Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A Cardiff Brothel: The History of 31 Charlotte Street

Cardiff, Late 1830's Source: Glamorgan Record Office

The Victorian brothels of Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane no longer form part of Cardiff's remembered history. They are long gone and forgotten. This is the story of one of those brothels at 31 Charlotte Street. It was the scene of sex (obviously), drugging, violence, burning, intrigue and theft.

Number 31 Charlotte Street was built circa 1838, it's marked on the map above with the yellow dot. It was a spacious town terrace with a parlour and a kitchen downstairs, three bedrooms and an attic room upstairs with possibly a smaller house or outbuildings in the garden. It was built for a working clientele in a steadily expanding Cardiff before a massive population explosion turned it into something else. See my earlier post for a short history of the notorious isle of villainy that was Charlotte Street.
The house next door was up for sale in 1843
If you walked out the front door of number 31 in 1861 and took a right turn you'd find The King's Head Tavern next door, The Irishman's Glory next door to that, the Dinas Arms next door to that and finally the Caledonian Tavern. If you turned left there were four residential houses then The Excavators Arms, The Pembrokeshire Arms, a lodging house and then you'd run out of street after The Red Lion.

Being surrounded by beerhouses meant it was a good site for a brothel. The girls would meet their marks either out on the street or in the beerhouses and, if required, take them back to number 31. As we'll see there was the 'owner', who rented the house from the real owner, and took 'bed money' from the four or so working girls renting beds there. There were also sometimes bullies at the house (now we'd call them pimps) who 'protected' the girls, assisted in robberies and kept any violent clients in check.

Don't think of 31 as a hedonistic Victorian boudoir with drapery, fancy red wallpaper, chaise longues and decanters of whisky on thin legged tables. This was still a very poor area so it's more a warm fire, floorboards, a table, straw filled mattresses on wooden beds, rag rugs, candles and woollen blankets. The toilet was a shared one in the lane out the back and there's no running water, that's what the beer is there for. Oh, and I should mention that there's also a family sleeping in the downstairs rooms and the outhouse and they share the rent, kitchen and toilet. In 1861 a Mr and Mrs Thomas and their four young children lived in number 31 with Mr Thomas making and mending shoes on the premises as well. This arrangement was not unusual as space became a premium.

31 was one of many, many brothels on Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane and it has a rich history. I'll take you through what I know about it and remember this is one of the quieter, higher end brothels on Charlotte Street!

At the 1841 census number 31 is lived in by a three families. It only comes into the records as a brothel from 1851 onwards. It probably was one before this but early records rarely record house numbers.
1850 map, Glamorgan Record Office

In 1851, when the above map is dated, William Hoskins and his wife Sarah live there. The giveaway is the four female 'spinster' lodgers living with them all aged 20-25, one from Ireland and three from the south of Wales.
1851 31 Charlotte Street.
Now William and his wife Sarah seem to have been a working couple but the house is being used as a brothel or, a better description, a lodging house for prostitutes. Their lodgers were all working girls. Jane Atkins from Chepstow had been working on the next street Whitmore Lane since she was 14. Margaret McCarthy was also working girl. Interestingly there are no bullies living at the brothel.
The prostitute lodged wherever they wanted to, and, as they paid by the night or week, the large prostitute population was highly mobile and constantly shifting. The census is just a snap shot of who slept there on the night of March 30th. 

To illustrate this within four months in July 1851 a Emma Hiscock is lodging there, a 'gaudily' dressed prostitute who hit a man in the face with a brick when he tried to assault her:
Here Mrs Elizabeth Burridge is named as the 'landlady' of 31 at this time. She was the owner of the brothel as well as being landlady of The Gloucester Arms, three doors down at 28 Charlotte Street. There are still four working women in the house. The rental of 5 shillings a week for a room is quite high but they were guaranteed a room of their own when most other working class people were sharing beds and floors. I'd say the two girls sharing the room for 1 shilling each had the smallest of the three bedrooms upstairs or the garret room. Mr and Mrs Hoskins would have had the downstairs rooms. Mrs Burridge's profit would have come from getting 12 shillings rent from the girls alone and another 4 or 5 from the couple, normal house rent at this time was 7 shillings a week.

