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










Printed by W. CLOWES, Northumberland-court, Strand.


AT a period when the patronage of the Arts is reviving, and individuals of taste and fortune are solicitous from inclination to encourage the same, it may not be thought presumption that the Costume of the Lower Orders of London will be considered worthy of their support.

Every exertion to the delineating and engraving the Characters will be given; and as they will nearly all be drawn from known individuals, it is presumed they will be found unusually interesting.

Works of this nature are too often sketched from memory; and, notwithstanding the genius of the Artist may produce spirited representations, they cannot possess those natural forms and incidents resulting from a faithful and judicious copy from nature.

Under the conviction that students in rustic picturesque character will find the Costumes proper subjects for copying, they are recommended. To effect which the pen or pencil must be substituted for the etching-point.

BILLY WATERS, the Dancing Fiddler.

THIS eccentric man was born in America, and lost his leg byu falling from the top-sail yard to the quarter-deck, in the Ganymede sloop of war, under the command of Sir J. Purvis. Thus being rendered incapable of serving England, he supports himself, and those dependent on him, by Fiddling, Dancing, and Singing, through all parts of the metropolis; affording a lesson to the thoughtful, and no little amusement to the thoughtless. Billy is remarkable for good humour and industry, for the feathers in his hat, the grin of his countenance, and the sudden turn and kick out of his wooden limb, and his efforts to please are well rewarded from the pockets of John Bull. He has a wife, and, to use his own words, “one fine girl, five years old,” and is not a little proud to perceive a resemblance in the child to himself: thus we find the same feeling of self-love from the lowest to the highest; and thus humble man, in that respect, prefers himself to the greatest in the nation.

General Remarks. – Itinerant musicians are numerous in London; particularly so, from November to June. They may be seen in groups of two, three, four, and five persons, enlivening the town, and impressing their hearers, very often, with regret that they are not better employed.

Billy Waters

JEMMY LOVEL, the Tinker.

“POTS to mend, Bellows to men, Copper or Brass to mend, Frying-pan or Warming-pot, Tin-kettle or pot to mend!”

With this oration, accompanied with his blazing pot, and generally mellow by a sacrifice at the shrine of Bacchus, this well-known character perambulates the streets of London. Some years since he was attacked with a paralytic stroke, which has deprived him of the proper use of his left arm; yet, notwithstanding this infirmity, he performs his business readily, and obtains an honest livelihood. He has lived thirty-seven years in one house, in Manor-street, St. Giles’s; and, although he cannot boast of pedigree, or the deeds of his ancestors, he is particularly proud of having brought up a large family, without ever having been a burthen to the parish. The LOVEL family are remarkable for having a numerous offspring; the Tinker’s father has had no less than twenty-four children, many of whom are actively employed in the metropolis.

General Remarks. – Tinkers in London are remarkably scarce; particularly so, when it is considered how much they are in requisition. Their usual mode of travelling is with a box of tools, and a kettle for fire.

Jemmy Lovel


THE individual from whom this subject has been delineated, was born at Providence, in N. America, and lost his arm in the battle at Dardanelles; his pension being insufficient to support himself, wife, and family. Necessity, the parent of invention, induced him, with the mechanical aid here represented, to practise the violin. As perseverance generally conquers difficulties, he was soon enabled to scrape tolerably well; and although we cannot discover the purity of a Cramer, we have ample gratification in beholding an additional proof of the wonderful and benign works of the Creator.

It being usual for musicians of this class to attend fairs near the metropolis, at most of them this hardy son of Apollo may be found contributing his share towards the amusement of the frequenters of such places.

General Remarks. – Those blessed abundantly by Fortune’s favours, are little acquainted with the hardships which men of this description daily endure; the scanty pittance on which they exist, fully exmplifies the words of any excellent Poet, that

“Man wants but little here, below,
“Nor wants that little long.”

The Mechanical Fiddler

OWEN CLANCEY, the Frost-bitten Sailor.

