For this assignment, I decided to focus on Fenchurch Street, a location that was mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes story A Case Of Identity. In the story, Fenchurch Street is the location of Miss Sutherland’s step-father’s place of business. Located just around the block from here is Miss Sutherland’s fiancee’s home on Leadenhall Street, which (SPOILER ALERT) turns out to be Miss Sutherland’s step-father. You can see a picture of Fenchurch Street on a map I got from Victorian Google Maps below:
When I looked at the Charles Booth Online Archive, I found out that during the 19th century Fenchurch Street was a very poor area, as you can see on the map and color guide below. The black and blues show that people of the lowest classes lived in this area. This relates back to the Holmes story because Mr. Windibank, Miss Sutherland’s step-father, tried to pose as another man to make Miss Sutherland fall in love with him so he could eventually marry her and take all her money. Mr. Windibank’s place of business was also located just around the block from Fenchurch Street on Leadenhall Street. This area was a good location for Arthur Conan Doyle to put both of Mr. Windibank’s identities in because it shows that he has very little money. If he lived and worked in a different area it wouldn’t make as much sense to the story.
On the Old Bailey Archive, I did a search on my location and found a list of the crimes committed throughout the 19th century. Most of these crimes listed were for all things theft related, like grand larceny, shoplifting, pickpocketing, and even a couple of theft related murders. When I looked at the Locating London website, I found similar results. Then I decided to look at the British History Online website. When I searched my location on there, I found many texts involving businesses and factories, where I learned that this area held many businesses and industries and probably had many jobs that people of the working class had. I’m not saying that poor people were more likely to be criminals, but in order to survive and support their families people of the lower classes needed to do what they could, and theft was probably a last resort option for them to get necessities.