[Reynoldsʼs Newspaper, 17. und 31. Januar 1869]

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Reynoldsʼs Newspaper. Nr. 962, 17. Januar 1869. S. 8.
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DISTRESS IN LONDON.—

A considerable number of building firms having, on Saturday week, discharged a great many of their workmen, including bricklayers, stonemasons, joiners, plasterers, and bricklayers’ labourers, a large amount of unemployed labour has been thrown upon the metropolis; and, during the week, evidences of the fact were presented in the northern, southern, and western metropolitan districts. Gangs of men, not of the “common labourer” type, but composed of comfortably clad men, having all the appearance of skilled artisans, paraded many of the squares, chanting, in some cases, only the old refrain, “We’ve got no work to do.” In South London, the districts of Walworth, Kennington, and Camberwell were visited by the men, who in these places were tolerably successful in their solicitations. Gangs went through Russell, Bedford, Gordon, and Tavistock-squares, and then proceeded to the north-western district. In the west-end, the principal squares and portions of the Chelsea and Kensington districts were visited, and in almost every place where the unemployed men asked alms, their decent appearance elicited substantial sympathy. Not only workmen, but clerks and timekeepers, have lost their employment by reason of the reductions in building firms referred to, which have been caused by the completion of some large contracts and the temporary suspension of others.

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Reynoldsʼs Newspaper. Nr. 962, 17. Januar 1869. S. 3.
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JUSTICES’ JUSTICE IN ESSEX.

TO THE EDITOR OF REYNOLDS’S NEWSPAPER.

SIR,—Knowing your wish for justice, alike for poor and affluent, and for which you are a most strenuous advocate, I beg to send you the following account how “the gentlemen” of the Harwich bench of magistrates dispense it to the first named class. On the 29th day of December last a vessel belonging to Whitstable, through stress of weather, sought the harbour for shelter from the gales that were then prevailing, the crew being almost exhausted with their struggle with the wind and waves for the past four days. Anxious to acquaint his owner of the comparative safety of the ship, and his wife of his own, the captain sent one of his men to the post. On the way back to his ship, he drank one pint of porter. The exhausted state in which the man was failed to be proof against this moderate quantity and he sat down and fell asleep. Shortly after, one of that most ever watchful (for any case like this, but ever wanting when help is really needed) class of men called policemen discovered him, and forth with the poor sailor was looked up for the night. Next day he was fined 14s. 6d. by those members of the great unpaid who misadminister the law at Harwich. For what offence was he punished some of your readers may ask. Ay, indeed—for what? For not resisting the demand of Nature which she makes imperative; for sleeping when the weary eyelids refuse longer to keep open; for resting when both body and brain refuse to work continuously!

Shall I—shall any one—pity them for their finite wisdom, their gross disregard for humanity’s laws? No; but rather let us all raise our voices, and help to aid in abolishing that foul stain on English judicature—“the Unpaid Magistracy.” Sweep it away, and forever, and rid the country of the sad disgrace brought on it by such cases as John Cross’s and many others of a like nature. Let our laws, of which every Englishman ought to be proud, but with which many are disgusted, by the way they are misused, be administered by persons, not only learned in the law, but with reason and discretion in their brain; by competent stipendiary magistrates, who did they so far forget themselves as to allow might to overrule right, could and would be removed from their posts, never again to be vested with judicial power. In conclusion, I would ask your powerful aid to assist in preventing country squires and farmers making our laws a mockery and disgrace whose every judgment is but another proof that they are out of their proper sphere, and are totally unfit and incompetent for the position they occupy. Hoping you will oblige by the insertion of this,

I am, sir, yours respectfully,
T. S.

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Reynoldsʼs Newspaper. Nr. 964, 31. Januar 1869. S. 5.
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LIFE AND DEATH OF THE ENGLISH POOR.

On Thursday, an inquiry was held at the Folley House Tavern, Cubitt-town, Isle of Dogs, by Mr. Humphreys, respecting the death from alleged starvation of Catherine Spencer, aged thirty-four years, and her male child, who expired on Thursday week. Upon the jury going to view the bodies of the deceased, they found them lying upon the floor in a top back room, which was miserably furnished. The bed upon which the deceased woman and child had died was composed of rags, and there were no bed-clothes upon it. A small box placed upon a broken chair had served as a table. Upon it lay a tract, entitled, “The Goodness of God.” The only article of food in the room was a piece of salt, of which the deceased woman had eaten part before she died. The whole place presented a wretched appearance. The windows were broken, and an old iron tray had been fastened up against it. The house, which was No. 1, Steward’s-terrace, Cubitt-town, was a six-roomed one. In every room in that house a distinct family lived. Two families lived in the two kitchens. All the people in the house were in receipt of parish relief, and they were all connected with the iron shipbuilding works, and they had lost their all shortly after the works were closed, during the commercial crisis of 1866.

