London and Smithfield Market 18th-19th April

Sunday, came to London by seven o’clock, 22 miles. On coming to St James’ Park, the nobility and gentry were walking in the park by thousands, the evening being warm. The coaches were so many in waiting that they were a very wonderful sight to me when they began to coach as I was going past. I looked back, and all was in motion and driving quick step indeed. Put up at George and Blue Boar, Holborn.

Smithfield 1841 K2

April 19th – Attended Smithfield back and forward from five in the morning till four in the afternoon. It was that day a very overlaid market, 2000 cattle, and 8000 sheep and lambs. As this was a matter in which as a grazier I felt myself much interested, 1 paid very strict attention. So far as I could judge, small Galloway, very fat bullocks, sold at 10s to 11s, after our Scotch stone, Dutch weight; shorthorn heavy oxen, 9s 6d to 10s; Lancashire, ditto; Devonshire cattle, 11s to 12s; they mostly stand tied to strong railings made on purpose. The heavy cattle stand in droves; they cannot move much, the holders-up have prods in the end of a stick to goad their legs with to keep them on foot; after 100 miles, or perhaps double, were they to allow them to stand still a minute or two they would lie down, and could not easily rise again. So soon as the cattle are sold, the holder -up takes out his knife, cuts off all the hair, of which he makes money by selling it to the upholsterers. Being acquainted with the value and weight, I now and then risked my opinion as to weight and price; told the salesman I was a farmer; they saw this, and gave me every information I wished. I offered to treat them with a glass of wine or so, which they all declined; no drinking there, either buying or selling. The butchers that came to purchase are very civil also. The business is done at one word or two at most, or no bargain; very unlike our Scotch butchers in every respect. Both salesmen and butchers all wore light-blue aprons, which meet behind the back. Every kind of cattle have their own corner in the market place; different kinds of sheep have their own corner or place also; calves stand tied to stakes by themselves. The Market Place, I think, may be about two acres or thereabouts. When the market is full two clerks take up the list or number, which the salesman gives; as also when the market is over merely the average prices both of beef and mutton. I saw the market on Friday also, which was by far a better market; no persons sell their own cattle or sheep; it is all done by salesmen, who are either paid so much a head or so much a cwt. Many of the cattle are bought by carcase. Butchers who onIy kill and dress them sell the carcase or a side to cutters-out that retail out in small pieces, so small as half a pound. Leadenhall market is a very great wonder, to see the quality, how clean and neat it: is cut up in joints and pieces of every description. A great quantity of leather of every description sold here, as also fish and fowls. To see the manner in which they cut out the meat would be well worth the expense and trouble of any young man in this country that intends following the butcher line.


Fleet Market is another great butcher bank, and for many other articles. In this, as well as the last, after the steak is taken from the bones, they sell the bones in quantity to them who make soups, and marrow is also sold by the weight and at a very high price. Billingsgate is the greatest fish market, though there are many other places of less note. Meat and fish are to be had to buy in shops in every corner of the streets about in London.

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