By November 1851 there's another two new girls at number 31; Sarah Austin and Mary Lawson aka 'The Grenadier'. They take a valley boy for £8.

Mary Lawson was nicknamed 'The Grenadier' due to her height and build. Six months ago she was working in Mrs Prothero's brothel about 60 yards away, which shows how much the women swapped and changed accommodation to suit themselves.

The Gloucester Arms link continues with this from August 1852. It shows the close symbiotic links between the brothels and the beerhouses as jugs of beer were taken into the brothels for the clients at all hours of the night, for inflated prices of course. When the coppers this time caught Catherine Owens (aka Kitty Pig's Eyes) taking a jug of beer over red handed the owners came up with the excuse they were taking beer to the wake of  the recently deceased John Widdle who, as far as I can make out, never existed!:

In July 1854 the prostitute Ellen Slack used violence against a client at number 31, whether for robbery or personal protection is unknown.
Ellen Slack July 14 1854
The Burridge's property was up for sale in July 1854 after Mrs Burridge died at the end of 1853. This is when Mrs Caroline King of The Ship Hotel at 1 Charlotte Street bought it.

Margaret Sullivan aka 'Irish Meg' is based at number 31 in September 1856. Her and Jane Allen spot a recent arrival off a ship who is loaded with money (which he cleverly hides in his cap) and they make his acquaintance. They then waylay him into Polly Allen's brothel on Charlotte Street and as he goes up the stairs Irish Meg snatches his cap off his head and runs back to her brothel at number 31. Her extremely violent bully Thomas John stops him following her by grabbing his throat and pushing him against a wall. The three girls are picked up by the police later on but the sailor has drank so much he makes no sense and they're released, netting £4 between them.
Interestingly Irish Meg marries her bully a month later when she's living at 24 Charlotte Street, like I said the whole street was the women's domain and she'll be back involved soon enough.

It wasn't just physical violence that the women used against clients at number 31. The more subtle approach of drugging their drinks was also adopted, the women were very familiar with what the chemists sold and they could drug with a range of opiates freely available over the counter. In January 1857 Ann Casey takes down her mark in this way and robs £9 16 shillings from a ship's master, a huge amount of money. 
1857 is the first mention of bullies living at number 31. Henry Davies lodged at number 31 with the prostitute Mary Williams and another bully George Nind. In May Henry committed a highway robbery on a man at Cardiff train station, he hit him once and crushed one of his eyeballs inside its socket. Henry got a death sentence as he was out of prison on a ticket of leave, it was commuted to life of course.

Roll onto the start of August 1858 and Elizabeth Davies is doing her thing and getting 12 shillings from 'a fool':

Elizabeth Davies is on a roll. At the end of August she's in the Farmers Arms at number 37 doing a group robbery of a dupe. Watches and handkerchiefs were fenced at the Farmers Arms so they wouldn't have to walk far to sell them on:
In December 1858 one of the women of number 31 was assaulted by a labourer and he got seven days inside.

In March 1859 Elizabeth Davies is still at number 31, which means she worked there for at least 7 months. She got two months hard labour for robbing a ring worth 7 shillings from a shop.

The bully George Nind is also still living at 31 Charlotte Street in June 1859. He goes fishing on the river Taff with George Nethway, landlord of the Irishman's Glory at 29 Charlotte Street. As they dragged a net along the river he fell into a deep pool and drowned.  

In November 1859 we are back to more conventional stories of robbery at number 31:

Sailors formed part of the brothel's clientele but local men are also well represented. In June 1860 another young man loses his money at number 31, again he gets a lot of sympathy in the press:

Theft was an important part of the prostitutes income in these times. For a little risk they could make serious money and not all the thefts were recorded, the mark often too ashamed or intimidated to complain. In August 1860 there are two more robberies in the same week, netting the girls around 50 shillings.

In September 1860 a Cardiff man John Phillips was enjoying number 31 on a Sunday night when he was robbed of 2 shillings and sixpence, he made out at first that two militia men had attacked him but really he was robbed by the girls.

In October 1860 the brothel was used by two girls who stole a watch in The King's Head beerhouse next door. Here Susan and Hannah have Richard Davies as their 'crimp', a not often used alternative name for a bully.

