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Socialism in the East End

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  • Socialism in the East End

    The Victorian social reform movements were active in the East End before, during and after the time of the Ripper murders. Yet seems to be little discussed in Ripperology (with the possible exception of being used for the purposes of promoting the ‘Ripper as social reformer’ theory). This seems a shame, as a cursory glance into topic seems to throw up a wealth of secondary source material which seems capable of illuminating discussions as to the character of the Whitechapel area around the time of the Winter of Terror.

    For starters, historically notable figures turn up in places related to the crimes. For example, Beatrice Webb (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatrice_Webb) a co-founder of the London School of Economics, lived in Wentworth Dwellings for a time in 1885, when staying at the apartment of Ella Pycroft: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...20dwellings%22

    Ella Pycroft and Beatrice Webb were at the time, both working for the East End Dwelling Company as rent collectors for the nearby Katherine Buildings.

    Beatrice Webb’s description of the character of the area gives an opinionated yet intriguing view of the East End around the time of the Ripper.

    East End life, with its dirt, drunkenness and immorality, absence of co-operation or common interests, saddens me and weighs down my spirit. I could not live down here; I should lose heart and become as worthless as a worker.
    If this is the voice of someone profoundly sympathetic to the suffering of the poor, how must those who were not social reformers have talked about the people of the East End?

    Ella Pycroft apparently worked for the East End Dwelling Company for five years from 1885, so it is possible that she stayed on in her apartment in Wentworth Dwellings and was resident there on the night the piece of Kathryn Eddowes apron was found there.

    Margaret Nevinson, a notable Suffragette, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Nevinson) lived for a time in the East End and was on familiar terms with Ella Pycroft, both of them were working as rent collectors. It turns out the two women lived very close to each other. Nevinson lived on Goulston Steet in a worker’s dwelling in Brunswick Buildings, the building which at the time was opposite Wentworth Dwellings (source: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...ret%20nevinson). Nevinson moved to Hampstead in 1887 so was out of the area before the murders occurred.

    Beatrice Webb left the East End Dwelling Company and went on to work with Charles Booth, to help produce his enquiry into the lives of the London poor. The enquiry was published in 1889 and much of the research for the study took place in 1888. Another researcher working on Booth’s enquiry was Clara Collet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Collet), she compiled a section on the working lives of the poor women in London, this included speaking to the prostitutes of the East End, enquiring into their reasons for taking on the work they do and their lifestyles. She was interviewing these women in 1888, literally during the Autumn of Terror. The resulting chapter on ‘Women’s Work’ in ‘Life and Labour of the People in London’ seems like it could be fascinating reading but as yet I’ve been unable to find a copy of the chapter.

    Booth’s enquiry seems to promise a wealth of interesting information. Notably, he produced maps of London classifying streets by the poverty of the people living there using a colour code. Black being the absolute worst and a ‘semi-criminal’ class. Wikipedia has this image of a section of the map showing Dorset Street and Flower and Dean Street colour coded as black: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...hitechapel.jpg

    https://booth.lse.ac.uk/ has full searchable versions of the maps. I’ve personally never seen a better source for maps of Whitechapel and Spitalfields at the time of the murders.

    The same LSE site also includes a searchable database of the documents and notes which made up the enquiry which may hold interesting relevant observations. Consider this first hand source from 1898 stating that the lodging houses of Dorset Street were really brothels and that the street was frequented by ‘thieves, prostitutes, bullies’ (bullies being the name used for pimps at the time, was it not?) - https://booth.lse.ac.uk/notebooks/b351#?cv=54&c=0&m=0&s=0&z=1299.762 8%2C732.3015%2C1286.6689%2C765.2852
    ’The majority of the houses are owned by Jack McCarthy’ - this seems like a fairly direct insinuation that Jack McCarthy was running brothels.

    I’ve not seen the Social Reformers discussed so much in relation to the Autumn of Terror but it may be worth looking at them again. There might be a lot of interesting material waiting to be uncovered.

