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').