;" in
which he has described the several sorts of thieving beggars and other
rogues with considerable humour, and has collected together a great
number of words belonging to what he humorously calls the "leud lousey
language of these lewtering luskes and lazy lorrels, wherewith they bye
and sell the common people as they pas through the countrey." He says
they term this language _Pedlar's French_, or, _Canting_, which had not
then been invented above thirty years. As the book has lately been
reprinted, it will be proper, on this occasion, to use it more
sparingly, and to mention only such of Harman's vagabonds as fall under
the begging class. These are 1. The _Rufflers_; particularly mentioned
in the Stat. xxvii. Henry VIII. against vagabonds, as fellows pretending
to be wounded soldiers. These, says Harman, after a year or two's
practice, unless they be prevented by twined hemp, become,--2. _Upright
Men_; still pretending to have served in the wars, and offering, though
never intending, to work for their living. They decline receiving meat
or drink, and take nothing but money by way of charity, but contrive to
steal pigs and poultry at night, chiefly plundering the farmers. Of
late, says the author, they have been much whipped at fairs. They attack
and rob other beggars that do not belong to their own fraternity,
occasionally admitting or installing them into it by pouring a quart of
liquor on their pates, with these words, "I do stall thee, W. T., to the
rogue, and that from henceforth it shall be lawful for thee to cant for
thy living in all places." All sorts of beggars are obedient to them,
and they surpass all the rest in pilfering and stealing. 3. _Hookers_,
or _Anglers_; these knaves beg by day, and pilfer at night, by means of
a pole with a hook at the end, with which they lay hold of linen, or any
thing hanging from windows or elsewhere. The author relates a curious
feat of dexterity practised by one of them at a farm house, where, in
the dead of the night, he contrived to hook off the bed-clothes from
three men who were lying asleep, leaving them in their shirts, and when
they awoke from cold, supposing, to use the author's words, "that Robin
Goodfellow had bene with them that night." 4. _Rogues_; going about with
a white handkerchief tied round the head, and pretending to be lame.
These people committed various other frauds and impostures, in order to
obtain charity. 5. _Pallyards_; with patched garments, collecting, by
way of alms, provisions, or whatever they could get, which they sold for
ready money; they are chiefly Welshmen, and make artificial sores by
applying spearwort to raise blisters on their bodies, or else arsenic or
ratsbane to create incurable wounds. 6. _Abraham Men_; pretending to be
lunatics, who have been a long time confined in Bedlam or some other
prison, where they have been unmercifully used with blows, &c. They beg
money or provisions at farmers' houses, or bully them by fierce looks or
menaces. 7. _Traters_; or fellows travelling about the country with
black boxes at the girdle, containing forged briefs, or licences to beg
for hospitals. Some have clouts bound round their legs, and walk as if
lame, with staves in their hands. 8. _Freshwater Mariners_, or
_Whipjacks_; whose ships, says the witty author, were drowned in
Salisbury Plain. These counterfeit great losses at sea by shipwreck and
piracy, and are chiefly Irishmen, begging with false licences, under the
supposed seal of the Admiralty, so artfully constructed as to deceive
even the best lawyers. 9. The _Counterfeit Crank_; who is described at
large, with a figure, in another part of this work. 10. _Dommerars_;
chiefly Welshmen, pretending to be dumb, and forcibly keeping down their
tongues doubled, groaning for charity, and keeping up their hands most
piteously, by which means they procure considerable gains. 11.
_Demanders for glymmar_; who are chiefly women that go about with false
licences to beg, as sufferers from fire,--glymmar, in pedlars' language,
signifying that element. Many other classes are enumerated in this
curious volume, as--priggars of prauncers, swadders, jarkman, patricos,
bawdy baskets, autem morts, walking morts, doxies, dells, kynchin morts,
and kynchin coes; but all these are rather pilferers than beggars.

As every trade or profession had its patron saint, so the beggars made
choice of St Martin, who appears to have had a great regard for them.
This person was originally a soldier of rank in the armies of the
Emperors Constantius and Julian, but preferring a religious life, he
applied to Saint Hilary, of Poitou, who appointed him his sub-deacon;
and soon afterwards becoming a saint himself, he of course acquired the
power of working miracles, many of which, with much other legendary
matter, have been related by his credulous but elegant historian,
Sulpitius Severus, and transferred, with due additions and improvements,
into that grand repertory of pious frauds, the Golden Legend, and some
other works of similar authority. It is related of him, that when a
soldier, as he passed by one of the gates of Amiens in winter time, he
met a poor naked man, on whom none would bestow alms. Martin drew out
his sword, and cutting his mantle asunder in the middle, gave one half
to the poor man, having nothing else to bestow on him, contenting
himself with the remainder to keep him from the cold. On the ensuing
night he saw the Saviour of the world in heaven, clothed with that part
which he had given to the poor man, and exclaiming to the angels that
surrounded him, "Martin, yet new in the faith, hath covered me with this
vesture." Ever afterwards he became particularly attached to beggars and
poor people. The cripples and lepers seem, however, to have made
exclusive choice of St Giles for their patron, to whom the hospitals and
other places for their relief were usually dedicated. So the parish
church of Cripplegate was dedicated to him; and the ward itself, named
after a very ancient gate to which the crippled beggars particularly
resorted. There would be some difficulty to account for their preference
of this Saint, as he does not appear to have been either lame or
leprous. He was a noble Christian, born at Athens, a man of singular
charity, giving largely to the poor, and on one occasion doing more than
St Martin, by giving the _whole_ of his coat to a diseased and naked
beggar, who is said to have been immediately healed on putting it on.

As an exemplification of the legend of Saint Martin might be acceptable
to many readers, it has been thought fit to select, as an appropriate
embellishment, one of the oldest figures of the Saint that remain, and
to place it before the title of the work. This print has been copied
with scrupulous fidelity from an ancient engraving in copper, in the
truly valuable collection of Thomas Lloyd, Esq., by a German artist,
whose name unfortunately has not been preserved, and who probably
executed it between the years 1460 and 1470. In this instance the story
has not been correctly adhered to, for the designer of the print has
there introduced a _couple_ of beggars; an error that is sufficiently
compensated by the variety it affords of the mendicant costume, one of
these fellows making use of a creeper and dish, the other of a crutch. A
later print of this subject, and of extreme curiosity on all accounts,
may likewise be consulted. It is from a design by Jerom Bosche, an
artist of grotesque celebrity, and represents Saint Martin in a boat
full of beggars, with crowds of others on shore, in every possible form
and attitude. It is accompanied with the following inscription, in the
Flemish language: "The good Saint Martin is here represented among the
crippled, nasty, wretched tribe, distributing to them his cloak, instead
of money; the miserable crew contending for the spoil."

In the year 1741, a spirited presentment to the Court of King's Bench
was made by the Grand Jury of Middlesex, against the unusual swarms of
sturdy and clamorous beggars, as well as the many frightful objects
exposed in the streets; in which they state, that notwithstanding a very
strong presentment to the same effect had been made by a former jury in
1728, they had found the evil rather increased than remedied. This they
ascribe to negligence in the proper officers, and trust that a proper
remedy will be applied, and themselves not troubled with the poor, at
the same time that they are every day more and more loaded with taxes to
provide for them; and that his Majesty's subjects may have the passage
of the streets, as in former happy times, free and undisturbed, and be
able to transact the little business to which the decay of trade has
reduced them, without molestation.

