Street cries of the world

Street cries were once a popular subject of songs and literature in Britain, continental Europe and elsewhere. Each month from 2018 onwards I'll be scanning and transcribing publications to build this collection.


+ British Isles pre-19th century

− British Isles 1800–49

The Dublin Cries 1800

The New Cries of London 1800

The New Cries of London, with Characteristic Engravings 1803

The Cries of London, as They are Daily Exhibited in the Streets 1804

The Itinerant Traders of London in their Ordinary Costume 1804

London Cries for Children c. 1806

Letters from London 1808

London Cries for Children 1810

Six Charming Children 1812

The Cries of York c. 1812

Portraits of Curious Characters in London 1814

Etchings of Remarkable Beggars 1815

The Merry London Cries c. 1815

The Moving Market: or, Cries of London 1815

Vagabondiana 1817

The Cries of London, Shewing How to Get a Penny for a Rainy Day c. 1820

The Moving Market; or, Cries of London c. 1820

The Cries of London, for the Instruction and Amusement of Good Children c. 1820

Costume of the Lower Orders of London 1820

Rowlandson's Characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders 1820

Sam Syntax's Description of the Cries of London 1821

Costume of the Lower Orders of the Metropolis 1822

The Cries of London, Drawn from Life 1823

London Melodies; Or, Cries of the Seasons c. 1825

The Every-Day Book and Table Book 1827

The Cries of London, Coloured c. 1830

The Cries in the Streets of London c. 1830

The Cries of Banbury and London c. 1837

The Cries of London: Exhibiting Several of the Itinerant Traders 1839

Knight's London: Street Noises 1841

New Cries of London 1844

The Dublin Cries c. 1844

Old London Cries 1847

The London Cries & Public Edifices 1847

+ British Isles 1850–99

+ British Isles 20th century

+ Continental Europe

+ Russia, Asia and Africa

+ USA, Jamaica and Australia


No Cries are sure of such renown,
As those of famous London town.

London Cries for Children: Old cloaths

Old shoes! old hats! come little dear,
To hear me cry you need not fear;
There’s difference great between us two,
I always cry but seldom you,
And you cry tears I should suppose,
While I cry nothing but old Cloaths.

London Cries for Children: Frontispiece

London Cries for Children: Radishes

These radishes, so fair and round,
To please the palate will be found;
Fourteen a penny is the price,
You’ll surely buy, they are so nice.
Try with a few good radishes,
How bread and butter relishes.

THE seed of the radish is small, but of considerable use for the health of man; much attention is paid to the culture of this very useful root. – I wish you to take a delight in cultivating a garden; there will be found in this employ real usefulness, instruction, and health. – Many of the inhabitants of large cities are strangers to employments in rural life; remember you are placed in a spacious and well-furnished world, and that Providence has provided man with materials whereon to employ his art and strength; and has given him an excellent instrument, the hand, accommodated to make use of them all; and has distinguished the earth into hills, valleys, plains, meadows, and woods; all these parts capable of culture and improvement by his industry; and has committed to him for his assistance, in his labours of ploughing, carrying, drawing, and travel, the laborious ox, the patient ass, and the strong and serviceable horse; has also created a multitude of seeds for him, of what is most pleasant to taste, and of most wholesome and plentiful nourishment; and has likewise made a great variety of trees, bearing fruit both for food and physic, those too capable of being meliorated and improved by transplantation, pruning, watering, and other arts and devices; therefore the bountiful and gracious Author of man’s being and faculties, delights in the beauty of his creation, and is well pleased with the industry of man, in adorning the earth with beautiful cities, pleasant villages, with regular gardens, orchards, and plantations of all sorts of shrubs, herbs, and fruits, for meat, medicine, or moderate delight.

London Cries for Children: Mutton Dumplings

Nice mutton dumplings! smoking hot,
And just brought boiling from the pot:
Take my word, they are very good;
Besides, they make substantial food.
Consider now the price of meat,
And you’ll say they are also cheap.

London Cries for Children: Extraordinary News

In the Gazette GREAT NEWS to day,
The enemy is beat, they say. –
But, what, alas! will that avail?
Since war we still have to bewail.
Yet all are eager to be told
The news that new events unfold.

NEWSPAPERS are much read and expeditiously circulated through all parts of Great Britain; each pay a duty to the government before they are used by the public, which produces great sums of money: if the produce of the numerous taxes which abound in England were always suitably applied, there surely would not be an occasion of laying so many new ones on the industry of the inhabitants; nothing tends so much to reduce to poverty and misery the people of any country as the continuance of long and obstinate wars: always remember, this is one of the greatest evils with which mankind can be afflicted. – A disposition to be at peace and friendship with all mankind, cannot fail to be productive of every benefit and happiness in an individual as well as in a national capacity.

