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Henrg M. Sag* 





Cornell University Library 
DA 320.A97 

Elizabethan rogues and ,, vaaabonds. 

3 1924 027 958 150 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 









Plate I 

r CbtTettsopidtirts, ituel; fet out, 

^ £>nt boQte «n« ftnle, (E^oti fenD ^tm mo;r grace; 

/ i€hi« monaerous tef(mbUr.a Ctxnfat ait about,. 

^ ^one; o; lnaTes,as (je mat W ttitt, 
fSBnD foinet^e a tl^Mvintt,mn a feruingmattt 
5 S>% t\» an arttficer, as be l»oul« fatnc tbab. 
1 jfeuci) R)i>ftes be t)rtv,betn3 toelltrveli, 
1; % bannoning labotit.till beteas ettiietit 
J Conbing punifljment, fo; W BiiTimulation, 
C t^c rutttg tectnna l»tt^ mwf) e};ci«in«tioti«. 

Harman's rogue, Nicholas Blunt alias Nicholas Gennings, as Upright Man 

and Counterfeit Crank (see p. 34). 

(From the Groundworke of Conny-catching, 1592) 


Historical and Literary 


Issued under the direction of C. H. FIRTH 

and WALTER RALEIGH Professors of 

Modern History and English Literature in 

the University of Oxford 





At the Clarendon l^ress 





Volume II. ANGLO-ROMAN RELATIONS, 1 5 j 8-i J^J . 



So far as I know this is the first book to treat Elizabethan 
rogues and vagabonds from the point of view here taken, 
piecing together historical and literary material so as to 
make as complete a picture as possible of their life. They 
have received attention from writers on social history and 
on the poor laws; Professor F. W. Chandler has published 
a compendious account of the literature of the subject from 
the sixteenth century to the present, with preliminary sec- 
tions devoted to Spanish, French, German, and Dutch works, 
but leaving untouched the historical aspect ; and C. J. Ribton- 
Turner published in 1887 a History of Vagrants and Vagrancy 
covering all periods from the earliest times down to the pre- 
sent which touches the material I am using, but gives, as his 
scheme demanded, a very limited space to each period. One 
side of rogue life, their canting speech, already so fully 
treated by Henley and Farmer, has not been attempted in this 
book. For the rest I cannot pretend to have exhausted the 
material, either literary or historical, which relates to these 
rogues and vagabonds, but only hope to have made a little 
clearer the outlines of the life of this class which played no 
small part in the national affairs of Elizabethan England and 
fills no small place in its literature. 

My thanks are due to the Librarian and Fellows of Mag- 
dalene College, Cambridge, to the authorities of the British 
Museum and the Public Record Office, and to Mr. F. Madan, 
Librarian of the Bodleian, for permission to reproduce various 
illustrations. My obligations to books are, so far as possible, 


indicated in the notes. I owe a debt of gratitude that cannot 
be so acknowledged to Sir Walter Raleigh and Professor 
C. H. Firth, of the University of Oxford, for help and advice 
at every stage of the work. To a large number of English 
scholars, among whom it is a pleasure to pay grateful tribute 
to the memory of Dr. Furnivall, my acknowledgements are 
also due for that generous help which makes England one 
great university for the student who is pursuing any historical 
or literary investigation. It is the presence in England of so 
large a body of scholars interested in research, and the ready 
hospitality with which they receive and assist any one who 
comes to them armed with the passport of similar interests 
wliich, added to the great resources of Oxford University, 
makes the Rhodes Scholarship such an unusual oppor- 
tunity for the graduate student. To the memory of Cecil 
John Rhodes and to the men who so generously administer 
his bequest this book is gratefully dedicated. 

Brasenose College, Oxford. 
January, 1913. 






Size of the vagabond class 3 

Enclosures and sheep-farming 5 

The change from the mediaeval to the modern system of land 

tenure 7 

The sixteenth-century literature of economic protest . . . lo 
The breaking up of the bands of feudal retainers . . .14 

The dissolution of the monasteries IS 

The question of gipsy origin 17 



Traditional methods 21 

Prevalence of indiscriminate charity 22 

Licences to beg 23 

Harman's twenty- four orders of vagabonds .... 27 

Rufflers and upright men 28 

Hookers or anglers 3° 

Rogues 31 

Counterfeit cranks 33 

Dommerers, palliards, and Abraham men 35 

Triggers of prancers 39 

Counterfeiters of licences 40 

Pedlars and tinkers 42 

Minstrels 43 

Jugglers 49 

Movers of sedition and spreaders of false rumours ... 52 

Popish spies -54 




Summary of legislative tendencies S^ 

1530-47: Legislation S8 

1530-47 : Enforcement of the laws 59 

1547-72 : Legislation 62 

1547-72: Enforcement of the laws 63 

1572-97: Legislation 68 

1572-97: Enforcement of the laws 69 

The poor laws of 1597 and 1601 72 

Conditions at the end of the century 73 



The trustworthiness of the conny-catching pamphlets . . 76 

The tribe of gulls -78 

The haunts of the conny-catchers 79 

The conny-catcher's busy season 84 

The conny-catching ' laws ' 85 

Conny-catching proper . . 86 

Cheating law 89 

Vincent's law ... 94 

The nips and foists 94 

Crossbiting law 97 

Petty thieves and brokers 97 

High law 98 

The spirit of Elizabethan roguery loi 



Royal protection of ' unlawful games ' 103 

The patents of Thomas Cornwallis 105 

Efforts to restrain the manufacture and sale of false dice . . 107 

Patents for playing-cards 107 

Laws against pickpockets 109 

Cozening t/frj«j stealing in law . . . . . iii 




Influence of foreign rogue literature . . ... 114 
Early trustworthy English rogue pamphlets . . . .119 

Tim Manifest Detection 120 

Harman's Caueat 122 

Greene's Conny-catching pamphlets 123 

The fashion of exposing rogue life 126 

Tht Groundworke of Conny-catching 127 

th^ Defence of Conny-catching 128 

Mihil Mumchance 129 

Dekker's rogue pamphlets 129 

Greenes Ghost and Martin Mark-all 133 

Rid's Art of lugling . 136 

Roguish lore in other books 136 ' 

The literary value of the rogue pamphlets 137 


1. London orders of 1517 for restraining vagabonds and beggars 

(foumal, xi. 337) 140 

2. Proclamation of Henry VIII against rogues and vagabonds, 

June 1530 (Bod. press-mark, Arch. F.C. 10, 2) . . . 142 

3. John Bayker's letter to Henry VIII accounting for the multi- 

tude of vagabonds in the realm {S.P. Henry VIII, 141 ; 

134-S) 145 

4. Proclamation of Henry VIII against the stews, April 13, 1546 

{S.A. Proclamations, ii. 164) 148 

5. Rogues in Harman's list whose names are found in official 

records, 1571-89 150 

6. Letter from the Privy Council to the London Aldermen order- 

ing searches for vagabonds, June 20, ii6<){fournal,-si\x.. 171'' IF.) 152 

7. Articles agreed upon by justices in Devon for suppressing rogues 

and vagabonds, November 5, 1569 (Bod. MS. Rawl. B. 285, 

II verso — 12) 155 

8. Letter from the Privy Council to Shrewsbury ordering watches 

and searches for rogues and masterless men, July 30, 1571 
(Shrewsbury Corporation Muniments, Petitions to the Bailiffs, 
No. 2,621) 156 


9. Characteristic certificates of the punishment of vagabonds : page 

A. Ewellme, Oxon., August 25, 1571 {D.S.P. Eliz., kxx. 45) . 158 

B. Eccleshall, Stafford, August and September, 157 1 (D.S.P. 

Eliz., Ixxxi. 25, i) 159 

C. Several hundreds in Cambridgeshire, August and Septem- 

ber, 1571 {D.S.P. Eliz., Ixxxiii. 36, v) . . . . 161 

10. Table of searches, 1571-2 162 

11. Order for search for false dice in London, 1598 {Repertory 24, 

fo. 349 ff.) 162 

12. Letter about corrupt brokers in London, December i, i6oi 

(Remembrancia, ii. 213) 164 

13. A licence to keep a gaming-house in the time of James I (Petty 

Bag, Cert. Van, Bundle i) 165 

14. Hext's letter, 1596 (British Museum, MS. Lansdowne, 81, 

Nos. 62 and 64) 167 


Manifest Detection, s\g.'B^ verso — Cj verso 175 

Mikii Mumckance, sig. Bi verso, ff. 175 

Dekker, Belman of London, 1608, sig, Es verso .... 176 

'S\di,Art of Iugling,\(>l^,%\z.Z^ 177 

Index 179 



Plate I. Nicolas Gennings, alias Blunt, as Upright Man and 
Counterfeit Crank. This cut appeared originally in Harman's 
Caueat, 1566, but is here reproduced from the Bodleian edition of 
The Groundworke of Conny-catching, \t,op, . . . Frontispiece 

Plate II. A printed proctor's licence. From the British Museum, 
press mark, C. 41. h. i : it is dated in the B. M. catalogue 
1560. Face 25 

Plate III. A forged passport with which a vagabond travelled the 
length of England in 1596, until he was finally apprehended 
and his deceit exposed by Justice Hext in Somerset. From MS. 
Lansdowne 81, No. 64, in the British Museum. See Appendix A, 
14, pp. 171 and 173-4, for Hext's account and a transcription of the 
passport Between pp. i,o and /i,\ 

Plate IV. Two of Rembrandt's beggars, etched 1630. (See note to 
Fig. I.) From the British Museum collection, Case I (M. 37, 1) Face 55 

Plate V. Dr. Simon Forman's cure for a brain-sick gallant. From 
a print by Martin Droeshout, British Museum collection, 1612, 
No. 82 Face 79 

Plate VI. Callot's ' Le Brelan, ou I'Enfant prodigue trompe par une 
troupe de filous '— a conny-catching trick. Etched at Nancy, 1627. 
(See note to Fig. i.) From the British Museum collection, v. 32 
(Meaume, p. 321, No. 666) Face 89 

Fig. I. One of Callot's beggars corresponding to Harman's Upright 
Man. According to Meaume the series from which this illustra- 
tion and Fig. 4 are reproduced were etched at Nancy in 1622. 
From the British Museum collection, v. 44 (Meaume, p. 329, 
No. 685). The excuse for using these etchings from Callot and 
the one from Rembrandt (Plate IV) is that, while not English, they 
illustrate contemporary and very similar rogue life with so much 
more art and truth than any English pictures of the time that they 
contribute materially to our idea of what English rogues were 
like 29 

Fig. 2. Harman's Counterfeit Crank, Nicolas Gennings, in the 
pillory. From the Bodleian edition of Harman's Caueat, 1567 . 35 

Fig. 3. An Abraham Man or Tom o' Bedlam. From the Roxburghe 
Ballads in the British Museum, i. 352. (Early 17th century) . . 36 



Fig. 4. One of Callot's beggars corresponding to Harman's Palliard 
or Clapperdudgeon. (See note to Fig. I.) From the British 
Museum collection, v. 45 (Meaume, p. 332, No. 697) . . .37 