I think this article from January 1861 sums up the opinions of the police and the newspapers, it was a 'serve them right' attitude a lot of the time, the will to investigate and prosecute in these robbery cases was very low at times. There was also little willingness to shut down the brothels, although by this time the moral panic had begun and church groups were getting more vocal in their opposition and also bringing private prosecutions against the worst offenders. 31 Charlotte Street was well under their radar for the moment.

In March 1861 Ellen Leary, who is probably the partner of the bully John Leary's (see below), gets three months for stealing ten shillings at number 31. The men could hide their money in their boots but that was one of the first places the girls looked. Why she confessed is unknown.

On Monday April 1st 1861 Mary Ann Leyshon, a 17 year old prostitute who hadn't been working on the streets for long, came home after a night of working. She fell asleep in front of the fire and at five in the morning her clothes caught fire. She was burnt horrifically on her legs, thighs and back and languished in the workhouse infirmary until she finally died on the 12th April. No inquest was held. 

1861 Mary Ann Leyshon burnt
Incredibly on April 2nd, the day after Mary Ann Leyshon set herself on fire, it was business as usual at number 31 and Margaret John alias 'Irish Meg' stole a whooping £33 from a man in ten minutes and walked away from court a free woman, even when he identifies her.

On the evening of April 7th 1861, while Mary Ann Leyshon suffered in the workhouse and Irish Meg celebrated her windfall, a census taker knocked on the door of number 31. He recorded the inhabitants as Anne Owens aged 23, Mary Lichton age 17, Ann Lewen age 19, Ellen Hall age 21, Margaret Hanvey age 30, all prostitutes, and the bullies John Leary and William Gregory. The five prostitutes were all from the south of Wales: Swansea, Merthyr, Carmarthen, Llantrisant and Monmouthshire. The bullies from Cardiff and Swansea. Welsh was probably spoken among the women as much as English. They are all aged 23 and under apart from Margaret. Margaret Hanvey had been abandoned by her husband and as a depressing aside she dropped dead three years later in total destitution at Number 13 Charlotte Street. Even more depressingly her four year old son fell into a saucepan of boiling water two years after that and was scalded to death, also at Number 13.

1861 number 31 Charlotte Street

Somehow in September 1861 Ellen Hall and her bully William Gregory pulled off another huge £33 pound theft from a cattle dealer at number 31 Charlotte Street, a massive amount of money that would have bought a house on Charlotte Street.

Mrs Caroline King died on Tuesday 7th February 1862. By November 1862 the big guns came out. 31 Charlotte Street was then run by Mary the Cripple's daughter Ann Yarwood, aka Annie the Cripple. Mary Yarwood, her 'husband' Bill Thomas and her four children first ran a large criminal network in Newport before moving to Charlotte Street in 1854 to run many beerhouses and brothels. Ann evades prosecution by saying she rented it from someone else. A common defence in brothel charges was to muddy the waters as much as possible, making it unsure who actually rented it.
These two reports appeared in the same paper on the same day on different pages, which is very unusual. It turns out that Ann Yarwood, vilified in the press for years for running brothels and being corrupt and morally repugnant, was actually renting the house from Emma Davies who rented it from Mr William Stanley.

One report says Emma was imprisoned, another that the charges against Ann Yarwood were dropped and Emma wasn't imprisoned. What's key here is Mr William Stanley.

Mr William Stanley, now 74 years old, builder of Stanley Street and owner of many houses on Charlotte Street was a 'respectable ratepayer'. He has been on the Board of Guardians for the Union and has stood for office in Cardiff council. He has possibly been the house owner for a long time and would have received all the rent from Mrs Burridge, Mrs King and now Ann Yarwood, pretending that they 'owned' the house. He made a tidy profit from prostitution in Charlotte Street.

Mr William Stanley has a long history of being a vile man however. The Stanley Street that he built and owned was the cause of the death of many poor people from Cholera. In the June outbreak of 1849 for example 16 people died in tiny Stanley Street, the most in any other street was 6. He also neglected to disinfect number 13 Charlotte Street, where my relatives were living at the time, after three cholera deaths in the house. He just emptied them out for a few days then moved them back in. He also had unknown ties to Jack Matthews, one of Cardiff's biggest gangsters. His son was also a Customs Officer, a post open to massive abuse in the hands of the wrong person.

