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mistress, in order to follow it home, and to wait for an opportunity to lure it away with
a piece of coarse liver—fried and pulverised, mixed up with tincture of myrrh or
opium—or perhaps with a bitch in heat (Mayhew 1950: 232). Mayhew describes the
practice of a typical 'lurker' by the name of 'Chelsea George', who was said to clear
150 1 . yearly through his dog-stealing activities:
Chelsea George caresses every animal who seems 'a likely spec,' and when his
fingers have been rubbed over the dogs' noses they become easy and perhaps
willing captives. A bag carried for the purpose, receives the victim, and away
goes George, bag and all, to his printer's in Seven Dials. Two bills and no less
—two and no more, for such is George's style of work—are issued to describe
the animal that has thus been found, and which will be 'restored to its owner
on payment of expenses.' One of these George puts in his pocket, the other he
pastes up at a public-house whose landlord is 'fly' to its meaning, and poor
'bow-wow' is sold to a 'dealer in dogs,' not very far from Sharp's alley. In
course of time the dog is discovered; the possessor refers to the 'establishment'
where he bought it; the 'dealer makes himself square, ' by giving the address of
'the chap he bought 'un of,' and Chelsea George shows a copy of the
advertisement, calls in the publican as a witness, and leaves the place 'without
the slightest imputation on his character'.
(Mayhew 1968:52, emphases in original)
Now the dog-stealer was always hidden in this way behind the figure of the
'restorer' or go-between who offered to help return the stolen dog. In this
connection, Elizabeth Barrett's Mr Taylor, of Manning Street, Edgware Road, or of
Shoreditch, or perhaps of Paddington, crops up time and again in police and
parliamentary reports on the dog-stealing trade. An owner of a Scotch terrier
eventually restored for 4 1 . was referred to this same Mr Taylor, who is said to have
replied, 'with surprising familiarity': 'Ah, and you have got a valuable greyhound; I
heard a man say he should have that too before long.' Nominally a shoemaker, this
Mr Taylor was only the most notorious associate of the numerous thieves said to
exist in places like Bayswater, Bethnal Green, Spitalfields, Paddington and
Hammersmith. 5 The Metropolitan Police Report for 1837 identified as many as
141 dog-stealers in the capital, of whom 45 lived wholly by the trade, 48 augmenting
their ostensible occupations, and 48 being associates (Mayhew 1968: 41-42). The
corresponding figures for stolen dogs and prosecutions for 1841-3 were given in the
same report, shown in Table 2.1 .
According to estimates produced by William Bishop, the dog fancier and
champion of a society for prosecuting dog-stealers and their confederates, up to July
1844 there were 151 known victims of the dog-stealers, 62 of whom had paid out
ransoms in 1843 and the first half of 1844. These persons all together had paid the
dog-stealers nearly a thousand pounds, at an average of 6 1 .10s. each. From these
same figures Mayhew listed 36 specially prominent individuals who had paid 438 1 .
5 s .6 d ., an average of upwards of 12 1 . each, and he suggested that over 2000 1 . a year
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