Fig. 5. A pedlar. From a ballad in the Pepysian collection, Mag- 
dalene College, Cambridge, iv. 298. (This woodcut and the two 
following are late 17th century.) 43 

Fig. 6. A minstrel. From the Roxburghe Ballads in the British 
Museum, i. 349 44 

Fig. 7. A minstrel in the stocks. From the Roxburghe Ballads in 
the British Museum, i. 263. (The couplet, by Dr. John Bull, is 
quoted by Ritson, Ancient Songs and Ballads, ed. Hazlitt, 1871, 
xiv, note.) 45 

Fig. 8. A juggler's trick. From Reginald Scot's Discouerie of 
Jf7i^<r^:ra;?, 1584, in the British Museum, p. 353 . . . -Si 

Fig. 9. Two pretended fortune-tellers in the pillory. From the title- 
page of Robert Burton's copy of The seuerall Notorious and lewd 
Cousnages of lohn West and Alice West, 1613, in the Bodleian . 59 

Fig. 10. Whipping vagabonds at the cart's tail. Frbih the title-page 
of Harman's Caueat, 1567, in the Bodleian 65 

Fig. II. A hanging. From a ballad in the Pepysian collection, 
Magdalene College, Cambridge, ii. 153. (This woodcut and the 
following are early 17th century.) 71 

Fig. 12. A tavern scene. From a ballad in the Pepysian collection, 
Magdalene College, Cambridge, ii. 89 80 

Fig. 13. Conny-catching law. From the title-page of Greene's 
Notable Discouery of Coosnage, 1591, in the British Museum . 87 

Fig. 14. The Black Art. From the title-page of Greene's Second 
and Last Part of Conny-catching, 1 592, in. the Bodleian . . 98 

Fig. 15. A man in the pillory with a paper over his head describing 
his offence. From a ballad in the Pepysian collection, Magdalene 
College, Cambridge,, ii. 236. (Late 17th century.) The same cut 
occurs on one of the Bagford Ballads in the British Museum with 
the words on the paper altered to ' For a sfeditious libel' . .112 


The essay which follows has grown out of a study of a 
number of Elizabethan pamphlets dealing with rogues and 
vagabonds, the most important of which are the Conny-catch- 
ing series of Robert Greene and the Caueat for Commen 
Cursetors of Thomas Harman. ' Conny-catching ' was an 
Elizabethan slang word for a particular method of cheating at 
cards, but it came to be used in a general sense for all kinds of 
tricks by which rogues and sharpers beguiled simple people 
of their money. Greene passed a large part of his life 
among the worst company to be found in London. During 
the two years before his death, moved, as he professed, 
by repentance, he published the series of Conny-catching 
pamphlets, exposing the tricks of this wicked crew of 
sharpers in order that innocent folk might read and take 
warning. The books are vivid and well written, and they 
picture an elaborately organized profession of roguery with a 
language of its own and a large number of well-defined methods 
and traditions. There was a live esprit de corps among the 
thieves, and a pride in clever and dexterous work which made 
their profession more of an art than a trade. All this Greene 
explains in detail. The first question that any reader would 
ask himself after finishing these very entertaining descriptions 
of the art of Conny-catching is, How much foundation had 
they in fact ? 

Thomas Harman's Caueat for Commen Cursetors, which was 
published about twenty-five years before Greene's pamphlets, 
describes the habits and tricks of a class of rogues who were 
much lower in the social scale than Greene's Bohemian friends. 
These were the vagrants and masterless men who roamed from 
place to place like modern tramps and gipsies, begging and 
stealing by turns, and, in the absence of regulation, living a 


merry life. These vagabonds had little in common with the 
conny-catchers ; they were dirty, lousy beggars who throve 
best in the country villages and towns, while the conny- 
catchers were shrewd, well-dressed sharpers who stuck pretty 
closely to London . Harman sets forth the life of these wandering 
beggars minutely. According to him their mystery was like- 
wise well organized. There was a ceremony by which a man 
was ' stalled to the roge ' at the end of his apprenticeship ; 
there were various ranks or degrees ; and the beggars also had 
a cant language, in some respects different from that of conny- 
catching, in some respects the same. Harman's Caueat is much 
more convincing on its face than the works of Greene. How- 
ever, in this case as in the other, the reader immediately asks, 
What confirmation can be found in the history of the times ? 
To describe this rogue life and to present the historical evidence 
concerning it is the first task which this essay undertakes. 

The works of Greene and Harman do not stand alone. 
Among the pamphlets preserved from the reigns of Elizabeth 
and James I there are a large number dealing with rogues and 
vagabonds which follow the fashion of ' muck-raking ' started 
by Greene's exposures. The demand for rogue pamphlets was 
supplied by hack-writers in the most unscrupulous ways, so 
that it speedily becomes necessary to separate the litei-ature of 
the subject into different classes : that which was the result of 
real observation, that which was purely fictitious, and that 
which was calmly stolen. This last is by far the largest in 
amount. The ephemeral nature of pamphlet literature made 
cribbing easy and safe, and a study of these books throws much 
light on the methods of Elizabethan pamphleteers. To unravel 
this literary tangle, and in so doing to show how intimate the 
connexion often was between author and rogue is the second 
task attempted in the following pages. 


Begging and vagabondage in England did not begin in the 
sixteenth century. Doubtless there were rogues in every age, 
and there are records which indicate that in the fourteenth 
century especially they formed a numerous and ingenious class. 
M. Jusserand's English Wayfaring Life gives an excellent 
account of them and of the tricks by which they gained their 
dishonest living. Neverth eless there is a bundant evidenceJihat 
in the sixteenth century the numbers^ofj;ogues and vagabonds 
were., larger, in proportiott .tO-the population than they have 
ever been before or since, and the history of the times shows 
"why this should be tmey ~It will add meaning to our study of 
their customs to consider first the historical facts which explain 
the existence of the rogues themselves. 

There are no figures that cah be relied upon for the actual 
numbers of these vagabonds any more than for the population 
of London or of England in the sixteenth century. One finds 
mention of them everywhere in contemporary literature, in 
pamphlets, plays, poems, sermons, and books of travel. In all 
sorts of historical records likewise the vagabonds fill a large 
space. The Acts of the Privy Council mention them con- 
tinually, the Domestic State Papers contain hundreds of 
documents concerning them, there are dozens of Royal Pro- 
clamations against them, and the archives of London and of 
many of the provincial towns contain a mass of material — 
ordinances, reports of punishments, and measures of relief — 
which offers striking witness to the numbers of vagrants all 
over England. Perhaps the most significant evidence of all is 
that contained in the Statutes of the Realm in the record of 
the long series of experiments and advances by which the 

B a 


English Parliament finally worked out the remarkable poor 
law of Elizabeth. 

There are several contemporary estimates of the number of 
vagabonds in different places at different times which may be 
given for what they are worth. In 151 7 the Aldermen of the 
city of London made a list of deserving beggars, ward by ward 
throughout the city, for the purpose of providing tin badges 
allowing the wearers to ask alms in the streets. This census 
placed the total number in the city at i ,coo.^ 

A second estimate concerns the year 1559. In this year the 
Privy Council inaugurated over the whole of England a system 
of ' privy watches and searches ' for vagabonds. These seai'ches 
were held irregularly for the next four years and occasionally 
throughout the remainder of Elizabeth's reign. The constables 
of each parish were required to apprehend and punish all 
vagabonds and masterless men, to send the vagrants the most 
direct way home ' or where they last dwelt for the space of two 
years ', and to return to the Privy Council certificates contain- 
ing the names of those so punished. In the British Museum is 
preserved a contemporary document which states that in the 
watches and searches of this year (1569) were apprehended 
13,000 rogues and masterless men.^ 

There are plenty of figures in Harrison's Description of 
England published in 1577. ' It is not yet full three-score 
yeares since this trade began : ' he says in one place, ' but Jiow 
it hath prospered since that time, it is easie to iudge, for they 
are now supposed of one sex and another, to amount vnto 
aboue 10,000 persons ; as I haue heard reported '. A little 
farther on he asserts that ' there is not one yeare commonlie, 
wherein three hundred or foure hundred of them are not 
deuoured and eaten vp by the gallowes in one place and other'." 

A fourth estimate, made by the Lord Mayor of London, Sir 
John Spenser, in 1594, places the number of begging poor in 
the city alone at ia,ooo.* 

* See Appendix A, I. 

^ Cotton MS. Titus B 11, fo. 471. (Printed in Strype, Annals, 
vol. i, chap. Iv.) For a fuller account of these searches and the returns see 
Chapter III below. 

" Harrison, Description of England (N. Sh. Soc), Bk. ii, pp. 2 18 and 23 1 . 

* Remembranda, ii. 74. (Analytical Index, p. 357.) 


It is useless to make arithmetical commentary on these 
figures. Possibly some credence may be given those for 1517, 
inasmuch as they seem to be the result of actual count. The 
others are, so far as one can see, mere guesses. Harrison's 
figures are just such historical gossip as his oft-quoted state- 
ment that 73,000 'great theeves, pettie theeves, and roges ' 
were hanged in the reign of Henry VIII. This statement 
Harrison took from Cardan, the Italian physician and 
astrologer, who in 1553 predicted a long and happy life to 
Edward VI. Harrison does not get it quite right ; Cardan 
says, as a matter of fact, that the 73,000 perished in the last 
two years of Henry VIII's reign. The Bishop of Lisieux told 
him so at Besanfon. Where the Bishop got his information 
does not appear.^ The other estimates are doubtless of much 
the same character ; one thing, however, they do show : that 
in the eyes of contemporaries the vagrants were a large and 
important class. 

The history of the economic changes in England from 1350 
to 1550 contains clear and abundant explanation of the size of 
this vagabond class. Eli zabe than rogues and beggars were, a 
by-product of an economic proj;ress,^pf the change from the 
ifiediaevaTto the modern system of holding land and paying 
agricultural labour, which took place during thefourteenth and" 
fifteenth centuries.'^ The details of this change may best be 
understood By examining the social conditions of the first half 
of the sixteenth century, when the evils which produced 
vagabondage were most keenly felt. The majority of con- 
temporary writers on economic questions attribute poverty 
and vagabondage to the hard times caused by enclosures and 
sheep-farming, with the consequent eviction of poor tenants 
who had practised tillage, and to the destruction of the great 
bands of retainers, which had been gradually taking place since 
the beginning of Henry VII's reign. Enclosures were the most 
important cause : they were the special grievance of the poor, 
and the sufferers found many writers to voice their complaint. 

^ Harrison (N. Sh. Soc), Bk. ii, p. 231 ; H. Cardani Opera, 1563, v. 508 
(Liber duodeciin geniturarttm). Froude has a note exposing Harrison's 
figures, Hist. ofEng. (1858), iii. 407 ff. 