Stranger still is the report below. The prostitute Emma Davies, who you can see above was imprisoned for running the brothel at number 31 in November 1862 somehow managed to steal two brooches from 74 year old Mr Stanley and got nine months in prison in February 1863. How would she have got that close to him to do this? Was he having a taste of her wares at the time and was she getting revenge?

Anyhow January 17th 1863 and number 31 continues making money as before, a ships captain loses a lot of money and the unnamed suspect hides in a toilet to escape detection.

Two weeks later the law goes after the keepers of number 31 again, this time Jemima Davies and Margaret John (Irish Meg) are brought in but it is Jemima who takes the rap.

The brothel's card is very much marked though and when Irish Meg takes over on the Thursday she gets charged with keeping number 31 on the Friday 30th January 1863, only running it for one night!

The sergeant obviously catches the brothel at the changeover- and this is interesting to see how the brothel operated in this regard. Irish Meg is removing some women that she doesn't want in the house and allowing another, Jenny Piano, in.

At the same time in January 1863 we have the only known example I have of how the girls were procured to the Charlotte Street brothels. Ellen Madden meets a girl who has newly arrived in Cardiff after she is refused entry to the Servant's Home. She takes her first to 31 Charlotte Street presumably to engage her in the prostitute life:

In March 1865 a Mary and John Higgins were living at 31 Charlotte Street. It was still continuing as a brothel as they paid £25 sureties for Jack Matthews, a notorious brothel and beerhouse keeper at number 34, when he was charged with abusing a policeman. The brothel itself is not named specifically in any robberies or disturbances though.

The brothels were contracting at this time as the town council tightened up their policing so number 31 was probably one of the first to be abandoned at the expense of the more established and 'hardcore' brothels and beerhouses, such as 15, 17 and 21 Whitmore Lane and those either in beerhouses or physically attached to them.

On April 5th 1865 my Nan's grandfather, who was living next door at number 32, was also baptised, so I hope it was quiet by then so they all got some sleep!

By 1871 it had reverted to being a 'normal' house, better housing conditions meant there were only two couples living there.

Number 31 1871 census, a quiet respectable house.
The final end for number 31 as a house came when it was knocked down in 1878 after the passing of the 1875 Cardiff Improvement Act which meant obliterating the majority of the housing in Charlotte Street and Whitmore Lane.

So there we are, a Cardiff brothel that ran for at least 15 years in the same modest terraced house.


Internal furnishings see: Cardiff Times 1864 Oct 7 when Ann Lewis and Susan Stanton steal horse rugs for their houses, Ann has moved to 12 Whitmore Lane by this point.
House Advert for Number 32: Glamorgan Monmouth and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian 1843 April 1 p.2
Jane Atkins:
Monmouthshire Merlin 1844 Dec 7th p.3.
MM 1842 Aug 20th p.3.
Margaret McCarthy:
'Unfortunate Girl': Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian 1852 Oct 2 p.4.
Termagant- CMG 1852 Dec 4th p.3.
Woman of Ill Fame and violent in court again- CMG 1854 April 7th p.3.
Emma Hiscock assault: CMG 1851 July 26 p.4.
Gloucester Arms links: CMG 1852 Aug 21 p.4.
Mary/Ann Lawson 'The Grenadier':
Indecent: CMG 1846 June 6th p.3.
Drunk: CMG 1849 Sept 1st p.4.
Drunk again: CMG 1852 April 3rd p.1.
Suicide Attempt: CMG Aug 2nd p.5.

