London Labour and the London Poor, volume 3

Mayhew, Henry


HAVING dealt with the social condition of the conductors and drivers of the London omnibuses and cabs, I now, in due order, proceed to treat of the number, state, and income of the men connected with the job and glasscoaches, as well as the flies for the conveyance of persons, and the waggons, carts, vans, drays, &c., for the conveyance of goods from part of the metropolis to another; also of the porters engaged in conveyance by hand.

The metropolitan carriages engaged in the conveyance of passengers are of classes,— ticketed and unticketed; that is to say, those who ply for passengers in the public streets, carry a plate inscribed with a certain number, by which the drivers and owners of them may be readily known. Whereas those who do not ply in public, but are let out at certain yards or stables, have no badge affixed to them, and are, in many cases, scarcely distinguishable from private vehicles. The ticketed carriages include the stage and hackney-coaches, or, in modern parlance, the "busses and cabs of London. The unticketed carriages, on the other hand, comprise the glass-coaches and flies that, for a small premium, may be converted into "s own carriage for the time being. But besides these there is another large class of hired conveyances, such as the job-carriages, which differ from the glasscoaches principally in the length of time for which they are engaged. The term of lease for the glass-coach rarely exceeds a day; while the fly is often taken by the hour; the job-carriage, however, is more commonly engaged by the month, and not unfrequently by the year. Hence the latter class of conveyances may be said to partake of the attributes of both public and private carriages. They are public, in so far as they are let to hire for a certain term; and private, inasmuch as they are often used by the same party, and by them only, for several years.

The tradesmen who supply carriage-horses (and occasionally carriages) by the day, week, month, or year, to all requiring such temporary or continuous accommodation, are termed jobmasters, of whom, according to the Post-office Directory, there are located in London; being also cab proprietors, and the owners of omnibuses. They boast, and doubtlessly with perfect truth, that in their stables are the major part of the finest carriage horses in the world. The powerful animals which are seen to dash proudly along the streets, a pair of them drawing a large carriage with the most manifest ease, are, in cases out of , not the property of the nobleman whose silver crest may adorn the glittering harness, but of the job-master. of those masters has now horses, some of which are worth guineas, and the value is not less than per horse, or in all. The premises of some of the job-masters are remarkable for their extent, their ventilation, and their scrupulous cleanliness. All those in a large way of business have establishments in the country as well as in town, and at the latter are received the horses that are lame, that require rest, or that are turned out to grass. The young horses that are brought up from the country fairs, or have been purchased of the country breeders (for job-masters or their agents attend at Horncastle, Northallerton, and all the great horse-fairs in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire), are generally conducted in the instance to the country establishment of the town master, which may be at Barnet or any place of a like distance. These agents have what is called the pick of the


market, not unfrequently visiting the premises of the country horse dealer and there completing purchases without subjecting the farmer (for country horse-breeders and dealers are nearly all farmers) to the trouble and expense of sending his cattle to the fair; and it is thus that the London dealers secure the best stock in the kingdom. Until within or years ago some of the wealthier of the nobility or gentry, as I have previously intimated, would vie with each other during the London season in the display of their most perfect Cleveland bays, or other description of carriage-horses. The animals were at that period walked to London under the care of the coachman and his subordinates, the family travelling post to town. Such a procedure is now never resorted to. Very few noblemen at present bring their carriage-horses to town, even if within a short railway distance; they nearly all job, as it is invariably called: that is, they hire carriage-horses by the month at from to guineas a pair, the jobmaster keeping the animals by sending the quantity of provender to his customer"s premises, and they are groomed by his own servants. "Why sir," said a job-master to me, "everybody jobs now. A few bishops do, and lords, and dukes, and judges. Lord D——jobs, and lots of parsons and physicians; yes lots, sir. The royal family job, all but the Queen herself. The Duchess of Kent jobs. The late Duke of C—— jobbed, and no doubt the present duke will. The Queen Dowager jobbed regularly. It"s a cheaper and better plan for those that must have good horses and handsome carriages. I dare say all the gentlemen in the job, for I know a many that do. By jobbing, rich people can always secure the best horses in the world." I may add, that any of the masters of whom I have spoken will job a carriage duly emblazoned (if ordered to provide ); he will job harness, too, with the proper armorial bearings about it, and job coachmen and grooms as well. For the use of a -class carriage guineas a year is paid. A brougham with horse and a driver is jobbed at a-day. But these vehicles are usually supplied by jobbing coach-masters: but the jobbing in carriages is not so common as in horses, gentlemen preferring to have their own chariots or broughams, while the jobbing in servants is confined principally to bachelors or gentlemen keeping no establishments.