. . . ' Your shepe that were wont to be so meke and tame, 
and so smal eaters', says one speaker in the Utopia, 'now, as I 
heare saye, be become so great devowerers and so wylde, that 
they eate up, and swallow downe the very men them selfes. 
They consume, destroye, and devoure whole fieldes, howses, and 
cities. For looke in what partes of the realme doth growe 
the fynest and therefore dearest woll, there noblemen and 
gentlemen, yea and certeyn abbottes, holy men no doubt, not 
contenting them selfes with the yearely revenues and profytes, 
that were wont to grow to theyr forefathers and predecessours 
of their landes, nor beynge content that they live in rest and 
pleasure nothinge profiting, yea much noyinge the weale 
publique, leave no ground for tillage, thei inclose al into 
pastures ; thei throw doune houses ; thei pluck downe townes, 
and leave nothing standynge, but only the churche to be made 
a shepehowse. And as thoughe you loste no small quantity 
of grounde by forestes, chases, laundes and parkes, those goode 
holy men turne all dwellinge places and all glebeland into 
desolation and wildernes. Therefore that on covetous and 
unsatiable cormaraunte and very plage of his natyve contrey 
maye compasse aboute and inclose many thousand akers of 
grounde together within one pale or hedge, the husbandmen be 
thrust owte of their owne, or els either by coveyne and fraude, 
or by violent oppression they be put besydes it, or by wronges 
and injuries thei be so weried, that they be compelled to sell 
all : by one meanes therefore or by other, either by hooke 
or crooke they muste needes depart awaye, poore, ,selye, 
wretched soules, men, women, husbands, wives, fatherlesse 
children, widowes, wofull mothers, with their yonge babes, and 
their whole houshold smal in substance and muche in numbre, 
as husbandrye requireth manye hands. Awaye thei trudge, I 
say, out of their knowen and accustomed houses, fyndynge no 
place to reste in. All theire housholdestuffe, which is veiye 
litle woorthe, thoughe it myght well abide the sale: yet 
beeynge sodainely thruste oute, they be constrayned to sell it 
for a thing of nought. And when they have wandered abrode 
tyll that be spent, what can they then els doo but steale, and 
then justly pardybehanged,or els go about abeggyng. And yet 
then also they be caste in prison as vagaboundes, because they 
go aboute and worke not : whom no man wyl set a worke, 
though thei never so willyngly profre themselves thereto '.^ 

The excuse for this long quotation lies in the fact that it is an 
exact and authoritative statement of this particular grievance. 
' Utopia, ed. Lumby, pp. 32-3. 


But in order to decide finally on the soundness of the indict- 
ment it is necessary to examine a little more closely into 
conditions and to look at the question from both sides. During 
the century which was probably required for the country to 
recover from the scarcity of labour following the Black Death, 
the English wool-growing industry, which demanded very few 
labourers as compared with tillage, had become more and more 
important.^ There was an excellent market for wool in 
Flanders, and, during the latter half of the fifteenth century, 
there grew up a market rivalling this in the cloth-weaving 
towns of England, so that by the year 1500 sheep-raising had 
come to be far more profitable than tillage. Enclosures for 
the purpose of sheep-raising at first merely compensated for 
the dearth of labourers without causing hardship, but, in the 
reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, as the industry became 
more profitable, landlords and more substantial copyholders 
gradually began to enclose commons and to evict such tenants 
as they could, turning land which had formerly been under 
tillage and had furnished work for many plowmen and reapers 
to the more profitable pasture, which demanded only a few 
shepherds. The result was that while the classes which owned 
the land or had capital enough to rent it and stock it with 
sheep grew richer and richer, the poorer classes, helpless and 
inefficient under the new industrial conditions and without 
possession of the land, were driven from their homes to beg 
or steal. 

The c onditions whjch prevailed in 1550 werebased on a new 
idea of ownership of land, individual rather than communal.^ 
In the Middle Ages the tenants were such in name rather than 
in fact. Custom gave even the unfree villein certain rights 
which we associate with ownership. By custom he left his 
holding to his heir and he was not subject to eviction so long 
as he kept up his dues and performed his stipulated services.^ 

^ Cp. Seebohm, Articles on Black Death, Fortnightly Review, vol. ii, 
pp. 149 and 268. 
" Cheyney, Social Changes in England in the Sixteenth Century, 

pp. S3~4. 

' Trevelyan, Age of WycUffe, 1909, 184. This is a loose statement of the 
fact but substantially true. Vinogradoff explains the difference between 


The first step in the emancipation of the villein was the com- 
mutation of feudal services for a money payment, which 
payment amounted_ to a rent for his holding. The lord in 
turn paid for the labour required to cultivate the demesne land.^ 
This process worked better for both sides than the old and 
complicated system of feudal services. For one thing, it was 
simpler and required less administration on the part of the 
lord ; on the other hand, it ministered to the growing desire of 
the serf for independence. This commutation of feudal service 
went on steadily during the first half of the fourteenth century, 
and much more rapidly after the Black Death, in spite of 
many attempts on the part of the landlords to return to the 
old system. The serfs had one resource when they could not 
get what they wanted, namely, to run away, and it is clear that 
this is what large numbers of them did.^ 

During the second half of the fourteenth century the ad- 
vantages of commuted services were all on the side of the 
serfs. An open labour market meant prosperity for every 
man who was free to sell his labour wherever he liked. The 
peasants understood this, and all over England they made 
a determined and usually successful effort to get the market 
value of their labour. Thus it was that for a time the 
peasants seemed to be victorious in their fight for freedom 
and for improvement in their economic condition. But in one 
respect their position had become worse, although the evil 
effects were not yet felt. In their struggle to better their 
condition the peasants had more and more severed their con- 
theory and practice in the complicated subject of villein tenure. Theoreti- 
cally at the death of a serf his holding and chattels reverted to the lord 
and were then by custom bestowed upon the villein's heirs upon payment 
of heriot and relief. But this custom was binding and the whole process 
amounted to the right of inheritance subject to a certain tax.— Cp. Vino- 
gradoff, Villainage in England, 1892, Essay I, chap, v, pp. 159 fif. 

^ Trevelyan, Age of Wycliffe, pp. i8s.ff. 

2 Cp. Vinogradoff, p. 158. After the JBlack Death one finds frequently 
in the Rolls of Parliament complaints from the landlords that when they 
try to enforce the Statutes of Labourers against their serfs this is the 
result : ' que si tost come lours Mestres les chalengent de mal service ou 
les voillent paier pur lour dite service solome la forme des ditz Estatutz,. 
ilsfuont& descurront sodeynement hors de lours services, & hors de lours 
pays Countee en Counte, de Hundred en Hundred, de Ville en 
Ville, en estranges lieuxdesconuza lours dites Mestres.'— i?(?& of Parlia- 
ment, ii. 340 (1376). 


nexion with the soil, which meant the loss^ of certain rights 
"as well' as the escape from burdens. The lord came to be 
tEoughFof as sole owner of the land and to have the right 
to do with it what he pleased — a notion inconsistent with 
the mediaeval theory of tenure. The serf threw away his 
rights by flight and revolt at a time when they were less pre- 
cious to him than freedom. In this way the peasants led in 
the change from mediaeval to modern economic conditions ; 
their descendants were destined to suffer bitterly from the 

In the fifteenth century sheep-farming increased steadily, 
and, as we have seen, proved to be extremely profitable. It 
required fewer labourers than agriculture, it increased the 
relative price of land, and offered to strong and unscrupulous 
landlords a constant temptation to enclose common wastes 
and pastures. All these elements operated to the disadvan- 
tage of the labourers, and as the peasantry increased in 
numbers their economic condition grew worse. Doubtless 
the wars and the enormous bands of retainers kept by nobles 
in the fifteenth century tended to some extent to offset these 
disadvantages. But the peace of the Tudor period and the 
gradual decay of the bands of retainers took away this alle- 
viation and allowed the natural forces to work out unchecked. 
Thus it was that the evolution of the modern system by 
which land is held and agricultural labour paid left large 
numbers of the peasantry of England at the beginning of the 
sixteenth century divorced from the soil and able only with 
the greatest difficulty to find a living. 

The influence of the landlords had at first been directly 
against this change. The Statutes of Labourers in the four- 
teenth and fifteenth centuries were nothing more than an 
attempt to preserve the older conditions. Now in^ the_six-^ 
teenth century the_ landholders began tardily to assert their 
right to jthe . market price of land, ~as"tEe~ierfs had asserted 
theirs to the market price of labour. The result was that 
thousands^ of the peasants were compelled to join the tattered 
regiments of rogues and vagabonds who pestered the Jand 
jvith their petty thigying jinjd_£iKiangergd-the _peace jof the 


realm with their restless and_jeditious resentjni§jlt_aga^ 
the persons whom they considered, responsible ior their 

The wrongs of the peasants found indignant expression in 
the literature of the middle of the sixteenth century. Fierce 
and eager men like Robert Crowley, Henry Brinklow, and 
Simon Fish attacked the problem of what could be done to 
make times good again for the poor. Their remedies do not 
seem sound to us, but their works reflect vividly the social 
disease of the age — the sufferings of the poor and the over- 
prosperity of the rich — and for that i-eason they are worth 
a brief examination. 

Robert Crowley was the author of some of the most forcible 
of these protests. He was a B.A. of Oxford and lived in 
London, where he combined the vocations of printer, author, 
and preacher. He printed for the first time the Vision of 
William Concerning Piers the Plowman, and he championed 
the cause of the poor in the sixteenth century as the author 
of that poem did in the fourteenth. In a tract called In- 
formacion and Peticion Agaynst the Oppressours of the Pore 
Commons of this Realme, addressed to a parliament of Ed- 
ward VI, he gives a vivid picture of the poverty and disorder 
resulting from the landlords' ' more then Turkyshe tyranie '. 
Men who had been honest householders were driven from 
home and became dependent upon others not so honest ; 
their sons were doomed to the meanest labour, to beg or to 
steal ; their daughters to ' ungrate servitude ', to marry into 
miserable poverty, or to become sisters of the Bank, living 
the vile life of the stews, and dying penniless and full of 
diseases in the streets.^ All this came, according to him, from 

1 ' What a sea of mischifes hath floued out of thys more then Turkyshe 
tyranie ! What honeste housholders haue ben made folowers of other 
not so honest mens tables !. What honeste matrones haue bfen brought to 
the needy rocke and cardes ! What menchyldrene of good hope in the 
liberall sciences, and other honeste qualities (wherof this realme hath 
great lacke), haue ben compelled to fal, some to handycrafts, and some to 
daye labour, to sustayne theyr parents decrepet age and miserable 
pouertie ! What frowarde and. stoubourn children haue herby shaken of 
the yoke of godly chastisement, rennying hedlonge into all kyndes of 
wickednes, and finaly garnyshed galowe trees ! What modeste, chaste. 


the cruel landlords who, eager to make the utmost penny 
from their lands in fines and rents and not willing to give 
the poor a chance for even a starving existence, enclosed all, 
■evicted their tenants, and converted their fields to pasture. 
Crowley is only one of many preachers against enclosures. 

