Wednesday, 26 July 2017

'Swaggering Gait': Pimps of Victorian Cardiff

'Has a swaggering gait, blotched face and dimpled chin' so reads the description of Lemuel Anderson, a bully of Charlotte Street in 1850. This post looks at the role of the bully, or pimp, in Cardiff from 1839-1851.
Lemuel was typical of the Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane bully (the older term for pimp). He was a 21 year old, born in Bristol where he had already been flogged in gaol as a child. As a teenager he had several minor scrapes with the law linked with his poverty, including washing naked in the canal feeder and stealing a goose and a bucket.
Early teenage crime was a feature of most bullies lives. Lemuel was also involved in petty crime with other young men on Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane. In 1849 he was out breaking lamps with his brother, James Loynes (who had grown up in a brothel) and Dan Ryan (who went on to be a bully and a thief for the next fifteen years).
When these lads were rounded up and put into the police cells they turned on the police station windows: 
1849 December 22nd Cardiff Merthyr Guardian p.4.
In 1851 Lemuel was the bully of Mary Ann Powell, a prostitute from Newport. He had her name tattooed on his arm and she had his name tattooed on hers. These young lovers both robbed a man at the notorious Noah's Ark brothel by hitting him over the head with a poker while he slept:
1850 August 8th Cardiff Merthyr Guardian p.2.
They both got hefty transportation sentences for this attack.
The bully was a staple figure on Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane. They were tough men with a propensity for violence like 19 year old Daniel Beddoe:
1849 September 8th Cardiff Merthyr Guardian p.4.
The worst bullies were not linked to a single prostitute and instead terrorised any woman who had earned money like John Thomas:
1847 March 27th Cardiff Merthyr Guardian p.2.
Ann Anthony, the woman he kicked and threw the pint glass at was five months pregnant.
Many of the bullies of Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane were also boatmen on the Glamorganshire Canal that went past Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane. See my separate post about the criminal uses of the canal here. The dual tasks of boatman and bully seemed to suit these men- I suppose the odd hours they did on the boats meant they could bully when they were not barging.
1846 October 10th Cardiff Merthyr Guardian p.3.
The bully also mirrored the prostitutes in terms of age and longevity of service in the role, most lasting a few years, generally from 18-25 years of age, before they either moved into less stressful and more settled occupations (one of them became a fishmonger!) or were imprisoned for long terms (such as Punch who died on a prison hulk in 1854).
There are exceptions to this rule such as William Bennett was still bullying on Whitmore Lane in 1848 at the age of 43. Like Lemuel usually the bullies were partnered with specific prostitutes and lived with them:
1856 March 15th Cardiff Merthyr Guardian p.8.
The bully was not always just a delinquent however. Some bullies had relationships with prostitutes that lasted many years and some gravitated towards more of a gangster role.
Davey Rees and Ann Green first worked together in the China slum of Merthyr Tydfil in 1851. They came to Cardiff soon after and ran The Cornish Arms at 38 Charlotte Street, staying together until 1856. This was a step-up from the bully/prostitute role as Davey and Ann could now get rent money from the other girls in the house, have a base to fence stolen goods and also sell beer. A similar arrangement existed with Harry Kickup and Rachel Holiday who ran The King's Head at 30 Charlotte Street. Rachel had been a prostitute for years and their relationship, though starting as a bully/prostitute role, lasted for eleven years until she died.

The bullies were often the primary thieves in the partnership, the woman brought in the victim so the bully could steal their money and valuables. Here a man picks up 17 year old Kesiah Jones from the doorway of Mrs Prothero's brothel in 1839 and they go 'to talk' down the street. In the shadows there's a surprise waiting in the form of Liverpool Dick:
1839 March 9th Cardiff Merthyr Guardian p.2. 'Maria' Jones is an error.
Richard Edwards alias 'Liverpool Dick' got 15 years transportation for this theft, Kesiah was released. This was what usually ended the bullies career-  they stole the money so they did the time.
The bully shadowed the girls on the streets and inside the brothels and beerhouses. Here Frank Clark helps one of his girls Ann Lewis take a purse from a ship master in 1851:
1851 October 25th Cardiff Merthyr Guardian p.2.
The bully would also intimidate the victim after the theft like here where Mary Tremain and Catherine Atkins alias 'Kitty Pig Eyes' robbed a mark:
1849 November 2nd The Principality p.5.
The beerhouses and brothels on Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane often had resident bullies that were hired by the landlady or brothel keeper- they did all of the above jobs for all the women in the house, sort of a bouncer role. Bill Jones is house bully here at the Noah's Ark on Charlotte Street in 1851:
HO107/2455 F537 p.26
He later worked for Mary the Cripple at The Farmer's Arms.
William Evans was house bully at Cora Clark's brothel on Whitmore Lane in 1851. She was the sister of the bully Frank Clark (see above) and one of her girls was Kitty Pig's Eyes (also see above):
HO107/2455 F257 p.2.
Mary Prothero's brothel has her grandson James Loynes (erroneously written as Thomas Loynes here) as her bully:

HO107/2455 F267 p.23.
Where the brothel owners were men, as in the case of the brothers Bill and Ned Llewellyn, they also acted as bully for the women in their house.
1846 August 8th Cardiff Merthyr Guardian p.2.
Ned would stand outside his brothel door smoking and keeping an eye out for his women most nights, or patrol the streets looking out for them. When he saw they were in trouble- it didn't matter if the girls were getting aggro from drunken seamen or being taken in by the police- he'd pounce:
1851 August 2nd Cardiff Merthyr Guardian p.3.
This was by no means the rule however and some brothels such as Mary Wright's (The Quiet Brothel), which was in business for over 15 years, is never recorded as having a bully. Not all of the prostitutes kept bullies either, they often worked for themselves or from the safety of an established brothel but the bully was often hard to avoid:
1850 October 5th Cardiff Merthyr Guardian p.3.
Given the bullies propensity for extreme violence it is worth pointing out that only two people died from bully assaults, in 1847 and 1851. Of course there were plenty more broken bones, popped out eyeballs, cracked ribs and bruises but cholera, smallpox, consumption and other diseases linked with poverty were the main killers on Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane. You were more in danger from the water and the air around you than you were from any bully.

The life stories of Ned Llewellyn, Davey Rees, Ann Green, Kitty Pigs Eyes, Kesiah Jones, Cora Clark, and Mrs Prothero are all in my upcoming book Notorious, about thirty years on these two streets. To read about the book see here.

All images are from the excellent Welsh Newspapers Online site run by the National Library of Wales. This article in its current form is copyright Anthony Rhys 2017.

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