Historical references to London's sounds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
 Beggars, hustlers and scavengers   1 1 1   2 3 1
 Street entertainers             2  
 Costermongers and street traders   1   2 1 5 2  
 Transport for hire   1 1          
 Quack doctors       1        
 Recruitment of workers     1     1    
 Work songs and music             1  
 Workplace cries and audible signals       1 1 2 3  
 Shops and shop staff         1   3  

Period referred to: 1709

Sound category: Economic > Costermongers and street sellers

Title of work: A Description of the Morning

Type of publication: Poem

Author: Jonathan Swift

Year of publication: 1709

Page/volume number: n/a

Street sellers’ cries in early 18th century London

Now hardly here and there a hackney-coach
Appearing, showed the ruddy morn's approach.
Now Betty from her master's bed had flown,
And softly stole to discompose her own;
The slip-shod 'prentice from his master's door
Had pared the dirt and sprinkled round the floor.
Now Moll had whirled her mop with dext'rous airs,
Prepared to scrub the entry and the stairs.
The youth with broomy stumps began to trace
The kennel-edge, where wheels had worn the place,
The small-coal man was heard with cadence deep,
Till drowned in shriller notes of chimney-sweep:
Duns at his lordship's gate began to meet;
And brickdust Moll had screamed through half the street.
The turnkey now his flock returning sees,
Duly let out a-nights to steal for fees:
The watchful bailiffs take their silent stands,
And schoolboys lag with satchels in their hands.

Notes: kennel-edge: the curb; small-coal man: charcoal seller; duns: debt collectors; brickdust Moll: brickdust was sold to clean knives.

Period referred to: Early 1700s

Sound category: Economic > Costermongers and street traders

Title of work: Amusements Serious and Comical

Type of publication: Satire

Author: Thomas Brown

Year of publication: 1700

Page/volume number: Amusement III

‘One draws his Mouth up to his Ears, and Howls out, Buy my Flawnders

One Tinker Knocks, another Bawls, Have you Brass Pot, Iron Pot, Kettle, Skillet, or a Frying-Pan to mend: Whilst another Son of a Whore yells louder than Homer's Stentor, Two a Groat, and Four for Six Pence Mackarel. One draws his Mouth up to his Ears, and Howls out, Buy my Flawnders, and is followed by an Old Burly Drab, that Screams out the Sale of her Maids and her Sole at the same Instant [. . .] followed with the Vocal Musick of Kitchen-Stuff ha' you Maids.