The contemporary pamphlets contain bitter complaints 
against the rent-raisings which compelled many smaller farmers 
to give up their tenures ; these were looked upon by the 
poorer classes and by most writers on social questions as 
-acts of high-handed tyranny and oppression on the part of 
the owners of the land. Perhaps the best illustration of the 
popular attitude toward landlords is to be found in a letter 
in the Public Record Office from a poor artificer, John Bayker, 
addressed to King Henry VIII, designed to explain the cause 
of the increasing number of vagabonds in the realm. Bayker 
describes in detail, with the tone of an eyewitness, the process 
of evicting a poor tenant by means of increased rents and 
fines. His theorizing as to the rights and wrongs of the 
-question is open to dispute, but on the manner of such evic- 
tions he is to be taken as authority. The tenant is compelled 
to sell his goods to pay an excessive fine for a decayed house 
which never had a fine before. This impoverishes him so 
much that he cannot afford to repair the house and, after 
being twice reproved in the manor court for not doing so, 
he is finally driven out. By this time the house is so de- 
cayed that nobody wants it ; instead of repairing it the lord 
lets it fall down, knowing that he can get as much from the 

and womanly virgins haue, for lacke of dourie, ben compelled, either to 
passe ouer the days of theyr youth in vngrate seruitude, or else to marye to 
perpetual] miserable pouertie ! What immodest and wanton gyrles haue 
hereby ben made sisters of the Banck (the stumbling stock of all frayle 
youth) and finaly, moste miserable creatures, lyeinge and dieynge in the 
stretes ful of all plages and penurie ! ' — Crowley, Informacion and Peti- 
.cion (E.E.T.S.), p. i66. 

The same thing is often to be found in the sermons of the best preachers of 
the time. 'Now the Robberies, Extortions, and open Oppressions of cove- 
tous Cormorants have no End nor Limits, no Banks to keep in their 
Vileness. As for turning poor Men out of their Holds, they take it for no 
Offence, but say, their Land is their own. And so they turn them out of 
their Shrowds like Mice. Thousands in England thro' such, beg now 
from Door to Door, who have kept honest Houses.' — Bern. Gilpin's 
Sermon. Quoted in Strype, Ecclesiastical Memorials, 1721, vol. ii, p. 441. 


land by sheep-farming as the whole tenement formerly- 

We are told by some writers that the expiration of every 
lease furnished occasion for enhancing the rent from the old 
customary rate to what the land was worth under new con- 
ditions. Many of the receivers of land formerly belonging to 
monasteries persuaded their tenants that the change of pro- 
prietorship made new leases necessary, for which they exacted 
increased fines and higher rent. 

' But now these extorsioners haue so improued theyr landes 
that they make of xl. s. fyne xl. pounde, and of v. nobles rent 
V. pound, yea, not suffised with this oppression within theyr 
owne inheritaunce, they buy at your Highnes hand such 
abbay landes as you appoint to be sold. And, when they 
stand ones ful seased therin, they make vs, your pore com- 
mons, so in dout of their threatynges, that we dare do none 
other but bring into their courtes our copies taken of the 
couentes of the late dissolued monastaries, and confirmed by 
youre Hygh Court of Parliament, thei make vs beleue.that, by 
the vertue of your Highnes sale, all our former writynges are 
voyde and of none effect. And that if we wil not take new 
leases of them, we must then furthwith avoid the groundes, as 
hauyng therin none entrest.' ^ 

John Bayker and other authors of complaints and supplica- 
tions ascribed the rise in rents to the covetousness of the 
landlords. But the fact that tenants were found proves that 
to some men the farms were worth the increased price. Other 
causes operated to give the land a greater money value. 
Most important among these were the debasing of the coin- 
age, the increased production of the soil under enclosures, and 
the substitution of competitive for customary rents.^ The 
effect of debased coinage on prices needs no comment, and 
the more level-headed thinkers of the time understood it.* 
Enclosed land was worth more for any purpose than land 

^ See Appendix A, 3, for a transcription of this letter. 

^ Supplication of the Poors Commons (E.E.T.S.), p. 80. For exactly the 
same grievance see Complaynt of Roderyck Mors (E.E.T.S), p. 9. 

' Cheyney, Social Changes in England in the Sixteenth Century, 
pp. 45-54. 

* Cp. Discourse of the Common Weal (Lamond's edition), pp. 69-88. 


unenclosed. Fitzherbert, in a chapter in his Boke of sur- 
ueyengon. ' Howe to make a townshippe that is worthe twentie 
marke a yere worthe .xx. li. a yere ', shows plainly that en- 
closures make the land more profitable for tillage as well as for 
pasture. He is not the only writer of the time to maintain it.^ 
If, then, enclosures had increased the average productive power 
of the soil it seems reasonable that rents should increase. 
With the decay of the old feudal tenures and the development 
of the capitalized industry of sheep-farming the old system of 
customary rents was broken down. The modern investor 
took the place of the feudal tenant. In the early part of the 
sixteenth century there was a clearly defined tendency on the 
part of wealthy merchants to invest their surplus funds in 
land. It is complained of as one of the grievances of the 
poor; the ensuing competition was considered unfair. The 
merchants were accused of having lost the old English spirit 
of adventure and to have 'descended to an unworthy race for 
land in order to make their sons gentlemen. 

Lett marchant men goe sayle, 

for that ys ther trwe waylle ; 

for of one .C. ye haue not ten 

that now be marchantes ventring men, 

that occupi grett in-awnderes 

forther then into flanderes, — 

flawnderes or in-to france — 

for fere of some myschance, 

but lyeth at home, and standes 

by morgage and purchasse of landes 

Owtt of all gentyll menes Handes, 

wiche showld serve alwaye your grace 

with horse and men in chasse: 

wiche ys a grett dewowre 

vnto youre regall pawre.^ 

' The same opinion is expressed in the Discourse of the Common Weal, 
pp. 48-52. 

^ Vox Populi, Vox Dei (Ballad Society), 11. 282-96. Cp. also Crowley, 
Way to Wealth (E.E.T.S.), pp. 132-3 ; and The Last Trump, section 
headed 'The Merchants' Lesson' (E.E.T.S.), pp. 86-90. 

Edward VI's Discourse about the Reformation of Many Abuses (re- 
printed in Burnet's History of the Reformation, v.96ff.) contains the follow- 
ing sentence in regard to this matter : ' The merchants adventure not to 
bring in strange commodities, but loiter at home, send forth small hoyes 


These mid-century writers on economic questions show us 
clearly enough that the time was out of joint, but their 
attempts to fix the blame on either the rent-raising landlords 
or the farming merchants are unconvincing. Interesting and 
moving as they are, the contemporary complaints fail to 
point out conclusively who was at fault, or to suggest any 
better remedy than a return to the mediaeval economic 
system. The great fault of all the moralists of the time, says 
Cunningham, is that they could not point out the duty of 
employers.^ The Discourse of the Common Weal — perhaps 
the soundest of all the economic writings of the sixteenth cen- 
tury — admits that good might come from enclosures if each 
man had his share of the land. Husbandmen who had laid 
down the plough and cultivated pasture had grown rich, and 
were the land not intermingled all would enclose.^ Substantial 
copyholders enclosed their farms, evicted smaller tenants, 
stocked their fields with sheep, and prospered. Even the old 
methods of tillage would have gained a man a living had he 
had possession of the soil. It was the poor labourers without 
land of their own and without capital necessary for sheep- 
raising who suffered. 

The bands of feudal retainers were another common source 
of vagabondage. They had been a lawless element in the 
country during the period of their masters' power. During 
the Wars of the Roses the presence of a feudal army for 
a long time in one place impoverished the countryside for 
years to come. In time of peace many of the retainers seem 
to have been little more than ordinary marauders, often un- 
justly protected by their lords. From 1485 to 1550 we hear 
more and more of this class of thieves. In 1495 a statute 

with two or three mariners, occupy exchange of money, buy and sell 
victual, steal out bullion, corn, victual, wood and such like things, out of the 
realm and sell their ware unreasonably.' There was a widespread feeling 
that each man should stick to his own occupation and let the poor labourers 
have the land. . 

Cp. also, in this connexion, Cunningham, Growth of English Industry 
and Commerce, 1905, vol. i, pp. 551 fF. 

1 Growth of English Industry and Commerce, 1905, vol. i, p. 557. 

^ Discourse of the Common Weal (Lamond's edition), p. 56. 


was made against retainers who committed riots and depre- 
dations and then withdrew themselves into hiding 'by the 
agrement covyne and counsell of their seid Maisters '. The 
Complaynt of Roderyck Mors describes a similar state of 
affairs as late as 1544. There are many retainers, it asserts, 
who have no wages and must steal for their living. Indeed, 
many of them are glad to serve for nothing and even to 
provide their own liveries in order to conceal and protect 
their thefts.1 

As these fellows were gradually dismissed they became 
excellent vagabonds. There were few other opportunities for 
them to earn a living, and this trade they had already learned. 
In the words of the ballad of Now-a-Dayes : 

Temporall lordes be almost gone, 
Howsholdes kepe thei few or none, 
Which causeth many a goodly mane 

ffor to begg his bredd : 
liif he stele ffor necessite, 
ther ys none other remedye 
But the law will shortlye 

Hange him all save the hedd. 

If the origin of the vagabond class is to be looked for 

chiefly in enclosures and in the breaking up of the bands of 

\ "Teudal, retainers, the monasteries exerted a less important 

' ' Also ther is another thing worthy to be loked vpon, which is this : — 
Many noble men and gentylmen retayne seruantys, and neuer gyue them 
peny wages, and scant a cote ; for some be fayne to pay for their owne 
cotys, and spend all that thei haue of their owne and of other mennys also, 
hopyng vpon some reward ; and whan he seyth that all is spent, than he 
wold depart and dare not. And gay he must goo lyke his felows ; and 
now his fryndes fayle hym, what remedy.' Forsoth shortly euyn to 
wat[c]h for a bowget. 

' Another sort there is, and thei be lyght ryding men all ready ; and thei 
wil lyue lyke gentylmen. And for his buclar or shyld, he wil seke to be 
retayning to some nobleman or gentylman that bearyth rule in the court 
or contry, though he pay for his own lyuery. And the noblemen and 
gentylmen, which shold be the ponysshers of theft, be the chefe mayn- 
teyners of robry ; bi this meanys often thei robbe and be not taken ; but 
in case he be taken, eyther he shal haue fauor for his masters sake, or els 
bragg it owt with a carde of .x ; ye euyn face it owt, that neyther the playn- 
tyue nor the xij men dare cast a thefe. Or if all this wyll not helpe, than 
procure thei the kinges pardon.' — Complaynt of Roderyck Mors (E.E.T.S.), 
pp. 44-5. 


but not insignificant influence in the same direction. Both 
before and after their dissolution they increased the beggar 
class. In their prime they gave a great deal in charity, but 
without much discrimination between worthy and unworthy : 
whoever came to the door received an alms. They had many 
bequests providing that so much should be 'given to the 
poor ', and these bequests were always respected by law. 
The earliest poor laws of Henry VIIFs reign prohibit common 
alms, but invariably make a proviso allowing alms from 
monasteries.^ Their charity was one of the most frequently 
urged excuses for their existence. They relieved an enormous 
amount of distress, but their indiscriminate giving must have 
fostered many a sturdy vagrant and thief. When the monas- 
teries were dissolved this aid ceased abruptly and there was 
nothing to take its place. The new clergy were notoriously 
uncharitable ; and had they been never so kind they lacked 
the funds which the monks had had to give away.^ Con- 
sequently the deserving and undeserving poor who had 
depended upon doles from the monasteries were driven else- 
where for food, and the number of vagabonds and beggars 
was increased. In addition to this, Henry VIII, when he 
seized the Church lands, made no adequate provision for the 
homeless monks. As a class they were not very intelligent, 
and many of them were soon reduced to begging. Thus they 
swelled still further, after the dissolution of the monasteries, 
the ranks which they had helped to maintain before. 

