So for my London: A Cultural History class, we read some raunchy and horrifying stuff. This weeks shocker was simply too tantalizing not to share, so I’m going to relay the snippet for you guys. Uhh.. enjoy?
But, to end with a beggar, or at least someone who aspired to begging: Elizabeth Evans was probably a prostitute — at least when asked about the father of her bastard daughter, she names three or four possibilities — but more importantly, she was a woman living at the edge of London society. She shared a bed with Sophia Claxton in a cheap lodging house and on the night of 9 February 1740 went into labor. She did not tell her bedfellow, but in the morning Claxton found the dead body of a newborn female infant wrapped in a linen cloth. The midwife was called, and Evans was taxed with the death. She vehemently denied it, asserting that the child was born dead, but in her defense also said that “she found it dead, and therefore laid it away from her; and before she would have killed it, she would have gone a-begging with it” Begging, for Evans and for most working people in eighteenth-century London, was a realistic and even attractive proposition. A young baby was a prop to female begging so powerful that many claimed there was a well-established agency to satisfy the demand somewhere in the depths of St. Giles. Presented with a child, Evan’s first thought was how she could use the baby to construct a begging persona to access the resources her new position as a pauper mother would then deserve.
… those beggars. Some real classy broads.
[[By the way, that was taken from Begging on the Streets of Eighteenth-Century London by Tim Hitchcock]]