Penny Dreadful: From True Crime to FictionThe Madding Crowd: 18th Century LondonBloodletting: Barber Surgeons and Early MedicineThe Play's the Thing: From Melodrama to Musical

Unplanned Housing
Streets & Alleys
Water and Waste
Coal, Fog and the Smell of the Grave
Untimely Death
Learned Pigs and Other Diversions
Law and Disorder
Thief Taker, Constable, Police
Trial and Punishment
Liver and Lungs and Everything Offal
Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Concert
Law and Disorder

"The cream of criminal society are the pickpockets, who are to be found everywhere - even in the best company - often clean and well-dressed, so that they may be mistaken for people of some standing. In fact, they may actually be so, for there are men who have fallen into want by reason of extravagance and are reduced to this way of living. After them in order of rank come the highwaymen, who ride on horseback, and often, in their desire to relieve the victim of his purse put him in terror with an unloaded pistol...Then comes the third, the lowest and vilest class of criminal, the footpads. Tragic examples may be read almost daily in English newspapers of poor people met on the road who have been brutally murdered for a few shillings..."
- C. P. Moritz, 1782 (10)

Dark, circuitous alleys coupled with tall, shadowy buildings and the ever-present shroud of fog made London a criminal's paradise. Outrageous murders, robberies and assaults of all kinds were commonplace. There was no organized law enforcement to speak of - the idea of a uniformed policeman patrolling the streets in order to prevent crime was considered too French (the originator of this scheme) and an affront to the Englishman's liberty. In fact, it was common practice for victims of a crime to pursue the perpetrator, often capturing and delivering the offender to authorities all by themselves.

Thief Taker, Constable, PoliceNext


Home  -  I. Penny Dreadful  -  II. The Madding Crowd  -  III. Bloodletting
IV. The Play's the Thing  -  Recipes

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