'The party breaking up' by Thomas Rowlandson, a depiction of a traffic accident

Description

Depicted here is a scene of confusion as a sedan chair topples over in the night-time gloom of an urban street. Sedan chairs had been popular in Britain since the Tudor period (Henry VIII was regularly conveyed in one) but had gained something of a status symbol by the mid seventeenth century. Much like modern taxi cabs today, many were hired on street corners and carried by licensed ‘chairmen’. By the early Georgian period sedan chairs became particularly popular amongst the wealthy elite as a private mode of transport, used to carry gentleman and ladies from inside their place of residence through the filthy city streets, without fear of dirtying their clothes. As shown in this image, many were conveyed by uniformed servants, and at night were shown the way by a burning torch or lantern.

Full title:
The History of Johnny Quæ Genus, the little Foundling of the late Doctor Syntax; a poem, by the author of the Three Tours
Published:
1822, London
Format:
Book / Illustration / Image
Language:
English
Creator:
Johnny Quæ Genus, William Combe, Thomas Rowlandson [illustrator]
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
C.59.f.9.

Full catalogue details

Related articles

The rise of cities in the 18th century

Article by:
Matthew White

Cities expanded rapidly in 18th century Britain, with people flocking to them for work. Matthew White explores the impact on street life and living conditions in London and the expanding industrial cities of the North.

The rise of cities in the 18th century

Article by:
Matthew White
Theme:
Georgian society

Cities expanded rapidly in 18th-century Britain, with people flocking to them for work. Matthew White explores the impact on street life and living conditions in London and the expanding industrial cities of the north.

Street literature

Article by:
Ruth Richardson
Themes:
Reading and print culture, Popular culture

From public notes and broadsides to catchpennies and printed songs, Dr Ruth Richardson examines the variety of street literature which informed and entertained the public before newspapers were readily available.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works

Tom Jones

Created by: Henry Fielding

Tom Jones is a picaresque story that chronicles the humorous escapades, romances and redemption of its roguish ...