London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street-Sellers of Water-Cress.


THE dealers in water-cresses are generally very old or very young people, and it is a trade greatly in the hands of women. The cause of this is, that the children are sent out by their parents "to get a loaf of bread somehow" (to use the words of an old man in the trade), and the very old take to it because they are unable to do hard labour, and they strive to keep away from the workhouse—("I'd do anything before I'd go there—sweep the crossings, or anything: but I should have had to have gone to the house before, if it hadn't been for my wife. I'm ," said who had been years at the trade). The old people are both men and women. The men have been sometimes thing, and sometimes another. "I've been a porter myself," said , "jobbing about in the markets, or wherever I could get a job to do. Then there's old man goes about selling water-cresses who's been a seafaring man; he's very old, he is—older than what I am, sir. Many a has been a good mechanic in his younger days, only he's got too old for labour. The old women have, many of them, been laundresses, only they can't now do the work, you see, and so they're glad to pick up a crust anyhow. Nelly, I know, has lost her husband, and she hasn't nothing else but her few creases to keep her. She's as good, honest, hard-working a creature as ever were, for what she can do—poor old soul! The young people are, most of them, girls. There are some boys, but girls are generally put to it by the poor people. There's Mary Macdonald, she's about . Her father is a bricklayer's labourer. He's an Englishman, and he sends little Mary out to get a halfpenny or . He gets sometimes a couple of days' work in the week. He don't get more now, I'm sure, and he's got children to keep out of that; so all on 'em that can work are obligated to do something. The other children are so small they can't do nothing yet. Then there's Louisa; she's about , and she goes about with creases like I do. I don't think she's got ne'er a father. I know she's a mother alive, and sells creases like her daughter. The mother's about odd, I dare say. The sellers generally go about with an arm-basket, like a greengrocer's at their side, or a 'shallow' in front of them; and plenty of them carry a small tin tray before them, slung round their neck. Ah! it would make your heart ache if you was to go to Farringdonmar- ket early, this cold weather, and see the poor little things there without shoes and stockings, and their feet quite blue with the cold — oh, that they are, and many on 'em don't know how to set foot before the t'other, poor things' You would say they wanted something give to 'em."

The small tin tray is generally carried by the young children. The cresses are mostly bought in Farringdon-market: "The usual time to go to the market is between and in the morning, and from that to ," said informant; "myself, I am generally down in the market by . I was there this morning at , and bitter cold it was, I give you my word. We poor old people feel it dreadful. Years ago I didn't mind cold, but I feel it now cruel bad, to be sure. Sometimes, when I'm turning up my


things, I don't hardly know whether I've got 'em in my hands or not; can't even pick off a dead leaf. But that's nothing to the poor little things without shoes. Why, bless you, I've seen 'em stand and cry and together, with the cold. Ah! my heart has ached for 'em over and over again. I've said to 'em, I wonder why your mother sends you out, that I have; and they said they was obligated to try and get a penny for breakfast. We buy the water-cresses by the 'hand.' hand will make about halfpenny bundles. There's more call for 'em in the spring of the year than what there is in the winter. Why, they're reckoned good for sweetening the blood in the spring; but, for my own eating, I'd sooner have the crease in the winter than I would have it in the spring of the year. There's an old woman sits in Farringdon-market, of the name of Burrows, that's sot there years, and she's been selling out creases to us all that time.