In the last session of the present Parliament, the matter has been again
taken up with a degree of skill and vigour that reflects great honour on
its conductors; and we may indulge a hope to see the streets of the
Metropolis freed from the many public and disgusting nuisances that have
increased with its population, and the real objects of charity and
compassion humanely and properly cherished and protected, as well as the
vast and oppressive expense of supporting them reduced.

Already we perceive the alarm has been taken by the members of the
mendicant tribes; and it may not be too much to add, that the interest
and curiosity of the present work are likely to augment, in proportion
as the characters that have led to its composition shall decrease in
numbers. That they should entirely disappear, may be more than can be
reasonably expected.


The figure above represents an English Beggar about the middle of the
fifteenth century, and has been copied from a Pontifical among the
Lansdowne MSS. in the British Museum, on one of the margins of which the
illuminator has rather strangely introduced it.

[1] Psal. cix. 10. The passage in 1 Samuel ii. 8, "He lifteth up the
_beggar_ from the dunghill," has not been used, because the original
word does not seem to mean a common beggar. Strictly rendered, it
signifies a _poor person_, or one in want.


Sailors, according to the old adage, find a port in every storm. The
appeal of "My worthy heart, stow a copper in Jack's locker,--for poor
Jack has not had a quid to-day," is as piercingly felt by the lowly
cottager as the British Admiral.

Who can recollect Bigg's pathetic picture of the "Shipwrecked
Sailor-boy," or Mrs Ludlam's charming poem of "The Lost Child," without
shedding the tear of sympathy?

The public are not, however, to conclude, that because a fellow sports a
jacket and trousers, he must have been a seaman; for there are many
fresh-water sailors, who never saw a ship but from London Bridge. Such
an impostor was Jack Stuart, Flaxman's model, whose effigy is attached
to the capital letter of this page. Jack's latter history is truly
curious. After lingering for nearly three months, he died on the 15th of
August 1815, aged 35. His funeral was attended by his wife and faithful
dog, Tippo, as chief mourners, accompanied by three blind beggars in
black cloaks; namely, John Fountain, George Dyball, and John Jewis. Two
blind fiddlers, William Worthington and Joseph Symmonds, preceded the
coffin, playing the 104th Psalm. The whimsical procession moved on,
amidst crowds of spectators, from Jack's house, in Charlton Gardens,
Somers Town, to the churchyard of St Pancras, Middlesex. The mourners
afterwards returned to the place from whence the funeral had proceeded,
where they remained the whole of the night, dancing, drinking, swearing,
and fighting, and occasionally chaunting Tabernacle hymns; for it must
be understood, that most of the beggars are staunch Methodists. The
person from whom these particulars were obtained, and who was one of the
party, thought himself extremely happy that he came off with a pair of
black eyes _only_. The conduct of this man's associates in vice was
however powerfully contrasted by the extraordinary attachment and
fidelity of Jack's cur, Tippo, his long and stedfast guide, who, after
remaining three days upon his master's grave, refusing every sort of
food, died with intermitting sighs and howling sorrow. The dog of
Woollett, the engraver, died nearly a similar death.

The following plate exhibits Stuart's pupil, George Dyball, a fellow of
considerable notoriety. He sometimes dresses as a sailor, in nankeen
waistcoat and trousers; but George, like his master, never was a seaman.
Stuart taught him to maund, by allowing him to kneel at a respectful
distance, and repeat his supplications.

Dyball was remarkable for his leader, Nelson, whose tricks displayed in
an extraordinary degree the sagacity and docility of the canine race.
This dog would, at a word from his master, lead him to any part of the
town he wished to traverse, and at so quick a pace, that both animals
have been observed to get on much faster than any other streetwalkers.
His business was to make a response to his master's "_Pray pity the
Blind_" by an impressive whine, accompanied with uplifted eyes and an
importunate turn of the head; and when his eyes have not caught those of
the spectators, he has been seen to rub the tin box against their knees,
to enforce his solicitations. When money was thrown into the box, he
immediately put it down, took out the contents with his mouth, and,
joyfully wagging his tail, carried them to his master. After this, for a
moment or two, he would venture to smell about the spot; but as soon as
his master uttered "_Come, Sir_," off he would go, to the extent of his
string, with his tail between his legs, apprehensive of the effects of
his master's corrective switch. This animal was presented to Dyball by
Joseph Symmonds, the blind fiddler, who received him of James Garland,
another blind beggar, who had taught him his tricks. Unfortunately for
Dyball, this treasure has lately been stolen from him, as is supposed by
some itinerant player, and he is now obliged to depend on a dog of
inferior qualifications, though George has declared him to "_Shew very
pretty for tricks_."

This custom of teaching dogs to beg with cans in their mouths is not
new. A few years since, there was such an animal in a booth at
Bartholomew Fair, who made his supplications in favour of an Italian
rope-dancer. The practice is indeed very ancient, as appears in a truly
curious illuminated copy of the Speculum Humanæ Salvationis, written in
the early part of the fifteenth century, in the possession of a friend
of the author.

[Illustration: PLATE I.

George Dyball, a blind beggar of considerable notoriety, and his dog

The next plate is of a beggar well known at fairs near the Metropolis.
He is certainly blind, and perhaps one of the most cunning and witty of
his tribe; for in order that his blindness may be manifest, he literally
throws up his eyeballs, as if desirous of exemplifying the following
lines in Hudibras:--

  "As men of inward light are wont
  To turn their optics in upon't."

He is a foreigner, and probably a Frenchman; at all events he professed
to be so on the commencement of the war; but having acquired a tolerable
stock of English, and perhaps not choosing to return home, he now
declares himself "_A poor Spaniard Man_."

Sometimes he will, by an artful mode of singing any stuff that comes
into his head, and by merely sounding the last word of a line, so
contrive to impose upon the waggoners and other country people, as to
make them believe that he fought in the field of Waterloo.

"Poor fellow," exclaimed a spectator, "he has been in the battle of
Waterloo." "_Yes, my belove friends_," returned the mendicant, "_De
money de money go very low too_."

However, this fellow is now and then detected, in consequence of a
picture, which is painted on a tin plate and fastened to his breast,
being the portrait of and worn many years ago by a marine, who had lost
his sight at Gibraltar. His hair, which is sometimes bushy, is now and
then closely put under his hat, or tied in a tail; and when he alters
his voice, he becomes a different character--the form of a decrepit
vender of matches. The seated beggar in this plate is frequently to be
seen at the wall of Privy Chambers; he never asks charity, nor goes any
great distance from Westminster, where he resides.

[Illustration: PLATE II.

A blind beggar well known at fairs near the metropolis; declares himself
"_a poor Spaniard man_."]

