Every so often, some of the everyday residents of the East End of London come to the fore in the Victorian newspapers. largely on account of the fact that they had been involved in a some for of criminal activity. Of course, what is certain is that life was tough for these people, and, in consequence, their everyday fight to survive had, most certainly, toughened them up.
When these accounts of their actions and activities appear in the newspapers, we find ourselves getting a glimpse of the characters of some of these people, and, it must be said, some of those glimpses are, to say the least, none too flattering.
BRIDGET HODGES – THE TERROR OF SPITALFIELDS
Take, for example, the case of Bridget Hodges, who in June, 1898, ten years after the Jack the Ripper murders, found herself in court charged with having viscously assaulted Amelia Kennedy.
The account of her appearance in court, as reported in The South Wales Echo on Tuesday 7th June 1898, even goes on to tells us that Bridget was known locally as “the terror of Spitalfields”:-
“You have lost one eye,” said Bridget Hodges to Amelia Kennedy, as they met outside the Tower on Saturday night. “I will knock out the other.” But her aim was defective, for Amelia received the blow on her mouth, losing one of her teeth.
Bridget was about to redeem her pledge with a large hat-pin when a constable came up and arrested her.
A POOR WIDOW
At the Thames Police Court yesterday Bridget, who bears the honorary title of the “Terror of Spitalfields,” said it was all lies. She had lately buried her husband, and the other woman had been spreading abroad the slander that she assassinated him.
“She’s just done six months for stabbing a man,” she added.
“What if I have,” sneered Amelia contemptuously, you ‘ad six months for uttering base coin.”
“Two months’ hard labour,” remarked Mr Mead.
“Wait till I come out,” hissed the “terror,” darting a poisonous look at the one-eyed prosecutrix. “You had better be dead by then.”
The London Daily News, also Tuesday 7th June 1898, carried a similar account of what had occurred between these two charming ladies:-
“Bridget Hodges was charged before Mir. Mead, at the Thames Police Court yesterday, with assaulting Amelia Kennedy.
The prosecutrix said that on Saturday night the defendant, who was the “terror of Spitalfields,” came up and said to her, “You have lost one eye; I will knock out the other.”
IT’S ALL LIES
Defendant:- “It’s all lies, your worship. She is always on to me – a poor widow, who lost her old man a few weeks ago. She keeps saying that I murdered the poor dear. Just you go to Worship Street [Police Court} if you want her character. Why, she has just done six months for stabbing a man.
Prosecutrix:-“What if I have? You had six months for uttering counterfeit coin.”
Mr Mead sentenced the defendant to two months’ hard labour.
Defendant (to the prosecutrix) “You just wait till I come out. You had better be dead by then.”