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
London, Sweep 1884. Mayhew reports that sweepers were a tight-knit community. Master sweepers often let rooms to families in the same trade. The climbing boys, often from the Workhouse, earned 2d or 3d a day, but were sometimes given an extra 6d by grateful householders. They climbed easily up through wide flues using their elbows and legs but often got stuck or nearly suffocated in narrow nine-inch chimneys.