The smallest donation thankfully received! c.1830

 
The smallest donation thankfully received! c.1830
4 0 c m
 
30cm
actual image size: 22cm x 29cm

Full image caption

In this print a young black crossing-sweeper stands on St. Martins Lane with a broom and an upturned hat, overtly begging for money from passers-by. In 1851 the journalist Henry Mayhew interviewed a number of London crossing sweepers. He commented that ‘Crossing-sweeping seems to be one of those occupations which are resorted to as an excuse for begging, and, indeed, as many expressed it to me, it was the last chance left of obtaining an honest crust'..
Crossing-sweeping was an occupation in Victorian London which absorbed a high proportion of the poor. It provided ample opportunity for begging under the cover of a semi-respectable profession. Although most adult crossing-sweepers had a regular pitch, children who set up as crossing-sweepers usually roamed from place to place.

© Museum of London

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