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Biddy the Chiver’s Khazi

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  • #31
    Er - Enright?

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Robert Linford View Post
      Er - Enright?
      Yes, Bridget Enright. A Kerry woman.

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      • #33
        Just a reminder of who Biddy the Chiver was, from Raphael Samuels’ biography of Arthur Harding, East End Underworld - in Harding’s own words:

        “Another character who haunted Brick Lane at that time was Biddy the Chiver. She and China Bob were natural enemies - he inflicted injuries upon with her his little hatchett what he carried about in his inside pocket. Biddy would have a go at anything, 'lumbering' a man and all the rest of it - i.e. luring him into some dark alley and them stripping him. There were a lot of people like that. They wouldn't thieve but they would terrorise people. Biddy was an attractive woman, while she was young. She had everything that men admire in a woman except the power to control her evil nature. She easily lost control. I first met her when I went to a party in a friend's house. Our eyes met across a crowded room. I liked the look of her. We talked and I wanted to know more about her. Someone warned me of her reputation for violence, so I left her alone. Biddy lived by making other women pay up to her, know what I mean? She'd terrorise all them people who got a living lumbering sailors and that kind of thing. Men as well as women were afraid of her. With her, you couldn't be sure you'd get away with superficial wounds. Sometimes a knife goes just too deep - or too near a vital spot - they are dangerous things to play with, and Biddy always worked with a knife. Her evil nature made her notorious. They called her 'Biddy the Chiver' and she lived up to her name. She slashed a woman's face with a broken glass, inflicting nasty injuries. She was acquitted at her trial at the Old Bailey because the witness swore it was an accident.*

        Years slipped by. She looked what she was. She was dark-haired and slim - no superfluous flesh on her - but she wasn't attractive in any shape or form. She had a couple of nasty scars on her face and her reputation was very, very bad. Not many people would associate with her, not even men. She wasn't a desirable sort of person. She lived on Flower and Dean Street and carried on in the same old way, with small convictions for fighting, but nothing to put her away. Old Smithy owned the rooms and I think he was a wee bit wary of turning her out when she didn't pay her rent. Then she met and married a man who treated her very badly; she was frequently seen with bruises on her face. One day it happened. She went to look for him, found him with another woman and stabbed him to death. She was sentenced to three years for manslaughter, diminished responsibility. She died in Holloway prison.”


        *Raphael Samuels' note:

        “I have found no court cases with anyone resembling Biddy the Chiver. According to Arthur, 'everyone wanted to buy him a drink after the case because of the acquittal.' “

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        • #34
          Bridget Enright was born in 1874 in Red Lion Square, Tredegar, south Wales. Her father, Patrick was a ‘coker’, presumably working in the iron works for which the town was renowned. Both he and Bridget’s mother, Bridget née Enright, were Irish born. Judging by the 1881 census and the account of the riot discovered by Robert, Red Lion Square was an Irish enclave, most of whose male residents were employed in the iron industry.

          By 1881, however, the Enrights had relocated to Llangattock, about ten miles from Tredegar. Patrick, aged 29, was a labourer in an iron works and his household consisted of:

          Bridget (wife), aged 29, born in Ireland.
          Julia (dau) aged 9, born in Tredegar.
          Bridget (dau) aged 7, born in Tredegar.
          Patrick (son) aged 5, born in Tredegar.
          Michael (son) aged 3, born in Tredegar.
          Catherine (dau) aged 1, born in London.

          Patrick and Bridget had been married in the Crickhowell registration district (Wales) in 1870, so I’m not sure if they hailed from the same part of Ireland. However, on a later census Bridget gave her place of birth as Kerry.

          The family spent the night of 29th June, 1886 in the casual ward of the Abergavenny Union workhouse. They had been in Brecon the day before and claimed to be en-route to Hereford. By then it appears that the daughter Catherine recorded in 1881 had died and three new children had appeared on the scene:

          Mary, aged 2 years.
          James, aged 10 months.
          Catherine, aged 6 months.

          The recorded age difference between James and Catherine is rather odd.*

          It’s possible that this 1886 tramp into England was the family’s final farewell to Wales. Although, as the older Catherine’s London birth suggests, they may have occasionally travelled back and forth between the capital and Wales in search of employment. The West Ham connection raises the possibility that Patrick may have been employed in the Thames Iron Works there.

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tham...ilding_Company


          *Edit: It could be that Catherine’s age was 6 years rather than 6 months, but I have found an 1883 death (Crickhowell) and an 1886 birth (Bedwellty) which suggest there were two Catherines.