Burridge's selling up: CMG 1854 July 28 p.2.
Ellen Slack assault: CMG 1854 July 14 p.3.
Margaret Sullivan robbery: CMG 1856 Sept 26th p.8.
Thomas John Violence: CMG 1856 Dec 13th p.6.
Henry Davies knocking man's eye out: Monmouthshire Merlin 1857 Dec 26 p.6.
Elizabeth Davies Theft: CMG 1858 Aug 7th p.6.
Elizabeth Davies with three other girls: CMG 1858 Aug 28th p.6.
Leah Edwards kicked: CMG 1858 Dec 4th p.8.
Elizabeth Davies ring robbery: CMG 1859 March 19 p.6.
Henry Davies criminal records: Millbank Prisoner Register Sept Quart 1858. Prisoner number 7531
George Ninn drowning: CMG 1859 June 11 p.5.
John Talbot robbery: CMG 1859 November 5th p.6.
James Clarke robbery: CMG 1860 June 30 p.5.
Two robberies: CMG 1860 August 25th p.5.
Robbery of John Phillips: Cardiff & Merthyr Guardian: 1860 Sept 15 p.5.
Susan Walker and Hannah Davies at number 31 CMG 1860 Oct 6 p.6.
Ellen Leary theft: CT 1861 March 15th p.5.
Margaret John 'Irish Meg' theft: CT 1861 April 5th p.8.
Mary Ann Leyshon burning: CMG 1861 April 6th p.5. Aberdare Times 1861 April 13 p.4. CT 1861 April 19th p.5 & 6.
Gregory and Hall theft: MM 1861 Sept 7th p.8.
For the brothel closures see for example MM 1859 Dec 24th p.3.
Death of Caroline King CT 1862 Feb 7th p.7
Ann Yarwood at Number 31 CMG 1862 Nov 15 p.6. CMG 1862 Nov 14th p.4. & p.8.
William Stanley:
State of Stanley Street: CMG 1848 Feb 5th p.2.
State of Stanley Street again: CMG Nov 4th p.3.
State of Stanley Street yet again: CMG 1849 April 21 p.3.
Refusing to disinfect a cholera house he owned: CMG 1854 Oct 13th p.3.
Emma Davies William Stanley theft: CMG 1863 Feb 21st p.6
William Stanley Census: 1861 Cardiff St Mary 11 RG09/4034/f36/p.12
Link with John Matthews: 1861 CMG Jan 26 p.8. 1861 CT Jan 5th p.6.

Robbery: CMG 1863 January 17th p.5.
Jeremiah Davies keeping brothel: CT 1863 January 31st p.6.
Margaret John keeping brothel: MM 1863 Jan 31 p.8. CMG 1863 Jan 31 p.7.
Procurement: CMG 1863 January 31st p.6.
Bail for Jack Matthews: CT 1865 April 7th p.7.
Benjamin Hanvey Scalding The Cardiff Times 1866 Jan 26 p.5.

Census 1851: Cardiff St Mary HO107/2455, district 4lFolio 536 p.23
Census 1861: Cardiff St Mary RG9/4033 p.50
Census 1871: Cardiff St Mary RG10/5360, district 11 folio 86 p.21
Maps are from Glamorgan Record Office and are reproduced in part. Newpaper images are from the excellent Welsh Newspapers Online site run by the National Library of Wales.

Article as a whole is copyright Mr Anthony Rhys April 2017

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Babes of the Pave. Prostitute Babies in Cardiff.

This is Bridget Lancaster, a Newport prostitute from 1871. (Image Gwent Archives.GROQCG 38)

Babes of the Pave: Prostitute Babies in Cardiff

Warning- Themes of sex and child deaths in this article.

This blog is a continuation of a series as I continue to construct a book called 'Notorious: Charlotte Street and the Lane'. See previous blogposts and for art go to www.anthonyrhys.com 

Half of the people in my book are prostitutes. They sometimes end up running brothels themselves or moving away from the occupation but they start off as prostitutes. Considering how one role of the prostitute was to have a lot of sexual intercourse you'd expect to find their babies everywhere in Cardiff. The opposite is true and their children are usually non-existent in the records.

This post is about how very difficult it can be to find their babies. 'Normal' family history is a pretty straightforward task- looking for formal birth, death and marriage records, it's usually C follows B follows A. When looking for prostitute children it's very often G follows X follows 7. It's illusive and sometimes illogical and, as I'm finding out as I research Notorious, it's also incredibly hard.

It is very important for me and my book to find these babies. You cannot tell a life story if you miss out the crucial, primal, often harrowing experiences of childbirth and rearing that these women faced. I also get frustrated reading material about Victorian prostitution that concentrates on the laws and middle class attitudes towards them- I want to find them themselves.

