Monday 5 December 2011


SINGULAR MODE OF LIFE.—In a recent assault case brought before the Clerkenwell Police-court, a most extraordinary character appeared as a witness. This individual, whose name is Smith, is notorious about the purlieus of Field-lane and Saffron-hill as "The Jumper." The man is by profession a thorough subterranean rat-catcher, for tlae supply of those who keep sporting dogs. One half of Jumper's life is spent in quest of prey from the whole range of the sewerage of London. Furnished with a bull's-eye lanthorn, a good-sized folding trap, and a short rake, he enters the main sewer at the foot of Blackfriars Bridge, and pursues his dangerous avocation, waist deep in mud and filth of every description. The sewers literally swarm with rats, which he catches by hand, and places them in his cage as easy as if they were young kittens. His under-ground journeys extend for miles. He has been under Newgate, and along Cheapside to the Mansion House. He has traversed from Holborn to Islington, closely inspecting all the divergent passages or fragrant tributaries that fall into the "Cloacina maxima" of the mighty metropolis. In fact he would make an excellent chairman for the Board of Commissioners in Greek-street, under whose premises he has rambled in his pursuit of game. On one occasion an obstruction occurred to a drain at the foot of Holborn-hill, and "Jumper" being known in the neighbourhood, was applied to. Terms were speedily agreed upon; Jumper started off to the foot of Blackfriars Bridge, and in half an hour his voice was heard down the gully-hole; he speedily cleared away the obstruction, and received his reward, thus saving the expense of breaking up the roadway. It is not, however, to the rats alone that Jumper pays his attention: he frequently falls in with a rich prize, particularly in the City sewers. On one occasion he found a silk purse, containing gold and silver; on another a gold watch and seals, numbers of silver spoons, rings, and other articles of value. A few months since Jumper took on a pupil for the profession a person named Harris, one bred up to the horse-slaughtering business - but after a month's trial he gave it up, observing that he could stand a tidy bit, but he could'nt stand "that are," and so Jumper remains the "monarch of all he surveys." His right, however, has been disputed by one Lord Mayor, who threatened him with imprisonment on the ground of trespassing; Jumper, however, still pursues his fragrant calling. He has been three times attacked with typhus fever, but rapidly recovered on each occasion.—"Jumper" may be seen on Sundays, well dressed, and generally with a watch in his pocket, and, in short, he would make a very worthy and practical "commissioner of sewers." It may be added, that the rats bring him in from one shilling to eighteen-pence a dozen, and so conversant is he with their haunts or burrows, that he requires but a couple of hours' notice to produce any given quantity from a dozen to a hundred. Strange to say, this most extraordinary character is at present in good health, and follows his vocation with the greatest assiduity.

The Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet, and General Advertiser, October 3 1851

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