The Bullies of 1860’s Victorian England

It’s not often that I write a book in four weeks. Of course, it’s only the first draft and editing begins, i.e. rewrites, embellishments, additions, deletions, etc. After that comes the other kind of editing–grammar, sentence structure, syntax, spelling, punctuation, and further reviews with the help of ProWriting and Grammarly. Then off to Victory Editing to be poked at again.

Some of what you’ll read in Toil Under the Sun may shock you and lead you to believe that I have an evil imagination. The incidents you’ll read about are actual occurrences I discovered while researching and reading the proceedings of the Manchester Assize Courts in 1867. These acts make Boucher throwing a rock in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South appear like child’s play.

Here is a short, but shocking list, of terrorist-like activities, perpetrated by union members against those who defied their rules. You’ll read about those rules in the book, which were put in place to supposedly protect the trade. The newspapers and courts called them “outrages.”

  • “Bottling” – throwing bottles full of combustible substances into rooms where brickmakers, their wives, and children slept.
  • Use of pistols to intimate watchmen and shoot watchdogs during their nightly raids.
  • Hamstringing of horses or slitting their throats. Setting stables on fire and burning horses alive.
  • The stabbing of cattle and other livestock owned by brickmakers.
  • Brutal beatings of employees, including young boys who worked for brickmakers, often resulting in permanent physical damage.
  • Destroying bricks sometimes as many as 60,000 or more at a brickmaker’s business.
  • Destroying buildings under construction that used machine-made bricks or bricks not made by union men.
  • Blowing up brickmaking machines with gunpowder.
  • Other atrocities that earned them this comment in the newspapers that their acts were the “despotism of their own class.”

As you can see, brickyard bullies were the hooligans of the day who would do anything to protect their trade, including murder those who stood in their way. A policeman was killed at one of their outrages.

Keep checking back for updates!  While editing, I’m going to dive into book two, Slave to None, and continue to the next era of 1870’s and how the trade changed and businesses grew. These are the years of prosperity and growth, and the foundation for family riches.

 

Time Served

I’m scrolling through England and Wales Criminal Registers on Ancestry.com.  I need one of my characters to serve time and wondered what the penalty would be.  Boy, interesting read!  Here’s a few examples:

  • Larceny – Ranges from 3-6 months.
  • Attempting to commit suicide – 2 months
  • Attempting sexual relations with an underage child – 1 year
  • Embezzlement as a servant – 6 months
  • Maliciously killing a horse – 1 year
  • (No laughing at this one) Adjudged as an incorrigible rogue – 9 months.
  • Attempting to commit buggery (that’s an old term for homosexual acts) – 10 years
  • Obtaining goods by false pretenses – 3 months
  • Keeping a disorderly house (conduct of inhabitants are a public nuisance) – 1 year
  • Keeping a house of ill fame (brothel/prostitution) – 18 months
  • Assaulting a police officer – 3 to 6 months

Well, it’s an interesting read for sure. I can’t imagine the horrors of serving time in a Victorian-era prison.

Vicki

Progress Update

I’ve worked extremely hard this past four days to push the book forward into the last stage of draft one.  Writing is a daunting task.  The first draft can be a breeze because a writer’s brain is buzzing with characters, dialogue, and a storyline that needs to get down on paper before we forget it.  However, that’s only the start.

Afterward, at least for me, comes the pain.  The process of revisions and self-editing that can take time and tears.  Then it’s off to the professional editor, to take the last pass before release, finding your goofs and stupid errors your eyes didn’t see the first time.

As I’m staring at the end of book one, I’m overwhelmed by the hours I’ve spent reading union news and testimony regarding the hooligans of the nineteenth century involved in the trade. I’ve found absolutely fantastic resources online through the British Newspaper Archives and Google Books, which contain the scanned text of trade reports and investigations dating back to the mid-1860’s. 

Of greater concern, is the name of my second great grandfather that repeatedly came up in testimony as one of the regulars who went about enforcing the union rules, as they were, sometimes violently.  He died in his early forties, which makes me wonder if his lifestyle contributed to his early demise.

Nevertheless, next post as I near the end, I’ll give you a short glimpse into the world of trade unions. Some of what you’ll read in Toil Under the Sun may surprise and sicken you, but the occurrences were taken from actual events. The names were changed to spare those involved and their ancestors. However, I felt it important to make this saga historically correct, including actual events, for my own sake and that of my readers.

Stay tuned as I look at the end of my first draft.  Thankfully, no one will wallop me over the head with a brick after I’m finished.  Apparently, a few watchmen of brickyards suffered that fate.

All my best, Vicki

Choosing a day in the Week

Let it not be said that I don’t research when it comes to writing my books! When you’re talking about getting married on a certain day of the week in 1863, a calendar is important!  I found one!

What day of the week did I choose for the first marriage in this lengthy saga? According to a Victorian Wedding article, a popular rhyme went like this:

Marry on Monday for health,
Tuesday for wealth,
Wednesday the best day of all,
Thursday for crosses,
Friday for losses, and
Saturday for no luck at all.

I noticed that Sunday wasn’t in the rhyme, but strangely enough, my second great uncle married on a Sunday.  Hmm…I’m confused.

Vicki

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