The following plate of a walking beggar, attended by a boy, was taken
from a drawing made in West Smithfield. The object of it is well known
about Finsbury Square and Bunhill Row; sometimes he stands at the gates
of Wesley's meeting-house. His cant is, "Do, my worthy, tender-hearted
Christians, remember the blind; pray pity the stone dark blind." The
tricks of the boy that attended this man when the drawing was made,
brought to mind the sportive Lazarillo De Tormes, when he was the guide
of a beggar; from which entertaining history there are two very spirited
etchings by Thomas Wyck,--the one, where he defrauds his master when
partaking of the bunch of grapes; and the other, where he revenges a
thrashing received from his master by causing him to strike his head
against a pillar, and tumble into a ditch that he was attempting to leap.

[Illustration: PLATE III.

Blind beggar attended by a boy. From a drawing made in West Smithfield.
Well known about Finsbury Square and Bunhill Row. His cant is, "Do, my
worthy tender-hearted Christians, remember the blind; pray, pity the
stone-dark blind."]

The next subject is a tall blind man, with a long staff, with which he
strikes the curbstones. He is seldom to be seen in any particular place,
and was drawn when he stood against the wall of Mr Whitbread's brewhouse.

He is frequently a vender of the penny religious tracts, dispersed by a
society of Methodists, though perhaps with little use, for they are
often purchased by people who are actually going to the gin-shop. It is
here stated, on credible authority, that there are no less than 27,000
of the Methodist and 21,500 of the Evangelical Magazines published every
month; and it is also reported, that not less than 800 Methodistical
meeting-houses have been erected in England within the last year.

[Illustration: PLATE IV.

Tall blind beggar, with a long staff, with which he strikes the
curb-stones. Drawn while standing against the wall of Whitbread's

The beggar portrayed in the next plate is a blind man, who remains for
many hours successively with his legs in one position. He observes a
profound silence when on his stand, but makes noise enough when he
attends the Tabernacle Walk on the Sabbath; on the week days, however,
he is frequently heard singing obscene songs. He is introduced, with his
wife, in the background of George Dyball's plate.

[Illustration: PLATE V.

Blind beggar, who observes a profound silence when on his stand, but
makes noise enough when he attends the Tabernacle Walk on the Sabbath.]

The next plate affords a remarkable instance of sobriety in a blind man,
who never tasted gin in his life. He was some years since to be found on
the historically and beggarly-famed road of Bethnal Green, and obtained
an honest livelihood by trafficking in halfpenny ballads.

[Illustration: PLATE VI.

Blind man, who never tasted gin in his life. Frequented Bethnal Green
Road, and obtained an honest livelihood by trafficking in halfpenny

The ensuing etching is of Charles Wood, a blind man, with an organ and a
dancing dog, which he declares to be "_The real learned French dog,
Bob_," and extols his tricks by the following never-failing address,
"_Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the real learned French dog; please to
encourage him; throw any thing down to him, and see how nimbly he'll
pick it up, and give it to his poor blind master. Look about, Bob; be
sharp; see what you're about, Bob._" Money being thrown, Bob picks it
up, and puts it into his master's pocket. "_Thank ye, thank ye, my good
masters; should any more Ladies and Gentlemen wish to encourage the poor
dog, he's now quite in the humour; he'll pick it up almost before you
can throw it down._" It is needless to add, that this man, whose station
is against Privy Garden Wall, makes what is called "_a pretty penny_" by
his learned French friend.


This little animal is of so interesting a nature, that it has been
thought worth while to give a side view of him, in order to exhibit the
true cut of his tail.

[Illustration: PLATE VII.

Charles Wood, a blind man, with an organ and a dancing dog. "The real
learned French dog, Bob." Money being thrown, Bob picks it up, and puts
it into his master's pocket.]

The two succeeding plates are of a class that must ensure attention from
the gaping multitude, and are commonly termed industrious beggars.

The female figure is that of Priscilla, an inhabitant of St James,
Clerkenwell, who is often to be seen in the summer seated against the
wall of the Reservoir of the New River Water-works, Spa-fields, and
employed in the making of patchwork quilts. She threads her own needle,
cuts her own patches, and fits them entirely herself.

[Illustration: PLATE VIII.

Priscilla, an inhabitant of St James, Clerkenwell, seated against the
wall of the New River Water Works, Spa-fields, and employed in the
making of patchwork quilts.]

The other plate exhibits the portrait of Taylor, a blind shoemaker, who
lost his sight eighteen years since by a blight. This harmless man, who
lives at No. 6 Saffron Hill, maintains a family by his attention to his
stands, which are sometimes at Whitehall, and the wall by Whitfield's
Chapel, Tottenham Court Road. This meritorious pair may be justly
regarded as true objects of compassion, as they never associate with the
common street-beggars.

[Illustration: PLATE IX.

Taylor, a blind shoemaker, at the wall by Whitefield's Chapel, Tottenham
Court Road.]

The next plate, which will close the series of blind beggars, exhibits
the portrait of William Kinlock. He was employed many years ago to turn
a wheel for a four-post bedstead turner in Oxford Street, but afterwards
lost his sight at Gibraltar, under the great Lord Heathfield. His stands
are at Furnival's Inn and Portugal Street, near which latter place he

[Illustration: PLATE X.

William Kinlock, a blind beggar, who lost his sight at Gibraltar.]

Industrious beggars are sometimes confounded with sturdy impostors. Of
the latter description is the man whose figure is given in the next
plate. His employment is to cut a chain out of a piece of ash, which
chain he calls "Turkish Moorings."

After this fellow had agreed to accept two shillings for half an hour's
sitting for the present work, he had not been seated in the kitchen ten
minutes before he began to nestle, and growled a hope that he might not
be detained long, adding that he could get twice the money in less time
either at Charing Cross or Hyde Park Corner. In order to soften the
brute, he had the offer of bread, cheese, and small beer. He said he
never took any. At this moment the servant being employed in making a
veal pie, he was asked whether he would accept of a steak, and take it
to a public-house for his lunch. After slowly turning his head, without
giving the least motion of his body, he sneeringly observed, that the
veal had no fat.

It was then determined to keep him the full time; and after a few close
questions, he observed, that no one dared to keep him in prison; that he
worked with tools, and was not a beggar. True it was, indeed, that his
hat was on the ground; and if people would put money into it, surely it
was not for him to turn it out. As to his chains, few persons would give
him his price; they were five shillings a yard; nor did he care much to
sell them, for if he did he should have nothing to show. After turning
his money over several times, and for which he did not condescend to
make the least acknowledgement, he exclaimed on leaving the house, "_Now
that you have draughted me off, I suppose you'll make a fine deal of
money of it_."

[Illustration: PLATE XI.

Chain maker, who said he was not a beggar; and if people would put money
into his hat, surely it was not for him to turn it out.]


The annexed representation is of a fellow whose figure was recently
copied in Holborn, and although he was so scandalously intoxicated in
the middle of the day that it was with the greatest difficulty he could
stand, yet many people followed to give him money, because the
inscription on his hat declared him to be "OUT OF EMPLOYMENT." Such are
the effects of imposture, and the mischief of ill-directed benevolence.