  • #2
    The "chapter" on "Women's Work" in "Life and Labour of the People in London",courtesy of https://archive.org/stream/lifeandla...tgoog_djvu.txt
    (A) * Women working at washing send their children to school in the morning, and do not themselves return home until 8 or 9 p.m. During the hours after school the children mix with other boys and girls in the streets, hearing and learning all kinds of evil talk and action. Their characters are ruined in those hours.' As an extension of the work of the Recreative Evening Schools Association, this witness (a Baptist minister) suggests that playing halls should be provided, where tea could be obtained at a small cost. (t) 'The lowest class of women who work (says a lady visitor) shell peas in the market ; above them in the social scale are box makers. Girls take employment as soon as they leave school, and for the first year or two work intermittently, but afterwards settle into regular factory employment/ (j ) ' On either side of the road (runs one of our notes on South London) lies the dust yard of a contractor for several vestries, full of rough, dirty women from the surrounding streets : a disgusting occupation/ (k) ' Nearly all the girls in Central London work at some trade or othen They would not make good servants, and it is a frequent argument of mothers that it is a good thing for them to have something to turn their hands to, so that if they marry and lose their husbands, they are independent. There is a terrible temptation to widows to lead an immoral life, more or less publicly, which may thus be, at least in part, avoided/ {[} *Onc of the managers of an Institute says that the girls who come to it are wage-earners, receiving from 7s to 21S a week at mantle and clothing factories. Numerous breaches of the Factory Acts seem to occur, for which the foremen are perhaps to blame, rather than the employers ; but the girls are generally unwilling to talk of it ' 8# HABITS OF THE PEOPLE (m) 'Step-girls do nothing but clean steps, at 2d or $d a house. They prefer the freedom they secure, to being general servants. In some districts they are numerous, and their presence throws light on the standard of the lower middle-class households for which they work/
    My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DJA View Post
      The "chapter" on "Women's Work" in "Life and Labour of the People in London",courtesy of https://archive.org/stream/lifeandla...tgoog_djvu.txt
      Thanks for the link. The text unfortunately appears to have been scanned in and is somewhat garbled. Although amongst the noise can be found:

      WOMEN'S WORK. Vol IV., chap, ix., pp. 256-326
      Which suggests the chapter was some 70 pages.

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      • #4
        Just clicking 'see other formats' seems to do the trick.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks Robert, that is much more readable. It seems, unless I am much mistaken, this is not the volume which contains the chapter on 'Women's Work'. I'll have a proper dig later on.

          The chapter contained in this volume within 'Notes on Administration' on 'Prostitution' is illuminating. I've not read it all yet, but Booth draws a distinction between brothels and 'houses of disorder'. A house of disorder being an establishment which turns a blind eye and a brothel being an establishment run for the purpose.

          Booth clearly identifies that his use of the term 'bullies' aligns with the modern term 'pimp'. Therefore the use of the term 'bullies' when describing Dorset Street leaves little doubt about what he means.

          In his notes on 'Dorset Street', both the word 'brothel' and the word 'bullies' in conjunction with the houses; 'houses owned by Jack McCarthy'. This leaves little doubt that Booth thought Jack McCarthy was a brothel-keeper. Also, directly seems to suggest that were pimps operating around the Ripper victims which should have been able to offer them protection.

          Booth also draws a distinction between prostitutes who take men back to their own private residences relying on their own judgment of the men they take back and prostitutes who work in brothels, who can expect protection in the form of a madam and a bully. It's obviously interesting to speculate on which of these Miller's Court was in 1888.

          Should Mary Kelly have been able to expect the protection from a bully? If she could, who might this have been? - Thomas Bowyer, Henry Buckley or perhaps even George Hutchinson?
          If she could expect protection at Miller's Court, why didn't she receive it? - Did the police follow this line of enquiry at the time?

          Or... Mary Kelly was simply taking men back to her own private residence and the bullies are simply a red herring...

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          • #6
            https://archive.org/details/lifeandl...goog/page/n272

            There were three editions. The last being in 17 volumes.
            Last edited by DJA; 02-03-2019, 03:38 PM.
            My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

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            • #7
              Hi Sean

              I don't know, but I suspect that if there WAS any protection being offered to Kelly, it was agreed that it didn't operate in the middle of the night. If one of McCarthy's own prostitutes was slaughtered next door to where he lived, one might expect him to have lost face over it. But as far as I recall, he didn't show any signs of it.

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              • #8
                Thanks Dave. However, this appears to be an abstract describing the chapter on 'Women's Work' and not the chapter itself. The actual chapter in a previous volume runs to 70 pages, this only runs for about 4 pages.

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                • #9
                  I think I've found it. OK, I have some reading to do.

                  https://archive.org/details/lifeandl...goog/page/n268

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                  • #10
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPwrodxghrw
                    My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by seanr View Post

                      The chapter contained in this volume within 'Notes on Administration' on 'Prostitution' is illuminating. I've not read it all yet, but Booth draws a distinction between brothels and 'houses of disorder'. A house of disorder being an establishment which turns a blind eye and a brothel being an establishment run for the purpose.