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          • #35
            Incidentally, it would seem that the iron masters of Tredegar played a significant part in the American Civil War.

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tredegar_Iron_Works

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            • #36
              The earliest evidence of Bridget’s being in London - and the only evidence of her being called Biddy the Chiver - is the following report printed in Lloyd’s Weekly on 28th July, 1895:

              BIDDY THE CHIVER

              Kate Webb, 18, hawker, was indicted for unlawfully wounding Bridget Enwright. The prosecutrix resides in Boot-street, Hoxton and is an ironer by calling. On June 11 she met the prisoner and they had liquor at different public-houses. Webb next met more of her female friends, and asked Enright whether she had money sufficient to stand “treat” round. She replied, “No”, and walked away, whereupon it was alleged that the prisoner followed and stabbed her with a penknife in the head and in her breast, having previously remarked, “You have got to have it.” The prisoner, who was said to have been in liquor at the time of the occurrence, made allegations against the prosecutrix of violence towards her. The complainant, she said, menaced her and said, “Do you know who I am? I’m Biddy the Chiver,” and pulled out a knife. The prosecutrix denied this, but admitted she had a wound on her head, caused by a blow from a pewter pot on Bank Holiday. - The prisoner was found “Guilty.” - The Recorder felt the case was one of six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. - The prisoner undertook not to renew the quarrel with the prosecutrix, and she was released on entering into a recognisance to be of good behaviour, and to come up for sentence if called upon.


              (Thanks to Debra for alerting me to this and to Paul for discovering it.)

              There is no mention of the nickname in the official Old Bailey transcript, so without the almost identical reports in Lloyds on 28th July and The People on 4th August, the Chiver’s identity might well have remained a mystery.

              https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/brow...-582#highlight

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              • #37
                The following notice from the Police Gazette provided a possible clue as to the name of Bridget’s husband - the one Harding claimed she killed in a jealous rage:

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                • #38
                  This would appear to be the record of their 1907 marriage at the RC Church of Our Lady and St. Joseph, Kingsland.

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                  I have the GRO cert on order. From that we should learn the couple’s addresses and occupations at the time of their marriage.

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                  • #39
                    Before I forget, here’s the evidence for the house in question being 3, CBY:

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                    • #40
                      There are inaccuracies in a number of Arthur Harding’s anecdotes. Those concerning “Scabby”, “China Bob” and “Spud” Murphy, for example, have been discussed on another thread. And the fact that other than when he gets him muddled up with “Scabby” Harding is entirely silent about Billy Maher - in his day surely the most man in Spitalfields - makes me wonder how much personal experience he actually had of the “Terrors” he mentions.

                      As we progress through the Biddy story, we’ll find sufficient correlation between the facts and Harding’s anecdotes to id our Bridget as his Biddy, but the dramatic conclusion to his version seems to have no basis in fact. Did he ever meet her? Did their eyes really meet across a crowded room? Did he lean on one of Biddy’s victims to ensure she didn’t prosecute her?

                      I personally hae ma doots, and I think we can even have a stab (or should that be a chiv?) at guessing where Arthur obtained his info about Biddy.

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                      • #41
                        She doesn't seem to have murdered her husband, anyway.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Robert Linford View Post
                          She doesn't seem to have murdered her husband, anyway.
                          Have you found him after 1934, Rob?

                          He was clearly a violent individual and there is some evidence to suggest he may have been so towards his wife (do you recall the fractured ribs?) More about that later.

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                          • #43
                            Gary, yes he's in CBY in 1935 electorals.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Robert Linford View Post
                              Gary, yes he's in CBY in 1935 electorals.
                              Ah, thanks.

                              I’m still waiting for Biddy’s marriage and death certs, so I’ll hold off for the time being with anything more from 1907+.

                              The moths have been put on notice that I intend to get a copy of Patrick and Bridget’s marriage cert, copies of Biddy’s various siblings’ birth certs and the Catherine death cert to provide some more detail of the Enrights’ time in Wales.

                              In the meantime there is one incident worth mentioning that almost matches one of Arthur’s jackanories (brought over from the “My Apprenticeship to Crime: Arthur Harding” thread):


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                              The fact that Biddy wasn’t charged with bottling Minnie Cross is reminiscent of the incident Arthur relates of her being acquitted of glassing a woman. His comment about people wanting to buy him a drink after the acquittal implies he had something to do with the victim’s unwillingness to prosecute, but he would only have been 15 at the time of this incident.

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                              • #45
                                I think these Poplar settlement examination notes refer to Biddy’s family.

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