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Great Britain

Map of the British Isles. 1910.

English Port Cities ° Bristol  ° Chester ° Dartmouth ° Falmouth  ° Gravesend  ° Harwich ° Hull Docks: Bessemer Steamer ° Liverpool  ° London (Billingsgate) ° Newcastle-Upon-Tyne  ° Plymouth  ° Southampton  ° Portsmouth  ° Weymouth  ° Woolwich (The Hulks)

Crown Dependency of the United Kingdom (Crown Colonys): ° The Channel Islands ° Cornwall  ° Isle of Man  ° Isle of Wight


In the 18th and 19th centuries, London rapidly expanded its port, national and international trade flourished, and the River Thames became the focal point for the export and import of the products of the new industrial revolution. Greenwich, on the River Thames was the birthplace of Henry VIII & Elizabeth I; Samuel Pepys lived in Greenwich, and Charles Dickens visited & wrote about it, it is home to a royal observatory and a naval hospital.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

Despite his father's conversion to the Anglican faith and his own baptism at the age of thirteen, Disraeli never lost his pride in being part of the Jewish people. He was elected as a conservative member of Parliament in 1837. Soon after, he founded the Young England movement with other young Tories. He was a favorite of Queen Victoria and became Prime Minister of England, leading the Tory Party in 1868. In 1875, he helped England acquire the Suez Canal and had Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India. In two of his novels, Alroy and Tancred, he described the Jewish desire for independence in their own land.

Great Britain: London

January 9, 1884, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

An Autograph Letter Received In thin City from the Philanthropist.

On the occasion of the celebration of the centennial of Sir Moses Montefiore in England, Montefiore Lodge, No. 51, 1. O. B. B., of this city, sent the congratulations of that body and have received the following autographic letter in reply from the distingaished Hebrew philanthropist.

East Cliff Lodge, 
Ramsgate, 15th November, 5644, 1883.

To the President, all the Esteemed Members and the Secretary of "Montefiore Lodge No. 5I," San Francisco My Dear Sirs : Your most esteemed letter, conveying, to me your felicitations on the occasion of my entering, by the blessing of God, upon my hundreth year of life, has reached me on the eighth of Heshran, and I feel great pleasure in expressing to you my warmest acknowledgment for the kind sentiments you were pleased to evince toward me.

London.England.In appreciation of the honor conferred on me by your communication, I have placed the same among the important documents I keep in Judith, Lady Montenore's Theological College, with a view of making known to those who attend there for the study of our Holyday and the Hebrew literature, the kindness which prompted you to address me on the auspicious event.

Most fervently do I pray to Him who has ever been and ever will be the Guardian of Israel to cause His choice blessings to alight upon yourself and your respected family, so that you may be permitted to continue in your praiseworthy work of benevolence for many years to come, in full enjoyment of your happiness.

With reiterated thanks, I am, my dear sirs, yours very truly, Moses Montefiore.

Tocacco Warehouse, London Docks. 1856.
Tobacco Warehouse
London Docks

In 1884, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was established. GMT is sometimes called Greenwich Meridian Time because it is measured from the Greenwich Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. All time around the world is measured relative to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and all places have a latitude (their distance North or South of the Equator) and a longitude (their distance East or West of the Greenwich Meridian). Greenwich has a Longitude of 0° 0' 0" and Latitude 51° 28' 38"N (North of the Equator).

The Thames was Britain's life-blood. It connected London with the global market for Britain's goods and influence. London's naval buildings were built along the Thames and included the Long Room Custom House, India House Sale Room, South Sea House Dividend Hall, Trinity House, the Royal dockyards (in the Thames Estuary) West India Docks (developed in the early 1800s on the Isle of Dogs in East London), and Lloyd's Subscription room. St. Katharine Docks were opened on October 25, 1828.