A great many monks and priests who did not have to beg 
roamed up and down the country as vagabonds for the pur- 
pose of enlisting the people on their side in the conflict 
between Protestantism and Catholicism. Burnet thought that 
the severe branding statute of Edward VI's reign was directed 
principally against these wandering monks ^ ; there were many 

' Such provisions are included in both the 32 Henry VIII, c. 12(1530-1), 
and in the 27 Henry VIII, c. 25 (1535-6). 

* Cp. Crowley, Informacion and Peticion, opening paragraphs ; Sup- 
plication of the Poore Commons (E.E.T.S), pp. 79 and 84-5. 

° History of Reformation, ed. Pocock, 1865, vol. ii, p. 100. Certain 
clauses of the statute do treat vagabond priests with unexampled severity, 
but Burnet overstates the case in saying that the law was directed princi- 
pally against them. 


proclamations against Popish vagabonds accused of spreading 
discontent and sedition in regard to religion and government ; 
and the Privy Council carried on a never-ending secret cam- 
paign against them, in which the machinations of the Papists 
were opposed by all kinds of spying, deceit, and torture. 

The causes which have been outlined above do not account 
for all the vagabonds, but they explain the larger part of the 
class, which included men of all degrees. There were many 
• wilde rogues ',' descendants of the generations of fifteenth- 
century vagabonds, and there was the multitude who went about 
on the real or pretended business of catering to the wants of 
the country people or providing them with amusement. 

Far from being either an impotent or a harmless clags, the 
vagabonds of the sixteenth century represented much of the 
solid strength of mediaeval England. Many of them came 
from good stock, but in the economic scheme of modern 


it. tri_^ 

t ^ned politica l, religious,_and-S.Qd3l.oialcoJiteiLts„aiid.agitato rs^. / 
Hence it was that they were a danger as welLas a pest in the 
England of Elizabeth. The vagabonds were menace enough 
to cause the law-makers, from Henry VH onwards, to give 
their best thought to a remedy, both by framing statutes and 
providing for their execution, until the problem was finally 
solved; as far as legislation could solve it, by the admirable 
poor laws of 157a, i597, and 1601. 

There remains to be discussed in this chapter the question 
of how far the sixteenth- century vagabonds were of gipsy 
origin. The gipsies came to England as early as the begin- 
ning of the sixteenth century, and several writers on them 
have assumed that the begging tricks and canting language 
of the English rogues were also common to them. The life 
led by the wandering vagabonds was similar in many respects 
to that of the gipsies, and there is much evidence that they 
were closely associated in the popular mind. Almost every 
statute against rogues and vagabonds includes ' Egyptians ' 

I52S-1 C 

England they found no useful place. They had brains to 
plan villany and audacity to execute it. JTI ^heir ranks con - 


as well. There are several statutes against English vaga- 
bonds disguising themselves as gipsies or wandering in 
company with them, which indicates that there were some 
relations between the two races. English vagabonds soon 
began to practise the fortune-telling which made the gipsies 
so welcome to the countiy people everywhere. Some Romany 
scholars claim that the popular Morris dance, about which so 
much is heard in Elizabethan literature, was brought by the 
gipsies from Spain : the name means Moorish. One sentence 
in Dekker's description of the gipsies offers a slight con- 
firmation of this theory : 

'Their apparell is od, and phantasticke, tho it be neuer 
so full of rents : the men weare scarfes of Callico, or any 
other base stuffe hauing their bodies like Morris dancers, 
with bells, and vther toyes, to intice the countrey people to 
flocke about them, and to wounder at their fooleries or rather 
rancke knaueryes.' ^ 

Wearing bells about the knees was a distinctive feature of 
the Morris dance, and since the gipsies were a conservative 
race, little given to borrowing customs from the nations among 
whom they lived, it seems an open question whether they 
were not the originators of this dress, instead of being, as 
Dekker believed, the imitators. Modern gipsies, according 
to the vocabularies of Borrow and of Smart and Crofton, use 
a few words belonging to the cant language of the sixteenth- 
century rogues, and, no matter from which they were borrowed, 
there must have been some intercourse between the two races. 

Although the facts given in the preceding paragraph 
indicate that there was some connexion between the gipsies 
and the English rogues, they do not prove that these relations 
were very intimate, and there is ample evidence that the two 
races were not identical. The rogues' cant given by Harman 
is entirely distinct from Romany, the gipsy language; the 
connexion noted above is confined to a very few words.^ 

' Dekker, Lanthorne and Candle-light, i6o8, sig. G3 (Temple edition, 
pp. 237-8). 

Borrow, in Ztncali, insists strongly on the difference between robber's 
cant and the gipsy language. The number of words common to the two 
is fewer than one would expect. 


Contemporary writers who described rogue life at first hand 
or copied from the early reliable descriptions always made 
a clear distinction. It is true that Ben Jonson in the Masque 
of the Metamorphosed Gypsies, working entirely at second 
hand, completely confuses the two classes, but Harman 
separates them sharply; speaking of the English rogues in 
his dedicatory epistle, he says : 

' I hope their synne is now at the hyghest ; and that as 
short and as spedy a redresse wylbe for these, as hath bene of 
late yeres for the wretched, wily, wandering vagabonds calling 
and naming them selues Egiptians, depely dissembling and 
long hyding and couering their depe, decetfull practises, — 
feding the rude common people, wholy addicted and geuen to 
nouelties, toyes, and new inuentions, — delyting them with the 
strangenes of the attyre of their heades, and practising 
paulmistrie to such as would know their fortunes : And, to be 
short, all theues and hores (as I may well wryt), — as some 
haue had true experience, a number can well wytnes, and 
a great sorte hath well felte it. And now (thankes b^e to god), 
throughe wholsome lawes, and the due execution thereof, all 
be dispersed, banished, and the memory of them cleane 
extynguished ; that when they b^e once named here after,, 
our Chyldren wyll muche meruell what kynd of people they 
were : and so, I trust, shal shortly happen of these.' 

Dekker, in his chapter on ' Moone-men ', as he called the 
gipsies, does the same : ' Looke what difference there is 
betwdene a ciuell cittizen of Dublin and a wild Irish Kerne, 
so much difference there is betweene one of these counterfeit 
Egiptians and a true English Begger.'^ A letter from a 
Somersetshire justice, Edward Hext, written in 1596, makes 
the distinction no less clearly.^ 

On one very interesting point Awdeley seems to have 
confused the two. He includes last of all in his Fraternitye 
of Vacabondes one kind of rogue called a Patrico — a sort of 
hedge-priest — who performed marriages which should hold 
until death did part the married couple. This meant that 
whenever they were tired of living together they could be 

^ Lanthorne and Candle-light, 1608, sig. Gj verso — Gj (Temple edition,, 
p. 236). 
' Cp. Appendix A, 14. 

C 3 

ao ORIGINS chap, i 

divorced over the body of any dead animal they found in the 
road, by shaking hands and parting, the husband on one 
side of it, the wife on the other. Simson, who published 
a History of the Gypsies in 1865, claimed that a similar form 
of divorce was practised by them in Scotland at the time 
he wrote, with only the difference that instead of looking 
for a dead animal in the road, the husband killed his best 
horse and over its body parted from his wife. This may be 
only a semi-humorous rogue custom borrowed by the gipsies, 
and still surviving, but Simson attempts to identify it with 
a Hindu ceremony for divorce of great antiquity. The evi- 
dence he adduces, though not convincing, has a great deal 
of interest.^ The hypothesis that the custom belonged to the 
gipsies rather than to English rogues is still further confirmed 
by the fact that Harman denies that any such custom existed 
among the rogues and that there was any such name as 
Patrico, while Borrow, on the other hand, gives Patrico as 
a gipsy word. Awdeley's description of the Patrico is 
probably a bit of gipsy lore which he picked up somewhere 
and included in his pamphlet on vagabonds. But the gipsies 
and the English rogues were two different classes. The 
gipsies are an exclusive people, not likely to admit outsiders 
into their fellowship, and probably did so in the sixteenth 
century only to a very limited extent. The history of their 
life in England and the measures employed against them is 
quite distinct from the history of English vagabond life, and 
far less important. 

' Walter Simson, History of the Gipsies, 1865, pp. 266-80. 


Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way, 

And merrily hent the stile-a ; 
A merry heart goes all the day, 

Your sad tires in a mile-a. 

Winter's Tale, Act IV, sc. 3. 

From the last chapter it should be clear that social condi- 
tions in the reigns of Henry VIH, Edward VI, Mary, and 
Elizabeth forced thousands of small farmers, labourers, and 
old-time dependants upon nobles to become vagabonds. The 
problem that confronted these poor homeless rogues was how 
to get a living without land and, if possible, without labour. 
In order to find out how they did this we must study the 
contemporary literature describing their lives and tricks, 
supporting this account, where we can, by the evidence of 
historical records, which, interesting in themselves, become 
doubly so with this voluminous literature of rogue pamphlets 
for commentary. 