The job trade I am assured has increased fivefold since the general establishment of railways. In this trade there is no "slop" supply. Even the smaller masters supply horses worth the money; for to furnish bad horses would be at once to lose custom. "Gentlemen are too good judges of horse-flesh," a small job-master said to me, "to put up with poor cattle, even though they may wear slop coats themselves, and rig their servants out in slop liveries. Nothing shows a gentleman more than his horse; and they can"t get -rate horses in the country as they can in London, because they"re bought up for the metropolis."

The men employed in the job-masters" yards do not live in the yards, except a few of the higher servants, to whom can be entrusted the care of the premises and of the costly animals kept there. Nearly all the men in these yards have been brought up as grooms, and must, in stable phraseology, "know a horse well." None of them in the better yards receive less than a-week in wages; nor will any master permit his horses to be abused in any manner. Cruelty to a horse is certain dismissal if detected, and is now, I am glad to be informed on good authority, very rare I may here mention the rather amusing reply of a rough old groom out of place to my remark that Mr. —— would not allow any of his horses to be in any way abused. "" said my respondent, confining the meaning of the word to signification: "Abused! you mayn"t so much as swear at them." Another roughspoken person, who was for a time a foreman to a job-master, told me that he had never, or rarely, any difficulty in making a bargain with gentlemen who were judges of horses; "but," said he, "ladies who set up for judges are dreadful hard to please, and talk dreadful nonsense. What do they know about the points of a horse? But of all of "em, a —— is the worst to please in a horse or a carriage; she is the very devil, sir."

The people employed by the job-masters are strong, healthy-looking men, with no lack of grey hairs—always a good sign among them. Their amusements, I am told, are confined to an odd visit to the play, more especially to Astley"s, and to skittle-playing. These enjoyments, however, are rare, as the groom cannot leave his labours for a day and then return to it as a mechanic may. Horses must be tended day and night, Sunday and work-day, so that it is only "by leave" that they can enjoy any recreation. Nearly all of them, however, take great interest in horse-races, steeple-chases, and trotting-matches. Many of them dabble in the Derby and St. Leger lotteries, and some "make a book," risking from or halfcrowns to , and sometimes more than they can pay. These parties, however, belong as much to the class of servants as they do to the labourers engaged in connexion witb the transit of the metropolis.

I am informed that each of the jobmasters resident in London may be said to employ or men in their yards or stables, some having at least double that number in their service, and others, again, only or ; the latter, however, is the exception rather than the rule. According to this estimate there must be from to individuals engaged in the job business of London. Their number is made up of stablemen, washers, ostlers, job-coachmen, and glass-


coachmen or flymen, besides a few grooms for the job cabriolets. The stableman attends only to the horses in the stables, and gets a-day, or a-week, standing wages. The washer has from to a-week, and is employed to clean the carriages only in the best yards, for those of a -rate character the stableman washes the carriages himself. The ostler attends to the yard, and seldom or never works in the stables. He answers all the rings at the yard bell, and takes the horses and gigs, &c. round to the door. He is, as it were, the foreman or superintendent of the establishment. He usually receives aweek standing wages at the best yards, while at those of a lower character only is given. The job-coachman is distinct from the glasscoachman or flyman. "He often goes away from the yard on a job," to use the words of my informant, "for or months at a stretch." He is paid by the job-master, and gets a-week standing wages. He has to drive and attend to his horses in the stable. The glass-coachman or flyman goes out merely by the day or by the hour. He gets a-week from the job-master, and whatever the customers think proper to give him. Some persons give and hour to the glass-coachman, and others a-day for a pair of horses, and from to -a-day for horse. A glass coach, it may be as well to observe, is a carriage and pair hired by the day, and a fly a onehorse carriage hired in a similar manner. The job-coachman and the glass-coachman have for the most part been gentlemen"s servants, and have come to the yard while seeking for another situation. They are mostly married men, having generally wedded either the housemaid, nurse, or cook, in some family in which they have lived. "The lady"s maid," to quote from my informant, "is a touch above them. The cooks are in general the coachman"s favourite, in regard of getting a little bit of lunch out of her."

