Monday, 4 May 2015

A chance for readers to have a say...

Good morning guys;

It seems strange this morning, getting up and not having a project to post about.

My A - Z of Victorian Crime and Culture was fun, but was over all too quickly.

I am keen to keep up some momentum with engaging with those of you who have read / are reading my 'Borough Boys' series of novels.

On that basis, this is a chance for each of you to tell me whether there is anything that you would like to know about me, my writing, my stories, my characters or Victorian Leicester.

Please let me know if there is anything I can offer...



Sunday, 3 May 2015

An A - Z of Victorian Crime and Culture - X,Y and Z are for...

Despite my best efforts, I cannot find anything that is relevant, or of such interest to readers of the Borough Boys series of novels, under the final three letters of our wonderful alphabet, to merit inclusion.

I hope you have enjoyed the brief insight I have offered over the last three weeks, and I shall include much of the content in future glossaries in each new novel.

Thank you all.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

An A - Z of Victorian Crime and Culture - W is for...

W is for - work capitol... Victorian slang for committing a crime carrying the death penalty, which at certain points in early Victorian times, wasn't difficult. 

In the 17th century the number of offences carrying the death penalty numbered about 50, but this soared to to 160 by 1750 and to more than 200 (222, exactly) by 1815  -  giving rise to the name the Bloody Code.

However, people began to complain at the triviality of many capital offences, and slowly the death penalty was considered for only the most serious crimes.

W is for - Welsh... No, not the population of Wales, but to inform...thus a 'welsher' was an informant. It should actually have been written as 'welch' but illiteracy saw the derivation!

W is for - Workhouse... the worst case scenario for many poor, where they would receive a roof over their heads, poor food, in return for hard labour. Many considered it a worse option than imprisonment, and chose crime and begging as a more tolerable option. The workhouse in Leicester, overlooking the railway on Sparkenhoe Street, was still a miserable and daunting building in later years. (See my other earlier entry under 'Spike').

In 1838, the Poor Law Commissioners authorised the union to spend the sum of £9,600 on a workhouse to accommodate 600 inmates. During 1837, before the new workhouse was ready, there was a depression in Leicester's hosiery trade and the Board of Guardians agreed not to impose the workhouse test but instead to continue allowing out-relief. This changed at the end of the year and, for the able-bodied poor at least, all that was offered was admission to one of the three interim workhouses in which segregation of the sexes was introduced. The strength of opposition to these caused a change of heart and out-relief was reintroduced. Another severe depression in the winter of 1841-2 resulted in around 5,000 claimants being give out-relief. In the spring of 1842, the Guardians tried to introduce a labour test where out-relief was given in return for daily manual labour, usually in the form of stone breaking. Violent riots resulted which were only quelled with military assistance.

Friday, 1 May 2015

An A - Z of Victorian Crime and Culture - V is for....

V is for - Vagrancy Act... In 1824 The government of the UK passed this legislation to deal with the repercussions of the Napoleonic Wars, and the high numbers of wounded, traumatised or displaced ex-miltsry who took to sleeping rough, begging and committing a range of nuisance offences through to crimes against property and people.

The act was still in force when I joined the police in 1976 and was used throughout my service. It contained the infamous or notorious 'Sus' powers so maligned in the seventies and beyond, but many offences remained as valid in my service as they had been intended in 1824.

The act contained some wonderful wordings and offences...

Every person committing any of the offences herein-before mentioned, after having been convicted as an idle and disorderly person; [F2every person pretending or professing to tell fortunes, or using any subtle craft, means, or device, by palmistry or otherwise, to deceive and impose on any of his Majesty’s subjects;] every person wandering abroad and lodging in any barn or outhouse, or in any deserted or unoccupied building, or in the open air, or under a tent, or in any cart or waggon, [F3not having any visible means of subsistence] and not giving a good account of himself or herself; [F4every person wilfully exposing to view, in any street, road, highway, or public place, any obscene print, picture, or other indecent exhibition]; every person wilfully openly, lewdly, and obscenely exposing his person [F5in any street, road, or public highway, or in the view thereof, or in any place of public resort,] with intent to insult any female; every person wandering abroad, and endeavouring by the exposure of wounds or deformities to obtain or gather alms; every person going about as a gatherer or collector of alms, or endeavouring to procure charitable contributions of any nature or kind, under any false or fraudulent pretence . . . F6 . . . F7every person being found in or upon any dwelling house, warehouse, coach-house, stable, or outhouse, or in any inclosed yard, garden, or area, for any unlawful purpose; [F8every suspected person or reputed thief, frequenting any river, canal, or navigable stream, dock, or basin, or any quay, wharf, or warehouse near or adjoining thereto, or any street, highway, or avenue leading thereto, or any place of public resort, or any avenue leading thereto, or any street, [F9or any highway or any place adjacent to a street or highway;] with intent to commit [F10an arrestable offence]]; and every person apprehended as an idle and disorderly person, and violently resisting any constable, or other peace officer so apprehending him or her, and being subsequently convicted of the offence for which he or she shall have been so apprehended; shall be deemed a rogue and vagabond, within the true intent and meaning of this Act;and [F11, subject to section 70 of The Criminal Justice Act 1982,] it shall be lawful for any justice of the peace to commit such offender (being thereof convicted before him by the confession of such offender, or by the evidence on oath of one or more credible witness or witnesses,) to the house of correction, . . . F12 for any time not exceeding three calendar months; . . . F13, and . . . F14]

Those voices in my head...

The voices inside my head have finally started, once again. I have been struggling with how to adapt the work I have already under...