London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Statements of Sheep's Trotter Women.


From woman, who, I am assured, may be taken as a fair type of the better class of trotter-sellers—some of the women being sottish and addicted to penn'orths of gin beyond their means—I had the following statement. I found her in the top room of a lofty house in Clerkenwell. She was washing when I called, and her son, a crippled boy of , with his crutch by his side, was cleaning knives, which he had done for many months for a family in the neighbourhood, who paid for his labour in what the mother pronounced better than money—broken victuals, because they were of such good, wholesome quality. The room, which


is of a good size, had its red-brown plaster walls, stained in parts with damp, but a great portion was covered with the cheap engravings "given away with No. " (or any other number) of some periodical "of thrilling interest;" while the narrow mantel-shelf was almost covered with pot figures of dumpy men, red-breeched and bluecoated, and similar ornaments. I have often noted such attempts to subdue, as it were, the grimness of poverty, by the poor who had "seen better days." The mother was tall and spare, and the boy had that look of premature sedateness, his face being of a sickly hue, common to those of quiet dispositions, who have been afflicted from their childhood:—

I'm the widow of a sawyer, sir," said Mrs. ——, with a very slight brogue, for she was an Irishwoman, "and I've been a widow 18 long years. I'm 54, I believe, but that 18 years seems longer than all the rest of my life together. My husband earned hardly ever less than 30s. a week, sometimes 3l., and I didn't know what pinching was. But I was left destitute with four young children, and had to bring them up as well as I could, by what I could make by washing and charing, and a hard fight it was. One of my children went for a soldier, one's dead, another's married, and that's the youngest there. Ah! poor fellow, what he's gone through! He's had 18 abscesses, one after another, and he has been four times in Bartholomew's. There's only God above to help him when I'm gone. My health broke six years ago, and I couldn't do hard work in washing, and I took to trotter selling, because one of my neighbours was in that way, and told me how to go about it. My son sells trotters too; he always sits at the corner of this street. I go from one public-house to another, and sometimes stand at the door, or sit inside, because I'm known and have leave. But I can't either sit, or stand, or walk long at a time, I'm so rheumatic. No, sir, I can't say I was ever badly insulted in a public-house; but I only go to those I know. Others may be different. We depend mostly on trotters, but I have a shilling and my meat, for charing, a day in every week. I've tried 'winks and whelks too, 'cause I thought they might be more in my pocket than trotters, but they don't suit a poor woman that's begun a street-trade when she's not very young. And the trotters can be carried on with so little money. It's not so long ago that I've sold threepenn'orth of trotters—that is, him and me has— pretty early in the evening; I'd bought them at Mr. ——'s, in Bermondsey, in the afternoon, for we can buy three penn'orth, and I walked there again—perhaps it's four miles there and back—and bought another 3d. worth. The first three-pence was all I could rise. It's a long weary way for me to walk, but some walk from Poplar and Limehouse. If I lay out 2s. on the Saturday—there's 15 sets for 1s., that's 60 trotters—they'll carry us on to Monday night, and sometimes, if they'll keep, to Tuesday night. Sometimes I could sell half-a-crown's worth in less time. I have to go to Bermondsey three or four times a week. The trade was far better six years ago, though trotters were dearer then, only 13 sets 1s., then 14, now 15. For some very few, that's very fine and very big, I get a penny a piece; for some I get 1 1/2d. for two; the most's 1/2d. each; some's four for 1 1/2d.; and some I have to throw into the dust-hole. The two of us earns 5s. a week on trotters, not more, I'm sure. I sell to people in the public-houses; some of them may be rather the worse for drink, but not so many; regular drunkards buys nothing but drink. I've sold them too to steady, respectable gentlemen, that's been passing in the street, who put them in their pockets for supper. My rent's 1s. a week.

I then had some conversation with the poor lad. He'd had many a bitter night, he told me, from half-past to , for he knew there was no breakfast for his mother and him if he couldn't sell some trotters. He had a cry sometimes. He didn't know any good it did him, but he couldn't help it. The boys gathered round him sometimes, and teased him, and snatched at his crutch; and the policeman said that he must make him "move on," as he encouraged the boys about him. He didn't like the boys any more than they were fond of the policemen. He had often sad thoughts as he sat with his trotters before him, when he didn't cry; he wondered if ever he would be better off; but what could he do? He could read, but not write; he liked to read very well when he had anything to read. His mother and he never missed mass.

Another old woman, very poorly, but rather tidily dressed, gave me the following account, which shows a little of public-house custom:—

I've seen better days, sir, I have indeed; I don't like to talk about that, but now I'm only a poor sheep's trotter seller, and I've been one a good many years. I don't know how long, and I don't like to think about it. It's a shocking bad trade, and such insults as we have to put up with. I serve some public-houses, and I stand sometimes at a playhouse-door. I make 3s. or 3s. 6d. a week, and in a very good week 4s., but, then, I sometimes make only 2s. I'm infirm now, God help me! and I can do nothing else. Another old woman and me has a room between us, at 1s. 4d. a week. Mother's the best name I'm called in a public-house, and it ain't a respectable name. 'Here, mother, give us one of your b— trotters,' is often said to me. One customer sometimes says: 'The stuff'll choke me, but that's as good as the Union.' He ain't a bad man, though. He sometimes treats me. He'll bait my trotters, but that's his larking way, and then he'll say: A pennorth o' gin, 'll make your old body spin.

It's his own poetry, he says. I don't know what he is, but he's often drunk, poor fellow. Women's far worse to please than men. I've known a woman buy a trotter, put her teeth into it, and then say it wasn't good, and return it. It wasn't paid for when she did so, and be- cause I grumbled, I was abused by her, as if I'd been a Turk. The landlord interfered, and he said, said he, 'I'll not have this poor woman insulted; she's here for the convenience of them as requires trotters, and she's a wellcon- ducted woman, and I'll not have her insulted,' he says, says he, lofty and like a gentleman, sir. 'Why, who's insulting the old b—h?' says the woman, says she. 'Why, you are,' says the landlord, says he, 'and you ought to pay her for her trotter, or how is she to live?' 'What the b— h—ll do I care how she lives,' says the woman, 'its nothing to me, and I won't pay her.' 'Then I will,' says the landlord, says he, 'here's 6d.,' and he wouldn't take the change. After that I soon sold all my trotters, and some gave me double price, when the landlord showed himself such a gentleman, and I went out and bought nine trotters more, another woman's stock, that she was dreading she couldn't sell, and I got through them in no time. It was the best trotter night I ever had. She wasn't a woman of the town as used me so. I have had worse sauce from modest women, as they called themselves, than from the women of the town, for plenty of them knows what poverty is, and is civiler, poor things—yes, I'm sure of that, though it's a shocking life— O, shocking! I never go to the playhouse-door but on a fine night. Young men treats their sweethearts to a trotter, for a relish, with a drop of beer between the acts. Wet nights is the best for public-houses. 'They're not salt enough,' has been said to me, oft enough, 'they don't make a man thirsty.' It'll come to the workhouse with me before long, and, perhaps, all the better. It's warm in the public-house, and that draws me to sell my trotters there sometimes. I live on fish and bread a good deal.

The returns I collected show that there is expended yearly in London streets on trotters, calculating their sale, retail, at each, , but though the regular price is , some trotters are sold at for , very few higher than , and some are kept until they are unsaleable, so that the amount may be estimated at , a receipt of weekly, per individual seller, rather more than -half of which sum is profit.

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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