London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Street-Sellers of Bread.


THE street-trade in bread is not so extensive as might be expected, from the universality of the consumption. It is confined to and the poorer districts in that neighbourhood. A person who has known the East-end of town for nearly years, told me that as long as he could recollect, bread was sold in the streets, but not to the present extent. In and , when bread was the dearest, there was very little sold in the streets. At that time, and until , the Assize Acts, regulating the bread-trade, were in force, and had been in force in London since . Previously to bakers were restricted, by these Acts, to the baking of kinds of bread—wheaten, standard wheaten, and household. The wheaten was made of the best flour, the standard wheaten of the different kinds of flour mixed together, and the household of the coarser and commoner flour. In , however, it was enacted that within the City of London and miles round, "it shall be lawful for the bakers to make and sell bread made of wheat, barley, rye, oats, buck-wheat, Indian-corn, peas, beans, rice, or potatoes, or any of them, along with common salt, pure-water, eggs, milk, barm-leaven, potato, or other yeast, and mixed in such proportions as they shall think fit." I mention this because my informant, as well as an old master baker with whom I conversed on the


subject, remembered that every now and then, after , but only for or years, some speculative trader, both in shops and in the streets, would endeavour to introduce an inferior, but still a wholesome, bread, to his customers, such as an admixture of barley with wheat-flour, but no —as far as I could learn —persevered in the speculation for more than a week or so. Their attempts were not only unsuccessful but they met with abuse, from streetbuyers especially, for endeavouring to palm off "brown" bread as "good enough for poor people." of my elder informants remembered his father telling him that in and , George III. had set the example of eating brown bread at his o'clock dinner, but he was sometimes assailed as he passed in his carriage, with the reproachful epithet of " George." This feeling continues, for the poor people, and even the more intelligent working-men, if cockneys, have still a notion that only "white" bread is fit for consumption. Into the question of the relative nutrition of breads, I shall enter when I treat of the bakers.

During a period of about months in the summer, there are from to men daily selling stale bread. Of these only sell it regularly every day of the year, and they trade chiefly on their own account. Of the others, some are sent out by their masters, receiving from to for their labour. Those who sell on their own account, go round to the bakers' shops about Stepney, Mile-end, and Whitechapel, and purchase the stale-bread on hand. It is sold to them at , and per quartern less than the retail shop price; but when the weather is very hot, and the bakers have a large quantity of stale-bread on hand, the street-sellers sometimes get the bread at a quartern less than the retail price. All the street-sellers of bread have been brought up as bakers. Some have resorted to the streettrade, I am told, when unable to procure work; others because it is a less toilsome, and sometimes a more profitable means of subsistence, than the labour of an operative baker. It is very rarely that any of the street-traders leave their calling to resume working as journeymen. Some of these traders have baskets containing the bread offered for street-sale; others have barrows, and has a barrow resembling a costermonger's, with a long basket made to fit upon it. The dress of these vendors is a light coat of cloth or fustian; corduroy, fustian, or cloth trousers, and a cloth cap or a hat, the whole attire being, what is best understood as "dusty," ingrained as it is with flour.

From bread-seller, a middle-aged man, with the pale look and habitual stoop of a journeyman baker, I had the following account:

I've known the street-trade a few years; I can't say exactly how many. I was a journeyman baker before that, and can't say but what I had pretty regular employment; but then, sir, what an employment it is! So much nightwork, and the heat of the oven, with the close air, and sleeping on sacks at nights (for you can't leave the place), so that altogether it's a slave's life. A journeyman baker hasn't what can be called a home, for he's so much away at the oven; he'd better not be a married man, for if his wife isn't very careful there's talk, and there's unhappiness about nothing perhaps. I can't be thought to speak feelingly that way though, for I've been fortunate in a wife. But a journeyman baker's life drives him to drink, almost whether he will or not. A street life's not quite so bad. I was out of work two or three weeks, and I certainly lushed too much, and can't say as I tried very hard to get work, but I had a pound or two in hand, and then I began to think I'd try and sell stale bread in the streets, for it's a healthfuller trade than the other; so I started, and have been at it ever since, excepting when I work a few days, or weeks, for a master baker; but he's a relation, and I assist him when he's ill. My customers are all poor persons,—some in rags, and some as decent as their bad earnings 'll let them. No doubt about it, sir, there's poor women buy of me that's wives of mechanics working slop, and that's forced to live on stale bread. Where there's a family of children, stale bread goes so very much further. I think I sell to few but what has families, for a quartern's too much at a time for a single woman. I often hear my customers talk about their children, and say they must make haste, as the poor things are hungry, and they couldn't get them any bread sooner. O, it's a hard fight to live, all Spitalfields and Bethnalgreen way, for I know it all. There are first the journeyman bakers over-worked and fretted into drinking, a-making the bread, and there are the poor fellows in all sorts of trade overworked to get money to buy it. I've had women that looked as if they was 'reduced,' come to me of an evening as soon as it was dusk, and buy stale bread, as if they was ashamed to be seen. Yes, I give credit. Some has a week's credit regular, and pays every Saturday night. I lose very little in trusting. I sometimes have bread over and sell it—rather than hold it over to next day—for half what it cost me. I have given it away to begging people, sooner than keep it to be too stale, and they would get something for it at a lodging-house. The lodging-house keepers never buy of me that I know of. They can buy far cheaper than I can—you understand, sir. Perhaps, altogether, I make about a guinea every week; wet weather and short days are against me. I don't sell more, I think, on a Saturday than on other nights. The nights are much of a muchness that way.

The average quantity sold by each vendor during the summer months is quarterns daily, usually at , but occasionally at the quartern. man informed me that he had sold in day quarterns, receiving for them.

The number of men (for if there be women they are the men's wives) engaged daily throughout the year in the street-sale of bread is .


These sell upon an average quarterns each per day: taking every day in the year each (a few being sold at )

Calculating then the months' trade in summer at quarterns per day per man, and reckoning men so selling, and each receiving (thus allowing for the threepenny sale); and taking the receipts of the regular traders at per day, we find nearly annually expended in the street purchase of quartern loaves of bread. The profits of the sellers vary from to a week, according to the extent of their business.

To start in this branch of the street-trade a capital is required according to the following rate:—Stock-money for bread, average ; (largest amount required, ; smallest, ); a basket, Of those who are employed in the summer, -half have baskets, and the other half bakers' barrows; while of those who attend the year through, have baskets at each, have barrows at each, and a barrow and the long basket, before mentioned. The barrow costs , and the basket

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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