The job-coachman"s is usually a much better berth than that of the glass-coachman or flyman. The gentlefolks who engage the glasscoaches and flies are, I am told, very near, and the flies still nearer than the glass-coaches. The fly people, as the customers were termed to me, generally live about and Burton-crescent, Woburn--place, Tavistocksquare, Upper , and other "shabbygenteel" districts. The great majority of the persons using flies, however, live in the suburbs, and are mostly citizens and lawyers. The chief occasions for the engagement of a fly are visits to the theatre, opera, or parties at night, or else when the wives of the above-named gentry are going out a-shopping; and then the directions, I am told, are generally to draw or doors away from the shops, so that the shopmen may not see them drive up in a carriage and charge accordingly. A number of flies are engaged to carry the re- ligious gentry in the suburbs to Exeter Hall during the May meetings; and it is they, I am assured, who are celebrated for over-crowding the vehicles. "Bless you," said man whom I saw, "them folks never think there can be too many behind a hoss— is nothing for them,—and it is them who is the meanest of all to the coachman; for he never, by no chance, receives a glass at their door." The great treat of the glass-coachman or flyman, however, is a wedding; then they mostly look for ; "but," said my informant, "brides and bridegrooms is getting so stingy that now they seldom gets more than ." Formerly, I am assured, they used to get a glass of wine to drink the health of the happy pair; but now the wine has declined to gin, "and even this," said man to me, "we has to bow and scrape for before we gits it out of "em." There is but little call for glass-coaches compared with flies now. Since the introduction of the broughams and clarences, the glasscoaches have been almost all put on side, and they are now seldom used for anything but taking a party with a quantity of luggage from the suburbs to the railway. They were continued at weddings till a short time back, but now the people don"t like them. "They have got out of date," said a flyman; "besides, a clarence or brougham, even with a pair of horses, is - cheaper." There are no glass-coaches now kept in the yards, if they are wanted they are hired at the coachmaker"s. Take job-master with another, I am informed that they keep on an average flies each, so that the total number of hack clarences and broughams in the metropolis may be said to be near upon . Postboys are almost entirely discontinued. The majority of them, I am told, have become cabmen. The number of job-horses kept for chance-work in the metropolis may be estimated at about , in addition to the cab and omnibus horses, many of which frequently go out in flies. lady omnibus proprietor at keeps, I am told, a large number of flies, and so do many of the large cab-proprietors.

According to the Government returns, the total number of carriages throughout Great , in , was and odd, which is in the proportion of carriage to every males of the entire population above years of age. Of these carriages upwards of were charged with duty, and yielded a revenue of more than while were exempt from taxation. Those charged with duty consisted of -wheeled carriages, (of which were private conveyances, and let to hire,) and -wheeled carriages, of which were for private use, and for the use of the public:—

The -wheeled carriages let to hire were subdivided in round numbers as follows:—


 Four-wheeled carriages, let to hire without horses . . . . . . 500 
 Pony-phaetons, &c. drawn by a pair . 2,000 
 Broughams, flies, &c. drawn by one horse . . . . . . 30,000 
 Hearses . . . . . . 1,700 
 Post-chaises . . . . . 5,550 
 Carriers" conveyances . . . 1,250 

Of the carriages exempt from taxation there was the following distribution:—

 Private pony-phaetons . . . 7,000 
 Ditto pony-chaises . . . . 4,500 
 Chaise-carts . . . . . 39,000 
 Conveyances for paupers and criminals . . . . . . 1,500 

The owners of -wheeled private carriages were, it appears from the same returns, : of whom,

 16,349 persons kept 1 carriage. 
 3,685 " 2 " 
 495 " 3 " 
 116 " 4 " 
 58 " 5 " 
 19 " 6 " 
 6 " 7 " 
 11 " 8 and upwards. 

Now the total number of persons returned as of independent means, at the time of taking the last census, was and odd: of these very nearly were years of age and upwards. Hence it would appear that only person in every of those who are independent keep their carriage.

Such are the statistics of carriages, both public and private, of Great . What proportion of the vehicles above enumerated belong to the metropolis I have no means of ascertaining with any accuracy.

