An Anatomy of a 'Disorderly' Neighbourhood: Rosemary Lane and Rag Fair c.1690-1765

by Janice Turner

Institution: University of Hertfordshire
Year: 2015
Keywords: Disorderly ; Makeshift ; Rag Fair ; Rosemary Lane ; Thief-takers
Record ID: 1393395
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2299/15307


This thesis focuses on the experiences of the ‘disorderly’ neighbourhood of Rosemary Lane and Rag Fair in the eastern suburbs of London in c.1690 to 1765. Rosemary Lane and Rag Fair possessed one of the most powerfully articulated reputations for disorder of any London street. In the imagination of both novelists and social investigators it was thought to be squalid, dangerous, dirty - the stereotypical ‘den of iniquity’. Using a wide range of material including parish records, Middlesex session papers, eighteenth century newspapers, and digital sources such as the Old Bailey On-Line and London Lives this thesis will explore the streets and alleyways of Rag Fair. It will go beyond the simple perception of a disorderly neighbourhood, to describe the individual communities and forces which created that disorder. It will show that the poor of Rosemary Lane, generally, did not see themselves as a problem waiting to be solved, they were resourceful and they had their own way of surviving - they were active players in a changing City that was shaking off its medieval roots and embracing the modern. By looking in detail at this community; at its structures and divisions, and at its power relations, its self-identity will be revealed.