Historical references to London's sounds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: 1830s

Sound category: Authority > Hue and cry

Title of work: Weekly Despatch

Type of publication: Newspaper

Author: Weekly Despatch

Year of publication: 1831

Page/volume number: 11 December 1831

An associate of the Resurrection Men flees Covent Garden

Shields, the porter to the gang, had been watchman and grave-digger at the Roman Catholic Chapel in Moorfields, so that he was most useful to the other Resurrectionists in giving information, and in granting facilities for the removal of bodies. No evidence was offered against him in connection with the murder of the Italian boy. Soon after the trial he attempted to get work as a porter in Covent Garden Market, but on his being recognized by those working there, a shout of “Burker!” was raised, and Shields narrowly escaped with his life, and took refuge in the Police Office.

Period referred to: 1830s

Sound category: Authority and public order > Hue-and-cry

Title of work: Oliver Twist

Type of publication: Novel

Author: Charles Dickens

Year of publication: 1838

Page/volume number: Chapter X

‘ “Stop thief! Stop thief!” The cry is taken up by a hundred voices’

'Stop thief! Stop thief!' There is a magic in the sound. The tradesman leaves his counter, and the car-man his waggon; the butcher throws down his tray; the baker his basket; the milkman his pail; the errand-boy his parcels; the school-boy his marbles; the paviour his pickaxe; the child his battledore. Away they run, pell-mell, helter-skelter, slap-dash: tearing, yelling, screaming, knocking down the passengers as they turn the corners, rousing up the dogs, and astonishing the fowls: and streets, squares, and courts, re-echo with the sound.

'Stop thief! Stop thief!' The cry is taken up by a hundred voices, and the crowd accumulate at every turning. Away they fly, splashing through the mud, and rattling along the pavements: up go the windows, out run the people, onward bear the mob, a whole audience desert Punch in the very thickest of the plot, and, joining the rushing throng, swell the shout, and lend fresh vigour to the cry, 'Stop thief! Stop thief!'