Historical references to London's sounds

A database of several hundred historical descriptions and references to London's sounds. They're drawn mainly from primary sources such as autobiographies, diaries and statutes, as well as novels written around the times they depict.

11th to
16th to
18th Early
 Hue-and-cry     1 4 2      
 Laws, curfews and control of crowds   2 1 2        
 Sentries and nightwatchmen   1 2       1  
 Public executions     2 2 1      
 Courts of law       2        
 Prison regimes       1 1      
 Other legal proceedings           1    
 Sounds of crime     1          

Period referred to: 1763

Sound category: Authority > Curfews and control of crowds

Title of work: In London and Moscow: The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

Type of publication: Autobiography

Author: Giacomo Casanova

Year of publication: n/a

Page/volume number: Chapter VII

Sunday music and gaming banned in 18th century London

When I left Soho Square I went to St. James's Park to see Lady Harrington for whom I bore a letter, as I have mentioned. This lady lived in the precincts of the Court, and received company every Sunday. It was allowable to play in her house, as the park is under the jurisdiction of the Crown. In any other place there is no playing cards or singing on Sundays. The town abounds in spies, and if they have reason to suppose that there is any gaming or music going on, they watch for their opportunity, slip into the house, and arrest all the bad Christians, who are diverting themselves in a manner which is thought innocent enough in any other country. But to make up for this severity the Englishman may go in perfect liberty to the tavern or the brothel, and sanctify the Sabbath as he pleases.

Period referred to: Early 18th century

Sound category: Authority and public order > Police and militia commands to crowds

Title of work: An act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters. [Riot Act]

Type of publication: Statute

Author: Parliament

Year of publication: 1714

Page/volume number: Anno primo GEORGE I, Statute 2, Caption 5. Pages 142-146

Reading the Riot Act: ‘With a loud voice command’

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the order and form of the proclamation that shall be made by the authority of this act, shall be as hereafter followeth (that is to say) the justice of the peace, or other person authorized by this act to make the said proclamation shall, among the said rioters, or as near to them as he can safely come, with a loud voice command, or cause to be commanded silence to be, while proclamation is making, and after that, shall openly and with loud voice make or cause to be made proclamation in these words, or like in effect:

Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the King.