The sellers goes to market with a few pence. I myself goes down there and lays out sometimes my 4d.; that's what I laid out this morning. Sometimes I lay out only 2d. and 3d., according as how I has the halfpence in my pocket. Many a one goes down to the market with only three halfpence, and glad to have that to get a halfpenny, or anything, so as to earn a mouthful of bread—a bellyful that they can't get no how. Ah, many a time I walked through the streets, and picked a piece of bread that the servants chucked out of the door—may be to the birds. I've gone and picked it up when I've been right hungry. Thinks I, I can eat that as well as the birds. None of the sellers ever goes down to the market with less than a penny. They won't make less than a pennorth, that's one 'hand,' and if the little thing sells that, she won't earn more than three halfpence out of it. After they have bought the creases they generally take them to the pump to wet them. I generally pump upon mine in Hatton-garden. It's done to make them look nice and fresh all the morning, so that the wind shouldn't make them flag. You see they've been packed all night in the hamper, and they get dry. Some ties them up in ha'porths as they walks along. Many of them sit down on the steps of St. Andrew's Church and make them up into bunches. You'll see plenty of them there of a morning between five and six. Plenty, poor little dear souls, sitting there," said the old man to me. There the hand is parcelled out into five halfpenny bunches. In the summer the dealers often go to market and lay out as much as 1s. "On Saturday morning, this time of year, I buys as many as nine hands—there's more call for 'em on Saturday and Sunday morning than on any other days; and we always has to buy on Saturdays what we want for Sundays—there an't no market on that day, sir. At the market sufficient creases are bought by the sellers for the morning and afternoon as well. In the morning some begin crying their creases through the streets at half-past six, and others about seven. They go to different parts, but there is scarcely a place but what some goes to—there are so many of us now—there's twenty to one to what there used to be. Why, they're so thick down at the market in the summer time, that you might bowl balls along their heads, and all a fighting for the creases. There's a regular scramble, I can assure you, to get at 'em, so as to make a halfpenny out of them. I should think in the spring mornings there's 400 or 500 on 'em down at Farringdon-market all at one time—between four and five in the morning—if not more than that, and as fast as they keep going out, others keep coming in. I think there is more than a thousand, young and old, about the streets in the trade. The working classes are the principal of the customers. The bricklayers, and carpenters, and smiths, and plumbers, leaving work and going home to breakfast at eight o'clock, purchase the chief part of them. A great many are sold down the courts and mews, and bye streets, and very few are got rid of in the squares and the neighbourhood of the more respectable houses. Many are sold in the principal thoroughfares—a large number in the City. There is a man who stands close to the Postoffice, at the top of Newgate-street, winter and summer, who sells a great quantity of bunches every morning. This man frequently takes between 4s. and 5s. of a winter's morning, and about 10s. a day in the summer." "Sixteen years ago," said the old man who gave me the principal part of this information, "I could come out and take my 18s. of a Saturday morning, and 5s. on a Sunday morning as well; but now I think myself very lucky if I can take my 1s. 3d., and it's only on two mornings in the week that I can get that." The hucksters of watercresses are generally an honest, industrious, striving class of persons. The young girls are said to be well-behaved, and to be the daughters of poor struggling people. The old men and women are persons striving to save themselves from the workhouse. The old and young people generally travel nine and ten miles in the course of the day. They start off to market at four and five, and are out on their morning rounds from seven till nine, and on their afternoon rounds from half-past two to five in the evening. They travel at the rate of two miles an hour. "If it wasn't for my wife, I must go to the workhouse outright," said the old watercress man. "Ah, I do'nt know what I should do without her, I can assure you. She earns about 1s. 3d. a day. She takes in a little washing, and keeps a mangle. When I'm at home I turn the mangle for her. The mangle is my own. When my wife's mother was alive she lent us the money to buy it, and as we earnt the money we paid her back so much a week. It is that what has kept us together, or else we shouldn't have been as we are. The mangle we give 50s. for, and it brings us in now 1s. 3d. a day with the washing. My wife is younger than I am. She is about thirty-five years old. We have got two children. One is thirteen and the other fifteen. They've both got learning, and are both in situations. I always sent 'em to school. Though I can't neither read nor write myself, I wished to make them some little scholards. I paid a penny a week for 'em at the school. Lady M—— has always given me my Christmas dinner for the last five years, and God bless her for it—that I do say indeed.

