Sunday, 20 August 2017

Mary No-Nose: Cardiff Prostitute Nicknames

Cranky & Bristol Ann have a fight in 1841.
Nicknames were common throughout Wales, especially with lots of people having the same names. They were also used a lot among the criminal fraternity. This post looks at the nicknames of Cardiff prostitutes working on Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane in the 1840's to the 1860's.
There's no doubt they were in common use among the inhabitants of Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane as they are often recounted in conversations from witnesses. They were definitely not given by officials or outsiders. They were used so much that people would be unaware of their real names, like this example from 1847 on Whitmore Lane:


Many of the nicknames just identified the women by where they came from:
Kitty Pen Bont: Catherine Williams was from Bridgend (Penybont). She's the earliest reference to a working girl and was arrested at Mr Barnes pub in 1833 after stealing a watch from a punter with her bully.
Chepstow Mary: Eliza Davies worked on Charlotte Street in 1841.
Swansea Sue: Living on King Street, Swansea in 1841, Susan Davies moved to work on Charlotte Street and the Lane in 1848. In 1851 she was working in Ned Llewellyn's brothel on Whitmore Lane:
She worked as a prostitute until the early 1860's. I'll be writing a separate blogpost on Swansea Sue soon.
Welsh Kate: Also sometimes 'Welsh Kit'. Catherine Thomas worked on Whitmore Lane from 1841 to 1846. She hung around with Catherine Atkins- see below- so the nickname was handy to differentiate between the two Catherines, although Catherine Atkins was Welsh too!
The Great Westerns: I think this is a geographical reference. Mary Williams and Eliza Thomas were the Great Westerns in 1842.
Irish Kate: Charlotte Thompson is an unusually late reference to a nickname in 1871.
Irish Mary Ann: Mary Ann Hill in 1842. 
Irish Joanna: Joanna Mahoney worked the Lane from 1842 to 1844.
Irish Meg: Margaret Sullivan/John worked on Charlotte Street and the Lane for at least 23 years from 1851 until 1874. Not to be confused with Irish Mag who was Margaret Keyhole. At times Meg was a very successful thief:
£33 pounds in 1861 was a hell of a lot of money, many thousands of pounds today.
Here she is doing a ten year stretch in Parkhurst prison in 1868. She's one of the people in my Notorious book.
Bristol Ann: Ann Daniels worked on Whitmore Lane 1841-4.
Bristol Annie: Ann Daw stabbed a sailor she was co-habiting with in 1861 on Frederica Street.
Bristol Eliza: See the blogpost 'The Whore and the Mayoress' to read about Bristol Eliza.
Blackwood: Blackwood is a town in the county of Caerphilly. Ann Thomas worked the Lane from around 1846-7 and she was friends with Catherine Atkins (see below).
Abergavenny Poll: Hannah Goodwin, from Abergavenny, was active 1850-8 until she got seven years for a brothel theft and ended up in Brixton prison. She flitted between Cardiff and the China slum in Merthyr.
Ann Pendarren: From either Penderyn near Merthyr Tydfil or Penydarren in Merthyr Tydfil Ann Llewellyn hit it big at the lodging house of William Pimm in 1861:
Plymouth Eliza: I've not traced her real name, nickname is only known from a police court witness statement from January 1848.
Bristol Lizzy: Again, not traced her real name, one mention in a police report from The Royal Standard pub on Bute Street in 1859. Not the same as Bristol Eliza above as she died in 1851.
English Mary: Not many of the prostitutes were English so Mary stood out in this way. Welsh were the majority, then Irish, then English. Evidence again comes from The Royal Standard Police report. It could be Mary Ann Huntley or Mary Ann Bailey for example, there's a few to choose from who were picked up from this time.
Nailsey Poll: Nailsea is a town southwest of Bristol. Real name unknown as it's in a list of prostitutes found in a Bute Street pub in 1861.

