London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Death and Fire Hunters.


I have described the particular business of the running patterer, who is known by another and a very expressive cognomen—as a "Death Hunter." This title refers not only to his vending accounts of all the murders that become topics of public conversation, but to his being a "murderer" on his own account, as in the sale of "cocks" mentioned incidentally in this narrative. If the truth be saleable, a running patterer prefers selling the truth, for then—as man told me—he can "go the same round comfortably another day." If there be no truths for sale—no stories of criminals' lives and loves to be condensed from the diffusive biographies in the newspapers—no "helegy" for a great man gone—no prophecy and no crim. con.—the death hunter invents, or rather announces, them. He puts some to death for the occasion, which is called "a cock." The paper he sells may give the dreadful details, or it may be a religious tract, "brought out in mistake," should the vendor be questioned on the subject; or else the poor fellow puts on a bewildered look and murmurs, "O, it's shocking to be done this way—but I can't read." The patterers pass along so rapidly that this detection rarely happens.

man told me that in the last or years, he, either singly or with his "mob," had twice put the Duke of Wellington to death, once by a fall from his horse, and the other time by a "sudden and myst-rious" death, without any condescension to particulars. He had twice performed the same mortal office for Louis Phillipe, before that potentate's departure from France; each death was by the hands of an assassin; " was stabbing, and the other a shot from a distance." He once thought of poisoning the Pope, but was afraid of the street Irish. He broke Prince Albert's leg, or arm, (he was not sure which), when his royal highness was out with his harriers. He never had much to say about the Queen; "it wouldn't go down," he thought, and perhaps nothing had lately been said. "Stop, there, sir," said another patterer, of whom I inquired as to the correctness of those statements, (after my constant custom in sifting each subject thoroughly,) "stop, stop, sir. I had to say about the Queen lately. In coorse, nothing can be said against her, and nothing ought to; that's true enough, but the last time she was confined, I cried her (the word was pronounced as spelt to a merely English reader, or rather more broadly) of Lord love you, sir, it would have been no use crying people's so used to that; but a Bobby came up and he stops me, and said it was some impudence about the Queen's Why look at it, says I, fat-head—I knew I was safe—and see if there's


anything in it about the Queen or her coachman! And he looked, and in coorse there was nothing. I forget just now what the paper about." My -mentioned informant had apprehended Feargus O'Connor on a charge of high treason. He assassinated Louis Napoleon, "from a edition of the ," which "did well." He caused Marshal Haynau to die of the assault by the draymen. He made Rush hang himself in prison. He killed Jane Wilbred, and put Mrs. Sloane to death; and he announced the discovery that Jane Wilbred was Mrs. Sloane's daughter.

This informant did not represent that he had originated these little pieces of intelligence, only that he had been a party to their sale, and a party to originating or . Another patterer and of a higher order of genius—told me that all which was stated was undoubtedly correct, "but me and my mates, sir," he said, "did Haynau in another style. A splendid slum, sir! Capital! We assassinated him—te- rious. Then about Rush. His hanging hisself in prison was a fake, I know; but we've had him lately. His ghost appeared—as is shown in the Australian papers—to Emily Sandford, and threatened her; and took her by the neck, and there's the red marks of his fingers to be seen on her neck to this day!" The same informant was so loud in his praise of the "Asssass-sina- tion" of Haynau that I give the account. I have little doubt it was his own writing. It is confused in passages, and has a blending of the "I" and the "we:"—

We have just received upon undisputed authority, that, that savage and unmanly tyrant, that enemy to civil and religious liberty, the inhuman Haynau has at last finished his career of guilt by the hand of an assassin, the term assassin I have no doubt will greet harshly upon the ears of some of our readers, yet never the less I am compelled to use it although I would gladly say the


of outraged innocence, which would be a name more suitable to


who has been the means of ridden the world of such a despicable monster.

[My informant complained bitterly, and not without reason, of the printer. "Average," for instance (which I have ), should be "avenger." The "average of outraged innocence!"]

It appears by the Columns of the Corour le Constituonal of Brussels," runs the paper, "that the evening before last,




of which is supposed to be the miscreant, Haynau entered a Cafe in the Neighbourhood of Brussels kept by a man in the name of Priduex, and after partaking of some refreshments which were ordered by his


companions they desired to be shown to their chambers, during their stay in the public or Travellers Room, they spoke but little and seemed to be very cautious as to joining in the conversations which was passing briskly round the festive board, which to use the landlord's own words was rather strange, as his Cafe was mostly frequented by a set of jovial fellows, M. Priduex goes on to state that after the


strangers had retired to rest some time a tall and rather noble looking man enveloped in a large cloak entered and asked for a bed, and after calling for some wine he took up a paper and appeared to be reading it very attentively, in due time he was shown to bed and all passed on without any appearance of anything wrong until about


o'clock in the morning, when the landlord and his family, were roused by a noise over head and cries of murder, and

upon going up stairs to ascertain the cause, he discovered the person who was [known] to be Marshal Haynau, lying on his bed with his throat cut in a frightful manner, and his


companions standing by his bed side bewailing his loss. On the table was discovered a card, on which was written these words 'Monster, I am avenged at last. Suspicion went upon the tall stranger, who was not anywhere to be found, the Garde arms instantly were on the alert, and are now in active persuit of him but up to the time of our going to press nothing further has transpired.

