Victorian London - Crime - Violence, Murders and Assaults - 'Hooligan boys'

A song and dance, "The O'Hooligan Boys" by Messrs. Sinclair and Davis

from a programme at the Elephant and Castle Theatre,  in The Era, 24 October 1891

It was stated at the Southwark Police-court during the hearing of a charge against Charles Clarke of assaulting the police that the prisoner was the king of a gang of youths known as the "Hooligan Boys", who paid to a secretary 2d. per week towards settling fines inflicted upon members of the gang for assaults upon the police. The members were fined 2d. by the secretary if they wre found without a belt or stick. A remand was granted that some of the prisoner's companions may be arrested.

Daily News, 24 April 1894

Charles Clarke, a powerful ald of 19, described as a general dealer, who refused his address, was charged at Southwark upon a warrant with violently assaulting Police-constable 51 M and Constable Chappell, employed by Mrs. Poole, the managing director of the South London Palace of Varieties, London-road. Mr. William Sergeant, the manager, watched the case on behalf of Mrs. Poole. It appeared from the evidence that on Saturday night, the 14th inst., a disturbance was created in the hall by a gang headed by the prisoner, who were throwing bottles and glasses about the gallery. Upon Chappell speaking to them the prisoner seized a broom and struck him (Chappell) a violent blow with it, felling him to the ground, where he lay in an unconscious condition. The prisoner and his companions then kicked him violently about the body. When Police-constable 51 M went to Chappell's assistance, he was also "set upon," thrown to the ground, and kicked about the head and body. The officer, owing to this treatment, was upon the sick-list for a week. Police-constable 51 M said the prisoner was the "king of a gang of youths known as the Hooligan Boys," who paid a secretary 2d. per week towards settling fines inflicted upon the members of the gang for assaults upon the police. They were fine by the secretary 2d. if they were found without a belt or a stick. Mr. Marsham remanded the accused to give the police an opportunity to arrest some of the prisoner's companions.

Reynolds's Newspaper, 29 April 1894

THE "HOOLIGAN BOYS" AGAIN. - Edward Holt, seventeen, costermonger and Edward Smith, seventeen, van boy, were charged before Mr. Hopkins at the Lambeth Police-court, with behaving in a disorderly manner and using obscene language. The prisoners are said to belong to the gang known as the "Hooligan Boys", several members of which have already been punished for disorderly conduct. On Tuesday night Police-constables Caunter and Hook were in plain clothes in Oswin-street, St. George's-road, when they saw a crowd of young roughs coming down the street flourishing sticks and using obscene languagem and causing foot-passengers to go into the roadway. The constables caught the two prisoners, who appeared to be the ringleaders, and were then stoned by the rest of the gang, the stones falling about them, to use the words of one of the officers, "like hail." Mr. Hopkins told the prisoners that if anyone had been present to complain of having been assault he would not have given them an opportunity of paying a fine. Now they would have to pay the full penalty - 40s. or one month each.

Illustrated Police News, 19 May 1894


AT the Lambeth Police-court on Monday, Charles Upstill, eighteen labourer, was charged before Mr. Hopkins with assaulting Arthur Cooper. The prosecutor, a labouring man, stated that about midnight on Saturday he was walking along Mason-street, Walworth, when he was surrounded by a gang of young men who threw him down and kicked him. The prisoner kicked him on the head, cutting it upon. Mr. Hopkins: Were you sober? Prosecutor: Yes, sir, perfectly. Mr. Hopkins: How many lads were there? Prosecutor: About a dozen. Police-constable Plumridge, 271 L, said the prosecutor, who was bleeding very much from the head at the time, pointed out the prisoner as the man who had assaulted him. The accused denied having touched the prosecutor, and attempted to get away. Mr. Hopkins told the prisoner that he must take the consequence of his conduct, and sentenced him to one month's hard labour. — Harry Pullen, seventeen, leather strainer, who was said to be connected with the notorious Hooligan gang, was charged with assaulting George Hall. The prosecutor, a French polisher, said he was walking along Lambeth-road on Saturday at midnight, when he was set upon by a number of lads and assaulted. Daniel Briant, a pensioned police-constable, said he was on his way home, just before twelve o'clock on Saturday night, when he was the prosecutor running. A number of lads, including the prisoner, were running after him. The prosecutor fell down, and the prisoner savagely kicked him three times while he was on the ground. Mr. Hopkins remarked that in a short time, one by one, the whole of the Hooligan gang would be going for trial. He sentenced the prisoner to one month's hard labour.

