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Street children - Finding the pure

Street children - Finding the pure

Maddy introduces herself and describes how she came to be sleeping rough at Billingsgate.

She explains how she worked with her father, a pick-pocket. One day they are at a public execution at Newgate prison.

Maddy's father tries to pick a pocket in the crowd but is caught.

Maddy escapes from the scene and goes to find her grandfather elsewhere in London.

Maddy's grandfather explains that her father will probably be transported - taken to Australia. If Maddy wants to stay with him she will have to earn her keep, helping him to find the pure.

Pure-finding was a popular Victorian occupation and involved collecting dog faeces to sell to the tanneries that used it in the process of making leather. The job required no skill and so became very popular...leading to a dramatic fall in the value of a bucket of pure.

Maddy has no choice other than to do as her grandfather urges. However, when he dies suddenly she is left homeless and goes to join the other children on the street.

Victorians - Street children - supporting resources:

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