As a contrast to the two preceding characters, see the next plate, which
affords the portraits of two truly industrious persons, Joseph Thake and
his son. These people are natives of Watford, in Hertfordshire, who
finding it impossible to procure work, and being determined not to beg,
employed themselves in making puzzles. The boy learned the art when
under a shepherd in Cambridgeshire. These specimens of ingenuity are
made of pieces of willow, which contain small stones, serving for
children's rattles, or as an amusement for grown persons who,
unacquainted with the key, after taking them to pieces are puzzled to
put them together again. When honest Thake and his son had filled a
sack, they trudged to the great City, where they took their station in
St Paul's Churchyard, vending their toys at the moderate price of
sixpence a piece.

Their rustic simplicity quickly procured them customers; among whom the
author's friend, Mr Henry Pocknell, after purchasing a few specimens of
their handy-work, procured for him the pleasure of imitating his example.

The worthy parent transferred the money to his son, who requested that
he might have the satisfaction of presenting his benefactor with a bird.

[Illustration: PLATE XII.

Joseph Thake and his son, who made rattle puzzles, and sold them in St
Paul's Churchyard at sixpence a piece.]

The succeeding plate displays the effigy of Joseph Johnson, a black, who
in consequence of his having been employed in the merchant service only,
is not entitled to the provision of Greenwich. His wounds rendering him
incapable of doing further duty on the ocean, and having no claim to
relief in any parish, he is obliged to gain a living on shore; and in
order to elude the vigilance of the parochial beadles, he first started
on Tower Hill, where he amused the idlers by singing George Alexander
Stevenson's "Storm." By degrees he ventured into the public streets, and
at length became what is called a "Regular Chaunter." But novelty, the
grand secret of all exhibitions, from the Magic Lantern to the Panorama,
induced Black Joe to build a model of the ship Nelson, to which, when
placed on his cap, he can, by a bow of thanks, or a supplicating
inclination to a drawing-room window, give the appearance of sea-motion.
Johnson is as frequently to be seen in the rural village as in great
cities; and when he takes a journey, the kindhearted waggoner will often
enable him in a few hours to visit the marketplaces of Staines, Romford,
or St Albans, where he never fails to gain the farmer's penny, either by
singing "The British Seaman's Praise," or Green's more popular song of
"The Wooden Walls of Old England."

[Illustration: PLATE XIII.

Joseph Johnson, a black sailor, with a model of the ship _Nelson_ on his

The following plate presents the portrait of another black man of great
notoriety, Charles M'Gee, a native of Ribon, in Jamaica, born in 1744,
and whose father died at the great age of 108. This singular man usually
stands at the Obelisk, at the foot of Ludgate Hill. He has lost an eye,
and his woolly hair, which is almost white, is tied up behind in a tail,
with a large tuft at the end, horizontally resting upon the cape of his
coat. Charles is supposed to be worth money. His stand is certainly
above all others the most popular, many thousands of persons crossing it
in the course of the day. He has of late on the working-days sported a
smart coat, presented to him by a city pastry-cook. On a Sunday he is a
constant attendant at Rowland Hill's meeting-house, and on that occasion
his apparel is appropriately varied.

[Illustration: PLATE XIV.

Charles M'Gee, a notorious black man, whose father died at the age of
108. He usually stood at the Obelisk, at the foot of Ludgate Hill.]

This man's portrait, when in his 73d year, was drawn on the 9th of
October 1815, in the parlour of a public-house, the sign of the Twelve
Bells, opposite to the famous well of St Brigit, which gave name to the
ancient palace of our kings, Bridewell; but which has, ever since the
grant of Edward VI., been a house of correction for vagabonds, &c. It is
a truly curious circumstance, that this establishment gave name to other
prisons of a similar kind; for instance, Clerkenwell Bridewell, and
Tothill-fields' Bridewell. Over the entrance of the latter, the
following inscription has been placed:--


Black people, as well as those destitute of sight, seldom fail to excite
compassion. Few persons, however humble their situation, can withhold
charity from the infant smiling upon features necessarily dead to its
supplications, and deeply shrouded from the prying eyes of the vulgar by
the bonnet, placarded with


A lady, on seeing this woodcut, composed the following lines:--

  Lo! yonder Widow, reft of sight,
    A Mother, who ne'er knew
  The joys which Parents' eyes delight
    When first their Babes they view.

  Close to her breast, with cherub smile,
    The cherish'd Infant lies;
  And t'wards those darkened orbs the while
    Lifts its unconscious eyes.

  Then, Stranger, pause, and yield a gift
    To Misery's Children due;
  Lo! e'en yon grasping Miser's thrift
    Now drops like hallowed dew.

  M. P.

Doctor Johnson, who generally gave to importunate beggars, never failed
to relieve the silent blind.

Black men are extremely cunning, and often witty; they have mostly short
names, such as Jumbo, Toby, &c., but the last seems of late to be the
most fashionable, for it has not only been used by the master of Mr
Punch, the street-strolling puppet, as a name for that merry little
fellow's dog, but by the proprietor of the Sapient Pig.

The last negro beggar called Toby, was a character well known in this
Metropolis. He was destitute of toes, had his head bound with a white
handkerchief, and bent himself almost double to walk upon two
hand-crutches, with which he nearly occupied the width of the pavement.
Master Toby generally affected to be tired and exhausted whenever he
approached a house where the best gin was to be procured; and was
perhaps of all the inhabitants of Church Lane, St Giles's, the man who
expended the most money in that national cordial.

But this man was nothing when compared with a Lascar, who lately sold
halfpenny ballads, and whose gains enabled him to spit his goose, or
broil a duck; for it is well known, that upon an average he made not
less than fifteen shillings per day.

The author of this little work sincerely regrets the loss of a sketch
that he made from a black man, whose countenance and figure were the
most interesting of any of the tribe. He was nearly six feet in height,
rather round in the shoulders, and usually wore a covering of green
baize; indeed altogether he brought to recollection that exquisite
statue of Cicero, in the Pomfret collection of marbles at Oxford, so
beautifully engraved by Sherwin. This fellow, who had often been taken
up, has not been seen for several months.


Go-cart, Billies in bowls, or Sledge-beggars, are denominations for
those cripples whose misfortunes will not permit them to travel in any
other way; and these are next presented to the reader's notice.

Men of this class are to be found in every country. The little fellow
above depicted in the cart is copied from Luca Carlevarij's 100 Views in
Venice, a set of long quarto plates, most spiritedly etched, and
published in 1703.

Hogarth, whose active eye caught Nature in all her garbs, has introduced
in his Wedding of the Industrious Apprentice, a cripple well known in
those days under the appellation of Philip in the Tub, a fellow who
constantly attended weddings, and retailed the ballad of "Jesse, or the
Happy Pair."

Dublin has ever been famous for a Billy in the Bowl. A very remarkable
fellow of this class, well known in that city, and who thought proper to
leave Ireland on the Union, was met in London by a Noble Lord, who
observed, "So you are here too!" "Yes, my Lord," replied the beggar,
"the Union has brought us all over."