Illustrated Police News, 29 September 1894


With a view of strengthening the hands of the police in the south-eastern districts of London in their efforts to stamp out the so-called "Hooligan" gangs of roughs, who are said to have their paid officials and a weekly contribution list to defray the cost of the fines inflicted for assault and outrage, a tradesmen's committee has been formed in this district of the metropolis. It has been decided that a representative deputation should wait on the Home Secretary on the subject. The committee desire to suggest to the Government that a short Bill empowering flogging for outrages of the kind committed by this gang should be introduced into Parliament.

Illustrated Police News, 20 October 1894

COUNTY OF LONDON SESSIONS. (North Division at Clerkenwell)

A TERROR TO PADDINGTON. - George Brierley, 22, labourer, pleaded "Guilty" to maliciously damaging three plate-glass windows to the extent of 20l., the property of Thomas Pannell, proprietor of the Albion beerhouse, Harrow-road, on Feb.12 — Warder Turrell proved several previous convictions against the prisoner for drunkenness, assaults, wilful damage, &c. Detective Enticknap said that the prisoner (who is a member pf the "Hooligan" gang, situated in Paddington, and who was known as "King of the Smashers") was a most dangerous man and a terror in the neighbourhood of Paddington. On one occasion it took four constables to arrest him, and he then kicked one of them violently. Members of his gang went into public-houses, and if not served would damage the publican's property. The chairman sentenced him to 21 months' hard labour, and ordered him to enter into his recognisances in the sum of 100l., and to find two sureties in the sum of 50l. to be of good behaviour and keep the peace for 12 months, or in default to be further imprisoned as a second-class misdemeanant for six months.

Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, February 24, 1895


Mr. A.C.Langham, the Southwark coroner, held an inquiry with reference to the death of a woman believed to be named Nellie Bryan, aged about 32 years, who died on Tuesday, at 5, Redcross-place, Borough, High-street, from cancer, alleged to be set up by kicks received from a gang of roughs who attached her for robbery. James Fitts, a waterside labourer, of the same address, stated that the deceased had lived with him for the past two years. He knew nothing of her relatives, except that she said her family were "well-to-do, but didn't want her." She was in the habit of drinking very heavily at times, and one night, about four months ago, he returned from work at half-past ten, and found her out, but the lamp was alight in the room. During the early hours of the morning she returned home very drunk, and covered with blood, and said the previous night she had met a few "pals" with whom she had been "lowering rum and beer." Witness asked her where she got injured, and she said she had been beaten and kicked in the breast by a gang at Horselydown, who did it to rob her. She added that she had been robbed of 1s. 2d. The Coroner: Whom did you understand her to mean had attacked her? Witness: One of the Hooligan gangs about the district. Witness, continuing, said that about a fortnight later a cancerous growth started, and she went to Guy's Hospital, but refused to be treated, as they wanted to put her under ether. She gradually got worse, but would not have a doctor and last Tuesday, when he got home at ten p.m., he found her huddled upon the bed dead. Witness said he was not positive that Nellie Bryan was her correct name, as she was very reticent on the subject except saying her people were "high up in the world."

Liverpool Mercury, 26 December 1896


A fatal case of stabbing took place in Oakley-street, Waterloo-road on Friday, when a youth stabbed a man named Henry Mappin in the neck. Death ensued in about two hours. The alleged assailant escaped was but arrested yesterday in the Strand. Mappin was 35 years of age, and resided at 3, Friars-place, Blackfriars. He had once been a blacksmith, but lately had worked in Messrs. Wood's jam factory at Crockenhill, Swanley, Kent.
    A ticket-of-leave man who witnessed the affair told the following story. "The man who did the job," he said, "was a young fellow nineteen or twenty years of age. He was drinking in the Duke of Somerset - a public-house just over the way - when he saw a man walking slowly along on the pavement opposite. He said 'I'll go over to that man (the deceased) and demand a dollar from him.' I said, 'You had better not do that; he's a good sort, and if you ask him to lend you the money I daresay he will.' The man then went out and accosted the deceased. There seemed to be a sharp struggle, and I saw the young chap whip out a knife and strike the other man in the neck. The assailant turned sharp and made off as fast as he could , and the wounded man fell with a scream on to the pavement. Blood poured from his neck and flowed all over the pavement. He was picked up by some people living in the street and taken to the hospital. Where the assailant went Idon't know, but I heard that he got into a halfpenny 'bus and went over the river."
    The accused, who was described on the charge-sheet as John Darcy, 16, of 15 Waterloo-road, porter, was charged at Southwark police-court, yesterday, with feloniously slaying and killing Henry Mappin by stabbing him in the neck. He is described as a "short, dark, malignanty-looking youth". Mr. Sydney appeared for the prisoner. . . . . .
     . . . . . . The prisoner belongs to a family well-known the police. His moth "Liz Darcy" of Blackfriars-road is notorious. His reputed father is Ned Devaney, who recently served three months for the manslaughter of a builder named Densambe outside the Blackfriars Radical club, and who has since "done" six weeks for a violent assault on Liz Darcy. The prisoner himself became acquainted with the dock at an early age, and has already been imprisoned for assault. His elder brother Thomas Darcy, aged 20, was among the night-charges put before the magistrate yesterday previous to the murder charge. He was remanded on a charge of being concerned with five others said to be members of the notorious Hooligan gang, a band of young roughs who are a terror to the Borough, in a violent assault at midnight upon a butcher's assistant, named Figh, in a beerhouse at Blackfriars. Figh was knocked over the head with some blunt instrument. Another charge of wounding against a third member of the same gang of young ruffians was also called on and remanded.

Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 17 July 1898

A South London police-officer told a representative that the real Hooligan gang was believed to consist of about 15 members, all under 30 years of age. Their headquarters were, he said, at present unknown, through strong suspicions were fixed towards a house off the Blackfrairs-road, which was unoccupied a greater part of the day. The gang was really organised and had scouts and skirmishers. Armed with knives, bludgeons, sharp-pointed stones, and in some cases pistols, these young ruffians turned out in search of "adventure" between nine o'clock at night and two o'clock in the morning. They levied blackmail in the shape of joints and eatables on tradespeople in "their district" and for "diversity and amusement" would, without provocation, attack harmless passers-by. It was nothing for a pedestrian to have his hat snatched off and carried away. ---
Thos. Darcy, 20, of 21, Warwick-street, Blackfriars, shoemaker, was charged on remand, at Southwark police-court, on Friday, with being concerned, with five others not in custody, in assaulting George Fish. . . . . At the first hearing, evidence was given by the prosecutor (Fish), a young butcher's assistant, that he was sent to the Anchor and Hope, Great Charlotte-street, to fetch some beer for his master. There was a "mob of young fellows and girls" in the passage, and witness asked them to move, so that he might get to the counter. Darcy immediately struck him twice in the face, and one of the others wounded him on the head with some blunt instrument, so that he had to be taken to the hospital. Henry Curr, 219 L, said he was called to the house and arrested Darcy, who was very drunk. When charged at the station he said "I had nothing to do with it." . . . . . .  Two women named Mitchell and Jackson volunteered evidence on behalf of the prisoner, and swore that he did not strike the prosecutor, and that tall young man in a blue serge suit was the assailant. Moreover, the prosecutor brought the assault upon himself by refusing to make way for the "ladies" and applying a "nasty word" to them. These witnesses were sharply questioned by the magistrate, but beyond their evidence desire to exculpate the prisoner, they professed to know very little of what actually occurred, except that there was "a bit of a barney" in the passage, and that they saw blood flowing from the prosecutor's wounded head.

Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 24 July 1898




TERRORISM reigns supreme in Lambeth. For years the organised gangs of young ruffians who infest the neighbourhood have been getting worse and worse, until now it is no exaggeration to say that the more respectable portion of the community go in fear of their lives.
    The Oakley Street tragedy and other similar outrages have called the attention of public at large to the matter, but the residents in that particular district have long since become in some measures accustomed to the ways of the "Hooligans" and similar brutes.
    Probably the worst part of Lambeth is the New Cut and the streets immediately surrounding and it is from her that there pests of South London are mostly drawn. Sometimes they move about in gangs, dodging the police from street to street, and at other times go round in twos and threes waylaying anybody and everybody who looks as if he might have - to use their own expressive phrase - anything "wuth pinchin'."
    An Evening News representative has seen a man who quite recently was the victim of one of these outrages.
    "I am a barman," he said; "and the other night, after the house had closed, I was on my way home through Stamford Street. Up comes a chap and asks me for a light, and while I was feeling for the matches, another one comes up behind, blows out the light, hits me across the head with something sharp, and then they both sat on me while another one went through me."
    As an evidence that the story is not the outcome of a vivid imagination, the man bears a deep scar over the eye, which is still black from the force of the blow. This is not an isolated case, for the man's employer informed our representative that he knew many people who had been similarly waylaid late at night.
    A favourite occupation of the younger members of the gangs is to throw the newspaper placard-boards into the small shops which abound in the neighbourhood, and then if the shopkeeper dares to say anything he will probably have a stone put through his window. "It never used to be so," said an Oakley Street shopkeeper. "I've been here thirteen years, but lately the place is unbearable. In the evening I can't leave my shop a minute or I should have things stolen, and I've had my windows broken several times, and I do wish the police could do something to stop it."
    The police, however, are under considerable difficulty and seem almost powerless. About three years ago the trouble was very bad, but by vigorous measures it was stamped out, but, like a hardy weed, it has grown again, and is as vigorous as ever.
    There is little that these men, when in combination, will stop at, and the attempted rescue of Gould, the man on remand from Southwark charged with causing the death of a woman in Redcross Court, the threatening of the coroner and witnesses in the Oakley Street tragedy, are only instances showing that a very strong and determined hand will be wanted in the stamping out of the ruffians who are certainly more like beasts than men.
    There is nothing to distinguish the rough that terrorises these South London districts from his brother round Clerkenwell, Brick Lane, or Deptford. In every case his methods are much the same. He is an arrant bully and a coward, and alone, unless he can make a sudden assault from behind, is little to be feared, but as one of a gang he is capable of most horrible brutalities on the slightest provocation.
    "No respectable man is safe at night in any of the streets round here," say men who have lived in Oakley Street for many years.
    "I can take care of myself pretty well," said one, "but I never go out after dark without a loaded revolver, and if I was attacked I should shoot."
    "Yes, I know I'm liable to get into trouble for that, but I'd rather get into trouble that be laid out by one of that gang. Why, they'd half murder a man for a shilling."
    Scores of assaults are committed in the neighbourhood that the police never hear of, for the victim is frequently afraid to complain.
    The chief witness of the Oakley Street crime, who has since been threatened for giving evidence, is specially watched over, the policemen patrolling Oakley Street in couples. She is being equally closely watched by the gang the criminal belongs to. One of the leading spirits of this gang is, as is frequently the case, a woman, and she and her "pals" keep a steady watch on the witness's shop from a neighbouring house.
     From sixteen to twenty-five is the usual age of the Hooligan, and none can say that during that time he does any appreciable amount of honest work.
    He preys by night, and if he comes out of his den during the day he generally slouches about comparatively harmless; it is after dark that he can be seen in all his glory. Then if a stranger repulses a woman who speaks to him, it is 'Wot are you a-doin' to my wife?" and even if the victim is assaulted and robbed he does not care to complain when there are several of the gang willing to swear he has been insulting a woman. And if he does complain the chances are he will obtain no witnesses, for the whole neighbourhood goes in fear of these gangs.
    One of their sources of income is said to be the better-dressed rough who finds his victim coming up from the races. For half a sovereign the Lambeth Hooligans will cheerfully "bash" anyone the sporting blackguard chances to put them on to.
    A resident who knows the gang well says:- "The thing that would stop them would be the lash. Give it them, just before they come out, so that their friends can see the effect, and I'll warrant the outrages will soon be put a stop to."

Illustrated Police News, 30 July 1898

. . . . The Magistrate: We hear a great deal lately about Mr. Hooley, and also about the Hooligans, or the Hooligan gang. Do the Hooligans take their name from any particular person?
    A gentleman in court said he attributed the origin of the name to a comic song which was popular at the lower class of music-halls several years ago, and which was sung by the Brothers Hooligan.
    Mr. Paul Taylor thought that it was a probably explanation. The influence of the music-halls could often be traced in unexpected directions.

Illustrated Police News, 27 August 1898


A respectably-dressed young girl was set upon by four factory girls, and unmercifully beaten, at the Blackfriars-road end of Stamford-street, on Wednesday. Her screams attracted a crowd of persons, but the assailants disappeared down a side street, leaving their victim lying on the ground. When picked up she was found to be bleeding profusely from the nose and mouth. The injured girl explained to two policemen that she had only just left her place of employment and was proceeding home when she accidentally brushed against one of these four girls, who ere standing on the pavement.

Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 28 August 1898



AT the Tottenham Police Court, before Dr. Daly, Alfred Mardell, twenty-one, labourer, was charged on a warrant with damaging a lamp to the extent of 1s 6d., the property of Walter Harvey, of Avenue Road, South Tottenham.
    Prosecutor said he had undertaken the prosecution on behalf of his brother tradesmen. They were continually annoyed and had their windows broken. The prisoner was a member of a gang who called themselves"the South Tottenham Hooligan gang." . . . .

Illustrated Police News, 14 January 1899