Dr. Colquhoun * has subjected himself to some ridicule in attempting to estimate the number of female prostitutes in London, which he made amount to 50,000, divided into the following classes:— Of the class of well-educated women 2000 Of persons above the rank of menial servants 3000 Of persons who have been employed as menial servants, and seduced in early life 20000 Of those in different ranks in society, who live partly by prostitution, including the number of females who cohabit with. labourers without matrimony 25000 50000**
By including women unmarried, who cohabit with labourers and others, and of which the number is very great in the metropolis, we do not think that Dr. Colquhoun's estimate is greatly beyond the truth. The number of prostitutes in some parishes, especially those in the vicinity of the docks and river, is almost incredible; while, again, some of the out-parishes, as Islington and others, are comparatively exempt, and abound as little in female prostitution as any country parish of equal extent and population.
From a statement laid before a Parliamentary Committee, in 1817, it appears that, in the parishes of St. Botolph-without-Aldgate, St. Leonard, Shoreditch, and St. Paul, Shadwell, containing, together, only 9924 houses, and 59,050 inhabitants, there were 360 brothels, and 2000 common prostitutes.***
It is painful to think of the tender age at which poor creatures are exposed to prostitution in the streets and brothels of London, and to which they are compelled to resort, either by the keepers of infamous houses, or their idle and abandoned parents. Some of these wretched children are under ten years of age, and, consequently, are below that period of life, during which it is a capital crime, under any circumstances, in any, to have carnal intercourse with them.
When the Guardian Society visited the City Bridewellthere were 111 wretched women, the ages of whom varied from 14 to 54 ; the largest proportion appeared to be of the ages from 18 to 22. There were— 1 of 14, 1 of 16, 1 of 17, 11 of 18, 12 of 19, 10 of 21, 13 of 22, 6 of 23, 1 of 24, 3 of 25, 10 of 26, 9 of 27, 4 of 28, 6 of 29, 7 of 30, 5 of 32, 2 of 33, 5 of 35, 3 of 36, 1 of 54
Out of these, 85 had been in a state of prostitution from two months to two years; and the largest proportion of these from two to three years. The unfortunate creatures had been repeatedly committed to prison; and instances occurred where they had been committed from eighteen to thirty times.****
*author of A Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis.
**Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis, page 340, 7th edition.
***Second Report on the Police of the Metropolis, 1817, page 459.
****Third Report on the Police of the Metropolis, 1818, page 30.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.