                      Booth clearly identifies that his use of the term 'bullies' aligns with the modern term 'pimp'. Therefore the use of the term 'bullies' when describing Dorset Street leaves little doubt about what he means.

                      In his notes on 'Dorset Street', both the word 'brothel' and the word 'bullies' in conjunction with the houses; 'houses owned by Jack McCarthy'. This leaves little doubt that Booth thought Jack McCarthy was a brothel-keeper. Also, directly seems to suggest that were pimps operating around the Ripper victims which should have been able to offer them protection.

                      Booth also draws a distinction between prostitutes who take men back to their own private residences relying on their own judgment of the men they take back and prostitutes who work in brothels, who can expect protection in the form of a madam and a bully. It's obviously interesting to speculate on which of these Miller's Court was in 1888.

                      Should Mary Kelly have been able to expect the protection from a bully? If she could, who might this have been? - Thomas Bowyer, Henry Buckley or perhaps even George Hutchinson?
                      If she could expect protection at Miller's Court, why didn't she receive it? - Did the police follow this line of enquiry at the time?

                      Or... Mary Kelly was simply taking men back to her own private residence and the bullies are simply a red herring...
                      I've completed a reading of the chapter contained under 'Notes on Administration' on 'Prostitution'. I think I need to clarify a few points from above but also highlight some other interesting tid-bits.

                      Booth uses the terms 'brothels', 'house of disorder' and 'house of accommodation' and distinguishes between these. Both a 'house of accommodation' and a 'brothel' are examples of 'disorderly houses', however a brothel is for run for the express purpose of prostitution and a house of accommodation is run for some other purpose but turns a blind eye to prostitution. Booth gives the example of pubs and coffee houses as examples of places used as 'houses of accommodation'. I've often wondered (not really, I obviously had an inkling) why William Grant Grainger and Alice Graham were heading to a coffee house on White's Row in the early hours of the morning, the night Grainger stabbed Graham. It's plausible there was a coffee house/ 'house of accommodation' on White's Row. Grainger decided to stab her before they reached the place.

                      Booth describes the various types of brothels from the high end West End establishments to lower end of the scale (which also tend to be West End establishments). He describes a form of brothel, where the women are free to do as they please, they keep their earnings but seem to be (deliberately) in constant debt to the owner of the establishment and the debt is used as a form of coercive control. This perhaps could be behind the heavy debt Mary Kelly was owing to John McCarthy.
                      These types of brothels tend to serve local clubs or pubs, with women from the establishment mixing in the pub trying to pick up men whilst others of the women would stay back for any customers who came direct to the establishment. Miller's Court really could have been just such a place, serving the pubs on Dorset Street and around Commercial Street.

                      On the subject of protection, I slipped up on my first reading with women who operate alone relying on their judgment. Booth is very clear that in almost all cases the women manage to find protection in the form of a man, who takes advantage of their earnings. In the case of women working alone, the man would usually pose as a partner or husband and frequently be abusive.
                      So, it's at least possible Joseph Barnett had been Mary's protection which she had only recently lost due to their falling out.
                      As I mentioned before, Booth states the brothels usually had a madam and a professional bully.

                      The one case of prostitutes that Booth mentions do not have protection of the extremely poor women of the East End, which he states played a part in those terrible tragedies of a few years before his time of writing - an obvious reference to Ripper/ Whitechapel murders.
                      This hints at Mary Kelly (and the other victims) not having any protection, but still I really do wonder on this point if their partners were as innocent as they seem and their lodging house keepers as uninvolved in the business as they affect.

                      Booth complains that prostitutes are often hard to save, because the life offers some sense of being a professional. Booth complains about vigilance committees often insisting on brothels being shut down and bringing prosecutions (he singles out vigilance committees, in a way that suggests this was not a police policy), Booth feels prosecuting and closing down brothels is counter-productive as the problem simply springs up elsewhere.
                      He note many brothel keepers have more than one establishment or form relationships with other brothel keepers, and so have arrangements to simply move their staff to another establishment should they have any issues at the current location.

                      Booth suggests that prostitution cannot be completely stamped out and favours a zero-tolerance policy towards brothels but light touch regulation and observation of 'houses of accommodation'. Booth favours regulation over criminalisation. The whole thing is strikes me as similar to modern debates on approaches to this issue. The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.
                      Last edited by seanr; 02-06-2019, 12:07 AM.