October 1, 1892, Fitchburg Daily Sentinel, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Wakeman's Wanderings
London's Billingsgate

The Greatest Wholesale Fish Market in the World -
Older then Authentic British History - 
Its Ancient Fishwives Are No More - 
Interesting Surroundings and Odd Characters

You can fairly smell Billingsgate market, the greatest wholesale fish market of London, and the most important fish market in all the world, long before you can see it. It has a hint of the sea air in it. Tar and oakum are suggested. Floating to your senses, along with the coming of the first rays of the morning sun broken by the grim and lofty Monument, it tells more than of the stuffy market and its steaming throngs. It carries the fancy pleasantly along past London's grim waterside structures and the webs of spars and rigging, down the widening Thames and on past pretty Margate to the wide free reaches of the blue North sea. There is that wondrous sea harvest field, from Dover to upper Norway, are rocking the fisher fleets.

Billingsgate. London. c. 1875.

In olden days, indeed not more than a quarter of a century ago, these sent their catches to the London market. And a pretty sight it must then have been, when the fleet came up here to the old Billingsgate wharf, just under the shadows of historic London Bridge; the Dutch built eel boats, with their bulging polished oaken sides, half hidden in the river mist; punts packed with flounders and small closely crowded baskets ranged along the seats, scores of oyster punts filled with gray masses of sand and shell; weather beaten luggers packed with herrings, cod and ling, and all about the wharf and swarming like flies aboard all manner of closely anchored fishing craft, sailors, fishermen, coasters, Billingsgate fishwives, and fine ladies too, engaged in the chaffering and bantering of eager selling and buying.

But that day is past. The olden color and brightness are gone. Hard mercantile thrift and modern methods have banished the fine ladies who in gentle "slumming" mood made their own purchases at Billingsgate and took back into choice London society the wondrous sayings of the Billingsgate women, whose tongues were the readiest and wickedest in all the world.

The fishwives are gone, and their only existing prototypes are at the Claddagh, Galway, Ireland.

Steam vessels scurry about the North Sea grounds, secure the fish where they are taken and bring them to the mouth of the Thames. Here other larger fast sailing steam craft are laden, and these, varying in number according to the season, daily bring the vast fish supply of London, landing it at the very doors of Billingsgate, much as the fish supply of New York city is set down in the East River at the back doors of ramshackle old Fulton Market.

Billingsgate Market still stands just where it has stood for centuries. How many centuries, no man knows. Iconoclasts without reverence for even the antiquities of a fish say a fellow by the name of Billing owned a wharf upon the same spot in Queen Elizabeth's reign, and hence its name. But I have seen a preamble to an Act of Parliament (in 10 and 12 of William III) to make Billingsgate a free market for the sale of fish, in which, among other "whereases," is one reciting that "Billingsgate has time out of mind been a free market for all manner of floating and salt fish, as also for all manner of lobsters and shellfish."

Tradition, which is good history when authorities differ, lends the place its more fitting antiquity and insists that it owes its origin to Belin, an ancient king of the Britons, who flourished 400 years B.C., and who, observing an opportunity for gain like a true Briton, erected a gate here through which the fishermen of his day were made to pass and pay toll before they could sell their fish, and hence the name Belin's Gate, finally corrupted to Billingsgate.

However all this may be, Billingsgate is the oldest wharf on the Thames, and that is saying much for it on the line of age. The market building and the ground it stands upon is owned by the London municipal authorities. Its river frontage is 200 feet and its superficial area is 40,000 square feet, affording sites for seventeen shops and two large public houses. It is located in the densest part of what may be termed waterside London, on the north bank of the Thames. Just above it, to the west, is old London Bridge - a bridge probably better known in the literature of fiction and travel than any other similar structure in the world.

Just below it to the east is the new Tower Bridge in process of construction for the past six years (and officially opened June 30, 1994).

Billingsgate. 1852.

Immediately adjoining, to the west, are the great Levant and Spanish fruit markets, and on the other side, seaward, stands the huge Doric fronted London custom house. Immediately opposite, across the Thames on the Surrey side, is the tremendous reach of the Surrey Commercial docks, vast, grim, black, and half in mist, and the Thames at this point between London and Tower Bridges is called the "Upper Pool." It is said to carry here more floating traffic than any other reach of water approaching it in size upon the face of the globe.