London Cries for Children: Hot Cross Buns

Little folks will lend an ear
When this pair approaches near;
Their buns are found so very nice,
They are always eager for a slice,
But if flour should rise anew,
To hot-cross buns we bid adieu.

ONE of the most noted cries of London was of the famous pig-man of whom there is a portrait extant; and who has had the honour of being imitated by several successors: his cry was:

A long-tail’d pig, or a short-tail’d pig,
Or a pig without ever a tail;
A sow-pig, or a boar-pig,
Or a pig with a curly tail.
Come buy a nice pig, and currant sauce!

The pigs were three or four inches long, composed of what is called standing crust; baked with currant sauce in the belly.

Upwards of forty years since, a miserable wretch perambulated this metropolis, to purchase, “Shreds and Patches,” whose cry was,

Linen, woollen and leather,
Bring ‘em all out together.

A singular cry of an equestrian is recollected to have been heard between thirty and forty years since; a rustic mounted on a white hobby, with a basket on one arm, used to invade the north purlieus of London, mumbling “HOLLOWAY CHEESECAKES!” which from his mode of utterance, sounded like, All my teeth ache! There was also a noted vender of gingerbread, at Bartholomew, Southwark, and other fairs, about the period already adverted to; he was called Tiddy Doll, because, to collect his customers around his basket, he used to chaunt a song, in which scarcely any thing was articulated, but the cant expression, “TIDDY DOLL,” he used to wear a high cock’d hat & feather, with a broad scollop’d gold lace on it; and had the honour, like the pig-man, of being imitated by succeeding venders of gingerbread.

London Cries for Children: Herrings

Alive and fresh, good herrings oh!
Six a groat, is cheap, you know.
Off Britain’s coast they late were caught,
And in a ship but just now brought.
If Mrs. Cook will dress them well,
Of their goodness you will tell;
Or if, to salt them you’re inclin’d,
There’s not a doubt they’ll suit your mind.

London Cries for Children: Bedstead, buy Dolls' Bedsteads

Here little girls will doubtless find
What cannot fail to please their mind;
Bedsteads of every size the best,
On which their painted dolls may rest:
And ‘tis but right that you should grant,
What you yourself so often want.

THIS is not a very frequent London cry, there is only one man I ever heard call “DOLLS’ BEDSTEADS,” he is now I believe often to be seen and heard in various parts of the town. London has produced some very strange characters under the description of London Cries; Jeffery Dunstan, who was living a few years back, was one of the most eccentric in his person and cry; many of these sort of people have met with much more notice and encouragement, than perhaps their way of living merited. Those who are amiable and useful should always be preferred to an opposite character.

There are several well executed engravings of Jeffery Dunstan; he excited considerable curiosity when living, his figure was ugly and deformed, and his intemperance in drinking rendered him absolutely a brute, and ultimately caused his death.

London Cries for Children: Hot Spice Gingerbread, all hot

Here is spice-cake for those good boys,
Who better love their books than toys;
And little girls may have their share,
As often as they sew with care:
Here he comes! his basket smokes;
BUY SOME SPICE, good little folks.

A FEW years since, there was a blind man who constantly sat at the corner of Chiswell Street, Moorfields, at the time when the ground on which Finsbury Square is now built was open fields, whose loud and singular voice was heard by many at a great distance; he could readily distinguish between good and bad halfpence directly he felt them, and has been frequently heard to say to little boys when they have offered him bad money, “THAT WONT DO” – “THATS NOT A GOOD ONE.” Thus poor Jemmy would as easily detect and as readily refuse bad money, though quite blind, as many persons who have the use of their sight, the coldest night in winter did not prevent his regular appearance in his accustomed seat; he has now altogether disappeared, I suppose him to be deceased, or perhaps the new inhabitants of the square have disapproved of his presence, as they have now constantly in their employ a man walking round their dwellings to keep away characters similar to poor Jemmy.

HOT SPICED GINGERBREAD, sold in oblong flat cakes of one halfpenny each, very well made, well baked, and kept extremely hot, is a very pleasing regale to the pedestrians of London in cold and gloomy evenings. This cheap luxury is only to be obtained in winter; and when that dreary season is displaced by the long light days of summer, a well known retailer of hot spiced gingerbread takes his usual stand near the portico of the Pantheon with a basket of Banbury and other cakes.

London Cries for Children: Wild Duck or a fat Chicken

My game are round and fat you see,
If on the price we can agree:
These ducks but one day since were shot,
And suit alike the spit or pot.
Or if for game you’re not inclin’d,
Here is a chicken to your mind.