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Living so close to the beach and oyster beds of Whitstable, we couldn’t let Edward Dando, the gormandizer, pass by without a mention.

oyster eating at Whitstable

There is a great mini-portrait of him in the ‘All Things Georgian’ blog. Here’s a taster (so to speak):-

“Trained as a hatter, Edward Dando, when in his early twenties, embarked on his career as an oyster eater, devouring up to thirty dozen large oysters in a sitting, with bread and butter, washed down with quantities of porter or brandy and water, before informing the keeper of the oyster house that he could not pay for his fare, with the usual results of a beating or a spell in gaol, or sometimes both.”

Three hundred and sixty oysters? The best we’ve ever managed is twelve Whitstable natives between two of us and a rather pleasant bottle of wine. Goodness knows what condition Edward’s inner workings were in.

To an extent, Edward Dando would have met with some sympathy.

Society at all levels was experiencing massive changes as the impact of the Industrial age began to emerge. The Empire was busy expanding and in need of finance to fuel overseas interests – military and naval power in particular. (Punitive taxes affected rich and poor.)

The division between classes was becoming all the more apparent and difficult to accept. The privileged few often maintained an expensive lifestyle without expecting to pay. Prohibitive prices were common, initially brought about by the high taxes on consumables like tea, coffee, brandy, and even candles.

The attitude of Dando was: ‘If they aren’t paying why should I?’ He claims that he was also objecting to the exorbitant charging which is emphasised in another case from Lambeth Street Magistrates Court:

“LAMBETH-STREET.— Last evening Henry Cornell, the notorious “victimiser” of coffee-shop-keepers, was brought before Messrs. Hardwicke and Combes, for practising his old tricks, and defrauding Philip Pullen, the keeper of a coffee and beer-shop, in White Horse-street, Stepney, of one shilling and ninepence.

The complainant said that on the previous night the prisoner came to his house and engaged a bed for the night, and on coming down stairs that morning ordered a nice Yarmouth bloater and some toast and coffee to be prepared for his breakfast.

Not knowing anything of his character or habits his order was strictly complied with, but on finishing his repast, and being asked for the amount of his bill, Is. 9d., he said he had no money about him, but that if the complainant would accompany him to the house of a friend he would get him the amount.

Finding that he could get nothing out of him he did consent to go with him, but though they had walked from place to place until he was scarcely able to stand from fatigue he was unable to get a penny, and he at length, determined on bringing him before their worships.

Mr. Combes, to the prisoner— What is your name ?

Dando— Why, my proper name and address is Mr. Henry Carreil, of Liverpool, surgeon; but the newspapers have thought it proper to dub me the Jew Dando the second in addition. I dare say your worships have heard of me before.

Lea, the officer— He has been committed from this office for two months to the House of Correction not long since.

Dando (angrily) — That has nothing to do with the present case, which I contend is one of mere simple debt — (Laughter) — while the other was one of assault and battery. (Continued laughter.) I offered, continued he, this person (pointing to the complainant) my coat for the paltry debt, and finding that he was inhuman enough to accept it, and send me into the street without a coat, I thought I would disappoint him, so I refused him the coat. At the same time I told him that, as a gentleman, I would get him his money if he accompanied me to the house of a friend.

Complainant— Why, I went with you until you nearly walked my legs off.

Dando— More fool you. I told you at first that your loss of time would be much more valuable than the debt was worth. (Loud laughter.)

Complainant— There are other charges of a similar description against the prisoner. ‘There is a person named Edwards outside, whom he has also cheated.

Dando— No such thing.

The officer was here desired to call Edwards in; but no person of that name answered.

Dando, who, during the absence of the oflicer, betrayed much anxiety, on its being announced to the magistrates that no person answered, exultingly said ” I told you so.”

Mr. Combes observed that there could be no doubt the prisoner went about cheating in the manner that had been, described, but he (Mr. Combes) must leave him to be indicted for it.

Dando— lt is true I do go about; but it is for the purpose of reforming the coffee-shop-keepers, who charge more than double what they ought to do for their dirty coffee. Then only think of a one-and-ninepenny indictment. It would be something new. It would be an indictment of vindictiveness; but at the Old Bailey, with the assistance of Phillips and Clarkson, there was quite a much law for the Jew as for the gentile. I will, however, after stating that the thing is but a mere simple debt, leave the case in the hands of your worships. The prisoner was then discharged ; and, while laughing heartily, he on meeting Miller, the chief officer, in the passage, observed he would indict him for turning him out of the office.”

Morning Post. Wed 12 Oct 1836

Whatever sympathies we may have for Edward Dando, we do have to conclude that he was a serial offender. He pops up in a number of courts over the years:-

Another Dando case

Morning Post – Tuesday 4 January 1831

For more on Edward Dando, see the All Things Georgian blog