An Eastender Speaks Out Against the Riots
Monday a deputation from the parish of Bethnal Green waited upon Mr Peel to request that some measures might be devised to suppress the dreadful riots and outrages that take place every night in the parish, by a lawless gang of thieves, consisting of five or six hundred. The gang rendezvous in a brick-field at the top of Spicer St, Spitalfields, and out-posts are stationed to give an alarm, should any of the civil power approach, and their cry is “Warhawk,” as a signal for retreat.
On the brick kilns in this field they cook whatever meat and potatoes they plunder from the various shops in the neighbourhood, in the open day and in the face of the shopkeeper. Their outrages have been of the daring kind, there are now no less than five individuals lying in the London Infirmary, without hopes of recovery, that have fallen into the hands of the gang. Within the last fortnight upwards of fifty persons have been robbed, and cruelly beaten, and one of the gang was seen one day last week to produce amongst some of his associates, nearly half-a-hat-full of watches.
Mr Peel gave immediate orders for a detachment of Horse Patrol to be stationed day and night in the neighbourhood, and on Friday morning a party of forty men, to be under the jurisdiction of the Magistrates of Worship St Police Office, were mounted, they are a party of able-bodied men who have held situations in the army, accoutred with cutlasses, pistols, and blunderbusses. They will be in constant communication with forty of the dismounted patrol. The dismounted are divided into parties, and are stationed at the following posts, viz – Cambridge Heath Gate, Mile End Gate, Whitechapel Church, London Apprentice Gate, and near the Regent’s Canal in the Mile End Rd. Both parties are to remain on duty till five o’clock in the morning.
On Friday, being market day at Smithfield, the gang were on the look out for beasts, and we hear that, as early as six in the morning, two bullocks were taken from a drove. On Wednesday, a bullock was rescued from them in the Kingsland Rd, and after being secured in Clement’s barn till the gang had been dispersed, it was conveyed home to its owner, Mr Alexander, in Whitechapel market.
It was reported, that Mr Sykes, the proprietor of the ham and beef shop in Winchester St, Hare St fields, had died on Friday in the London Hospital, of the dreadful injuries he received from the gang, but we are happy to say he is still alive. It seems that Mr Sykes had only set up in business a few days, when about eight o’clock in the evening, about twenty fellows came round his shop, armed with sticks, he suspected they intended an attack, and for security got behind the counter, when the whole gang came in, and seizing a buttock of beef and a ham, ran out of the shop. He endeavoured to prevent them by putting out his arm, when one of them, with a hatchet or hammer, stuck him a tremendous blow which broke it in a dreadful manner, it has been since amputated, and he now lies in a very bad state. The gang then went into a baker’s shop and helped themselves to bread, and afterwards adjourned to the brick-field, and ate the provisions in a very short time.
It would be too tedious to state the numerous outrages that have been committed, but there is reason now to hope, that the establishment of the horse patrol, and the conviction on Thursday of three of them, at the Old Bailey, for attacking and robbing Mr Fuller, will be the means of routing them altogether.
September 24th 1826