Here I give four case studies of my searches for the 'Babes of the Paves' for four Cardiff girls.

Baby 1: Ruth Fletcher

Ann Anthony was a Cardiff prostitute. She became active in the profession in 1844 and seems to have left it after a long prison sentence from 1855 to 1861. She never officially married and I think she died in Cardiff in 1880 aged 50.

Baby Ruth is an example of using a 'holistic' attitude to the sources. There are no references to Ann being pregnant or with a child in any of the newspaper or census reports. In fact she wasn't in the 1851 or 1861 censuses so to find her alone took some work. eventually I tracked her down.

In 1851 she is living with her bully John Fletcher as Ann Fletcher. In the 1861 census she is simply an A A in the Brixton Prison listings. 1871 she still eludes me.

So, taking the jump to Ann Fletcher I found this: Ruth, daughter of Anne Fletcher from 1847.

All well and good. the Mill Lane address is acceptable as it is just behind Charlotte Street where she worked. The prostitutes lodged everywhere and seldom stayed at any one house, beerhouse or brothel for long.

Then there is this: The death of Ruth Fletcher aged 3 weeks in China Row.

Again, all well and good- China Row is also very close to Charlotte Street and was part of the supporting slum area around it. The problem is the hundreds of single woman and single parent births around this time, it's not unusual at all.

I wanted to confirm this baby Fletcher was linked to Ann Anthony so I got the death certificate.

Yes, there we are- confirmation, Ruth Fletcher, the daughter of John Fletcher, with Ann Anthony present at the death at Mill Lane. Poor Ruth died of convulsions at 3 weeks with no doctor or medical attention. At least Ann was there at the time.

That was easy wasn't it? This adds a lot to Ann's story. It also adds to her narrative things you would never have thought of if you were unaware of little Ruth. One example is when she jumped in front of a violent bully who was about to attack one of her friends. She did that when she was five months pregnant.

Baby 2: Catherine Rees

Example number two is mainly the benefit of randomness and taking a chance. It starts with this, the burial of little Catherine Rees:

There is no corresponding baptism record to find the name of the parents of this Catherine. Now a child death on Whitmore Lane was not uncommon, in these church records there are hundreds. What I was actually doing here for the book was focusing on one cluster of child deaths to show the high rates of mortality among children on Whitmore Lane, Catherine Rees was just one of four young infants who died there from 7th July- August 3rd 1841.

But when the death certificate came it was pointing towards this being a prostitute's child.

Lo and behold there is an Elizabeth Rees working in Thomas Thomas' brothel, in the 1841 census She's one of 7 women working there (The census taker has used the euphemism of 'single woman'). Tommy Thomas ran a notorious beer house and brothel rolled into one. It features heavily in newspaper reports at the time.

The 1841 census was taken on June 6th, the baby was born mid-June. Elizabeth was probably working in the brothel right up until she gave birth. Catherine Rees lived for five weeks before dying of convulsions, a generic term for any child death linked with high fevers or epilepsy.

I think that Elizabeth Rees was arrested for theft in April 1847 and died in Cardiff Gaol on the 26th June while awaiting trial. She was a heavy drinker and 'Died by the visitation of God of chronic disease of the stomach.'

So this was a chance find.

Baby 3: Amelia Clark

Whizz forward a little to 1852 and the prostitute Sarah Clark. Sarah turns up in early 1849 as a prostitute working in China, the notorious area in Merthyr Tydfil. She moved down to Whitmore Lane in late 1849 and appears on the 1851 census running her own brothel, aged 22, at 4 Whitmore Lane with three other prostitutes. I knew that Sarah Clark had a baby because of these two sorrowful newspaper reports:


She had a baby in her arms in October 1852 when she was working and also August 1853 when she was drunk.

I don't think Sarah Clark would win a mother of the year award after these two incidents but it shows she had a baby. The problem was- who was he/she? There was no indication on census returns of a daughter.