Owing to the dense massing of river traffic at this point and the inconceivably congested nature of the population, narrowness of streets and seeming inextricability of street traffic banking up against and hemming in Billingsgate from all directions, it would almost seem that London would have long since found some more accessible and convenient depot for the disposal of her enormous fish supply. Yet all attempts to abandon Billingsgate or divert its trade have proven futile. "Conservatism," tradition, and even superstition balk all efforts of this character. Dealers tell me they would go out of business if they had to leave Billingsgate. Fishermen would not feel easy about their consignments to any new market. Coasters have repeatedly told me that their best customers among the poor of the East End would not buy or eat fish that had not the time honored seal of Billingsgate inscription upon it.

The varieties of fish which are in their respective seasons delivered at Billingsgate market certainly number nearly 100. During this month I have noticed perch, periwinkles, pike, anchovies, roach, salmon, gurnard, haddocks, herrings, flounders, turbot, sprats, jack, ling, plaice, dories, prawns, catfish, mullets, whelks, coalfish, trout, soles, pilchards, eels and conger fish, dogfish, bream, hake, shad, weavers, skate, smelts, whitebait, tench, sturgeon and perhaps a dozen other varieties, and the total weight is from 12,000 to 13,000 tons per month to 150,000 per year.

Of this vast quantity fully two thirds reaches London by railway. All the fish from Ireland is sent across St. George's channel in fast steamers and thence by rail. Salmon and trout all come by rail, and much of the northern North Sea yield, taken off east Scottish shores, and even some of the catches from about Yarmouth and Scarborough, are for the sake of time saving thus transferred. Small wheeled, lead lined vans are provided by the railways. These are dragged by horses from fishing stations or quays to railway stations, wheeled into the railway vans, and this brought to London without breaking bulk. On arrival here they are wheeled to the streets and dragged by horses through the streets from various stations to Billingsgate. Fully 100,000 tons of fish annually reach the market in this manner.

Fishing Boats bring their catch to the 
Quayside at Billingsgate Fish Market

Over three fourths of all the fish consumed by London passes inspection at Billingsgate. As the market is city property the officials for this purpose, four in number, are appointed by the Court of the Fishmongers' Company, one of the ancient but still thoroughly active Guilds or Trades Companies of London. It has a fine Fishmongers' Hall near London Bridge, and expends many thousands yearly in preventing the sale of decayed fish. All fish condemned by its inspectors are immediately conveyed to a waiting barge, treated with carbolic acid and sent to fertilizing works at Rainham, where after being baked dry they are ground to powder and sold at about five pounds per ton to the strawberry and hop farmers of Kent for fertilizing purposes.

The fish steamers arrive alongside the market at all hours of the night and early morning. At precisely 5 o'clock in the morning the market opens. Long lines of plank are laid from the market quay over barges and pontoons to the steamers' decks, and every ounce of fish is brought over these these in baskets and bags on porters' heads and backs. At the same time the railway vans are unloading on the landward side, But six can be cared for at the same time. The confusion and entanglement are indescribable.

One who witnesses the scene for the first time is filled with amazement that the largest and most civilized capital in the world will tolerate such antiquated methods. But the porters are wonderfully deft, alert, and carry incredible loads. I have seen many laden with from 200 to 300m pounds weight. They will positively frisk under a barrel of herrings which weighs 200 pounds, and there is no question many of these fellows can easily get about the market with upward of 400 pounds properly distributed upon head and back.

These Billingsgate porters are regarded as the strongest, quickest, and most athletic men in London. They live in every respect like the water rats of the Thames and the aristocracy of the Whitechapel district. Their only earthly ambitions are to eat, drink, visit "penny gaffs," rat and dog fights and excel in pugilism. They are licensed, and the strictest regulations exist regarding their conduct, even to the character of language. To lose their license is worse than imprisonment as a criminal. Their "reputations" among their fellows, the coasters, and the East End slums are gained by their prowess and strength here. It is their world, their highest, broadest outlook, and they are really curiosities in social or literary studies.