Physical Descriptions

Big Jane: Jane Thomas worked on Whitmore Lane in 1841 and was in the China slum in Merthyr by 1847. She wasn't too big to be threatened with the stocks in 1841:
Mary Fat: Mary Jones worked on Whitmore Lane in 1844-1846.
Betsey Bounce: I assume this is a physical charactertistic. She assaulted Jane Thomas, probably Jane Fine-Talk' in 1842 with another prostitute and her real name is not given.
Mary the Cripple: Though always a brothel keeper rather than a prostitute Mary the Cripple was disabled since birth and started off in Newport. Read more about her Newport life here. Her sister Catherine Hughes was known as 'Long Kit' or 'Katty', her daughter Elizabeth Jenkins was known as 'Bets the Cripple', 'Betty Yarwood' and 'Cripple Junior' and her other daughter Ann Yarwood was 'The Young Cripple', though the name is not reported after she moved to Cardiff in 1853.
Kitty Pigs Eyes: Catherine Atkins from Cardiff had this rather unfortunate nickname. She worked from 1844 to 1853. Here she is ashaming policemen. Kitty is one of my Notorious people.

Sarah Nips: Sarah Clarke was a prostitute working in the China area of Merthyr until the autumn of 1849 when she came to Charlotte Street. She stayed working in the sex-trade there for the next twenty years, running brothels and pubs. She was running the brothel that Kitty Pigs' Eyes was working in by 1851. Her nickname was not reported in the papers in Cardiff so she perhaps left it behind in Merthyr (though there were very close links between China and Whitmore Lane). She became 'Cora' from the mid 1850's. The Nips nickname could be sexual or from 'nipper' a term for someone small.
Carrots: The probably ginger-haired Ann Moore started prostitution in Newport in 1852 when she was aged just 14. She moved to Charlotte Street at the start of 1854 and was working in Jenny Piano's brothel at 16 Whitmore Lane in 1861. You can read more about her on the blog about Jenny Piano.
Little Jenny: She was listed as one of the women in The Argyle Rooms on Bute Road in 1861. 


Cranky: Mary Rees was obviously a bit moody! She worked on Whitmore Lane in 1841-8.
Mary No-Nose: Maybe Cranky had an accident as Mary No-Nose was a Mary Rees too in 1842.
Betsy Fine-Talk: Elizabeth Lewis obviously had the gift of the gab in 1842.
Jane Fine-Talk: Jane Thomas also had the gift of the gab in 1842.
Miss Molly Crankey: Mary Brewer was also moody in the early 1840's!
Mrs Fillpots: Maria Meyrick moved to Charlotte Street from the Friar's Fields area of Newport in 1845 after she was severely assaulted by her pimp. She appears to have been victimised after he got fifteen years transportation to Australia for the assault. Mrs Fillpots was a character in a 1837 comedy play 'Women's Whims' which may have been shown at Newport. Mrs Fillpots is the landlady of a pub in the play. It obviously refers to Maria's heavy drinking. Maria Meyrick worked in Cardiff until she was transported herself in 1850.
The Grenadier: Mary Lawson was from Cheshire and tall and heavily built, Grenadiers in the army had to be tall- hence the nickname. She worked Whitmore Lane from 1846 until 1856 and appears in the book.
The Little Punch: Ann Owens was five foot and a half inch tall. She also had a mean punch by the sounds of it. She started her life in prostitution aged just 12 in Swansea and moved to Charlotte Street and the Lane in 1850. in 1851 she was working for Mrs Prothero in her brothel along with the Grenadier:
More about The Little Punch can be found in my blog about prostitute tattoes here. In this report she's involved in a brothel robbery with Thomas Thomas, Mrs Prothero's son-in-law:

Nicknames were sometimes reported in official prison records, like in Millbank Prison in 1865 where Ann Morgan is alias Owens alias Punch:


