Thursday, January 28, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
William Hickey’s adventure with the teenage prostitute led me to look up the statistics for the early 19th century.
From John Wade’s A treatise on the police and crimes of the metropolis (1829)
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
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 Bridewell there 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.