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Was Whitechapel really any worse than other areas of London?

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  • Was Whitechapel really any worse than other areas of London?

    Just thought I'd throw this question out there...............

    Was Whitechapel really any worse then any other area of London?

    Let's just say for the sake of argument (and putting Jack's crimes to one side for a minute), what made Whitechapel any worse than other parts of London?

    I've been doing some research, which incorporated the Clerkenwell area of London and have discovered some truly awful cases that give Whitechapel's reputation a good run for it's money (am happy to share if anyone takes up this discussion).

    There's also "The Old Nichol" area of Bethnal Green which by all accounts was horrendous!!

    So what made Whitechapel so bad?

  • #2
    It's the East End including Bethnal Green that was was regarded as the worst part of London in terms of poverty and desperation.Old Nichol was notorious. Seven Dials in Covent Garden was pretty bad in Dickens day [he died 1870] but was improving by the late 80s.

    The East End was the centre of the sweated trades, such as tailoring and of course the docks, so it was more industrialised than other parts of london.

    Miss marple


    • #3
      Probably smellier, too, with the Thames being so close.

      Remember the Great Stink of 1858?

      Sometimes it takes a sewer engineer to make a city civilized.
      Pat D.
      Von Konigswald: Jack the Ripper plays shuffleboard. -- Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, c.1970.


      • #4
        And the Cholera epidemics that decimated the London population in the early 19th century. The last one was 1854. They thought cholera was caused by a 'miasma' bad air, Dr John Snow in Soho discovered the connection between infected water and cholera in the 1850s in an infected water pump.


        • #5
          Islington Gazette Tuesday

          24th August 1897

          Ann Straines, aged 40, a machinist, of no fixed abode, was charged with sleeping in the open air without visible means subsistence and with exposing her two children, Emma, aged eight years, and Daisy, aged six years, in a manner likely to cause them unnecessary suffering or injury to health at James’swalk. Police-constable Allen, 292 G, said that morning he saw the prisoner with two children asleep a doorstep in Sutton street, roused them and they walked away. A little later he saw the prisoner and her children asleep in St. Jamea’s-walk, roused her and asked her if she had any money. She replied that she had none, and that she left the workhouse week ago. The constable added that the children were very cold and very tired. Joseph Wilkes, officer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said his attention was called to the prisoner as early as May last. She then had two other children with her, and had been found sleeping on the stairs of model buildings. She was widow, and had seven children. Two were in the Mitcham parochial schools, one on the ship Shaftsbury, one living with its grandfather, and one service. The other two she took with her from place to place. Early in the year she met with accident one her knees, and was unable to work. She had said she would rather die than to the workhouse. Mr. Horace Smith— Then you'll have to go to prison, and your children will be taken care of someone else. The prisoner (weeping)—What have I done to sent prison. Mr. Windebank (School Board officer)—She wants the parish authorities to look after her children and allow her out of the workhouse, but they won’t do that. Mr. Horace Smith (to the prisoner.)—Will you go to the workhouse ? The prisoner—No, I won’t. Mr. Horace Smith—Then you will have to be charged with neglecting your children. You can’t allowed to drag them through the streets all night long. I’ll remand you now for week.


          • #6
            Islington Gazette

            Tuesday 3rd July 1900 EX CONSTABLE.

            An ex-constable Walter LOCKNEY 27 address and occupation refused, was charged with disorderly conduct and assaulting Police Constable Wagg 328G at Pentonville Road, Islington.On being arrested for disorderly behaviour the prisoner threw the officer to the ground and kicked him on the right knee.Prisoner has been in the force himself and has often been before the court for offences similar to the present one. It took four officers to remove the prisoner from the charge room to the station cell and he assaulted two of them on the way one of them being Constable WAGG, when he again attacked striking him about the head and chest.The alledged disorderly conduct consisyed of pushing people from the pavement by pretended drunkeness.Prisoner on oath denied the allegations against him and said the police made a dead set against him because he had formerly been a constable. His throwing WAGG to the gorund was the result of accident. He had only been fetched out of prison by his wife just before this occurred. Mr Chapman said he could not overlook the conduct of the prisoner who ought to have known so well how to behave himself towards the police. He would go to prison for one month's hard labour.


            • #7
              Islington Gazette

              Saturday 4th June 1898

              A HARD CASE. Ellen Joslin. aged married, of 1 Attneave Street. Clerkenwell. was charged with stealing from No. 13. Yardley-street, a loaf, value 3 3/4d the property Griffith Evans, dairyman. Prosecutor mid the prisoner entered his shop for half pint of milk and asked the loan of can. While bo was finding a can bo saw her place a loaf under her cape. She paid for the milk and left the shop. went after her, and gave her into custody. Police-constable Wagg, 328 G, said that, acting under the instructions of his inspector, ha bad made inquiries concerning the woman, and it was a very hard case. Her husband was out seeking for work. Mid there was not particle of food in the place for their three young children- The woman bore a good character, and the children wens spotlessly clean. Mr. Horace Smith (to prisoner): Why don’t you come here for assistance, and not steal ? Prisoner, weeping, said she was very sorry that she bad been so tempted. The magistrate directed that the woman should have assistance, and discharged her.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Pcdunn View Post
                Probably smellier, too, with the Thames being so close.