The back view of the person exhibited in the following plate, is that of
Samuel Horsey, who, in December 1816, had been a London beggar for
thirty-one years. Of this man there are various opinions, and it is much
to be doubted if the truth can be obtained even from his own mouth. He
states that Mr Abernethy cut off his legs in St Bartholomew's Hospital,
but he does not declare from what cause; so that being deprived of the
power of gaining a subsistence by labour, he was forced to become a
beggar. By some persons he is styled the King of the Beggars, but
certainly without the least foundation. He says that no one has been
less acquainted with beggars than himself; and as for his having the
command of a district, that he utterly denies. His walks, or rather
movements, are not always confined; on some days he slides to Charing
Cross, but is oftener to be seen at the door of Mr Coutts's
banking-house, perhaps with an idea that persons just after they have
received money are more likely to bestow charity.

Of all other men, Horsey has the most dexterous mode of turning, or
rather swinging himself, into a gin-shop. He dashes the door open by
forcibly striking the front of his sledge and himself against it.

He was once seen in a most perilous situation, when he lodged in a
two-pair of stairs back room, in Wharton's Court, Holborn. He had placed
himself on the window-sill, in order to clean the outside upper panes,
and was attached as usual to his sledge, when unfortunately he broke a
square. On this occasion he let loose the volley of oaths which at other
times he can so forcibly discharge; nor did his rage subside after he
had launched himself into the room again; indeed he was heard at
intervals to vociferate in this way for several hours.

[Illustration: PLATE XV.

Samuel Horsey, a London beggar for more than thirty-one years.
Frequented the neighbourhood of Charing Cross and Coutts's Bank.]

The very extraordinary torso etched in the next plate is that of John
Mac Nally, of the county of Tyrone. This poor fellow lost the use of his
legs by a log, that crushed both his thighs, when an apprentice at Cork.

His head, shoulders, and chest, which are exactly those of Hercules,
would prove valuable models for the artist.

Mac, who is well known about Parliament Street, Whitehall, and the
Surrey foot of Westminster Bridge, after scuttling along the streets for
some time upon a sledge, discovered the power of novelty, and trained
two dogs, Boxer and Rover, to draw him in a truck, by which contrivance
he has increased his income beyond all belief.

Though this man's dogs when coupled have occasional snarlings,
particularly when one scratches himself with an overstrained exertion,
the other feeling at the same time an inclination to dose, yet, when
their master has been dead drunk, and become literally a log on his
truck, they have very cordially united their efforts to convey him to
his lodgings in St Ann's Lane, Westminster, and perhaps with more safety
than if he had governed them, frequently taking a circuitous route
during street repairs in order to obtain the clearest path.

[Illustration: PLATE XVI.

John MacNally, of Tyrone County, with his two dogs Boxer and Rover, who
drew him in a truck. Well known about Parliament Street and Whitehall.]

The figure in the box is that of a Jew mendicant, who has unfortunately
lost the use of his legs, and is placed every morning in the above
vehicle, so that he may be drawn about the neighbourhood of Petticoat
Lane, and exhibited as an object of charity. His venerable appearance
renders it impossible for a Jew or a Christian to pass without giving
him alms, though he never begs but of his own people; a custom highly
creditable to the Jews, and even more attentively observed by that truly
honourable Society of Friends, vulgarly called Quakers, who neither
suffer their poor to beg, nor become burthensome to any but themselves.

[Illustration: PLATE XVII.

A Jew Beggar, who has lost the use of his legs, and was drawn in a box
about the neighbourhood of Petticoat Lane.]

About forty-eight years ago, when the sites of Portland Place,
Devonshire Street, &c., were fields, the famous Tommy Lowe, then a
singer at Mary-le-bone Gardens, raised a subscription to enable an
unfortunate man to run a small chariot, drawn by four muzzled mastiffs,
from a pond near Portland Chapel--called Cockney Ladle, which supplied
Mary-le-bone Basin with water--to the Farthing Pie-house, a building
remaining at the end of Norton Street, and now the sign of the Green
Man, in order to accommodate children with a ride for a halfpenny. And
it is rather extraordinary, that the son of that very man, a few years
since, and after the death of his wife, harnessed a spaniel to a small
cart, but large enough to hold his infant, which the animal drew after
the father from lamp to lamp through the very streets above mentioned.
The dog became so accustomed to his task, that as soon as he heard his
master cover a lamp, away he would scamper to the next, and there wait
the arrival of the ladder.

Street-crossing sweepers next make their appearance; the first on the
list being William Tomlins, whose stand is very productive, as it
includes both Albemarle and St James Streets. Of this man there is
nothing further remarkable, beyond his attention to his pitch, for so
the beggars and ballad-singers call their stands. He appears to be alive
to the receipt of every penny, and will not suffer himself by any means
to be diverted from his solicitations; as a strong proof of which, he
refused to hold the horse of a gentleman who called to him for that
purpose, and from this it may be inferred that he thought begging a
better occupation.

[Illustration: PLATE XVIII.

William Tomlins, a crossing-sweeper, who stood at Albemarle and St
James's Streets.]

The next character portrayed is a constant sweeper of the crossing at
the top of Ludgate Hill. This man finds it his interest to wear a cloth
round his head, as he is on that account frequently noticed by elderly
maiden city dames, who mistake him for one of their own sex.

[Illustration: PLATE XIX.

Sweeper of the crossing at the top of Ludgate Hill.]

The crossing from Charles Street to Rathbone Place is swept by Daniel
Cropp, as filthy a looking fellow as any of his tribe. In order to
render himself noticed, he literally combs his hair with his opened
fingers. He at present differs from the etching, by wearing a fireman's

[Illustration: PLATE XX.

Daniel Cropp, sweeper of the crossing from Charles Street to Rathbone

The next plate represents a lad who occasionally sweeps the crossing at
the end of Princes Street, Hanover Square, and wears a large waistcoat,
surmounted by a soldier's jacket.

[Illustration: PLATE XXI.

Lad who swept the crossing at the end of Princes Street, Hanover Square.]

At the time he was drawn, he was so sickly that his person was not
recognised as a vender of matches, in which character he had two years
before been selected as a subject for this work, and whose portrait as
such is given in the following plate. The boy occasionally sings the old
match song, and at certain hours finds it his interest to exercise his
broom at the above station.

[Illustration: PLATE XXII.

Vendor of matches.]

The subjects of the next two plates are unfortunate mendicants. The
first is a silver-haired man, of the name of Lilly, who lost his leg in
some repairs at Westminster. Poets' Corner, in the Abbey, is the place
where he is mostly to be seen.

[Illustration: PLATE XXIII.

"Lilly," who lost his leg in some repairs at Westminster. Mostly to be
seen at Poets' Corner in the Abbey.]

The second plate is the portrait of William Frasier, deprived of both
his hands in the field of battle. His allowance as a maimed soldier not
being sufficient to maintain his large family, he is obliged to depend
on the benevolence of such of the public who purchase boot-laces of him.
When this poor fellow's portrait was taken, he lodged in Market Lane, in
the house formerly occupied by Torre, the print-seller, who was the
original fireworker at Mary-le-bone Gardens.