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 Title Page
 The Street-Folk: Of Wandering Tribes in General
 Of the Wandering Tribes of this Country
 Of the London Street-Folk
Of the Number of Costermongers and Other Street-Folk
Of the Number of Costermongers and Other Street-Folk
Of the Varieties of Street-Folk in General, and Costermongers in Particular
Of Costermongering Mechanics
Ancient Calling of Costermongers
Of the Obsolete Cries of the Costermongers
Of the Costermongers 'Economically' Considered
The London Street Markets on a Saturday Night
The Sunday Morning Markets
Habits and amusements of Costermongers
Gambling of Costermongers
'Vic Gallery'
The Politics of Costermongers.-- Policemen
Marriage and Concubinage of Costermongers
Religion of Costermongers
Of the Uneducated State of Costermongers
Language of Costermongers
Of the Nicknames of Costermongers
Of the Education of Costermongers' Children
The Literature of Costermongers
Of the Honesty of Costermongers
Of the Conveyances of the Costermongers and Other Street-Sellers
Of the 'Smithfield Races'
Of the Donkeys of the Costermongers
Of the Costermongers' Capital
Of the 'Slang' Weights and Measures
Of Half Profits
Of the Boys of the Costermongers, and their Bunts
Of the Juvenile Trading of the Costermongers
Of the Education of the 'Coster-Lads'
The Life of a Coster-Lad
Of the 'Penny Gaff'
Of the Coster-Girls
The Life of a Coster Girl
Of Costermongers and Thieves
Of the More Provident Costermongers
Of the Homes of the Costermongers
Of the Dress of the Costermongers
Once Try You'll Come Again
Of the Diet and Drink of Costermongers
Of the Cries, Rounds, and Days of Costermongers
Of the Costermongers on their Country Rounds
Of the Earnings of Costermongers
Of the Capital and Income of the Costermongers
Of the Providence and Improvidence of Costermongers
Of the Costermongers in Bad Weather and During the Cholera
Of the Costermongers' Raffles
Of the Markets and Trade Rights of the Costerongers, and of the Laws Affecting Them
Of the Removals of Costermongers From the Streets
Of the Tricks of Costermongers
Of the Street-Sellers of Fish
Of Sprat-Selling in the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Fruit and Vegetables
Of the Stationary Street-Sellers of Fish, Fruit, and Vegetables
Of the Street-Irish
Of the Street-Sellers of Game, Poultry (Live and Dead), Rabbits, Butter, Cheese, and Eggs
Of the Sellers of Trees, Shrubs, Flowers (Cut and In Pots), Roots, Seeds, and Branches
Street-Sellers of Green Stuff
Of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Pea-Soup and Hot Eels
Of the Experience of a Hot-Eel and Pea-Soup Man
Of the Street-Sellers of Pickled Whelks
Of the Customers, Etc., of Pickled Whelk-Sellers
Of the Street Sellers, and of the Preparation of Fried Fish
Of the Experience of a Fried Fish- Seller, and of the Class of Customers
Of the Preparation and Quantity of Sheep's Trotters, and of the Street-Sellers
Statements of Sheep's Trotter Women
Of the Street Trade in Baked Potatoes
Of 'Trotting,' or 'Hawking' Butchers
Of the Experience of a Hawking Butcher
Of the Street-Sellers of Ham-Sandwiches
Of the Experience of a Ham Sandwich- Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Bread
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot Green Peas
Of the Experience of a Hot Green Pea Seller
Of Cats' and Dogs'--Meat Dealers
Of the Street-Sale of Drinkables
Of Coffee-Stall Keepers
Of the Street Sale of Ginger-Beer, Sherbet, Lemonade, &c
Of the Experience and Customers of A Ginger-Beer Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot Elder Wine
Of the Street Sale of Peppermint-Water
Of Milk Selling in St. James's Park
Of the Street Sale of Milk
Of the Street-Sale of Curds and Whey
Of the Street-Sellers of Rice-Milk
Of Water-Carriers
Of the Street-Sellers of Pastry and Confectionary
Of Street Piemen
Of the Street-Sellers of Boiled Puddings
Of the Street-Sellers of Plum 'Duff' or Dough
Of the Street-Sellers of Cakes, Tarts, &c.