The number of horses throughout the country is equally curious. In there were no less than horses in Great , which is in the proportion of horses to each carriage, and of horse to every males of the entire population of years of age and upwards. Of these horses, upwards of were charged with duty, while nearly were exempt from it. Among the horses charged with duty were comprised—

 Private riding and carriage-horses . 143,000 
 Draught-horses used in trade . . 147,000 
 Ponies . . . . . . 22,000 
 Butchers" horses . . . . 4,750 
 Job horses . . . . . 1,750 
 Race-horses . . . . . 1,500 

The horses not charged with duty were in round numbers as under:—

 Horses used in husbandry . . 330,500 
 " belonging to small farmers . 61,000 
 " belonging to poor clergymen . 1,250 
 " belonging to poor traders . 10,500 
 " belonging to volunteers . 13,000 
 " used in untaxed carriages . 15,000 
 " used by waggoners for their own riding . . . 2,000 
 " used by bailiffs, shepherds, &c. 1,060 
 " used by masters, ditto . . 3,700 
 " used by market-gardeners . 2,000 
 " in conveying paupers and criminals . . . . 250 
 " kept for sale . . . . 7,000 
 " kept for breeding . . . 4,500 
 Colts not used . . . . . 16,000 
 Post-horses . . . . . 8,500 
 Stage-coach horses . . . . 9,600 
 London hackney-coach horses . . 3,600 

The owners of the private riding and carriage-horses were in number, and of these,

 78,335 persons kept . . . . 1 
 17,358 " . . . . 2 
 4,080 " . . . . 3 
 1,624 " . . . . 4 
 622 " . . . . 5 
 380 " . . . . 6 
 328 " . . . 7 to 8 
 81 " . . . . 9 
 107 " . . 10 to 12 
 54 " . . 13 to 16 
 6 " . . . . 17 
 8 " . . . . 18 
 6 " . . . . 19 
 67 " . . . . 20 
 And upwards. 

From this it will appear, that persons in every of those who are of independent means keep a riding or carriage-horse. The increase and decrease in the number of carriages and horses, within the last years, is a remarkable sign of the times. Since , the number of all kinds of horses throughout Great has decreased . But while some have declined, others have increased in number. Of private riding and carriage-horses (where only is kept) there has been a decrease of , and of ponies, . Stage-coach horses have declined ; post-horses, ; horses used in husbandry, ; breeding mares, ; colts, ; and horses kept for sale, . The London hackney-coach horses, on the other hand, have increased in the same space of time no less than , and so have the draught-horses used in trade, to the extent of ; while those kept by small farmers are more, and the race-horses more, than they were in .

Of carriages, those having wheels, and drawn by horse (gigs, &c.), have decreased , and the post-chaises ;


whereas the -wheel carriages, drawn by horse, and let to hire (broughams, clarences, &c.), have increased , the pony-phaetons , pony-chaises , and the chaise-carts .

The total revenue derived from the transit of this country, by means of carriages and horses, amounted in to upwards of This sum is made up of the following items:—

 Duty on carriages . . . £ 434,334 
 " horses . . . 395,041 
 " horses let to hire . 155,721 
 " stage-carriages . . 96,218 
 " hackney-coaches . 28,926 
 Licenses to let horses to hire . 6,968 
 " stage-coaches . . 9,606 
 " hackney-carriages . 435 
     £ 1,127,249 

From the foregoing accounts, then, it would appear, that the number of carriages and horses for the use of the public throughout Great , years ago, was as follows:

 Job carriages . . . . . 500 
 Broughams, clarences, flies, &c. drawn by one horse . . 30,000 
 Pony-phaetons and pair . . 2,000 
 Post-chaises . . . . 5,500 
 Total carriages let to hire . 38,000 
 Job horses . . . . . 1,750 
 Post horses . . . . 8,500 
 Stage-coach horses . . . 9,600 
 London hackney-coach horses . 3,600 
 Total horses for public carriages 23,450 

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 Title Page
Chapter I: The Destroyers of Vermin
Our Street Folk - Street Exhibitors
Chapter III: - Street Musicians
Chapter IV: - Street Vocalists
Chapter V: - Street Artists
Chapter VI: - Exhibitors of Trained Animals
Chapter VII: Skilled and Unskilled Labour - Garret-Masters
Chapter VIII: - The Coal-Heavers
Chapter IX: - Ballast-Men
Chapter X: - Lumpers
Chapter XI: Account of the Casual Labourers
 Chapter XII: Cheap Lodging-Houses
Chapter XIII: On the Transit of Great Britain and the Metropolis
Chapter XIV: London Watermen, Lightermen, and Steamboat-Men
Chapter XV: London Omnibus Drivers and Conductors
Chapter XVI: Character of Cabdrivers
Chapter XVII: Carmen and Porters
Chapter XVIII: London Vagrants
 Chapter XIX: Meeting of Ticket-of-Leave Men