WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Gentleman of Three Ins

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Gentleman of Three Ins

Lots of things come in threes.

Little pigs. French hens. Little kittens. Feet in a yard. BLT ingredients. Brontë sisters.

Sometimes frightening things come in threes: witches in Macbeth, Cerebrus’s heads, Hanson brothers. And this week’s slang.

Gentleman of Three Ins

In debt, in gaol, and in danger of remaining there for life; or, in gaol, indicted, and in danger of being hanged in chains.

I wrote several posts last year concerning the perilous nature of gaols and imprisonment in Regency England, which can be found here, here, here, and here. I won’t rehash the past, but instead rely on my dear Mr. Gillray to provide some period figurative illustrations rather than literal interpretations of this week’s slang.

In debt:

John Bull ground down by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 1 June 1795, National Portrait Gallery.

From the British Museum:

John Bull’s head and shoulders emerge from a gigantic coffee-mill. He is being ground by Pitt into guineas which pour from the spout of the machine into the inverted coronet of the Prince of Wales, held out by the Prince (left). The Prince points out his harvest of coins to a row of creditors. John Bull, his hands clasped, shrieks “Murder! Murder!” Pitt (right), both hands on the handle, is working hard, stripped to his shirt. His coat lies across an enormous heap of guineas on which he rests his left knee. He says: “God save great George our Ki . . .” Behind him, and in the upper right corner of the design, is the crown, the centre of a sun whose rays extend behind Pitt’s head, with the words: “Grind away! grind away grind away Billy! never mind his bawling! Grind away.” Other words from the crown are directed towards the victim: “What! – What! – what! Murder hay? why, you poor Stupe, is it not for the good of your Country? hay? hay”. Between Pitt and the post of the mill Dundas and Burke are grovelling for guineas: Burke, frowning, uses both hands; Dundas, who wears a plaid, fills his Scots cap.

In gaol:

Exaltation of Faro’s Daughters by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 12 May 1796, British Museum.

From the British Museum:

Lady Buckinghamshire (left) and Lady Archer (right) stand side by side in the pillory, heads and hands closely confined, their heads in profile to the right, weeping angrily. Both wear tall feathers in their hair and large pendent ear-rings. Lady Buckinghamshire is forced to stand painfully on tip-toe, a short petticoat exposes her fat legs. On the front of the platform is a placard: ‘Cure for Gambling Publish’d by Lord Kenyon in the Court of Kings Bench on May 9th 1796’. This is raised above the heads of the crowd, with grinning upturned faces in the foreground. Eggs, a cat, &c. fly through the air; the pillory and the dresses of the victims are bespattered. On the right is a house with spectators in the windows.

Hanging in:

Hanging. Drowning. by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 9 November 1795, National Portrait Gallery.

From the Historical and Descriptive Account of the Caricatures of James Gillray:

Fox. Pitt. Dundas. Another allusion to the love of the two Ministers for the bottle. It represents the different feelings with which the different parties in this country were supposed to have looked upon the decline of Republican principles in France at this time.

And lest we forget, three is a magic number.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ The Old Start

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ The Old Start

The Old Start (noun)

Newgate. “He is gone to The Old Start.” Also sometimes shortened to The Start. Cant.

Symptoms of the Finish of Some Sorts of Life in London - Tom, Jerry, and Logic in the Press Yard at Newgate, by Pierce Egan, 1823, courtesy British Library.

Symptoms of the Finish of Some Sorts of Life in London – Tom, Jerry, and Logic in the Press Yard at Newgate, by Pierce Egan, 1823, courtesy British Library.

Built in 1188 and demolished in 1904, Newgate stood at the intersection of Newgate Street at Old Bailey. It was the prison where all felons languished in some manner or other while awaiting trial: the filthier Common area for the poor and the State area for those who could afford to spend their incarceration in varying degrees of comfort.

Rioters burn down Newgate Prison during the 1780 Gordon Riots.

Rioters burn down Newgate Prison during the 1780 Gordon Riots.

The prison was badly damaged in the Gordon Riots of 1780, where followers and supporters of The Protestant Association of London protested the lessening of restrictions of Catholics under the new Papist Act of 1778. What began as a march on Parliament – the source of the hated Act – quickly grew to encompass foreign embassies with Catholic chapels and the Moorfields section of London, inhabited by poor Irish Catholics. As tempers flared further and restraint was wholly abandoned, the mob moved its attack to Newgate Prison, The Bank of England, The Fleet, and even the home of Lord Chief Justice, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield. According to the message scrawled on the outer wall of Newgate, the inmates had been freed (many never to be recaptured) by “His Majesty, King Mob.”

George Dance was commissioned to redesign and fix the damage, which was completed in 1782. The new Common and State areas were further divided into areas for debtors and felons, and men and women/children. The gallows were moved from Tyburn to Newgate at this time as well, making the prison the final destination for those headed for the noose.

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Cant term and definition for The Old Start taken from 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
Further information of the Gordon Riots can be found here.
Information about Newgate Prison culled from Knowledge of London.