Author Topic: Victorian Prostitution  (Read 8289 times)

Offline NooshieW

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Victorian Prostitution
« on: Sunday 06 August 06 20:12 BST (UK) »
Hi,Everyone!
We found that our great grandmother was probably and her sister was definately a child prostitute in Falmouth and their mother was a brothel keeper. How interesting we thought, although a bit of a surprise to say the least. Does anyone know anything about prostitutes in Victorian England or has anyone else found any in their family? Also ,we cannot think what turned a respectable woman running a boarding house who was a seamstress with a working husband ,into a bawdy house keeper sending her daughters to ply their trade with a husband still working. Any thoughts on this? Incidentally, they all went back to respectability shortly after.
Regards
Noosghie
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Offline Pels.

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Re: Victorian Prostitution
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 06 August 06 20:32 BST (UK) »
Hi Noosghie :)

Personally, being far too demure to read the link below
 :-[ , I do hope it educates?

http://www.hackwriters.com/victorianp.htm

Google your headline - there is a lot of info.  :o  :o

Pels  ;)
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Offline behindthefrogs

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Re: Victorian Prostitution
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 06 August 06 20:48 BST (UK) »
Prostitutes were usually recorded on the census as dressmakers or seamstresses.  So perhaps the boarding house was not quite as respectable as it seemed.

Who else was in the boarding house at census time and what were their occupations?  That might give you a clue.
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Offline NooshieW

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Re: Victorian Prostitution
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 06 August 06 21:19 BST (UK) »
Ahh - we do know that our great great grandmother was a seamstress when she was living with her parents who were farmers.  Latterly when she married she was on the census as boarding house keeper, her husband was a general labourer.   On the next census 1871 she was a brothel keeper (quite upfront about it!) and her two young daughters and the other boarders were listed as prostitutes.   When she had the boarding house she had one boarder who was a "seamstress".   We did not know that these euphemisms were used and that by 1871 they dropped the pretense and seemed to come clean as to their employment!   
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Offline liverpool annie

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Re: Victorian Prostitution
« Reply #4 on: Sunday 06 August 06 21:48 BST (UK) »


Hi Nooshie

Theres been a few threads on this very subject on RootsChat .... so you're not alone !!  ;) ;)

Biker started a thread about Social History - that maybe of some interest to you !!

http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php/topic,160707.0.html

Annie  :)
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Offline jorose

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Re: Victorian Prostitution
« Reply #5 on: Tuesday 08 August 06 10:45 BST (UK) »
It was unusual for someone to actually be listed as brothel keeper/prostitute on the census, except for those who were in prison or something of the like - maybe whoever took the census in 1871 knew them by reputation and decided to make his reporting more accurate.

http://booth.lse.ac.uk/cgi-bin/do.pl?sub=search_catalogue_pages&arg0=prostitutes&arg1=and
- some of Booth's notebooks are digitised, lots of notes about prostitution in various areas of London in the late 1890s.

It is likely that they wound up in trouble with the law at least once!  www.a2a.org.uk has some of the CRO indexes including , but I don't think there's much for the years you are interested in.  In the earlier quarter sessions, they use 'prostitute', 'whore', 'night-walker', and 'street-walker'.  You could also be charged with being a 'lewd woman', or 'lewd and disorderly'.
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Offline casalguidi

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Re: Victorian Prostitution
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 08 August 06 10:51 BST (UK) »
A little before Victorian times but there was an interesting TV program on the other week (can't remember what it was called now but about bygone London) which mentioned HARRISs directories see http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/harlots-handbook.shtml

The percentage of these ladies in some parts of London was rather akin to the number of ag labs living in country villages :o

Casalguidi

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Offline Falkyrn

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Re: Victorian Prostitution
« Reply #7 on: Tuesday 08 August 06 11:07 BST (UK) »
The following links also may shed soe light on the subject for you
http://www.victorianweb.org/gender/prostitution.html
http://cai.ucdavis.edu/waters-sites/prostitution/

although this author tries to make the case that the levels of prostitution were not as high as claimed http://homepages.primex.co.uk/~lesleyah/sexvict.htm

Offline wheeldon

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Re: Victorian Prostitution
« Reply #8 on: Tuesday 08 August 06 14:53 BST (UK) »
Also, have a look at the area in which they lived and look at the other occupations  in the same area.  It's surprising that some of the areas that are known for prostitution today are the same areas that were well known prostitution areas years ago.

Just a thought, I think a lot of reading inbetween the lines is in order.
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