Historical references to London's sounds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
 Demonstrations     2 1 1   1  
 Elections and election campaigns     1          
 Meetings and indoor gatherings       1   2    
 Public political oratory   2       1 1  
 Strikes and trade union activities     1       1  
 Political, sectarian and ethnic conflict   1   1     1  

Period referred to: 1450s

Sound category: Political > Political violence

Title of work: Calendar of letter-books of the City of London

Type of publication: City records

Author: Unknown

Year of publication: 1456

Page/volume number: Folio 296

Tradesmen try to incite a riot against Lombard merchants

First John Bailly s'vaunt of Henry Warer Sherman examyned confesseth and seith tht in the said Fest of Corpus Christi Thomas Graunte departed and gone and Thomas Thurston s'vauntz of Rauf Marche m'cer & William Robynson s'vaunt of William Leytone poyntmaker with othere malefaitours and troublers of the Kinges peas were confedered and enterallied to gidre in the Toure of the Ryall of London to have sleyne & murdred Galiot Scot and othere merchantz estraungers the said Friday aboute XJ of the clok in Lumbardstrete & othere stretes of London.

Wheruppon the saide malefaitours contynuyng their saide malicieux purpose in the said Fest of Corpus Christi lest their Counceill shuld have ben understand & knowen afterward departed oute of the saide Citee and came to Hoggesdon where they and othere assembled in greater noumbre were confedered and sworn to gidre upon the crosse of a grote everiche of theym to lyve and dye with othere in executyng of their wiked ententz abovesaid seying then among themself they douted not but when they shuld begynne the saide fete they shuld mowe have help ynough of the people.

Inasmuche as myche people thenne hated dedely the saide marchantz estraungiers as they seyden for they bothe were fals extorcioners comon lechours and avoutrers. Wherfore they thought it a goode dede to sle and murdre them &c.

And also the said John Bailly confesseth and knowlicheth that he was first excited and moeved & abbetted to assent and be sworn unto the saide confederacye in maner & forme aboveseid purposed to have be doon by the forsaid Thomas Graunte and William Robynson.

Item it is notoirely knowen that the said Thomas Graunte purposyng to have made a commocion among the people on Wendisday then next suyng came oute of the selde called the Croune in Chepe with his armes full of staffz and them cast adowne in Chepe seying then openly Go we hens for ther is an Englisshman sleyn by the lombardes in lumbardstrete. And the same Thomas Graunte was fortwith restraynt of his malicieux purpos by Hugh Wyche mercer and other.

Period referred to: 1716

Sound category: Political > Political violence

Title of work: Proceedings of the Old Bailey

Type of publication: Legal record

Author: Old Bailey

Year of publication: 1716

Page/volume number: Killing of Robert Read, 6th September 1716

Whigs and Tories riot outside a mug-house in 1716

Charles Tuckey depos'd, That on the Day mentioned in the Indictment, he was in a Balcony over against the Mug-house, and about 1 a-Clock saw the Prisoner come out with a Blunderbuss in his Hand, and saw the Mob advancing from Fleet-street to the Mug-house Door hollowing, as the People did in the Mug-house; and being ask'd what their Cry was in the Mug-house, he answered, King George for ever.

[. . .]

Katharine Bennet depos'd, That she saw the Prisoner level his Piece at the Deceas'd. That she kept Shop over against the Mug-house, and heard a great Noise in it the Monday Night before, insomuch that she sate up all Night; and she heard some of the Gentlemen there say, Come, let's go to the Swan; which they did, and she heard them beat against the Windows; and when they returned, she heard a Voice say, Come Gentlemen of the Roe-buck, let us drink the King's Health. That about 1 a-Clock they went to the Swan again, and as they went she heard them say, Down with the Butchers, Down with the Barbers (whose Door was beat open) Down with the Pawnbrokers; and that they beat against her Door, but could not break it open.

[. . .]

John Holmes swore, He was going through the Court about 10 a Clock, and staid till half an Hour past eleven, in which time he observ'd a great Crowd of Women and Children about the Mug-house Door, and a Constable and some Men come out of it, and read a Proclamation with three Huzzus ; and then saw the Prisoner bring out a Blunderbuss, which he discharg'd and the Deceased fell, who was about four Yards from him, as he was from his House.

[. . .]

William Stratton depos'd, he was going to Work about 11 a Clock, and saw a great Mob in Salisbury-Court, and going in the saw the Deceas'd in the Swan, who call'd him to drink with him, and then told him there was a great Mob; but he was going to Work, and had some Bread and Cheese in his Pocket. By and by the Mob increased, and he heard the People at the Mug-house cry King George for ever, and the Mob High-Church and the King. But the Deceas'd said he would not meddle. That he heard the Proclamation read; That the Mug-house People drove down the Mob, but being forced back again, he and the Deceas'd went out, and they parted at the Corner of the Passage, where he left the Prisoner.

[. . .]

Mr. John Boyles depos'd, That he was at the Mug-house the Night before, between 6 and 7 a Clock; and about 9 a Constable and several Watchmen drew up in a Rank against the Door, which occasioned a great Mob; and as Gentlemen came to the Mug-house, they hiss'd them; upon which he went to the Door to know why they hiss'd, but they threw Stones at him, and at the Windows, which had been broke once before to the Value of 7 s. 6 d.

[. . .]

Thomas Arrowsmith (the Grenadier) depos'd, That he was at the Mug-house all Night; and from 8 a-Clock, as Gentlemen came into it, they were assaulted by the Mob at the Door, who threw Stones at them. That a Constable was there with his Watch, but did not discharge the Duty of his Office, but encouraged the Mob by Connivance. Next Morning about 8 a-Clock, the Mob (Men Women, and Children) began to show their Colours, by crying out, High Church and Ormond for ever, and Down with the Mug-house.

[. . .]

Then Mr. Collins returned to his Evidence, and swore, That next Morning the Mob broke their Windows; [. . .] Then the Mob fell upon them, and some Gentlemen got away, but he and some others went up Stairs, and made a Barricade upon the Stairs; after which they heard great clattering and breaking of the Goods below, which were thrown out, for their more speedy Destruction, to the Mob in the Court.

[. . .]

Richard Newell depos'd, That he was sent of an Errand into the Court between ten and eleven a Clock on Tuesday Morning; he had heard of a great Disturbance there the Night before, and was willing therefore to see what would be the Consequence. Whilst he was observing things, he saw a great Mob come up the Court, and a Constable come out of the Mug-house and read a Proclamation; and then the Gentlemen huzza'd for King George, and he made a Huzza himself; and the Mob huzza'd, after which they advanc'd to the House, and the Prisoner and some Gentlemen came out and sought the Mob, but were beat at last and forc'd to return; and then the Mob cried out, High Church and Ormond, No King George, No Hannoverians, Down with the Mug-house, louder than ever, with Sticks in their Hands.

Period referred to: Early 20th century

Sound category: Political > Direct action and destruction of property

Title of work: Daily Mail

Type of publication: Newspaper

Author: Daily Mail

Year of publication: 1910

Page/volume number: 1 March 1910

Suffragettes go window smashing

From every part of the crowded and brilliantly lighted streets came the crash of splintered glass. People started as windows shattered at their side; suddenly there was another crash in front of them; on the other side of the street; behind – everywhere. [. . .] Meanwhile the shopping quarter of London had plunged itself into a sudden twilight. Shutters were hurriedly, the rattle of iron curtains being drawn came from every side.