They delight especially in odd sounding nicknames. In my few visits to Billingsgate I have already come to know and be favorably known by "Fishy Jim," "Cocky Jim," "Black Prince," "Jack the Float," "Happy Jack," "Johnny Shoeblack, "Jimmy Fingers" - the latter because of his thieving propensities; "Blue Nose Mike," Cross Eyed Joe," and "Four Ale Jim." The latter is never quite at his best unless he has drunk six or seven quarts of ale before breakfast. The oath of all these Billingsgate porters, like that of the coasters, to which class they have marked affinities, of "Gor blimey" and its wickedness too abhorrent for translation. They comprise two classes in their daily market work - those who bring the fish from the steamers into the market, who are called "shorers," and those who remove the fish to the stallmens' wagons to the coasters' carts, who are called "mobbers."

Billingsgate Market, London
Published March 1, 1808
T. & Pugin Rowlandson

The pugilists of London chiefly have their origin among the Billingsgate porters. They have their regular champions at "seven stone six," "eight stone six," and "eleven stone," and Officer 790, Policeman F. Wade, informed me that there is not a man among them who has not at some time or another appeared in a Whitechapel ring. Bill Goode, who fought Slavin, is still a licensed porter here.

Among many curious characters is one Cornelius Callahan, known as "Mike the Tipster." He is a ne'er do well and a privileged person. He makes great ostentation of his knowledge of the state of the market. Getting up at 2 o'clock in the morning, he prowls about the fishing steamers, and then just before the market opens he slips about among buyers and sellers and whispers "the tip o' the day" in their ears. The ha' penny is always forthcoming. On Saturday afternoon, just before the market is closed for the week, they have a game with Mike. He regularly appears for his buffeting, and often in the rough play that ensues Mike is nearly killed. Then the hat is passed, and from six to ten shillings are always paid the willing victim.

At Billingsgate fish are sold by auction and a veritable Babel the place is from 5 to 8 or 9 o'clock. There are two classes of sellers. One comprises the regular commission men to whom the fishermen consign their catches, and the other is a thoroughly hated but most prosperous class, known to Billingsgate from time immemorial as "bummarees."

These are really middle men, who practice all possible arts to combine and force the regular commission men, who have but a short limit of time in which to sell, to dispose of lots at ruinous prices, and through similar combination often compel retailers to purchase at exorbitant rates. But however interesting may be the interior of Billingsgate to the casual visitor, the adjacent thoroughfares from midnight, when the first retail buyers begin coming, until the close of the market at 9 o'clock, provide far more strange and curious pictures and and groupings. Upper and Lower Thames Street, Eastcheap and Great Tower Streets, Tower Hill, Fish Street Hill, St Mary at Hill, St. Dunstan's Hill, King William Street, Arthur Streets, east and west, Grace Court and Love Lane, are apparently inextricably jammed with hundreds of railway fish vans, greengrocers' wagons, and coasters' donkey carts and handbarrows.

There is no other place in London where such a vast and so odd a jumble of vehicles and folk may at any time be seen. Over 4,000 vehicles for the bringing or taking away of fish are here. With them are 10,000 coaster men and women, and an unnameable, indescribable host of petty street vendors and hangers on. If you can arrive here on a foggy morning when the first rays of the sun are filtering through the fleece fold of mist flapping up with the tide along the Thames, you will then know old Billingsgate as Dickens and Thackeray knew it, and will long for power and space in which to paint with pen or pencil one the strangest, oddest scenes to be found in this mighty London town.

Edgar L. Wakeman

Copyright 1891 by Edgar L. Wakeman 
London, September 19.

The Penitentiary Prison, Millbank.

HMS Royal Albert. Around at the Island of Zea. 1856.

This establishment was formed for the purpose of trying the effect of a system of imprisonment, founded on humane and rational principles; in which the prisoners should be separated into classes, be compelled to work, and their religious and moral habits properly attended to. The external walls form an irregular octagon, and enclose no less than eighteen acres of ground enclosing seven distinct though conjoined masses of building, the centre being a regular hexagon, and the others branching from its respective sides. By this means the governor or overseer may, at all times, from the windows in the central part, have time power of overlooking every division of the prison. The buildings were designed to accommodate 1000 persons. No person can be admitted to view this prison without an order from the Home Secretary of State, or unless he is accompanied by one of the committee of management. ~~ Mogg's New Picture of London, 1844


