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Old July 26th, 2017, 01:03 PM   #1
Anna Morris
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Default Closing of Cardiff Brothels 1885

At the time of her death it was said Mary Jane Kelly had been in London "about three years". Did she decide to go to London on her own? Did a man take her there, telling her she could ride in a coach as a lady? Or did her life in Cardiff become too difficult?

Here is a clipping from "South Wales Echo", 9 November, 1885--amazingly, EXACTLY three years before Mary's death.

The article is a general run-down of brothel closing, the girls, what was happening to the girls, etc. There are also a number of articles about "brothel farming" which in some cases left young women, recently arrived from the country as "brothel owners". The system was: Landlord rented house to someone. Someone recruited girls. The girls fronted the operation and were on premises while the landlord and other stayed clear of the operation.

Did Mary and her cousin enter the profession through a mechanism like this? Carmarthen to Cardiff?
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Old July 26th, 2017, 05:39 PM   #2
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That's very interesting, Anna, particularly for the explicit distinction between 'prostitutes' and 'unfortunates'.
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Old July 26th, 2017, 06:18 PM   #3
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If Cardiff/Kensington/France/Ratcliffe Highway was true, there had to be others involved, surely?
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Old July 26th, 2017, 06:23 PM   #4
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Hello Gary
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If Cardiff/Kensington/France/Ratcliffe Highway was true, there had to be others involved, surely?
Which others have you in mind? Do you mean other places or other people?
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Old July 26th, 2017, 06:28 PM   #5
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Hello Gary
Which others have you in mind? Do you mean other places or other people?
Something along those lines, Gareth.

The scale of prostitution in and around Pennington Street and the links to the Continent suggest so, I think.
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Old July 26th, 2017, 06:31 PM   #6
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Something along those lines, Gareth.

The scale of prostitution in and around Pennington Street and the links to the Continent suggest so, I think.
You were too quick for me, Gareth. I was responding to a question about sex slavery etc.
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Old July 26th, 2017, 06:40 PM   #7
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That's very interesting, Anna, particularly for the explicit distinction between 'prostitutes' and 'unfortunates'.
I noticed that too. Do we presume MJK was a prostitute and not an unfortunate? Maybe that is why she kept her "maiden name"?
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Old July 26th, 2017, 06:52 PM   #8
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You were too quick for me, Gareth. I was responding to a question about sex slavery etc.
Ah, I edited out the reference to sex-slavery and made my post more generic in order to avoid asking a leading question, but it's good to know that we were thinking along the same lines.
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Old July 26th, 2017, 06:55 PM   #9
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I noticed that too. Do we presume MJK was a prostitute and not an unfortunate? Maybe that is why she kept her "maiden name"?
I would say so.

The distinction was a moral one, I think, separating women who were essentially respectable but had reluctanly esorted to prostitution as a last resort from those who had a choice in the matter. In reality, of course, it wasn't so clear cut. I doubt any of them would have chosen that particular career path if they'd had an alternative.

I think the term eventually morphed into a euphemism for all forms of prostitution, from down-at-heel lodging house women who needed to earn their doss each night to the 'professionals' of the Ratcliff Highway etc.
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Old July 26th, 2017, 07:18 PM   #10
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Ah, I edited out the reference to sex-slavery and made my post more generic in order to avoid asking a leading question, but it's good to know that we were thinking along the same lines.
Seems like we are.

Mary Steer, of the Bridge of Hope Mission, spoke of the 'leaders' of the Highway who moved girls out of the reach of do-gooders such as herself. Who were they, I wonder? I have a few names in mind, but they seem a little small-scale to be described as 'leaders'.
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