Who are the London Cockneys?

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

You might think that everyone who is born in London is Brits but truth is, there are many kinds of Brits and among these people are the London Cockneys. By traditional definition, Cockneys are people who is said to be born within the sound of Bow Bells. However, it is a bit off since during the World War II broke out, the only bells that people heard then were for warning and the bell tower of St. Mary le Bow which can be seen in Cheapside, London was bombed by the Germans in 1941. So who are the London Cockneys then? How did they come to be? If you are interested to know about them then this is the article you should read.

The Real Cockneys

The question on everyone’s mind today is that who are the real London cockneys? It is said that anyone born on the East End of London can consider themselves as a Cockney. Of course, since London is a place where every race, color and religion is born, anyone can be a Cockney. With this many believe that being a Cockney is more than just the accent but it is having the state of mind and the attitude rather than any skin color or beliefs.

Traditionally, the Cockneys lived in places like the Poplar, Bow, Bethnal Green, Wapping, Mile End and Whitechapel. They are often described as a humorous individual who are always on their feet and will stand out for themselves and the people they love. They are also known to be someone who has an opinion about anything. If you visit London on these parts, you may be surprised to know that you will have the most caring people in the world. This is also why they have a reputation of being good neighbors.

Cockneys usually work in areas where they can gab. Since they are gifted with this ability, one can be seen working as a market trader, stock market traders and black taxi cab drivers. They are also known for their rhyming slangs. This rhyming began as a way for the market sellers to communicate with their customers. It was also believed that this originally came from London criminals. The slang is often composed of two words but in some conversations only the first word are being used.

The Cockneys are also known for the Two Pearly Kings. Tradition goes that the Pearly Kings and Queens began with a man named Henry Croft. Croft was a poor orphan boy who grew up in London. By the time he was 13 he left the orphanage to work as a road sweeper. While working as one, he was able to mingle with the market traders whose custom was sewing pearl buttons on their clothe seams. Because of this Croft would save any pearl button he can find in the streets and learned how to sew. He then sews them on his cap then later on his clothes. He soon earned the name Pearly King and even helped raise money for charity. He was able to raise £5000 for orphanages, workhouses and hospitals in London. He was 68 when he died in 1930 but his tradition lived on. After his death, 28 families continued this tradition and still raise money for charity just like Croft did.

Besides this tradition, you will know you’re in Cockney territory when you are eating foods like Cockles, pie and mash, ready to eat mussels and jellied eels. So if you are going to London, make sure to check the Cockneys in these parts. You will surely enjoy lots of stories from them as well as good food, enjoy!