McCarthy Family Rising Socially In 1901 vs. Status In 1880's?
Heinrich, Claire and Ruby, thanks for your comments.
Ruby, I enjoyed your very thoughtful and well-reasoned post. Lots of food for thought there!
McCarthy reminds me of a politician playing to his constituents- and very astutely too. The phrase "rabble-rouser" comes to mind.
I too was struck by his attack on certain "clergymen". Canon Samuel Barnett- who founded Toynbee Hall and encouraged many people to work for better conditions for the poor of Whitechapel- seems to have been one of McCarthy's targets, though unnamed. Barnett did write numerous impassioned articles in his attempt to draw attention to the dreadful living conditions in the East End and effect real change for the inhabitants.
It was a bit surprising to me that McCarthy responded so vigorously to the criticisms of Dorset Street and went to the trouble of printing a pamphlet.
I wonder if part of McCarthy's motivation was that by 1901 his family was rising both economically and socially, so being branded the equivalent of a "slum landlord" stung him more in 1901 than it would have done back in the 1880's?
I also wonder if McCarthy attempted to get the Daily Mail or the Toynbee Record to print his lengthy reply, but they refused, so he printed it himself?
[b]Maybe, McCarthy gives you the answer himself ! "I may say that A LYING ARTICLE like this does not increase the value of property anywhere around Dorset Street or the neighbourhood".
Hi Ruby. Yes, and the fact that McCarthy was so conscious of property values in 1901 seems to be another indication of his family's "upward mobility".
For decades property owners and landlords like McCarthy and Crossingham made a significant profit from their rental properties in the area of Dorset Street. Buildings were rented very cheaply then divided up into as many units as possible and rented by the night or by the week for cash. Their renters were a bit of a captive audience in that those who lacked the funds necessary to rent higher-qualities lodgings or to relocate to a different area had little choice but to pay whatever price was asked or live on the streets. We know that there were always more prospective lodgers and renters waiting to replace them if they couldn't pay and were evicted.
We've all read stories of the dreadful conditions of the rooms in the vicinity of Dorset Street. One way for a landlord to raise property values would of course be to make practical improvements which would help relieve some of those dreadful conditions, but that would involve a monetary expenditure; an investment in fact. I suspect that the landlords justified their lack of improvements with the convenient argument that the improved lodgings would soon be trashed by their renters anyway, so why bother?
- Which attitude, if true, would only go to reinforce McKenzie's criticisms regarding the nature of Dorset Street and its inhabitants!
Maybe in 1901 the local property owners were already thinking ahead to a time when the area around Dorset Street would be razed and redeveloped? Miller's Court and other nearby properties were sold off and demolished the 1920's. It would be interesting to know what kind of profits the local property owners made at that time.
- And what in the world happened to the poor people who had lived in the demolished lodgings?