This problem of how to live well on nothing a year was not 
one which confronted English vagabonds for the first time in 
the sixteenth century. Many solutions, sanctioned by long 
tradition and even by the practices of holy men, had come 
down from the Middle Ages. The friars had successfully 
solved the problem and had made begging a fine art. Vagabond 
gamesters, bearwards, fortune-tellers, jugglers, and pedlars 
existed in the fourteenth century as well as in the sixteenth .^ 
Vagabond players certainly existed in England in the fifteenth 
century. As Mr. A. W. Pollard has pointed out in his 
Introduction to the E.E.T.S. edition of the Macro Plays, 

' Reference has already been made to M. Jusserand's excellent and 
entertaining account of them in English Wayfaring Life in the Middle 


the morality Manhynd shows plainly that it was presented 
by a band of strolling actors of a very low class. All the fun 
of the play is rough knock-about farce among the devils and 
vices who constitute most of the characters. Before the 
entrance of the principal devil, Tityvullus, the others take up 
a collection among the audience : 

We xall gather mony onto 
Ellys ther xall no man hym se, 

says one rogue. A second makes a plea for large contributions 
— no groats nor pennies but red royals : 

He louyth no grotis, nor pens or to-pens : 
Gyf ws rede reyallays if ye wyll se hys abhomynabuU 

to which the other hastily puts in the qualification : ' Ye that 
mow not pay the ton, pay the tother.' The whole play reflects 
the character of the actors who played it : there is only one 
virtuous character, and he is burlesqued half the time ; Tity- 
vullus and his evil crew rule the stage, making all manner of 
coarse fun of the over-righteous Mercy and the 'ilexibuU' 

All these classes of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century vaga- 
bonds were represented in the sixteenth century, but by this 
time rogue life had become more complex and varied. 
Elizabethan wanderers who could not find work or did not 
wish to, invented and practised a large variety of devices for 
extorting money from all mankind — vagabond vocations 
which were in reality only skilful methods of begging or 

The problem of getting a living without work was simplified 
for these vagabonds by the fact that there was everywhere 
a large amount of indiscriminate charity : at the monasteries 
before their dissolution, and all through the century at 
weddings and other such feasts, and daily at the houses of 
foolish, soft-hearted persons. Thomas Harman dedicated his 
book to one of these last, the Lady Elizabeth, Countess of 
Shrewsbury, because she habitually gave alms, not only to the 
poor of her own parish, but to all who came to her gates, and 
he wished her to understand ' the abhominable, wycked, and 


detestable behauor of all these rowsey, ragged rabblement of 
rakehelles, that — vnder the pretence of great misery, dyseases, 
and other innumerable calamities whiche they fayne — through 
great hipocrisie do wyn and gayne great almes in all places 
where they wyly wander, to the vtter deludinge of the good 
geuers, deceauinge , and impouerishing of all such poore hous- 
holders, both sicke and sore, as nether can or maye walke 
abroad for reliefe and comforte '.^ 

Life was further made easy for the rogues by the fact that 
the authorities granted to a wide variety of what were con^y-'^T^v 
sidered deserving poor licences allowing them to wander and '^ 
to ask alms on the streets and highways. A licence, properly 
signed and sealed, instantly transformed any lawless vagrant 
into a law-abiding citizen whom all persons were expected to 
aid.^ The number of these licences regularly issued was 
enormous. Often they were signed by very important men — 
justices, noblemen, or bishops — and they appai'ently inspired 
great respect among simple people, especially, one may imagine, 
among those who did not know how to read. They were, as 
we shall see later, counterfeited by undeserving rogues on every 
hand. It is impossible to form any idea of the wide oppor- 
tunity for such frauds unless the reader first considers the 
number and variety of legitimate licences in use. 

Licence^S-loJjeg-fiacthe ransoms of Christians captured by 
the T urks were common long befoi'e and long after the reign/''*> 
of Elizabet h. Several of the time of Henry VIII are preservedx.^. 
in the British Museum.^ A famous case in Elizabeth's reign 
was that of Lucas Argenter, who was granted a licence in 158 1 
to beg for money to ransom his wife and children held in 
bondage in Turkey.* There were many of the same kind ; so 
common were they that a regular weekly collection was taken 
for them at St. Paul's. y'f" 

Licences to beg on account of losses by fire and at sea were ' tj ; 
also common. A writing under seal for Thomas Moone of " — 

' Harman, Caueat (N. Sh. Soc), pp. 19-20. 

'^ In Appendix A, 2 will be found the form of licence prescribed in 1530. 
' Cp. Fragmenta Antigua, Press-mark c. 18. e. 2 (8 and 49). 
* Remembrancia, i. 290, fo. 136. See also i. 404, iv. 106, and heading 
^ Captives ' in printed calendar, for other instances. 


London and wife whose house was burnt is mentioned in the 
records of the London Court of Aldermen, November 28, 1536.' 
Strype alludes to a number of them of the time of Edward VI.* 
Elizabeth granted one to Thomas Norman of Barnstaple (co. 
Devon) about 1575, who had suffered losses at sea and after- 
wards fallen sick. He or his deputies were allowed by it to 
beg through Devon and Cornwall for his relief.^ These per- 
mits were looked at with something of the same attitude that 
we have to an insurance policy — a means of compensating 
one individual for extraordinary calamity by a small sacrifice 
from many. 

Scholars from the Universities with licences from the Vice- 

"^ Chancellor to beg were still found in the reign of Elizabeth. 

The Register of the University of Oxford * gives a list of fifteen 

licences granted between 1551 and 1572. They were usually 

given to students in pairs and for the period of one vacation, 

, the scholars giving security for the return of the licence. 

If Lepers and helpless poor were licensed to beg by proxy. 

Jr The person who acted as agent to go about and receive the 
alms was called a Proctor. Many hospitals were supported in 
this way. The Proctors were notorious rogues, and instead of 
being content with their legitimate share of the collections, 
were commonly supposed to keep almost all they received. 
Begging Proctors had been known since the Middle Ages. 
Before the break with the Papacy, gifts to them had commonly 
been rewarded by indulgences and pardons. These incentives 
to liberality were stopped after the Reformation (though there 
is evidence in such a licence as that quoted below that they 
were used sub rosa), but the licences were still issued. There 
is in the British Museum ^ a form of a ' protection of beggerie ' 

' Repertory, ix, fo. 226 b. 

^ Ecclesiastical Memorials (1721), II. ii, p. 516. 

= P.R.O. Warrant Book, i. 17. Among the broadsides in the Library 
of the Society of Antiquaries of London is one of the same sort granted 
by John Aylmer, Bishop of London, September 15, 1586, to Thomas- 
Butler, who was injured while manufacturing gunpowder. — Lemon's 
Catalogue, No. 82. 

* Edited by the Rev. Andrew Clark, O.H.S., vol. ii, pt. ii, pp. 1-5. 

" Harleian MS. 364, fo. 32. It is preserved in a collection of papers 
evidently mtended, accordmg to the catalogue, to be used as models in 
making out similar documents. 

Plate II 




^ fmrmHiiBtwMti ,., 

poo^ people tt)att)nitpnencb!>i0etiantei)f«aD(nintUe' 
OcaugtjtfMmtljerm^nestBublieiKpre smspntenDiii , 



I ana ;d.densDa^MttaiDouitotfte.s,3tti«itfeof aiDptifoKWt)ereac Kepte .if.Ct 
J { {KtConnCrtiiljf alAttet 0fHcer34ia(i|Uett$2$:?CaictJ)isii$tiimt f Cuitcra 
IffliDtSeotfter^qfpiMIIfefeitaiittmSjiteiftiHt people ttatm(fca(?etotee 
^i| Keal7fe.:8nDtt)i>fcftoIciS aab pooipcopjeaeoiebni doe 0}a!>e upon titerbnffic" 

SUiiiiitlib; ttcgcsa sten a'KiiifCTj^ii jFunnM ant Jclanbc iiifcnett moxfjii 
^_, «... . — „. _ ,_. . 'tiat(Stft)ir«rtl»l(ptal»(»iiofr-4lJlt(mif 



o!t(ia<tt«fiittMo»aiili Impotent ram ,< tic jcai 


tfaetenltntiotilio^ra. atoemottefrtfattrtpe bntbehai 

terrsiiiir tnipiiuiHf 9npctirs;ti>! mnni^ aira. 


tt?e^aiiestautitrti anaeptMnebntotlieliitb I)o(^ta[ 

CfuHnfcnglanDtjto bntefgiliilientniltpaintKlbi 


etenptcaenatttanpuilicntii alttsatiittanlcnniMfliitnwtc people tbtce cliautable atffle<,i : 


leteeoftliescamniet fcl)Ole,be?nscomunIpJotI)eR9tf6a;'oFtobacl)3iiDjefb.lDe boetupl an&bente 

pau 3Sil&op»)d8[fonestifca»BanbCucate<8^b'auoT^eticclcfiaftttanpitroncs, toljenroeuectbe' 

fapbepjocto^a^htebepateOjallcometinto pou .Soti0Rtjipeiinb fauoucablpcecniueblin anb b'S be 


«ibniirtepn|tlipmeMptoa[te,{aibn,cewaiibc<»aitia;etbettiacltable gpftea i bmufResof; 

goob paple.ago»oiieel!»tef|itei:e<nb4)e%muaHinlilte> of peace, 99tr;t9,i&li<ill'<I'>Sai|l: 

^.. ,..»..■ — 1^.1-^ " ■'™'-' "toipteWpetaBBe.befttibeBifbniapntrtne 

mt&tstotberiiftentattfin anbntaifiitetinfce 
jcrtcbbKafn tbe(ap> eorpltaUe«,'t(iercbIectr 
^ERo}foi$ xepacattonff Dftbe Ctrat^es^ub 
aVrupllcaltorioF tte manhrs anbtbe cdt ' 
luiltfebac^ioToaelK OntfamnwKiQ^ oFiL 
Mflu(t1io:Ne anbftelpbem bnbecitinti^ 
iiilb)>:>it(Ellobaitap<CI|oina7(p,eiMM,; ^ 

ttemarclite oftQ^ rammcasbul tn tWts 

tbetaibp;oita)e mm* alJWMrWttae^apbi 
fapbpipctojDjbtebeputeto colecte enb satbett^r*- 
anbaiibtue befpee ponaII3liiSpsgfp|:ietonibr 
«t5« fbebapeanb ptte<w;tlftbt(iitlK qUflW' 

tttpebft^jloobanb.ltupsgpcople. ,: 

'ipintiWmBriiitiiiito. ,; ' •.■.,.:» 
: pliteiM^iW,irD:tol;nie fo; fxl. petm^!; 

A Proctor's licence, 
(i^. Af. Press-mark c. 41. ^. i.) 


given by Henry VIH and Wolsey in 1544 commanding all 
prelates and other ecclesiasticall persones to allow the Proctor 
and his deputy to repair to their churches to ask and fetch the 
alms of all charitable people, ' provided alwaies that the said 
William B. nor his said deputie do not in eny wise declare 
shew or sett forth eny pardones or indulgences graunted by 
the Busshope of Rome or by coloure and vertue of the same 
aske gather receyve or take enye money almose or other 
deuocion of oure said Subjects.' Strype notes half a dozen 
licences for Proctors granted under Edward VI / and there is 
in the British Museum a printed broadside certifying that per- 
mission has been granted by Elizabeth to Robert ap Thomas 
ap Evanes to beg throughout Wales for the hospitals of Our 
Lady of Bethlehem, Saint John the Baptist of Holywell, Saint 
Nonne and Saint Sonndaye in Woodstock, and Saint Anthony 
of Windsor, for the relief of all the insane, sick and lame 
persons, poor children, and scholars in Oriel College in Oxford, 
cared for by those institutions. Apparently when such a 
patent was granted a number of licences were printed off for 
the use of the Proctor and his deputies, to show that they were 
not impostors (compare Harman on printed licences, p. 41 
below). This document is folded, worn, and dirty, evidently 
by being so carried about.^ Proctors begged sometimes for 
other things than hospitals ; for example, to renew the furniture 
of a church when it had been destroyed by ruffians,^ or for 
funds to repair a bridge.* 

Besides all these there was a still larger number of what 
might be called ordinary licences issued to deserving poor : 
the earliest form of poor relief had been to separate the 
deserving from the undeserving and to give the former a 
signed and sealed permit to beg for aid from all persons they 
met.^ Other very common licences were the passports given 

' Ecclesiastical Memorials, II. ii, p. 516. 