It didn't take long to find little Amelia's birth in the GRO indexes and here she is:

Amelia completely disappears after August 6th 1853 when she was dangled by her mother. She doesn't die, get buried, married or appear in any census anywhere, so that is a continuing task. I think she is either dead and unofficially buried or she has been taken away from Sarah, adopted or institutionalised and had her name changed.

Sarah Clark did go on to have more children, but that is another story. She also continued to run brothels until at least 1903, that's fifty years in the business!!! But again, that's another story.

4 Angelina Owens

I've kept the worst until last. Ann Owens, nicknamed 'Little Punch', was a prostitute from the age of 12. First in Swansea at the start of 1850 then in Cardiff from 1851 where she is working at Mrs Prothero's brothel on Whitmore Lane. Ann is 19 years old and heavily pregnant when she gets a seven year transportation sentence for her part in the robbery of a canal woman's house. The court reports her state during the proceedings as 'far advanced in pregnancy':

When Little Punch got her seven year sentence she broke down in court in a 'paroxysm of grief', no wonder as she was also four months pregnant.

From this it was a bit of detective work to track down her child with an 'Owen' or 'Owens' surname in Wales. I thought she gave birth before travelling to Lewes prison then Millbank but there was nothing that matched in Cardiff, there was nothing at Millbank or Lewes either. Finally I found this description of Ann Owens' tattoos from five years later- they were recorded when she was imprisoned for a ten year transportation sentence for theft in Merthyr Tydfil.

Ignore the other tattoos for now apart from 'Angelina Owens' below the left elbow. I know she had no relatives with that name so Bingo! A further search of the London records and Angelina Owens was found, well her burial was- in Victoria Park Cemetery on June 16th 1854.

Angelina was born at Millbank prison as her birth is registered in Westminster London 1853. 

Her death certificate states she died of secondary syphilis and diarrhoea. It's hardly surprising that Ann Owens had syphilis as at age 19 she had already been a prostitute for seven years. Ann may have been present at the death, she may not have been, it lists Mary Smith, the Head Nurse at Brixton as being the informant. I doubt she would have been allowed to attend the funeral. Her tattoo was the only way she had to memorialise her one year old daughter, her angel.

So there we are. In retrospect it makes sense finding each of these but when you have very little to go on it is a hard, time consuming part of the research, but it tells the lives of these young girls and tells it well.


Ruth Fletcher:
Ann first appears in newspapers in connection with prostitution on 7th September 1844 when she and Welsh Kate assault another prostitute at her home while they are looking for Ann's young man. She is mentioned a further 29 times over the next ten years.
Sentenced to ten years for Robbery Glamorgan Assizes 23rd July 1855.
Her license from Brixton Prison is dated 29/6/1861
Burial and Baptism are both St Mary's church Cardiff, p.32 for Baptism, p.12 for Burial.
Death certificate is GRO Cardiff June quarter 1847 Vol 26 Page 243.

Catherine Rees:
Burial: St Mary's Church Cardiff 1841 p.7
Death Certificate is GRO Cardiff Sept quarter 1841 Vol 26 p.244
Census for Catherine Rees: 1841 Cardiff St Mary's Whitmore Lane HO107/1425/3 Schedule 29 p.52
Death cluster of children in summer 1841: July 7- Mary Driscol 18 months old, July 10 Mary Haines, 2 years old, July 30 Dennis Spillane, 9 months old, August 3 Catherine Rees, aged 5 weeks. All from Whitmore Lane.
For Thomas' as brothel keepers: Monmouthshire Merlin July 10th 1841 p.3.
For Richard Cornick the bully at Thomas' brothel: The Cambrian August 20th 1842 p.3

Amelia Clark:
Birth Certificate is GRO Cardiff Sept quarter Vol 11a p.185

Angelina Owens:
Swansea: Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian 5th January 1850 p.3
Ann Owens sentence: Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian 12th March 1853 p.4 and CMG 12th Feb 1863 p.4
Burial: Victoria Park Cemetery June 16th no.9722
Death Certificate is GRO Lambeth June 1854 Vol 1d p.256
Ann Owens second sentence: Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian 18th October 1856 p.6

Article intellectual copyright. Anthony Rhys 2017.

Certificates all GRO copyright, Newspaper articles from the wonderful Welsh Newspapers Online by National Library of Wales.