Scuttling gangs were neighbourhood-based youth gangs which were formed in working-class districts across the Manchester conurbation, from the independent county borough of Salford to the west of the city to the townships of Bradford, Gorton and Openshaw to the east.
20) An intense local pride was reflected in the names adopted by scuttling gangs.
The ranks of the most prominent gangs included many factory workers as well as general labourers and carters, and it would be highly misleading to characterise scuttling gangs as drawn from the lumpen-proletariat or a distinct "criminal class.
26) In the early 1890s, staff at the Manchester Royal Infirmary informed the police that "scarcely a day passed" without the admission of someone who had been injured in a scuttling affray.
The imagined identity of the "hard" man was given dramatic expression by the members of scuttling gangs.
Confrontations between rival scuttling gangs could take one of three forms, and it is worth examining these in turn in order to demonstrate the limited extent to which gang members were bound by the code of the "fair fight.
Scuttling gangs staked control over territory through the occupation of strategic street corners and public houses.
Particularly brutal assaults were made as acts of reprisal, and it is significant that on the rare occasions when scuttling conflicts did lead to fatalities, the victims tended to be isolated and outnumbered in attacks of this sort.
It is important to stress that participation in scuttling affrays was not universal among young working-class males, even in those areas where the gangs were strongest.
Those who resisted such requests from scuttling gangs were sometimes dealt with more severely, and the local press reported cases where young men were beaten up for refusing to assist local gangs in an affray, or for a refusal to contribute to collections to pay the fines of those convicted for scuttling.
In order to develop a more detailed analysis of scuttling affrays in relation to masculine notions of honour and reputation, I now propose to examine a series of cases involving John Joseph Hillyar, a leading Salford scuttler during the 1890s.
A review of some of the cases involving Hillyar serves to illustrate a number of wider points about the nature of scuttling conflicts.