^ ' Queen Elizabeth's Letters Patent for Wales.' B.M., Press-mark 
c. 41. h. I. Here reproduced as Plate II. 

' For such a licence for the church at Rickmansworth see Fragmenta 
Antiqua, B.M., Press-mark c. 18. e. 2 (96). 

* Records of the Borough of Nottingham, ii. 264-7. 

° See London Orders of 1517 in Appendix A, i ; also 22 Henry VIII, ' 
c. 12 (i 530-1). 


to rogues who were sent homeward after being whipped (the 
law was not quite clear as to whether or not they had a right 
to beg, but in practice they seem to have exercised it)/ and 
licences from justices allowing bearwards, tinkers, pedlars, 
jugglers, fencers, minstrels and the like to wander. Licences 
of this nature, which could be granted by any justice of the 
peace, are noticed rarely in the records, except for such an 
entry as that in the Repertory of the London Court of Alder- 
men, May 23, 1551, ordering the Chamberlain of the city to 
provide 600 ' bylls ' for impotent beggars to beg, and 300 bills 
of passports for vagabonds whipped in the city and sent 
home.'* The passport was as much a part of the ordinary 
beggar's equipment as ragged clothing or a dog; when 
Francesco sends a beggar-woman with a letter to his sweet- 
heart in Greene's euphuistic romance, Neuer too late (1590), 
this is the device he hits on at once : 

' The begger desirous to do the Gentleman anie pleasure, 
said shee was readie to take anie paines that might redound to 
his content. Whereupon he replied thus ; Then mother, thou 
shalt goe to yonder Abbey which is her fathers house . . . then, 
oh then mother, looke about if thou sdest Diana masking in 
the shape of a Virgin, etc. . . . she is my loue, faire Isabel: 
... to her from me shalt thou carrie a letter, foulded vp 
euerie way Hke thy pasport, with a greasie backside, and 
a great scale.' ^ 

But in the reign of Elizabeth there were too many beggars 
and vagabonds to exist even on such elaborate charity as was 
provided without the use of some cleverness on their part to 
make the alms flow, and some trickery to eke them out. For 
a description of their methods and tricks there is no authority 
so good as Thomas Harman's .pamphlet, the Catieatfor Commen 
Curseiors. The first impression one gets from Harman's book 
is that of the close-knit good fellowship among the rogues. 
They helped each other in their common pursuit of preying 

• ^ See Dalton, Countrey Justice (1618), pp. 99 ff., which shows the state 
of confusion on this subject. 

^ Repertory, xii, pt. i, fo. 233. 

' Greene, Neuer too late (1590), sig. Dj and verso (Grosart's edition, 
viii. 38-9). 


upon the public. They often travelled in companies or 
assembled at some alehouse (bowsing ken) for merry meetings. 
They spoke together in a cant language as do rogues of all 
periods. There were orders or ranks depending partly on 
experience, partly on methods of stealing or begging, and 
partly, it seems, on physical strength. These orders were 
described by fantastic cant names which Harman gives, and 
which we shall use as a basis for a detailed account of rogue 
customs. The twenty-four orders are as follows : 

Rufflers, sturdy vagabonds who begged from the strong and 
robbed the weak. 

Upright Men, vagabonds who were strong enough to be 
chiefs or magistrates among their fellows. 

Hookers or Anglers, thieves who stole clothing and other 
light articles by pulling them through an open window with 
a hooked stick. 

Rogues, ordinary vagabonds, weaker than the Upright Men. 

Wild Rogues, rogues born on the road, of vagabond parents. 

Priggers of Prancers, horse thieves. 

Palliards, beggars who excited compassion by means of 
artificial sores made by binding some corrosive to the flesh. 

Praters, sham proctors, who pretended to be begging for 
hospitals and lazar houses. 

Abraham Men, pretended mad men. 

Whip-jacks, vagabonds who pretended to be shipwrecked 

Counterfeit Cranks, beggars pretending the falling sickness. 

Dommerers, sham deaf mutes. 

Tinkers and Pedlars, who ordinarily used their trades as 
a cloak for thieving. 

Jarckmen, makers of false licences.-"^ 

Patricoes, hedge-priests.^ 

Demanders for Glimmer, men or women begging for pre- 
tended losses by fire. 

Bawdy baskets, female pedlars. 

Autem Morts, women who had been married in church. 

Walking Morts, unmarried whores. 

Doxies, female companions of common rogues. 

Dells, young girls not yet broken in by the Upright Men. 

Kynchin Morts, female children. 

Kynchin Coes, male children. 

' Harman mentions these two classes, described in Awdeley's Frater- 
nitye of Vacabondes, only to say that they do not exist. 


These terms were not the invention of Thomas Harman. 
They agree substantially with the names given in Awdeley's 
tract, The Fraternitye of Vacabondes, published six years before, 
and they appear everywhere in Elizabethan literature where 
there is reference to rogues and vagabonds. Harman's explana- 
tion of their tricks and ruses is likewise well supported by 
outside evidence, various bits of which will be found with the 
descriptions of the several classes following. 

According to Harman's description the Rufflers and the 
Upright Men seem to have been much alike.^ They were old, 
strong, and experienced vagabonds — old soldiers, Harman 
says, or serving-men and labourers who had been forced out of 
employment or who had deserted an honest occupation for the 
free idle life on the road. They were strong fellows and ruled 
the roast. Often they got their living by bullying the weaker 
beggars. The Upright Men were self-constituted chiefs or 
magistrates, as might be expected. They had their choice of 
the women in any gang, and to them belonged the right to 
initiate new beggars. The ceremony of initiation seems to 
have consisted merely of making the neophyte buy drink for 
the gang and then compelling him to submit to having his 
part of the ' bene bowse ' poured over his head by way of 
anointment to his high office. Harman's account is as follows : 

' And if he (the Upright Man) mete any begger, whether he 
be sturdye or impotent, he wyll demaund of him, whether euer 
he was stalled to the roge or no. If he saye he was, he wyll 
know of whom, and his name that stalled hym. And if he be 
not learnedly able to shewe him the whole circumstaunce 
thereof, he wyll spoyle him of his money, either of his best 
garment, if it be worth any money, and haue him to the 
bowsing ken, Which is to some typpling house next adioyninge \ 
and laieth their to gage the best thing that he hath for twenty 
pence or two shyllinges : this man obeyeth for feare of beating. 
Then doth this vpright man call for a gage of bowse, whiche is 
a quarte pot of drinke, and powres the same vpon his peld 
pate, adding these words : — " I. G. P. do stalle thde W. T. to 
the Roge, and that from hence forth it shall be lawefull for 
the to Cant " — that is, to aske or begge — ^" for thy lining in al 

^ Harman, Caueat (N. Sh. Soc), pp. 29, 31. 





Fig. I. One of Callot's beggars corresponding to Harman's Upright Man. 
{From the British Mtiseum Collection.) 


places." Here you se that the vpright man is of great 
auctorite. For all sortes of beggers are obedient to his hests, 
and surmounteth all others in pylfring and stealinge.' ^ 

Beaumont and Fletcher's Beggars Bush, which is full of 
rogue cant and vagabond lore, has this initiation somewhat 
elaborated. Hubert has been accepted as a member of the 
band of rogues. 

Clause: . . . welcom him, all. 

Higgen: Stand off, stand off : I'll do it, 
We bid ye welcom three ways ; first for your person, 
Which is a promising person, next for your quality. 
Which is a decent, and a gentle quality, 
Last for the frequent means you have to feed us. 
You can steal 'tis to be presumed. 

Hubert : Yes, venison, and if you want — 

Higgen : 'Tis well : you understand right, 
And shall practise daily : you can drink too ? 

Hubert: Soundly. 

Higgen : And ye dare know a woman from a weathercock? 

Hubert : If I handle her. 

Gerrard: Now swear him. 

Higgen : I crown thy nab with a gage of ben bouse, 
And stall thee by the salmon into the clows, 
To mand on the pad, and strike all the cheats ; 
To Mill from the Ruffmans, commision and slates 
Twang dells i' the stiromel, and let the Quire Cuffin : 
And Harman Beck strine, and trine to the Ruffin. 

Gerrard: Now interpret this unto him. 

Higgen : I pour on thy pate a pot of good ale, 
And by the Rogues [oth] a Rogue thee instal : 
To beg on the way, to rob all thou meets ; 
To steal from the hedge, both the shirt and the sheets : 
And lye with thy wench in the straw till she twang 
Let the Constable, Justice, and Devil go hang. . . . 
You are welcom. Brother 

All: Welcom, welcom, welcom . . .^ 

One of the queerest facts in connexion with the practices of 
Elizabethan sneak-thieves is that they were willing to risk 
their lives for all kinds of bulky articles of only trifling value. 
A bed-covering valued at two shillings and a pair of sheets at 

^ Harman, Caueat (N. Sh. Soc), p. 34. 
" ^ Beaumont and Fletcher, Beggars Bush, Act III, sc. 3. 


three were considered worth while. Witness the following 
extract from the Middlesex Sessions' Rolls : 

' a October, i Elizabeth.— True bill that at Cowley, co. Midd, 
on the said day, Alexander Raynford late of Rypley co. Kent 
yoman stole " vnum coopertorium vocat' a bed kyveringe " 
worth two shillings, and a pair of flaxen shetes worth three 
shillings and four pence, of the goods and chattels of Roger 
Burton of Harlington.' 

Greene describes an elaborate trick, which if it worked, enabled 
the thief to get away with a sheet and a pair of pillow-cases.^ 
Harman's chapter on Hookers or Anglers explains the common 
method of stealing such articles. These rogues carried long 
staves with a hole in the end, into which they inserted an iron 
hook to pull pieces of clothing and other light articles out 
through an open window when occasion offered. ' I was 
credebly informed ', says Harman, ' that a hoker came to a 
farmers house in the ded of the night, and putting back 
a drawe window of a low chamber, the bed standing hard by 
the sayd wyndow, in which laye three parsones (a man and 
two bygge boyes), this hoker with his staffe plucked of their 
garments which lay vpon them to Icepe them warme, with the 
couerlet and shete, and lefte them lying a slepe naked sauing 
there shertes, and had a way all clene, and neuer could vnder- 
stande where it became.' ^ 

This custom of angling for booty is widely described. Greene 
and his pamphleteering followers call it Courbing Law, and one 
entertaining but unquotable story about it was widely copied.^ 

The Rogue, in canting language, was a fellow ' niether so 
stoute or hardy as the vpright man ' who, in begging, used the 
commonest of all devices — the pretence of being weak or lame 
or sick.* When Autolycus falls fainting before the clown he 
follows the book exactly. The clown is on his way to market 
and is conning over the list of dainties he must buy for the 

' Greene, Thirde and Last Part of Conny-cafching {Gtosaxi), x. 167-9. 

^ Harman, Caueat (N. Sh. Soc), p. 36. 

' For this see Greene, Blacke Bookes Messenger, 1592 (Grosart), vol. xi, 
p. 32 ; Greenes Ghost Haunting Conie-catchers, by S. R., attributed to 
Samuel Rowlands (Hunterian Club), p. 28. 