Great interest was felt in the proceedings, and several of the local authorities were present during the inquiry.

Mary Boney, a miserable-looking woman, who stated that she lived at 122, High-street, Shadwell, said that she was the wife of a shipwright out of employment. The deceased was the wife of a labourer. Witness saw her three weeks before Christmas. She then complained of the state in which she was, and she said that she did not think that she could not give her any assistance.

Hannah Robinson, 1, Steward’s-terrace, said that she was the wife of a man out of work. She paid 1s. 6d. a week rent for her room. The deceased paid a shilling a week for hers. She was very poor. She lived with her husband. He went mad two days after her death. She died on Thursday, and he became insane on Saturday.

Mr. Dowse said that the man had to be taken to the workhouse, where he was kept in confinement. He was not taken to the asylum, for it was crowded with mad people, and there was no room for him in it.

The witness said that the husband had been a long time out of work. He had relief from the parish. The woman never had any money to get anything with. During the whole of the Tuesday before her death she had no food to eat. Witness took her a cup of tea in the evening, and she drank it. A month ago the Rev. Mr. Carpenter gave her a ticket for meat. She had pledged all the clothes they had to buy food. A little time ago she had some of her furniture seized by the brokers for rent. She pawned her last blanket for 2s. as there was nothing in the house to eat. All the families in the house were badly off for food, and the deceased never wanted for food more than they did. The six families in the house paid the landlord 5s. 9d a week for rent. Witness did not think that the deceased’s death had been caused by want of food.

Maria Holt, a married woman, living in the back kitchen of the house, said deceased had often wanted bread all day, “like” witness “and all the others in the house.” She had never had what she really wanted—food; but witness was in the same state.

Mr. F. F. Delany, relieving officer, said that the deceased husband applied for relief on the 5th instant. He came before the board of guardians on the 6th; they ordered him the stone-yard, one pound of meat, two ounces of tea, and a pound of sugar.

Coroner: Did he come to the stone-yard? Witness: No.

Coroner: How much is a man allowed to earn in the stone-yard. Witness: Sevenpence, but never more than eight pence.

Coroner: So that, if a man has ten children, and he can earn 1s. 6d. in the stone yard during the day, he is not allowed to do so? Witness: No; but then he gets a loaf of bread every week for each child.

Coroner: How long had he been out of work? Witness: On and off, for two years and a half. I have heard that he earned 14s. one week. Some men told me that he did so at the beginning of this year. He only got the relief for three weeks.

Dr. J. Sarjent said that he attended the deceased in consequence of a parish order being sent to him. She died on Thursday. The child died shortly after its birth.

Dr. G. B. Phillips, 2, Spital-square, divisional surgeon of police, said that he only been able to find three ounces of fluid in the stomach. The intestines were empty, and collapsed from want of food and privation. They were thin and transparent from long want of food. The woman had suffered great privations. She had got into a weak, low, nervous condition from long want of food. Her death had been accelerated by want of food.

The Coroner said it was a case for grave consideration, whether a man with a family ought not to be allowed to earn more than 8d, a day in the stone yard.

A juror said that 8d. for a whole day’s work was ridiculous. A man ought to be allowed to earn what he could, particularly when he had a family to support. Why, any of the jurors there would eat more than 8d. worth at a meal. He had known cases in which men with families, who had been ordered to the stoneyard at 8d. a day, knowing that they could not keep their families upon it, had said, “I will not go there. It is no use. The parish must bury me.”

Another created some surprise by stating that it was no use returning a verdict of death from starvation. It would only cause the distress in the island to be talked about in the newspapers. What use were people when they were dead? He thought that they might be buried in an egg box, or perhaps it would be still better to bury them without a coffin at all.

The speaker, who was a well-known employer of labour on the island, was not applauded when he had ceased to make his remarks.

The jury returned a verdict, “That the deceased woman died from exhaustion, privation, and want of food.”


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Reynoldsʼs Newspaper. Nr. 964, 31. Januar 1869. S. 5.
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WHO IS HE?

We should very much like to know the name of the “employer of labour” who so feelingly observed at the Isle of Dogs inquest that he thought poor people might as well be buried in an egg-chest as a coffin! If we only knew his name, we would give it a prominent place in our columns, so that all the world might know who uttered such brutal, dastardly, and disgraceful words.|

Inhalt:

  • Social cases. 1869