                Remember the Great Stink of 1858?

                Sometimes it takes a sewer engineer to make a city civilized.
                Clearly the first human laws (way older and already established) spawned organized religion's morality - from which it's writers only copied/stole,ex. you cannot kill,rob,steal (forced, otherwise people run back to the hills,no towns).
                M. Pacana


                • #9
                  Constable George ALLEN 292G Islington Gazette

                  Wednesday 4th May 1887
                  Police Constable 292G (George ALLEN) said that on the 25th July last he was on fixed point at Exmouth Street, Clerkenwell. He was a crowd outside number 40 and was told that Mr ROSS wanted him. On going to the shop he saw plaintiff on the ground, and BUTCHER holding him on the ground. Witness told them to let the man get up and plaintiff then said he had been kicked in the eye. He wanted to give BUTCHER into custody, but seeing no marks of violence, he did not feel justified in taking him into custody.

                  Wednesday 18th May 1887
                  Eliza Smith, aged 23, bagseller, of Fuller Street, Bethnal Green, was charged by Police Constable Allen, 292 G, with being drunk and disorderly in Farringdon Road, at quarter-past four on Saturday afternoon. The prisoner was discharged.

                  Monday 12th September 1887
                  Samuel Warner, aged 41, jeweller, Clerkenwell-close, was charged Police-constable George Allen, 292 G, with being drunk and disorderly Myddelton Street, Clerkenwell. He was fined 35s or five days.

                  Monday 3rd October 1887
                  Edward Brown aged 43 costermonger of Bowling Green Lane Clerkenwell was charged with violently assaulting Robert MOUNTFORD butcher of Wood Street St Pancras by throwing him down the stairs of 32 Bowling Green Lane on Tuesday afternoon. Constable ALLEN 292 G said that the prisoner's arm was badly bruised but was not so hurt as to be unable to attend. Prisoner was discharged.

                  Wednesday 14th December 1887
                  George Thomas PREADY aged 22 bill poster of Myddleton Place Clerkenwell was charged with disorderly conduct at Exmouth Street Clerkenwell and further assaulting Police Constable ALLEN 292G Mr Bennett ordered the defendant to enter into his own recognisances to keep the peace for six months.

                  Monday 6th February 1888
                  A VIOLENT ITALIAN. Giovanni Antonia, aged 28, of 7, Eyre-street-hill, St. Andrew’s, a musician, was charged before Mr. Barstow, at the Clerkenwell Police-court, on Friday, for throwing missiles to the'common danger of the public, at Clerkenwell Green; and, farther, charged with assaulting Police-constable Allen, 292 G, at the same time and place. Police-constable Charles Night, 321 G. stated that he was on duty that morning at 12.30 at Clerkenwell Green, when he saw the prisoner playing an accordian, and surrounded large crowd. After had finished playing, handed his hat round for money, and because he did not get any, he took brick from his pocket, and threw it at a boy, striking him in the back. At the time a lady and gentleman were passing in a "gig,” and the prisoner threw a crust of bread at them, at the same time striking the back of the "gig.” Witness took him in custody, and on the way to the station became extremely violent, which rendered assistance necessary. Police Constable Allen, 292 G, gave corroborative evidence, and the prisoner was fined 20s or 14 days.

                  Thursday 8th March 1888
                  Ellen Higgs, aged 45, news vendor, of Peter’s Lane, Clerkenwell, was charged by Police-constable George Allen, 292 G, with being drunk and disorderly ...

                  Thursday 10th May 1888
                  Drunk and disorderly
                  Margaret Wilson, aged 46, King’s Cross Road, was charged by Police-constable George Allen, 292 G, with being drunk in Margaret Street, Clerkenwell. Discharged.

                  Wednesday 23rd May 1888
                  The Islington Gazette
                  James Sibley, aged 29, of Bryan Street, Caledonian Road, a labourer, was charged with being drunk and disorderly. Police-constable Geo. Allan, 292 G, stated that at 7.45 on the previous evening he was called public house in King’s Cross Road, to eject the prisoner. When outside the house the prisoner was requested leave, but refused, and used abusive language. Fined 5s or five days.

                  Monday 28th May 1888
                  ... aged 40, Biainghill Street, Clerkenwell, charwoman, was charged Police Constable George Allen, 292 G. with being drunk and disorderly Pentonville Road. Officer gave the evidence apprehended at 9.16 the previous evening, the prisoner was attempting ...