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                      • #12
                        And some more thoughts on the notebooks from https://booth.lse.ac.uk/notebooks

                        The note found here https://booth.lse.ac.uk/notebooks/b3...82%2C1476.2445 isn't by Booth. It's by one of his researchers, the local publican George H. Duckworth on a walk with Sergeant French of H Division in 1898.
                        The notes do say the houses are brothels and that their are prostitutes, thieves and bullies - but as it is not Booth writing, it can't be as clear as I thought that professional brothels is meant. Duckworth may be less discriminating in his use of terminology.
                        It's not clear to me whether it is Duckworth's or Sergeant French's opinion that the houses are really brothels. It's clear though that most of these immoral houses belong to Jack McCarthy.

                        The next page of the same notebook is illuminating too: https://booth.lse.ac.uk/notebooks/b3...3.3164%2C739.5. In a section on Little Paternoster Row, Duckworth notes the street is black on both sides but only on one side in the last edition of Booth's map. 2 - 3 common lodging houses with thieves, prostitutes and ponces (if I read the writing correctly). Again, Duckworth notes 'Buildings owned by the notorious Jack McCarthy of Dorset Street'.
                        So, at least one contemporary thought that Jack McCarthy was 'notorious' and doubts about his character are clearly not only modern inventions of Ripperologists.

                        Incidentally, in notes on Great Pearl Street https://booth.lse.ac.uk/notebooks/b3...239.1132%2C737 Duckworth again notes thieves, prostitutes and bullies at the common lodging houses. McCarthy also owned houses here.
                        Does anyone know any other streets where McCarthy owned property? - I think I see a bit of a pattern forming...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          McCarthy also owned a house on Thrawl Street, which Duckworth has notes in these pages of the notebook https://booth.lse.ac.uk/notebooks/b3...4.6016%2C737.5 and https://booth.lse.ac.uk/notebooks/b3...74.1963%2C1469

                          Down Brick Lane, west along Thrawl Street [...] Brick Lane end on the South side is one of McCarthy's lodging houses - 'filled with thieves'
                          I take the speech marks in Duckworth's notes to be indicating the 'filled with thieves' remark was the words of Duckworth's escort for the walk, Sergeant French. The pattern holds mostly, that John McCarthy's establishments all seem to hold criminal elements and in this note we have an indication that the local police would acknowledge this. Perhaps notably, there is no mention of prostitutes and bullies in relation to Thrawl Street, so maybe not every McCarthy owned establishment could be described as a brothel?

                          Incidentally, Duckworth who is making the notes seems to be this gentleman: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Herbert_Duckworth. A man who on the face of it wouldn't seem to have any particular grudge against McCarthy. So, he seems to be expressing a received wisdom about the 'notorious' McCarthy or potentially, these were the views of Sergeant French.

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                          • #14
                            https://booth.lse.ac.uk/notebooks/b3...46.679%2C741.5

                            Last mention of McCarthy in the notes from the walk of the district comes in Duckworth's closing remarks:

                            The Great Pearl Street district remains as black as it was 10 years ago. As the Dorset Street district belongs to a dweller in it 'MacCarthy' [SIC] so this bit belongs to Geringer an inhabitant of Little Pearl Street. The features of both these streets are common lodging houses for men, women & doubles which are little better than brothels. Thieve, bullies and prostitutes are their inhabitants.
                            Duckworth also notes that the northern part of Flower and Dean Street, which was black in Booth's first map ten years before was no longer black, owing to the Rothchild's building development.

                            The misspelling of McCarthy seems to indicate Duckworth had little idea who McCarthy was and was likely going on the opinion of Sergeant French. So, we probably have a local policeman who felt McCarthy's rents were brothels in 1898? - I think that's interesting.

                            Geringer seems to be Frederick Gehringer.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A modern relative of Frederick Gehringer thinks that a relative of Gehringer was questioned in relation to the Ripper murders. https://www.ancestry.com/boards/surn...r/10.1/mb.ashx and https://www.ancestry.com/boards/surn...41.1.2/mb.ashx

                              I don't know if this Gehringer was questioned as a suspect or if this family story is true... anyone know who the Gehringer of City Of Norwich public house would have been?

                              Was rival gang violence considered as possibility by the investigating police at the time? Was Gehringer a rival of McCarthy?

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