Cockatoo: Mary Ann Jones was a prostitute and brothel keeper who started in Newport in 1843 and moved to Charlotte Street in 1851. She worked there until she got a 14 year sentence for theft in 1855. God only knows how she got the nickname of Cockatoo, perhaps a sexual reference.
Jenny Piano: Jane Roberts was active on Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane 1848 until 1864. There's a blog post about her life here. I think the most obvious reason for the nickname is she played the piano in the pubs.
All for Love: Eliza Thomas was obviously committed to her job in 1847.
Sancta Maria: This is the only example I have of a woman's nickname changing over time. In Newport Bridget Kelly worked the Friar's Fields area from 1839 and was known as Sancta Maria, I thought she was an Irish Roman Catholic but she was a Protestant, so I'm unsure of why the nickname stuck.  When she moved to Cardiff in 1846 she became known as Sandy Maria and then Saucy Maria, references to her hair colour and her occupation! She was transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1851 aboard the Aurora.

The historian is chained by their sources. It's a sad fact for this book that the Newport and Merthyr press were more likely to give nicknames in their newspaper reports of criminal trials than the Cardiff press. Cardiff was slow to report it's court cases and there are hundreds of newspapers from the 1840's that give a paragraph of court cases from places like Neath, Merthyr and Swansea but nothing at all from Cardiff. The reporting of nicknames was more common in the 1840's, declined through the 1850's and was rare in the 1860's. Newport papers in the 1840's obviously sent a reporter to the courts who often gave highly descriptive reports of it's criminals and their speech, like this one of 'Mrs Fillpots' from 1843:

I love the 'And thank ye, sir' at the end.
Sandy Maria, Kitty Pigs' Eyes, Irish Meg, The Little Punch, Mary the Cripple, Mrs Fillpots, Sarah Nips and The Grenadier are all main people in my upcoming book 'Notorious' about thirty years on Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane 1841-1870.

Chepstow Mary: 1841 July 10th p.3. Monmouthshire Merlin
Swansea Sue: 1848 June 23rd p.5. The Principality
1852 March 1st p.4. Cardiff & Merthyr Guardian
Welsh Kate: 1846 June 20th p.2. MM
Irish Kate: CT 1871 October 14th p.8.
Irish Mary Ann: CMG 1842 November 5th p.3.
Irish Joanna: 1842 December 24th p.3. Cardiff & Merthyr Guardian
Irish Meg: 1861 May 24th p.6. Cardiff Times
Bristol Ann: 1841 September p.3. The Welshman
Bristol Annie: 1861 August 30th CT p.5.
Ann Pendarren: 1861 August 31 p.5. CMG
The Great Westerns: 1842 August 6th p.3. The Cambrian
Plymouth Eliza: Glamorgan Record Office PSCBO/1/5 3rd January 1848
Bristol Lizzy & English Mary are from GRO PSCBO/1/24 1st June 1859.
Nailsey Poll: PSCBO/1/33 John Golledge 2nd September 1861.

Big Jane: 1841 June 18th p.2. The Welshman
Mary Fat: 1846 June 13th p.3. MM
Betsey Bounce: 1842 October 1st CMG p.4.
Kitty Pigs' Eyes: 1849 August 18th p.1. CMG
Little Jenny: PSCBO/1/33 John Golledge 7th August 1861.

Cranky: 1841 September 17th p.3. The Welshman
Miss Molly Crankey: 1842 November 12th p.3.CMG
Mary No-Nose: 1842 August 6th p.3. The Cambrian
Mrs Fillpots: 1843 August 19th Glamorgan Monmouth Brecon & Merthyr Gazette
Betsy Fine-Talk: 1842 December 24th p.3. CMG
Jane Fine-Talk: 1842 November 5th p.3. CMG

Cockatoo: 1847 July 17 p.3. MM
All For Love: 1847 March 27th p.2. CMG
Sarah Nips: 1849 April 6th p.8. The Principality
Last report: 1843 September 9th p.3. MM

No comments:

Post a Comment