                  Tuesday 26th June 1888
                  Breaking glass
                  .....also there drunk and behaving disorderly. The prisoner denied the charge, but Police Constable George Allen 292G, gave corroborative evidence to that of Police Constable Dunlop. Fined 55s or five days imprisonment.

                  Monday 2nd July 1888
                  Miscellanous charges at the Clerkenwell Police Court
                  Sarah Ann Bailey, aged 25, Godsde Street, was charged with behaving in a disorderly manner and using obscene language in Wharfedale Road. Police Constable George Allen, 292 G, stated that, one o’clock that morning, saw the prisoner lying footpath screaming. Witness tried to get her away, when she became abusive, and broke the constable’s whistle. Fined 10s or seven days’ imprisonment.

                  Tuesday 24th July 1888
                  Frank Kennedy, aged 16, of Beaconsfield Buildings, Caledonian-road, a baker, was charged Police-constable George Allen, 292 G, with unlawfully assembling with others not in custody in a riotous and disorderly gang, I throwing stones to the terror and annoyance the inhabitants at Edward Street. The constable stated that at eight o’clock on the previous evening he saw the prisoner with gang of others shouting and making use of obsene language at Edward Street. Witness requested them to go away, but the prisoner refused. Fined 10s., or seven days’ imprisonment.

                  Wednesday 15th August 1888
                  Assault a team conductor
                  George Webber, aged 81, of Green-street, Camden-town, cab-driver, badge 8621, was charged Police-constable George Allen, 292 with being drunk whilst In his employment as cab-driver, Pentonville-road. Tho constable said he saw the defendant asleep on his cab. Witness called to him, when he drove to the footpath. He was very drunk. The prisoner, who said was more sleepy than drank, was fined 10s or in default, seven days’ imprisonment.


                  • #10

                    Are you a Londoner, Station Cat? of course there was crime all over London, as in all big cities, but North London was and is a lot nicer to live in than the East End, even now when they have tarted up the east end. A lot of east end families migrated to the north, if they made some money. It happened in my family as to many others. There was nicer housing in north London and more green spaces, some parts with a village feel, no large areas of industry, docks and smelly factories.

                    I am a committed North Londoner.

                    miss marple


                    • #11
                      This doesn't shed any light on the original question, but thought it might still be if interest;

                      Morning Advertiser 20th Sept 1888

                      "PAUPERISM IN LONDON
                      The number of paupers in London on Saturday last, exclusive of lunatics in asylums and vagrants was 91,488, as compared with 89,764 on the corresponding day of last year, 86,376 in 1886, and 85,592 in 1885. The vagrants relieved numbered 985, of whom 787 were men, 178 women, and 20 children under 16 years of age."


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by miss marple View Post
                        And the Cholera epidemics that decimated the London population in the early 19th century. The last one was 1854. They thought cholera was caused by a 'miasma' bad air, Dr John Snow in Soho discovered the connection between infected water and cholera in the 1850s in an infected water pump.
                        Have you read The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson? I'm working on it right now. Actually, I started it over a year ago but got sidetracked.

                        It is hard for me to imagine Covent Garden being anything but the gentrified, upscale shopping neighborhood it is today, but I guess it was still a rather unrefined food market at the turn of the century.


                        • #13
                          I remember when Covent Garden was a fruit and veg market, it was very vibrant, it has always been an exciting part of London and next to the Royal opera House and Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Look at Shaw's play,Pygmalion. In the 1850s/60s Seven dials was a slum area on a par with the east end, difference was, it very small area, next to the West End and many theatres, so was not isolated,as a poor area, being so close to the wealthy playground. My own great grandmother was born in the slums off Drury Lane and became a music hall artiste.

                          miss marple


                          • #14
                            Miss Marple: When was Covent Garden Market converted to shops and restaurants? I would have loved to have visited it in its original form, but only photos remain.

                            Was your great-gran alive at the time of JtR? Did she have many recollections of 'old' London or photos?


                            • #15
                              Drummond st

                              After the move of the market to nine elms, the Greater London Council wanted to demolish Covent Garden, the whole area was listed by Geoffrey Howe, which started the regeneration in the early eighties. There were lots of independent shops there, now there are more chains and i was a regular at the Monmouth Coffee Shop in Neal St where I bought my beans. The old fruit market Jubilee hall became a antique market and the Apple market in the central hall became a craft and antique market.
                              I had a stall there at Jubilee in the early eighties and after a gap of many years i started stalling out again.
                              My greatgrandmother was born in 1869, she died before I was born but i know a lot about her career, she stopped when she shacked up with my greatgrand father who was born in the East End She knew Marie Lloyd, they appeared on the same bill when teenagers, she toured the country with the Horn Brothers. she was a dancer, each performer had a circuit of halls they would appear in. She appeared a lot at the South London Palace. Unfortunately I have no photos although i do have a drawing.
                              miss marple
                              Last edited by miss marple; 05-22-2018, 12:28 AM.