It is very easy to stigmatise the death-hunter when he sets off all the attractions of a real or pretended murder,—when he displays on a board, as does the standing patterer, "illustrations" of "the 'dentical pick-axe" of Manning, or the stable of Good,—or when he invents or embellishes atrocities which excite the public mind. He does, however, but follow in the path of those who are looked up to as "the press,"—as the " estate." The conductors of the sent an artist to Paris to give drawings of the scene of the murder by the Duc de Praslin,—to "illustrate" the bloodstains in the duchess's bed--chamber. The is prompt in depicting the locality of any atrocity over which the curious in crime may gloat. The , in costly advertisements, boasts of its columns (sometimes with a supplement) of details of some vulgar and mercenary bloodshed,—the details being written in a most honest deprecation of the morbid and savage tastes to which the writer is pandering. Other weekly papers have engravings—and only concerning murder —of any wretch whom vice has made notorious. Many weekly papers had expensive telegraphic despatches of Rush's having been hung at Norwich, which event, happily for the interest of Sunday newspapers, took place in Norwich at noon on a Saturday. [I may here remark, that the patterers laugh at telegraphs and express trains for rapidity of communication, boasting that the press strives in vain to rival ,—as at a "hanging match," for instance, the patterer has the full particulars, dying speech, and confession included—if a confession be feasible—ready for his customers the moment the drop falls, and while the criminal may still be struggling, at the very scene of the hanging. At a distance he sells it before the hanging. "If the was cross-examined about it," observed patterer, "he must confess he's outdone, though he's a rich , and we is poor fellows." But to resume—]

A penny-a-liner is reported, and without contradiction, to have made a large sum by having hurried to Jersey in Manning's business, and by being allowed to accompany the officers when they conducted that paltry tool of a vindictive woman from Jersey to Southampton by steamer, and from Southampton to London by "special engine," as beseemed the popularity of so distinguished a rascal and homicide; and next morning the daily papers, in all the typographical honour of "leads" and "a good place," gave details of this fellow's—this Manning's—conversation, looks, and demeanour.


Until the "respectable" press become a more healthful public instructor, we have no right to blame the death-hunter, who is but an imitator —a follower—and that for a meal. So strong has this morbid feeling about criminals become, that an earl's daughter, who had "an order" to see Bedlam, would not leave the place until she had obtained Oxford's autograph for her album! The rich vulgar are but the poor vulgar—without an excuse for their vulgarity.

"Next to murders, fires are tidy browns," I was told by a patterer experienced both in "murders" and "fires." The burning of the old Houses of Parliament was very popular among street-sellers, and for the reason which ensures popularity to a commercial people; it was a source of profit, and was certainly made the most of. It was the work of incendiaries,— of ministers, to get rid of perplexing papers,— of government officers with troublesome accounts to balance,—of a sporting lord, for a heavy wager,—of a conspiracy of builders,—and of "a unsuspected party." The older "hands" with whom I conversed on the subject, all agreed in stating that they "did well" on the fire. man said, "No, sir, it wasn't only the working people that bought of me, but merchants and their clerks. I s'pose they took the papers home with 'em for their wives and families, which is a cheap way of doing, as a newspaper costs at least. But stop, sir,—stop; there wasn't no threepennies then,—nothing under , if they wasn't more; I can't just say, but it was better for us when newspapers was high. I never heard no sorrow expressed,—not the least. Some said it was a good job, and they wished the ministers was in it." The burning of the was not quite so beneficial to the street-sellers, but "was uncommon tidy." The fire at the Tower, however, was almost as great a source of profit as that of the Houses of Parliament, and the following statement shows the profit reaped.

My informant had been a gentleman's servant, his last place being with a gentleman in , who went to the East Indies, and his servant was out of a situation so long that he "parted with everything." When he was at the height of his distress, he went to see the fire at the Tower, as he "had nothing better to do." He remained out some hours, and before he reached his lodging, men passed him, crying the full and true particulars of the fire. "I bought ," said the man, "and changed my last shilling. It was a sudden impulse, for I saw people buy keenly. I never read it, but only looked at the printer's name. I went to him at the Dials, and bought some, and so I went into the paper trade. I made or some days, while the Tower lasted; and and other days, when the polish was off. I sold them mostly at a piece at . It was good money then. The Tower was good, or middling good, for from to days. There was at least men working nothing but the Tower. There's no great chance of any more great buildings being burnt; worse luck. People don't care much about private fires. A man in this street don't heed so much who's burnt to death in the next. But the foundation-stone of the new Royal Exchange—fire led to that—was pretty fair, and portraits of Halbert went off, so that it was for or days as good as the Tower. Fires is our best friends next to murders, if they're fires. The hopening of the was rather tidy. I've been in the streets ever since, and don't see how I could possibly get out of them. At I felt a great degradation at being driven to the life. I shunned grooms and coachmen, as I might be known to them. I didn't care for others. That sort of feeling wears out though. I'm a widower now, and my family feels, as I did at , that what I'm doing is 'low.' They won't assist— though they may give me now and then—but they won't assist me to leave the streets. They'll rather blame me for going into them, though there was only that, or robbing, or starving. The fire at Ben. Caunt's, where the poor children was burnt to hashes, was the best of the private house fires that I've worked, I think. I made on it day. He was the champion once, and was away at a fight at the time, and it was a shocking thing, and so people bought."

After the burning of York Minster by Jonathan Martin, I was told by an old hand, the (street) destruction of the best known public buildings in the country was tried; such as Canterbury Cathedral, Dover Castle, the Brighton Pavilion, Edinburgh Castle, or Holyrood House—all known to "travelling" patterers— but the success was not sufficiently encouraging. It was no use, I was told, firing such places as or Windsor Castle, for unless people the reflection of a great fire, they wouldn't buy.

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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