[Illustration: PLATE XXIV.

William Frasier, deprived of both his hands in the field of battle.
Maintains his family by the sale of boot-laces.]

London has of late been gradually losing many of its old street customs,
particularly that pleasing one of the milkmaid's garland, so richly
decorated with articles of silver and bunches of cowslips. The garland
was of a pyramidal form, and placed upon a horse carried by two
chairmen, adorned with ribbons and tulips. The plate consisted of pint
mugs, quart tankards, and large dishes, sometimes to the value of five
hundred pounds, hired of silversmiths for the purpose. The milkwoman and
her pretty maids, in their Nancy Dawson petticoats, would dance to the
fiddler's jigs of "Paddy O'Rafferty," or "Off she goes," before the
doors of their customers; but now, instead of this innocent scene of
May-day gaiety, the streets are infested by such fellows as the one
exhibited in the adjoining plate, who have been dismissed, perhaps for
their indecent conduct, from the public places of entertainment. These
men hire old dresses, and join the Chimney Sweeper's, Cinder-sifter's,
or Bunter's Garland, or Jack in the Green, &c., and exhibit all sorts of
grimace and ribaldry to extort money from their numerous admirers.

[Illustration: PLATE XXV.

May-Day Gaiety.--These men hire old dresses, and join the
Cinder-sifter's or Bunter's Garland, or Jack in the Green, &c., and
exhibit all sorts of grimace and ribaldry, to extort money from their
numerous admirers.]

Few persons, particularly those in elevated life, can witness, or even
entertain a true idea of the various modes by which the lowest classes
gain a livelihood. It is scarcely to be believed that some few years ago
a woman, of the name of Smith, regularly went over London early in the
morning, to strike out the teeth of dead dogs that had been stolen and
killed for the sake of their skins. These teeth she sold to bookbinders,
carvers, and gilders, as burnishing tools.

There are women who, on Sunday mornings when there are no carts about,
frequent Thames Street, and the adjoining lanes inhabited by Lisbon
merchants, to pick up from the kennels the refuse of lemons, after they
have been squeezed for their juice. These they sell to the Jew
distillers, who extract a further portion of liquor, and thus afford
them the means of selling, at a considerably reduced price, lemon drops
to the lower order of confectioners.

It is seldom that the common beggars eat the food given to them; and it
is a well-known fact, that they sell their broken bread to the lowest
order of the biscuit bakers, who grind it for the purpose of making
"tops and bottoms," &c.

This was also the practice in former days, as appears in an old ballad,
from which the following is an extract:--

 _Printed with allowance, October 19, 1676._

  "Then Tom a Bedlam winds his horn at best,
  Their trumpet 'twas to bring away their feast;
  Pickt marybones they had, found in the street,
  Carrots kickt out of kennels with their feet;
  Crusts gathered up for bisket, twice so dry'd;
  Alms-tubs, and olla podridas, beside
  Many such dishes more; but it would cumber
  Any to name them, more than I can number.
  Then comes the banquet, which must never fail,
  That the town gave, of whitebread and strong ale.
  All were so tipsie, that they could not go,
  And yet would dance, and cry'd for music hoe:
  With tonges and gridirons they were play'd unto,
  And blind men sung, as they are us'd to do.
  Some whistled, and some hollow sticks did sound,
  And so melodiously they play around:
  Lame men, lame women, manfully cry advance,
  And so, all limping, jovially did dance."

Some women gain a living by going from house to house and begging
phials. They pretend that they have an order for medicines at the
dispensary, for their dear husband, or only child, but know not in what
way to get it without a bottle, as they are obliged to take one of their
own; at the same time, some will beg white linen rags to dress wounds
with. These they soon turn into money at the old iron shops,--the
"dealers in marine stores."

Those who beg old shoes, such as Grannee Manoo, make as much as six or
seven shillings a day. They sell them to the people who live in cellars
in Monmouth Street, or stalls in Food and Raiment Alley, Rosemary Lane,
&c. These persons give them new soles, and are called Translators. In
Mountsorrel, Leicestershire, a cobbler of the name of Bates styles
himself a translator.

The plate of two Bone-pickers is the next to be described. The
physiognomy of the fellow who is stitching patches together to tack to
his coat, which consists of some hundreds of bits of old velvet,
carpets, &c., would baffle the skill of either Lavater or Spurzheim; it
has the mixture of the idiot, the goat, and the bull-dog. Such a visage
might have been useful to Spagnolet, or his pupil Salvator. In order to
discover a few of the habits of this character, he was followed for
several hours through many streets, alleys, and courts, in the parish of
St Martin's in the Fields. On his arrival at Moor's Yard, which is said
to have been a place for the execution of public criminals in early
times, he was accused of stealing door mats, and with some difficulty
extricated his tatters from the tugs of a couple of dogs. In Hartshorn
Lane, in the Strand, at one time the residence of Ben Jonson, he was
seen to take up a brick, and throw it at two curs fighting for a bone,
which he picked up and put into his bag. These bones are bought by the
burners at Haggerstone, Shoreditch, and Battlebridge, at two shillings
per bushel, in which half a bushel is given over, that being bone

[Illustration: PLATE XXVI.

Two bone-pickers, one of them stitching patches together to tack to his

Bill Row and John Taylor, two grubbers, are introduced in the next
plate. These men, with Stephen Lloyd, form the sum total of their
description in London. They procure a livelihood by whatever they find
in grubbing out the dirt from between the stones with a crooked bit of
iron, in search of nails that fall from horse-shoes, which are allowed
to be the best iron that can be made use of for gun-barrels; and though
the streets are constantly looked over at the dawn of day by a set of
men in search of sticks, handkerchiefs, shawls, &c., that may have been
dropped during the night, yet these grubbers now and then find rings
that have been drawn off with the gloves, or small money that has been
washed by the showers between the stones. These men are frequently
employed to clear gully-holes and common sewers, the stench of which is
so great that their breath becomes pestilential; and its noxious quality
on one occasion had so powerful an effect on a man of the name of Dixie,
as to deprive him of two of his senses, smelling and tasting, and yet
Ned Flowers followed this calling for forty years.

[Illustration: PLATE XXVII.

Bill Row and John Taylor, two grubbers.]

But there is still a more wretched class of beings than the grubbers,
who never know the comfort of dry clothes,--they are, like the leech,
perpetually in water. The occupation of these draggle-tail wretches
commences on the banks of the Thames at low water. They go up to their
knees in mud, to pick up the coals that fall from the barges when at the
wharfs. Their flesh and dripping rags are like the coals they carry in
small bags across their shoulders, and which they dispose of, at a
reduced price, to the meanest order of chandler-shop retailers.

The environs produce characters equally curious with those of London,
particularly among that order of people called Simplers, whose business
it is to gather and supply the city markets with physical herbs. Such an
innocent instance of rustic simplicity is William Friday, whose portrait
is exhibited in the following plate. This man starts from Croydon, with
champignons, mushrooms, &c., and is alternately snail-picker,
leech-bather, and viper-catcher.

[Illustration: PLATE XXVIII.

