Charles Henry Croft was the founder of the Pearly Kings and Queens. He was born in 1862 and was raised in a Victorian workhouse orphanage in St Pancras, London. He left there and became a road sweeper and a rat catcher. London's costermongers (greengrocers) would decorate their suits with pearl buttons on the seams, Henry went one further and decorated a whole suit with pearl buttons, he quickly became famous and used his popularity to raise money for the poor
One of the most common sights in Victorian London was "crossing sweepers" – workers who cleared dung and rubbish from the streets in the hope of getting a few coins from local home and business owners. In London Labour and the London Poor, Henry Mayhew described the many types of sweeper, from "the one-legged crossing sweeper of Chancery Lane" to "the aristocratic crossing sweeper".
Street Sweeper. Characterful portraits of Londoners, believed to be by photographer Donald McLeish (1879-1950), selected from the three volumes of Wonderful London edited by St John Adcock and produced by The Fleetway House in the nineteen-twenties.