Of Other Cake-Sellers in the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Gingerbread- Nuts, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Hot-Cross Buns, and of Chelsea Buns
Of Muffin and Crumpet-Selling in the Streets
Of the Street Sale of Sweet-Stuff
Of the Customers of the Sweet-Stuff Street-Sellers
Of the Street-Sellers of Cough Drops and of Medical Confectionary
'Lohoch de farfara,' the Lohoch of Coltsfoot
Of the Street-Sellers of Ices and of Ice Creams
Of the Capital and Income of the Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Capital, or Stock in Trade, of the Street- Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Income, or 'Takings,' of Street-Sellers of Eatables and Drinkables
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, &c.
Of the Former and Present Street- Patterers
Of the Habits, Opinions, Morals, and Religion of Patterers Generally
Of the Publishers and authors of Street-Literature
Of Long Song-Sellers
Of Running Patterers
Experience of a Running Patterer
Of the Recent Experience of a Running Patterer
Of the Chaunters
Of the Experience of a Chaunter
Of the Death and Fire Hunters
Of the Sellers of Second Editions
Of the Standing Patterers
Experience of a Standing Patterer
Of Political Litanies, Dialogues, etc.
Of 'Cocks,' Etc.
Of 'Strawing'
Of the Sham indecent Street-Trade
Of Religious Tract Sellers
Of a Benefit Society of Patterers
Of the Abodes, Tricks, Marriage, Character, and Characteristics of the Different Grades of Patterers
Of the Low Lodging-Houses of London
Of the Filth, Dishonesty, and Immorality of Low Lodging-Houses
Of the Children in Low Lodging- Houses
Of the Low Lodging-Houses Throughout the Country
Of the Street Stationers, and the Street Card-Sellers
Of the Seller of the Penny Short-Hand Cards
The Lecture
'I perish with hunger'
Of the Sellers of Race Cards and Lists
Of the Street-Sellers of Gelatine, of Engraved, and of Playing Cards, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Stationery
Of the Experience of a Street- Stationer
Of a 'Reduced' Gentlewoman, and a 'Reduced' Tradesman, as Street-Sellers of Stationery
Of the Street-Sale of Memorandum- Books and Almanacks
Of the Street-Sale of Pocket-Books and Diaries
Of the Street-Sellers of Songs
Of the Street 'Pinners-up,' or Wall Song-Sellers
Of Ancient and Modern Street Ballad Minstrelsy
Of Street 'Ballads on a Subject'
Of the Street Poets and Authors
Of the Experience of a Street Author, or Poet
Of the Street-Sellers of Broad-Sheets
Of the 'Gallows' Literature of the Streets
Of the Street-Sellers of Conundrums
Of the Street-Sellers of Comic Exhibitions, Magical Delusions, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Play-Bills
Of the Street-Sellers of Periodicals, Pamphlets, Tracts, Books, Etc.
Of the Street-Sale of Back Numbers
Of the Sale of Waste Newspapers at Billingsgate
Of the Sale of Periodicals on the Steam- Boats and Steam-Boat Piers
Of the Sale of Newspapers, Books, &c., at the Railway Stations
Of the Street Booksellers
Of the Character of Books of the Street-Sale
Of the Experience of a Street Book- Seller
Of Street Book-Auctioneers
Of the Street-Sale of Song-Books, and of Children's Books
Of the Street-Sellers of Account-Books
Of the Street-Sellers of Guide-Books, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Fine Arts
Of Street Art
Of the Street-Sellers of Engravings, Etc., in Umbrellas, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Pictures in Frames
Of the Street-Sellers of Manuscript and Other Music
Of the Capital and Income of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
Capital or Value of the Stock-in-Trade of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature and the Fine Arts
Income, or Average Annual 'Takings,' of the Street-Sellers of Stationery, Literature, and the Fine Arts
An Epitome of the Pattering Class
Of the 'Screevers,' or Writers of Begging-Letters and Petitions
'God Save the Queen'
Of the Probable Means of Reformation
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Manufactured Articles in Metal
Of the Cheap Johns, or Street Han- Sellers
'The Original Cheap John'
The Crippled Street-Seller of Nut- Meg-Graters
Of the Swag-Shops of the Metropolis
Shopkeepers and Dealers Supplied with the Following Articles --
Of the Life of a Cheap-John
The Street-Sellers of Cutlery
Of the Blind Street-Sellers of Tailors' Needles, etc.