THIS unfortunate mariner was born at Donneraile, near Mallow, in the County of Cork, Ireland. On the 14th of January, 1814, while in the service of Captain Jones, commander of the Two Brothers, his legs were fatally frost-bitten, by being shipwrecked on an island in North America. So severe a calamity could not fail of rendering him incapable of procuring a livelihood in any other way than soliciting alms of his fellow-creatures; this he does in a remarkable clean dress of white and nankeen, supporting himself with crutches and wooden legs. He has been well-made, is remarkably strong, upright, and replete with activity. Owen, according to his own account, is about thirty years old, has a wife and one child, and is enthusiastically attached to the place of his nativity. He, unfortunately, has no particular residence; yet, happily, is blest with an iron constitution, capable of enduring the greatest privations.

We cannot, in justice to this crippled, yet contented man, close this narration without observing, that, as he was not in the King’s service at the time of the misfortune, he of course does not receive a pension from Government, which makes him a greater object of consideration.

Owen Clancey


THE jovial subjects of this Number are John Farrington and Thomas Neville, draymen; the former belongs to the extensive Brewery establishment in Liquor-pond-street, and the latter, to that of Henry Meux, and Co.

John Farrington was born on new year’s-day, at Sutton, in Bedfordshire, and calculates that he is about sixty-three years old. He has been in tyhe employ of the late Mr. Meux and his present Masters for the last 35 years: when he first entered into the service of the late Mr. Meux, the establishment then consisted of eight drays and the same number of draymen; at this period he had to begin his daily labours by two o’clock in the morning, and work till nine at night; at the present time he begins work at four in the morning, and leaves off by seven at night.

The life of a drayman, is extremely laborious, and requires the exertion of much bodily strength. Their business in the large establishments in London, is, to deliver the Beer to the Publicans chiefly in Butts of 108 Gallons, and to place them safely in their Cellars: for which labour and risk, the Publican pays one shilling per Butt. If the draymen are civil the Publican seldom fails to reward them further with cold meat or what the house affords; and they generally pledge each other with a foaming tankard or two of good Brown Stout or Porter, and also a parting glass; by this custom John Farrington, drinks on average about two Gallons of Porter and a pint and half of Gin daily*: some days indeed (but then he was a younger man) he has taken between 3 and 4 Gallons of Beer and 30 Glasses of Spirits, and never felt the worse for it; on the contrary, this regimen agrees perfectly well with his constitution, and he has never had occasion for a Doctor in his life.

He is now hale and hearty; and by living with the same regularity, he may reasonably indulge the expectation of many years to come, to the evident advantage of his employers, as he affords a living proof, and recommends as well by precept as example, the excellence of a beverage so much resorted to by all classes of society in London, producing to the Revenue an immense sum annually, and may be considered one of its principal sources.

* Calculating 40 years’ consumption (exclusive of Sundays) our worthy subject must have drunk upwards of 250 Butts of Beer, and nearly Hogsheads of Spirits.


JOSEPH HILL, the Bell-ringer.

THE unfortunate subject of the present sketch is a religious enthusiast. He says he was born in Bedfordshire, that he has been married twenty-two years, happily without a family.

Formerly he attached the Bells to various parts of his person, and even one was fastened on the top of his head; now they are arranged on a wooden cross, to which hymns and ballads are also attached.

After he has performed a peal on his instrument, he draws forth a Bible and expounds a text from the Sacred Volume.

To the various questions of the Artist he answered, that he began the trade of bell-ringing when he was under the operation of the spirit, which felt like the prickings of spears; and that he was a cobbler, before the spirit pricked him; that he had once twenty-five pounds and built a Stall, which increased in size until it became Noah’s Ark, but no rich man would enter it. That the number of his bells are thirteen, the twelve Apostles, and the Godhead. The remainder of his discourse was unconnected and wild rhapsody.

He obtains a precarious livelihood, more from the consideration of passengers than from any apparent delight afforded by his music.

Joseph Hill


THE subject of this notice was a casual passenger, and in the act of crying fish when the sketch was taken. The habits of this class of people are extremely laborious; they are to be seen more particularly in the villages surrounding London; and it has been calculated that they seldom walk less than 20 miles a day in this laborious avocation.

