Thursday 11 February 2010

Gangs of Roughs

I've commented before on hooliganism, a topic which will feature in my next novel, but it's fascinating to note how vicious behaviour and teen gangs are not a modern phenomenon, whatever the media would have you believe (whether we have more incidents of such things, I genuinely don't know). Here's some examples ... I challenge you to read the articles below and not feel just a little bit less paranoid about modern London life.

Islington - always been a bit rough, innit?
At CLERKENWELL, JOHN GARVEY, 19, a rough-looking youth, was charged with feloniously cutting and wounding his father by stabbing him in the head and shoulder with a pocket knife. The father, William Garvey, living in Adelaide-square, New North-road, said that his son lived with him, but was very unruly. On Sunday night he was with a number of other lads outside the house, and witness, who was in bed, was disturbed by their whistling and singing. he called from the window of his bedroom to his son, telling him to be quiet or go away. Within a few minutes afterwards the prisoner rushed into his bedroom with an open knife in his hand and began abusing him for calling out of the window, and called him many bad names. Witness tried to put him out of the room. The prisoner then struck him, and witness felt the knife enter his left shoulder. A second blow was given, and the knife entered his head on the left side. They struggling for the knife, and witness got his hand cut, and lost so much blood that he became insensible. A constable was fetched, and the prisoner charged; witness afterwards finding him at the station, where his own wounds were dressed. Mr. F.J.Bucknell, M.D., of Upper-street, Islington, divisional surgeon, deposed to attending the prosecutor, who had received a stab in the left shoulder and a severe cut on the head, partially dividing the left ear. The prisoner, who when charged made no statement in defence, now said that he had nothing to say, and was fully committed for trial at the Middlesex Sessions.
The Times, 7th June, 1881
THE ISLINGTON ROUGHS. - Joseph Bonner, 19, labourer of Beaconsfield-buildings, York-road; and William Richards, 19, labourer, were charged with assaulting Constable Ross, 147 Y, while in the execution of his duty. It was stated by the police that the two prisoners belonged to a gang of roughs who were in the habit of parading the streets armed with sticks, stones, and knotted ropes, creating a disturbance by fighting among themselves, and molesting every person they met. On Sunday afternoon Police-constable Ross met a gang of about forty youths, behaving in this manner described in Charlotte-street, Islington, the two prisoners being among them. He took Richards, who was armed with a thick stick, into custody, and Bonner then struck him on the head with a knotted rope, damaging his helmet. He took the stick from Richards, but Bonner wrested it from him and struck him several violent blows on the back with it. Richards also struck him and kicked him in endeavouring to escape from custody. He let Richards go and took Bonner into custody, and Richards was apprehended on the following morning. Mr. Hosack sentenced Bonner to two months' and Richard to one month's hard labour.
Reynolds Newspaper, October 2, 1881
AT CLERKENWELL, WILLIAM BROWN, 16, schoolboy, of St. John's-square, Clerkenwell, and HENRY FOXCROFT, 18, of Mount Pleasant, Clerkenwell, were charged with having been concerned with others not in custody in discharging a loaded revolver at Arthur Hobbs with intent to do him grievous bodily harm. The prisoners were further charged with having been concerned in wounding James Page, of Milton-place, Holloway, by shooting him on the 31st ult., and also, in conjunction with others, in cutting and wounding John Agnes, by stabbing him with a knife on Sunday last. The first prosecutor, Hobbs, a sawyer, living at Southampton-street, Pentonville, stated that he was talking to a friend in Upper-street, Islington, on the evening of the 31st. ult. ,when Foxcroft assaulted him by giving him a blow on the face, knocking him down. Brown then, it was alleged, came up, stood over the prosecutor and drawing a revolver from his pocket fired one shot at the prosecutor's head. The shot appeared to have struck a man named Page, who was standing near, and who was wounded in the thigh. The injured man was attended by Dr. White, divisional surgeon, who extracted a bullet. The prisoners, after the shot was fired, ran away in the direction of Pentonville, and were not seen by the police until yesterday. The evidence of witnesses as to the first two charges was taken; but a remand was asked for to complete the cases, and for the medical evidence as to the condition of the wounded men. The prisoners were remanded for a week.
The Times, June 23rd, 1885


  1. I know! None of this surprises me. 2 years ago, I bought a book of newspaper clippings about serial killers and violence through 100 years, because I was curious if if we'd become more violent. I read a lot of newspaper clippings from the Victorian era and was stunned to see how violent people were back then, and still are today.

    People have always been violent, vicious, and abusive from long ago before the birth of films and videogames!

  2. Wanna fight?????!!!!!!

    Lee I took the liberty of putting your clipping on my page but have publicised you.If no go tell me and I'll cancel it