William Finley,--is alternately snail-picker, leech-bather, and

The man whose portrait is given in the succeeding plate, mimics the
notes of the common English birds by means of a folded bit of tin,
similar to that used by Mr Punch's orator, and which is held between the
teeth; but in order to engage the attention of the credulous, he
pretends, as his lips are nearly closed, to draw his tones from two
tobacco-pipes, using one for the fiddle, the other for the bow, and
never fails to collect an attentive audience, either in the street or

[Illustration: PLATE XXIX.

Street musician, who mimics the notes of the common English birds by
means of a folded bit of tin, which is held between the teeth; but in
order to engage the attention of the credulous, he pretends to draw his
tones from two tobacco pipes.]

Musicians of this description were at one time very numerous. Gravelot,
when he kept a drawing-school in the Strand, made sketches of several.
One particularly picturesque, was of a blind chaunter of the old ballads
of "There was a wealthy Lawyer," or "O Brave Nell," and has been
admirably etched by Miller. This man accompanied his voice by playing
upon a catgut string drawn over a bladder, and tied at both ends of a
mop-stick; but the boys continually perplexing him by pricking his
bladder, and a pampered prodigal having with a sword let out all his
wind, he fortunately hit upon a mode of equally charming the ear by
substituting a tin tea-canister.

[Illustration: PLATE XXX.

A blind chaunter of the old ballads, who accompanied his voice by
playing upon a catgut string drawn over a tea canister, and tied at both
ends of a mop stick.]

Thomas King, a most excellent painter of conversation-scenes, who lived
at the time of Hogarth, and assisted him in his large pictures of Paul
before Felix in Lincoln's Inn Hall, and the Good Samaritan in
Bartholomew's Hospital, has left portraits of several of these singular
beings,--such as Maddox, the balancer of a straw; but particularly that
of Matthew Skeggs, who played a concerto upon a broomstick, in the
character of Signor Bumbasto, at the little theatre in the Haymarket.
These portraits have been engraved by Houston. That of Skeggs was
published by himself, at the sign of the Hoop and Bunch of Grapes, in St
Alban's Street, now a part of Waterloo Place. Since their time, Mr
Meadows, the comedian, has been particularly famous for his imitations
of birds; and some of the lowest description of street vagabonds have
produced tones by playing upon their chins with their knuckles. Another
hero of the knuckle, was the famous Buckhorse, the friend of Ned Shuter,
and who formerly sold sticks in Covent Garden. This fellow grew so
callous to the blow of the knuckle, as to place his head firmly against
a wall, and suffer, for a shilling, any wretch to strike him with his
doubled fist, with all his strength, in his face, which became at last
more like a Good-Friday bun than any thing human. Of this man there are
many portraits.

Of Scottish, Welsh, and Irish mendicants there are now very few in
London; perhaps their full number does not exceed fifty, unless by
including that lower order of street-musicians who so frequently
distract the harmonious ear with their droning bag-pipes, screaming
clarionets, and crazy harps. These people, with match, tooth-pick, and
cotton-ball venders, may be considered but as one remove from beggary.

The lowest class of the Scotch are bakers' men; the women are
laundresses. The Welshmen, of whom London never had many, are
principally employed by the potters of Lambeth, at which place they have
an old established house of worship. It is a cheerful sight to behold
their women, who are remarkable for their cleanliness, and, like the
Scotch, are generally pictures of vigorous health. These will go in
trains of twenty or thirty persons, from Hammersmith to Covent Garden
Market, joining in one national melody, and perfuming the air with their
baskets of ripe strawberries.

Of all people the poor Irish are the most anxious to gain employment,
and are truly valuable examples of industry. They sleep less than other
labourers; for at the dawn of day they assemble in flocks at their usual
stands for hire,--namely, Whitechapel, Queen Street, Cheapside, and on
the spot formerly occupied by St Giles's pound, at the ends of Oxford
Street and Tottenham Court Road. The most laborious of them are
chairmen, paviers, bricklayers' labourers, potato-gatherers, and
basket-men; and, to the eternal disgrace of the commonalty of the
English, these people, as well as the Scotch and Welsh, are guilty of
very few excesses, particularly in that odious practice of drinking, a
vice so much increased by the accommodation of seats in gin-shops, which
are the first opened and last shut in London.

The Irish carry immense loads. A hod of bricks, weighing one hundred and
ten pounds, is carried one hundred and twenty times at least in the
course of the day, and sometimes up a ladder of the height of five
stories, and all for two shillings and ninepence per day. The pavier's
rammer, of more than half a hundred weight, is raised not fewer than two
thousand times in the course of the day. _What Englishman could do
this?_ With respect to loads on the head, the Irish surpass all others.
Leary makes nothing of carrying two hundred weight from the Fox under
the Hill, near the Adelphi, to Covent Garden, many times on a market
morning; and yet, extraordinary as this may appear, his feats have been
more than equalled by a female. A man of the name of Eglesfield, who has
sold flowers in Covent Garden for the last thirty-six years, knew an
Irish girl who would often walk under the weight of two hundred pounds.
He declares that she brought a load of one hundred and a half from
Newgate Market to Covent Garden on her head, without once pitching,
though it must be observed that this was not potato-weight, which has
always one hundred and twenty-six pounds to the hundred.

The following woodcut represents the humane manner in which cripples are
conveyed from door to door in many parts of Ireland. The following
description has been kindly furnished to the Author by a friend, who has
frequently assisted in the conveyance, and takes no ordinary interest in
the condition of the poor.


In the country parts of Ireland, beggars are treated with great
tenderness and pious hospitality. Many of them are recognised as
descended from ancient and powerful septs, which decayed in the
revolutions of property and influence. During many years after the
invasion of King Henry, the houses of hospitality (so amply described in
Sir John Davis's Tracts) which were established by the Chiefs for their
poor relations and the traveller, were still kept open; and to this
hour, some gentry and farmers provide the itinerant beggars with a bed
as well as food. The alms are generally given in meal, flax, wool, milk,
or potatoes, but seldom in money, except in cities or towns. After
receiving a night's lodging or alms, long and devout prayers are
distinctly uttered at the door of the benefactor. Like the players in
Hamlet, they are the brief chronicles of the times, and their praises of
the good frequently contribute to matrimonial connections. In some parts
of the country the beggars have a particular day in the week for
appearing abroad, when they are plentifully supplied for the remaining
six; and those who, from loss of limbs, or other infirmity, are unable
to walk, are seated upon barrows, and carried or wheeled from door to
door, by the servants of each house or the casual passenger, an act of
piety which is not unfrequently performed by members of respectable
families. The beggars are seen in crowds near places of Catholic
worship, or pilgrimage, and many of them are distinguished for great
piety and temperance. The English traveller is sometimes surprised at
seeing a venerable figure, clothed in a hair-cloth shirt or tunic,
repeating his orisons on the side of a road, with naked shivering limbs,
and a beard which for years has been unconscious of a razor. Yet in
Ireland, as in other places, there are pretended objects, and beggars
who misapply the benefactions of the charitable. They receive no
interruption from the police, except in Dublin, where a large close cart
frequently returns to the workhouse full of discontented mendicants, who
have an extraordinary aversion to restraint upon their freedom, or
compulsion to attend the established worship, which is generally
different from their own.