It has long been a subject of lamentation, that in an Island like Great Britain, where the Sea appears the natural element of a large portion of the inhabitants, that the fisheries on the coast are still so much neglected, and that a very considerable portion of the fish, which, supplies the Metropolis, should be bought from Dutch fishermen.

Indeed our own shores seem hardly to have been tried with any degree of skill or enterprise, and the art of fishing still appears in its infancy.

In 1815, a Turbot fishery was discovered on the coast of the County of Durham* and the Turbots are allowed to be equal in flavour, if not superior, to the Dutch; the produce of this fishery is now brought to the London Market. Oyster beds, of immense extent, havbe also been recently discovered on the coast, which tend to prove, that we are either very ignorant, or very indolent; and whilst so many of our brave sailors are pining for want of employment, it does seem extraordinary that no scheme for an extended whale fishery has yet been suggested to the consideration of a patriotic Public.

* Sir C. Sharp’s History of Hartlepool.

Fish woman


FROM Individuals in an humble station of life, it would be difficult to find a more apparently contented, useful, and industrious class of persons than the Milk-Carriers.

They are almost universally Welsh or Irish Girls, strong and healthy by nature, and invigorated by exercise and early rising. They even rise before the lark, and between three and four in the morning, they have to walk several miles for their milk; this invaluable beverage they purchase from Cow-Keepers, at 2s. 3d. the barn gallon, which is eight quarts: it is generally believed that they are not allowed by Act of Parliament to add more than one-third water; but they seldom avail themselves of this indulgence, for those who sell the best milk, will always get the most encouragement. Some milk-walks are very lucrative; many of the Principals have numerous Carriers, who received Nine Shillings per week, and Breakfast; they work hard and are satisfied, presenting an useful lesson to the discontented with three times that sum.


THOMAS MUSTO, the Mat-man.

IF we were inclined to doubt the wise dispensation of the Creator, the contemplation of this man’s countenance would induce us to imagine he deserves a better fate.

Thomas Musto was born June 1st, 1778, near Stow, in Gloucestershire; at the age of fifteen he lost the use of his right knee by a severe rheumatic attack: at an early period he married, has had nine Children, four of whom are living; he resides in Hampshire-Hog Yard, St. Giles’s, and there manufactures the Mats he daily offers for sale. The best are made from a sort of strong fibre that adheres to the shell of the Cocoa-Nut, which are scarce and expensive, and are seldom sold by men of this description. The Spanish Frail Mats are next in estimation.

Good serviceable Mats are made from the bark of the Lime TGree, (from Russia,) Rope from Ship Junks, the plain from Duitch Rush, and the common Mat from English Rushes.

Thomas Musto


IN London, fortunately, these idle, deceptious, and seducing characters, are not numerous; arising, no doubt, from the discernment of the rising generation who do not place sufficient faith in their supernatural power, – the pretended knowledge of future events. Still, however, many a thoughtless servant girl becomes a dupe to their artifice, and their masters naturally suffer by their dishonesty; as they are tempted to pilfer any thing which may fall in their way, whilst the delusion is kept up by a strong of plausible and pleasing anticipations.

The aged woman from whom this subject was taken, like too many of her sect, does not follow any religion, has not received the rite of baptism, and is entirely ignorant when and where she was born.



THESE walking Traders deal by virtue of a License, for which they pay Fifty Shillings annually; this entitles them to sell every allowed commodity. To enumerate their different articles, would be impossible, as they vend almost every thing that is portable. Their stock chiefly consists of Watches, Spectacles, Glasses, Compasses, Knives, Scissors, Razors, Combs, Pins, Needles, and Laces. These are carried in a light strong box, held before the body by a broad belt passing over one shoulder and under the opposite arm; this, however, is not the only depository, as their pockets (which are large and convenient) are generally well filled also.

The life of the Pedlar may be considered healthy, from the exercise he is obliged to take; independent, from the variety of his customers; and agreeable, for its constant novelty. These minor Tradesmen have many advantages over the trading Housekeeper, as they are free from bad Debts and Taxes. The goods of the Pedlar are of an inferior sort, particularly their Knives, Scissors, and Razors, which were made “to sell, not to cut or shave.”