Every male and female convict sentenced to transportation in Great Britain is sent to Millbank previous to the sentence being executed. Here they remain about three months under the close inspection of the three inspectors of the prison, at the end of which time the inspectors report to the Home Secretary, and recommend the place of transportation. The number of persons in Great Britain and Ireland condemned to transportation every year amounts to about 4000. ~~ Handbook of London, 1850

London.Consuming Splendor. Consuming Splendor: 
Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century England
Consuming Splendor.
Linda Levy Peck
A study of the ways in which the consumption of luxury goods transformed social practices, gender roles, royal policies, and, specifically, the economy in seventeenth-century England through new ways of shopping; aspirations and identities shaped by print, continental travel, and trade to Asia, Africa, the East and West Indies; new building, furnishing, and collecting; and the relationship of technology, luxury and science.

United Kingdom.Princesses Behaving Badly.
Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale EndingsPrincesses Behaving Badly.
Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

From Strangers to Citizens: The Integration of Immigrant Communities in Britain, Ireland and Colonial America, 1550-1750England. 
Randolph Vigne, Charles Littleton

Emigration from the United Kingdom to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, July 1871 - April 1872England. 
Ira A. GlazierEmpire and Globalisation.England.

Empire and Globalisation: Networks of People, Goods and Capital in the British World, c.1850-1914England.
Gary B. Magee

Emigration from the United Kingdom to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, July 1872 - December 1872England.
Ira A. Glazier

Emigration from the United Kingdom to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, June 1873 - December 1873England. 
Ira A. Glazier 
The original passenger lists transcribed by shipping agents and ship's officers and filed by all vessels entering US ports have been used in the preparation of Emigration from the United Kingdom to America. Presented in chronological order by each ship's date of arrival, these passenger lists provide the names of ships, ports of departure and arrival and debarkation dates. The researcher can also locate data regarding a person's age, sex and occupation as well as village of origin and destination when reported.
Historical atlas of the British Empire. The Penguin Historical Atlas of the British Empire 
Nigel Dalzier, Prof. John Mackenzie 
Beautifully illustrated and affording overviews of Romans, the Celts, the Anglo Saxons and various other peoples in Britain. Topics cover "animal, mineral, and vegetable," plus economical, sociological, and anthropological overviews . . . and a view of how the British Isles ended up controlling more than half the world.

Society in Victorian Britain.
Public LivesEngland.
Women, Family, and Society in Victorian Britain
Eleanor Gordon, Gwyneth Nair
Yale University PressBillingsgate Market Cookbook.Billingsgate Market Cookbook.

Billingsgate Market CookbookBillingsgate Market Cookbook.
C.J. Jackson
Billingsgate, England's largest and most famous inland fish market, offes buyers the opportunity to see the widest selection of fish in the United Kingdom, is steeped in history and tradition. Its origins can be traced back to 1327 when Edward III granted London's citizens a charter concerning the market rights of the City of London. Today Billingsgate Market is based in London's Docklands where, at 5 a.m. every Monday to Saturday, a bell is tolled and London's "free and open market for all sorts of fish whatsoever" opens for business. This book celebrates the market's fascinating history and explores market life today. Amusing stories from the floor and facts and trivia about the market are combined with C.J. Jackson's invaluable advice on selecting fish, sustainability, techniques for fish preparation and over 80 delicious recipes.

Literary Fiction

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, young Dickens new hunger and privation, but also the horror of the infamous debtors' prison and the evils of child labor. A legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and afforded Dickens two years' formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney's clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by BozEngland. (1836) and The Pickwick PapersEngland. (1837) brought him amazing success.

London. Amy Levy: Her Life & LettersAmy Levy.
Linda Hunt Beckman
After a century of critical neglect, poet and writer Amy Levy is gaining recognition as a literary figure of stature. This definitive biography accompanied by her letters, along with the recent publication of her selected writings, provides a critical appreciation of Levy's importance in her own time and in ours.

As an educated Jewish woman with homoerotic desires, Levy felt the strain of combating the strictures of British society in the 1880s, the decade in which she built her career and moved in London's literary and bohemian circles. Unwilling to cut herself off from her Jewish background, she had the additional burden of attempting to bridge the gap between communities.Amy Levy.

The Complete Novels and Selected Writings of Amy Levy, 1861-1889
Melvin New

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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