Whitechapel in the Nineteenth Century

Whitechapel in the Nineteenth Century

The development of Whitechapel as the hub of the East End of London is a discernibly 19th century phenomenon. Along with certain territories of Manchester, Whitechapel was perceived to be such a lair of working category sordidness that it helped to animate Engels to compose his review of capitalist society integrating his decision that the position quo could non be maintained for every bit long as work forces and adult females lived within the corruption he witnessed in the East End of London. With the historical tool of hindsight it is just to state that Whitechapel has played the function of the most disruptive yet besides most challenging portion of London with ill-famed figures such as Jack the Ripper and the Elephant Man populating within the country and everlastingly tarring the territory with Victorian ideals of segregation and dirt.

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For the intents of this essay a chronological analysis of Whitechapel will be adopted to foreground how the country evolved over the class of the 19th century to see how the territory became a microcosm of the broader Victorian province at big. An scrutiny of the structural, economic, societal and political subtext of the country will likewise be necessary to grok the myriad of external forces that constituted the volatile territory of Whitechapel.

At the start of the 19th century Whitechapel was small different to urban Centres in other English metropoliss. However, the coming of industrialization brought with it tremendous sociological jobs that greatly affected London’s East End. To to the full understand the displacement in society, a glimpse at the facts and figures is necessary. At the beginning of the 19th century, approximately 20 % of the population in England and Wales lived in towns with over 5 000 occupants. By 1851 this figure had risen to over 50 % , and by the beginning of the 20th century it stood at over 80 % . [ 1 ] Even Londoners were unaccustomed to in-migration to the capital on the graduated table that was seen after the 1840’s when the Potato Blight bequeathed an hegira of Irish immigrants to Whitechapel, fall ining the bing societal runing pot along with Eastern Europeans and Jews.

Whitechapel therefore transformed itself from a market country ( centred upon the next country of Spitalfields and its celebrated unfastened air market ) into an country of urban lodging based upon this inflow of immigrants. There were few mills in the country itself during the first half of the 19th century ; instead many work forces worked as stevedores, which established the country as a transeunt economic system characterised by a changeless province of flux sing the people who lived in Whitechapel. Indeed, the about complete deficiency of economic and societal stableness for occupants of Whitechapel was one of the grounds why The Ripper was ne’er caught ; really few occupants left any hint that they of all time existed.

Whereas work forces led subsistence degree lives founded upon meagre rewards, the batch of the Whitechapel adult female was even worse, peculiarly when one considers that many were immature misss who had fled to the country from adversity in some other portion of the state or, as was merely as common, from Ireland. Prostitution was prevailing ensuing in a figure of 20000 cocottes working in London entirely in 1860 [ 2 ] with a great many of these operating in and acclaiming from Whitechapel.

The structural and architectural visual aspect of Whitechapel in the 19th century reflected Victorian attitudes refering the working categories, who were considered a plague. In 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act established the widely despised workhouses as establishments of the deprived and many Whitechapel occupants found themselves passing clip in these province prisons, although conditions on the street were small better. The back streets and houses in Whitechapel were cramped near together with the consequence that up to three households lived together in a two sleeping room home. Housing was in the control of single local landlords and non the council with the consequence that eviction was a common characteristic of life in the country.

“The relationship between landlord and renter might be elementary but it could in certain fortunes become a important focal point for societal struggle, and it was in any instance an of import component in the texture of mundane life.” [ 3 ]

As a consequence most occupants lived on a day?to?day footing with employment prone to extreme fluctuations and mortality rates highly high, particularly in comparing to the richer West End of the metropolis. Sanitation was an issue merely tackled by Westminster in the 2nd half of the nineteenth with the passing of the Public Health Act ( 1875 ) though the job in Whitechapel was one of overcrowding, which this measure did nil to relieve. Sever cholera eruptions in Whitechapel in 1830 and 1866 underlined the marginalization of the community from the remainder of the metropolis.

Testimony to Whitechapel’s historical world as an country of want in Victorian London can be viewed via the charities and infirmaries that had their generation in the territory. The Royal London Hospital was already established by 1757 but its growing intothemedical Centre for London’s hapless and infirm was cemented during the 1800’s. The Salvation Army and Dr. Barnardo’s similarly both have their roots in Whitechapel with Barnardo inspired to set?up his infirmary in Stepney Causeway due to the bad luck he witnessed as a pupil at the Royal London Hospital.

Conditionss in Whitechapel remained good below the criterion of life for the balance of the century, though increased province intercession had at least recognised the gravitation of the job. Late Victorian altruists such as Henry Mayhew and Charles Booth conducted research in the country offering the undermentioned decision.

“Bad conditions, poorness, inebriation, harlotry, imploring and hooking went together. Children in such topographic points appeared to be born felons, and in the ulterior 19th century, as Darwinism made its impact, anthropologists pondered the seemingly familial nature of criminality.” [ 4 ]

The morning of the 20th century did small to relieve the overcrowding, structural devolution and high mortality rates of Whitechapel – the widespread support for Oswald Mosley’s anti?democratic inclinations in the 1930’s testimony to a century of political, economic and societal disregard.


P. Ackroyd,London: the Biography( Vintage ; London, 2001 )

P. Bartley,The Changing Role of Women, 1815?1914( Hodder & A ; Stoughton ; London, 1996 )

G.D.H. Cole & A ; R. Postgate,The Common People, 1746?1946( Routledge ; London & As ; New York, 1992 )

M. Harkness,In Darkest London( Black Apollo Press ; London, 2003 )

R.B. Mowat,The Victorian Age( Senate ; London, 1995 )

E. Royle,Modern Britain: a Social History, 1750?1985( Hodder & A ; Stoughton ; London, 1991 )

F.M.L. Thompson ( Edtd. ) ,The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750?1950: Peoples and their Environment( Cambridge University Press ; Cambridge, 1990 )

G.M. Trevelyan,English Social History( Penguin ; London, 2000 )

A.S. Wohl,Endangered Lifes: Public Health in Victorian Britain( London: Dent, 1983 )

Selected Articles

M.J. Daunton,Housing, quoted in, F.M.L. Thompson ( Edtd. ) ,The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750?1950: Peoples and their Environment( Cambridge University Press ; Cambridge, 1990 )

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