The Public-House Hawkers of Metal Spoons, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Jewellery
Of the Pedlar-Jewellers
Of the Street-Sellers of Card-Counters, Medals, Etc.
The Construction is of Iron and of Glass, 1848 Feet Long. about Half is 456 Wide. the Remainder 408 Feet Wide, and 66 Feet High; Site, Upwards of 20 acres. Josh. Paxton, archt.
Of the Street-Sellers of Rings and Sovereigns For Wagers
Of the Street-Sellers of Children's Gilt Watches
Of the Street-Sellers of Tinware
Of the Life of a Tin-Ware Seller
Of the Street-Sellers of Dog-Collars
Of the Life of a Street-Seller of Dog- Collars
Of the Street-Sellers of Tools
Of the Beggar Street-Sellers
Pike's Patent Cotton. 120 Yards
'The Lace-Makers' Appeal'
'ALLEN, Printer, Long-row, Nottingham'
Of the 'House of Lords,' a Street-Seller's Defunct Club
Of the Street-Sellers of Crockery and Glass-Wares
Of the 'Swag,' Crockery, and Glass Shops
Of the Street-Sellers of Spar and China Ornaments, and of Stone Fruit
Of the Street-Sellers of Textile Fabrics
Of the Haberdashery Swag-Shops
Of Hawkers, Pedlars, and Petty Chapmen
Of the Packmen, or Hawkers of Soft Wares
Statement of a Packman
Of the Tally Packman
Of the 'Duffers' or Hawkers of Pretended Smuggled Goods
Of the Street-Sellers of 'Small-Ware,' or Tape, Cotton, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Lace
Of the Street-Sellers of Japanned Table- Covers
Of the Street-Sellers of Braces, Belts, Hose, Trowser-Straps, and Waistcoats
Of the Street-Sellers of Boot and Stay- Laces, &c.
Of a Blind Female Seller of 'Small-Wares'
The Blind Street-Seller of Boot-Laces
Of the Life of a Blind Boot-Lace Seller
Of the Low Lodging-Houses
Statement of a Young Pickpocket
Statement of a Prostitute
Statement of a Beggar
Meeting of Thieves
Of the Country Lodging-Houses
Of the Street-Sellers of Chemical Articles of Manufacture
Of the Street-Sellers of Blacking, Black Lead, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of French Polish
Of the Street-Sellers of Grease-Removing Compositions
Of the Street-Sellers of Corn-Salve
Of the Street-Sellers of Glass and China Cement, and of Razor Paste
Of the Street-Seller of Crackers and Detonating Balls
Of the Street-Sellers of Lucifer-Matches
Of the Street-Sellers of Cigar Lights, or Fuzees
Of the Street-Sellers of Gutta-Percha Heads
Of the Street-Sellers of Fly-Papers and Beetle-Wafers
Of the Street-Sellers of Miscellaneous Manufactured Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Walking-Sticks
Of the Street-Sellers of Whips, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Pipes, and of Snuff and Tobacco Boxes
Of the Street-Sellers of Cigars
Of the Street-Sellers of Sponge
Of the Street-Sellers of Wash-Leathers
Of the Street-Sellers of Spectacles and Eye-Glasses
Of the Street-Sellers of Dolls
Of the 'Swag-Barrowmen,' and 'Lot- Sellers'
Of the Street-Sellers of Roulette Boxes
Of the Street-Sellers of Poison For Rats
Of the Street-Sellers of Rhubarb and Spice
Of the Hawking of Tea
Of the Women Street-Sellers
Of the Children Street-Sellers of London