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Dicky Lumskull’s Ramble Through London

July 10, 2015
by the gentle author

Courtesy of Mike Henbrey, it is my pleasure to publish this three-hundred-year-old ballad of the London streets and the trades you might expect to find in each of them, as printed and published by J. Pitts, Wholesale Toy & Marble Warehouse, 6 Great St Andrew Street, Seven Dials

Copyright © Mike Henbrey Collection


by Spitalfields Life Contributing Slang Lexicographer Jonathon Green

Bellman – one who rings a bell and makes announcements, a town crier
Clogger – a clogmaker
Cropper – one who operates a shearing machine, either for metal or cloth
Currier – one whose trade is the dressing and colouring of leather after it is tanned
Edger – is presumably Edgeware
Fingersmith – a pickpocket
Gauger – an exciseman, especially who who checks measurements of liquor
Lumper – a labourer, especially on the docks
Shees (Wentworth St) – a misprint for shoes [nothing in OED]
Tow hackler (or Heckler) – one who dresses tow, i.e. unworked flax, with a heckle, a form of comb, splitting and straightening the fibres
Triangles – my sense is that these are triangular, filled pastries [again, nothing in OED]
NOTELumskull is not in my Green’s Dictionary of Slang nor indeed the OED where one might have expected it as an alternative spelling of num(b)scull/num(b)skull. Seems to combine that word and lummocks/lummox.

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. July 10, 2015

    In Greenwich I made wooden legs

    Blimey if that was an occupation there must have been quite a demand!

  2. Greg Tingey permalink
    July 10, 2015

    Come across the ballad “London’s Ordinary” ??

    Refers to all the pubs (as of then) & the “trades” that frequented them.
    One or two of those refreshment-houses still exist.
    Here goes:

    Through Royal Exchange as I walked,
    Where gents in satin did shine,
    At midst of the day they parted away,
    At several places to dine.

    The gentry went to The King’s Head,
    The nobles unto The Crown,
    The Knights unto the Golden Fleece,
    And the ploughmen to The Clown.

    The clergy will dine at The Mitre,
    The vintners’ at The Three Tuns,
    The usurers’ to the Devil will go,
    And the Friars unto The Nuns!

    The Ladies will dine at The Feathers,
    The Globe no captain will scorn,
    The huntsman will go to The Greyhound below,
    And some townsmen to The Horn.

    The plumber will dine at The Fountain,
    The cooks at The Holy Lamb,
    The drunkards at noon to The Man in the Moon,
    And the cuckolds to The Ram.

    The roarers will dine at The Lion,
    The watermen at The Old Swan,
    The bawds will to The Negro goe,
    And the whores to The Naked Man.

    The keepers will to The White Hart,
    The mariners unto The Ship,
    The beggars they must take their way
    To The Eggshell, and the Whip.

    The farriers will to The Horse,
    The blacksmiths unto The Lock,
    The butchers to The Pull will go,
    And the carmen to Bridewell Dock.

    The fishmongers unto The Dolphin,
    The bakers to The Cheap Loaf,
    The turners unto The Ladle will go,
    Where they may merrily quaff.

    The tailor will dine at The Shoe,
    The shoemakers will to The Boot,
    The Welshmen, they will take their way,
    And dine at the sign of The Goat.
    The hosiers will dine at The Leg,
    The drapers at the sign of The Brush,
    The fletchers to Robin Hood will go,
    And the spendthrifts to Beggars’ Bush.

    The pewterers will to The Quart Pot,
    The coopers will dine at The Hoop,
    The cobblers to The Last will go,
    And the bargemen to The Scoop.

    The carpenters will dine at The Axe,
    The colliers will dine at The Sack,
    Your fewterer, he to The Cherry Tree,
    Good fellows, no liquor will lack.

    The goldsmiths to The Three Cups,
    Their money they count as dross,
    Your puritan to The Pewter Can,
    And your papist to The Cross.

    The weavers will dine at The Shuttle,
    The glovers will unto The Glove,
    The maidens’ all to The Maidenhead,
    And true-lovers unto The Dove.

    The saddlers will dine at The Saddle,
    The painters to The Green Dragon,
    The Dutchman will go to the sign of The Vrouw,
    Where each man may drink his flagon.

    The chandlers will dine at The Scales,
    The salters the sign of The Bag,
    The porters take pain at The Labour in Vain,
    And the horse-coursers at The White Nag.

    Thus every man in his humour,
    From North unto the South,
    But he that hath no money in his purse,
    May dine at the sign of The Mouth.

    The swaggerers may dine at The Fencer,
    But those that have lost their wits,
    With Bedlam Tom let there be their home,
    And The Drum the drummers best fit.

    The cheater will dine at The Chequer,
    The pickpocket at The Blind Alehouse,
    Till taken and tried, up Holborn they ride,
    And make their end at The Gallows.

  3. Stephen Foster permalink
    July 10, 2015

    Question for you. Why is the letter “S” shown in both new and old script. Were there rules in place for when an S was an S and when S was an f 🙂

  4. Peter Holford permalink
    July 10, 2015

    A ramble through London? I was expecting places in the City and adjacent but not only does it include far flung parts of Greater London (Croydon, Hounslow) but also places well beyond (Watford, Wolverhampton and Birmingham). I guess we must allow for artistic licence. Nevertheless very interesting.

  5. the gentle author permalink*
    July 10, 2015

    Note the reference to The White Hart in Bishopsgate, the thirteenth century inn that Sir Alan Sugar demolished this spring

  6. Adrian Prockter permalink
    July 11, 2015

    The lines in the blog are dated by references to ‘Blackfriars Bridge’ and ‘Blackfriars Road’ which did not come into existence until after 1769 (the opening year). The lines therefore refer to a time around 1780 at the earliest – probably 1800 – making them just over 200 years old, certainly not 300 years old as stated.

  7. the gentle author permalink*
    July 11, 2015

    There are versions of this ballad with minor variations – such as you pointed out- that have been floating around for three centuries. This particular specimen probably dates from the 1820s

  8. Adrian Prockter permalink
    July 11, 2015

    The mention of the ‘wooden legs’ (noticed by Caroline Bottomley) probably refers to the old seamen’s home (better known today as the Royal Naval College) which housed hundreds of retired seamen. Many of them would have lost a leg in sea battles. So there was probably quite a large demand for those legs.

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