This class of the Irish are by no means unacquainted with the use of wit
and waggery. The celebrated Dr O'Leary used to entertain his friends
with some instances of their ingenuity. As he was riding to Maynooth
College, a beggar accosted him for alms, declaring that he had not
received a farthing for three days. The good Doctor gave him some
silver, and being accosted on his return, in the evening, with a similar
story, he upbraided the petitioner with his falsehood, telling him that
he was Dr O'Leary. "Oh, long life to your reverence," said the beggar,
"who would I tell my lies to, except my clargy?"

The parts in and near London mostly inhabited by the Irish poor, are
Calmel Buildings, Orchard Street; Petty France, Westminster; Paddy's
Land, near Plaistow; forty houses on the Rumford Road; and in the parish
of St Giles in the Fields. This latter place, which is their principal
residence, is called their colony, and is styled by them "The Holy
Land;" in the centre of it there is a mass of building called "Rats'

In the time of Queen Elizabeth, St Giles's was the rendezvous of the
beggars; for in "A Caveat, or Warning, for Common Cursitors, vulgarely
called Vagabones, set forth by Thomas Harman, Esquire," 1567, it appears
that Nicoles Genynges, the cranke, went over "the water into St George's
fields," and not, according to the expectation of Mr Harman, who caused
him to be dogged, toward Holborn, or St Giles's in the Fields.

It appears from a very early plan of St Giles's in the Fields, in the
possession of Mr Parton, vestry clerk of that parish, that the lowest
class of its inhabitants live on a portion of sixteen acres formerly
called "Pittaunce Croft" (the allowance), which extended from a large
mansion called Tottenhall, the fragments of which were of late supposed
to have been parts of a palace of King John; they have been recently
taken down. This house of Tottenhall was formerly inhabited by a
Prebendary of St Paul's; it stood on the north side of that part of the
road called "Tottenham Court," leading from the north end of Tottenham
Court Road to Battle Bridge. The sixteen acres commenced from the above
house, and went on southerly to St Giles's Church, and from thence
easterly along the north side of the High Street to Red Lion Fields (now
Red Lion Square).

The streets, lanes, alleys, and courts, forming the nest of houses
inhabited by thieves, beggars, and the poor labouring Irish, are
encompassed by a portion of the south side of Russell Street, formerly
called Leonard Street, commencing from Tottenham Court Road, parts of
the west sides of Charlotte and Plumtree Streets, and a part of the
north and round the east of High Street to the first mentioned station
of Russell Street. To the honour of Scotland, not one Scotch beggar is
to be found in the dregs or lees of St Giles's. However wretched and
depraved the inhabitants of this spot may now be, they certainly were
worse fifty years ago, for it appears that there was then no honour
among thieves; the sheets belonging to the lodging-houses, where a bed
at that time was procured for twopence, having the names of the owners
painted on them in large characters of red lead, in order to prevent
their being bought if stolen,--as for instance,


At the same period, the shovels, pokers, tongs, gridirons, and purl pots
of the public-houses, particularly those of the Maidenhead Inn, in Dyott
Street (now changed to George Street), and which was then kept by a man
of the name of Jordan, were all chained to the fire-place. At this house
the beggars, after a good day's maunding, would bleed the dragon, a
large silver tankard so called, and which was to be filled with punch
only. There is now a house, the sign of the Rose and Crown, in Church
Lane, which was formerly called the Beggars' Opera; and there was
another house so denominated, the sign of the Weaver's Arms, in Church
Lane, Whitechapel.

The last cook-shop where the knives and forks were chained to the table,
was on the south side of High Street. It was kept about forty years ago
by a man of the name of Fussell.

Perhaps the only waggery in public-house customs now remaining, is in
the tap-room of the Apple Tree, opposite to Cold Bath Fields Prison.
There are a pair of handcuffs fastened to the wires as bell-pulls, and
the orders given by some of the company, when they wish their friends to
ring, are, to "agitate the conductor."

Most of the kitchens in High Street, from St Giles's Church to the
entrance of Holborn, were sausage, sheep's head, roley poley pudding,
pancake, and potatoe cellars. The last heroine of the frying-pan
exhibited a short nose and shining red face, and was known by the
appellation of "Little Fanny." She had fried and boiled for Mrs Markham,
now living in the same house, thirty-three years. Her face had become so
ardent by frequent wipings, that for many years it would not bear a

It was the opinion of Sir Nathaniel Conant, when that able and active
magistrate attended the Committee of the House of Commons, that
extensive as mendicity has been of late, it is by no means to be
compared with what it was thirty years ago.

It is very obvious that since the proceedings of the Committee for
inquiring into the state of mendicity, the common beggars have decreased
considerably in their numbers; and although they are still extremely
numerous, it appears that where our wonderful Metropolis is molested
with one beggar, there are twenty to be met with in almost every capital
on the continent.

England, justly claiming the palm for the encouragement of every art and
science, has ever been foremost in almsgiving, not only to her own
people, but to those of almost every part of the globe. Nor can any
other country boast such parochial poorhouses. The vast improvements of
the streets and public edifices, great as they are, by no means keep
pace with them either as to comfort or expense, of which Marylebone and
Pancras are examples; and to the honour of these parishes, as well as
that of St James, their concerns are regulated, examined, and audited by
independent characters of the highest integrity.

Notwithstanding the great benefit of these asylums for the destitute,
and the laws for the punishment of beggars, the sympathetic heart of the
true Christian, a character unpolluted by the cant of crafty sectarists,
is ever open to the tale of the distressed, from a respect for that
excellent doctrine of St Paul, that


The following eulogium on this virtue, is extracted from Mr Hamilton's
appeal in behalf of a religious community which had been deprived of its
property during the French Revolution:--

"Charity is an emanation from the choicest attribute of the Deity; it
is, as it were, a portion of the Divinity engrafted upon the human
stock; it cancels a multitude of transgressions in the possessor, and
gives him a foretaste of celestial joys. It whetted the pious Martin's
sword, when he divided his garment with the beggar; and swelled the
royal Alfred's bosom, while a pilgrim was the partner of his meal. It
influenced the sorrowing widow to cast her mite into the treasury; and
held a Saviour on the Cross, when he could have summoned Heaven to his
rescue. Its practice was dictated by the law, its neglect has been
censured by the prophets; and when the Lord of the vineyard sent his
only Son, he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. Other
virtues may have a limit here, but Charity extends beyond the grave.
Faith may be lost in endless certainty, and Hope may perish in the
fruition of its object, but Charity shall live for countless ages, for
ever blessing and for ever blessed!"



_A Soap-eater, copied from a rare print of the time of Queen Elizabeth_

_A Tom of Bedlam copied from an Old Drawing of the time of Edw. 6th. in
the possession of Fran. Douce Esq._

_Copied from a Drawing of the time of Henry VIIth in the possession of
Francis Douce, Esq._]

[Illustration: PLATE XXXI.

Beggars leaving town for their workhouse.]

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