< Harman, Caueat (N. Sh. Soc), pp. 36-41. 


sheep-shearing ; Autolycus meets him and falls down as if in 

Clo. ... I must have saffron to color the warden pies; 
mace ; dates ? — none, that's out of my note ; nutmegs, seven ; 
a race or two of ginger, but that I may beg ; four pound of 
prunes, and as many of raisins o' the sun, 

Au^. O that ever I was born ! (Grovelling on the ground) 

Clo. I' the name of me — 

Aut. O, help me, help me ! pluck but off these rags ; and 
then, death, death ! 

Clo. Alack, poor soul ! thou hast need of more rags to lay 
on thee, rather than have these off. 

Aut. O sir, the loathsomeness of them offends me more than 
the stripes I have received, which are mighty ones and millions. 

Clo. Alas, poor man ! a million of beating may come to 
a great matter. 

Aut. I am robbed, sir, and beaten ; my money and apparel 
ta'en from me, and these detestable things put upon me. 

Clo. What, by a horseman, or a footman ? 

Aut. A footman, sweet sir, a footman. 

Clo. Indeed, he should be a footman by the garments he 
has left with thee : if this be a horseman's coat, it hath seen 
very hot service. Lend me thy hand, I'll help thee : come, 
lend me thy hand. 

Aut. O, good sir, tenderly, O ! 

Clo. Alas, poor soul ! 

Aut. O, good sir, softly, good sir ! I fear, sir, my shoulder- 
blade is out. 

Clo. How now ! canst stand ? 

Aut. (Picking his pocket) Softly, dear sir ; good sir, softly. 
,You ha' done me a charitable office. 

Clo. Dost lack any money ? I have a little money for thee. 

Aut. No, good sweet sir ; no, I beseech you, sir : I have 
a kinsman not past three quarters of a mile hence, unto whom 
I was going ; I shall there have money, or any thing I want : 
offer me no money, I pray you ; that kills my heart.^ 

Autolycus has all the traditional rogue tricks and more 
besides. He is compounded of many simples and mellowed 
by a touch of poetry which magically transforms the realism of 
the picture into something still more real. He has been a 
serving-man— a servant of the prince and for his vices whipped 
out of court. ' He hath ben since an ape-bearer ; then a process 
^ Winter's Tale (Globe edition). Act IV, sc. 3. 


server, a bailiff; then he compassed a motion of the Prodigal 
Son, and married a tinker's wife . . . and having flown over 
many knavish professions, he settled only in rogue.' He is 
pedlar, balladmonger, and pickpocket, as occasion demands, 
and withal has the care-free spirit of the real vagabond as he 
trudges gaily on his knavish road. 

A Wild Rogue was a vagabond born on the road. ' I once 
rebuking a wyld roge because he went idelly about,' writes 
Harman, ' he shewed me that he was a begger by enheritance 
, — his Grandfather was a begger, his father was one, and he 
must nedes be one by good reason ! ' ^ These Kynchin Morts 
or Kynchin Goes, as the children of vagabond parents were 
called, lived a pitiful life. They were valuable in the begging 
trade as a means of exciting sympathy. As they grew up 
they had the habit of wandering so firmly fixed that it was 
difficult to cure them. A letter of 1585 preserved in the 
Leicester Borough Records describes a vagrant boy ten yeai's 
old who was found almost devoured with lice and suffering 
from many sores. The kind family who took him in cured his 
sores and kept him four or five months. But his vagabond 
habits were already too strong; he fell to wandering again, 
and was sent to the authorities of Leicester, which he said was 
his home, to be dealt with,^ 

The Counterfeit Cranks were something like the Rogues : 

they pretended to have the mysterious falling-sickness, the 

palsy, or some other terrible disease.* Harman says that he 

found one, Nicholas Gennings alias Nicholas Blunt, in London 

while his book was going through its first impression, and set 

the printer's boy to watch him. The ^vagabond begged all 

day in the streets, only retiring at noon to renew the blood on 

his face and the mud on his clothing, and left about dusk for 

his home across the river. Harman and the printer followed 

him to his dwelling, where they had him arrested and despoiled 

of his gains, which amounted to 14?. ^^d^ — not a bad day's 

work at a time when an ordinary labourer earned 6d. a day 

' Harman, Caueat (N. Sh. Soc), p. 42. 

^ Referred to in Records of the Borough of Leicester, vol. iii, p. 222, 
No. cclxiii. 
' Harman, Caueat (N, Sh. Soc), pp. 51-6. 


in the fields. Gennings was an Upright Man as well as a 
Counterfeit Crank. Harman's book has a rude woodcut, which 
is reproduced as the Frontispiece to this voluipe, showing him 
in each r6Ie. On one side of the picture he is clothed in filthy 
rags, his head bound up and his face bloody ; and on the other 
he is neatly dressed, walks erect, and carries a stout cudgel to 
maintain his authority over other rogues and perhaps to enforce 

Such a Counterfeit Crank was tried twice by the London 
Court of Aldermen in 1547-8. The first time his pretended 
disease fooled the court, and he received no severer punish- 
ment than to be ordered to leave the city. The first entry in 
the Aldermen's records is as follows : 

' Robt Shakysberie being butt a boy and dyseased with the 
palsey or some other dysease wherwith his bodie shakethe verie 
sore shall lykewyse furthwith departe out of ye cytie vppon 
payne of whypping if he make defaute.' ^ 

It was only when he was caught playing the same trick 
a few months later that his deceit was discovered and he was 
ordered to be whipped at a cart's tail. 

'Item it is agreyd that Robt Shakysbery who falsely counter- 
feytheth the dysease of the palsey and here loytereth and con- 
tynueth begging contrary to the order here taken 15 December 
vlt shall according to the same order be whypped tomorowe 
thurrouth the markett places of the cytie att a carts [tail] and 
be then expelled out of the same cytie.' ^ 

There is in the records of this court the confession of a 
Counterfeit Crank of a much earlier date (1517-18), who used 
exactly the same pretence. 

' A vagabund dissembling with the Sekenes of the 
Fallyng evyll. 

'Miles Rose dwellyng in the paryssh of Seynt Botulph 
without Aldrychgate confessyd that he diverse and many 
tymes dissembled the sekenes of the Fallynge evyll in diverse 
parysshe churches within the Cite and at the tymes of his 

' Repertories of the Court of Aldermen, xi, fo. 364. Town Clerk's Office, 
' Repertory, xi, fo. 394 b. 




fallyng diverse persones of their good myndes hav putte vppon 
his fyngers jememes of sylver called Cramp Ryngs which he 
hath taken to hys owen vse besydes ijd at many tymes,'^ 

T^is 10 t^e fpgttte oftlie tomtaM CtAtiRe,toatt0Tt>o« 
ben of (11 t}9iB bobc of »og(8, calt(DiRpc()o(ag }5lUnt 
otbcf \prle0ptm(tB (5mnpttq0,l^iB tlAttBint\itvtHU 
icfe af ti)te boofit, toi)fc^ Hotff ^oIddc lutco all tl^atccaDcg 

Fig. 2. Nicholas Gennings in the pillory. 
{From the Bodleian copy of Harmaris Caueat.) 

The Dommerer, who pretended to have no tongue, the 
Palliard, or Clapperdudgeon, who corrupted his body with 

^ Repertory, xa,io. 201, March 11, 1517-18. On cramp rings see Andrew 
Boorde, Introduction of Knowledge (E.E.T.S.), p. 121. For a Latin 
ceremony by which they were consecrated temp. Mary see Burnet, History 
of the Reformation, 1865, vol. v, p. 445. 

D a 


horrible artificial sores made by binding some corrosive like 
spearwort, arsenic or ratsbane to the flesh, and the Abraham 
Man, who pretended to be mad, were all variations of the 
Rogue and Counterfeit Crank.^ Edgar, in Kins^ Lear, is a 
veritable Abraham Man, and Poor Tom was a name they used 
before Shakespeare was born.^ 

Dekker's O per se 0,i6i2 (the first of the many seventeenth- 
century revisions of Lanthorne and Candle-ligkt), has in one of 

Fig. 3. An Abraham Man or Tom o' Bedlam. 
[From one of the Roxburghe Ballads.) 

the chapters added in this edition a section explaining how 
Clapperdudgeons make these artificial soi'es. 

' How they make their great Soares, 
called the great Cleyme. 

' They take Crow-foote, Sperewort, and Salt, and bruising 
these together, they lay them vpon the place of the body 
which they desire to make sore : the skinne by this meanes 
being fretted, they first clappe a linnen cloath, till it stick 

'■ Harman, Caueat (N. Sh. Soc), pp. 44, 47, and 57. 
' See Awdeley, Fraternitye of Vacabondes (N. Sh. Soc), p. 3 (written 
about 1560-1). 




faste, which plucked off, the raw flesh hath Rats-bane throwne 
vpon it, to make it looke vgly: and then cast ouer that a 
cloath, which is alwayes bloudy and filthy, which they doe so 
often, that in the end in this hurt they f^ele no paine, neyther 
desire they to haue it healed, but with their Doxies will trauell 
(for all their great Cleymes) from Fayre to Fayre, and from 

Fig. 4. A Palliard or Clapperdudgeon, according to Callot. ' 
(From the British Museum Collection^ 

Market to Market, being able by their Mawnding to get fine 
Bordes (that is, fine shillings) in a weeke, in money and Corne. 
Which money they hide vnder blew and greene patches : so 
that sometimes they haue about them, sixe pound or seauen 
pound together/ ^ 

' Dekker, O per se O, sig. N^ verso. At sig. M4 in the same pamphlet • 
is an explanation of how counterfeit soldiers make their wounds by the 
use of unslaked lime, soap, and iron rust ; if this is properly done, 
'the arme appeares blacke, and the soare raw and reddish, but white 
about the edges like an old wound '. 


Harman tells a good story (which reminds one instantly of the 
means by which Simpcox's lameness is cured in a Henry VI, 
Act II, sc. i) of the way in which he and a surgeon friend of 
his made a pretended dumb man to speak. The story is worth 
quoting because it illustrates not only the practices of these 
vagabonds but also the methods by which Harman dealt with 

' Hauing on a time occasion to ride to Dartforde, to speak 
with a priest there, who maketh all kinde of conserues very 
well, and vseth stilling of waters ; And repayringe to his house, 
I founde a Dommerar at his doore, and the priest him selfe 
perusinge his lycence, vnder the seales and hands of certayne 
worshypfull men, had thought the same to be good and effec- 
tuall. I taking the same writing, and reading it ouer, and 
noting the seales, founde one of the seales like vnto a scale 
that I had aboute me, which seale I bought besides Charing 
crosse, that I was out of doubte it was none of those Gentle- 
mens seales that had sub[s]cribed. And hauing vnderstanding 
before of their peuish practises, made me to conceaue that all 
was forged and nought. I made the more hast home ; for well 
I wyst that he would and must of force passe through the 
parysh where I dwelt ; for there was no other waye for hym. 
And comminge homewarde, I found them in the towne, 
accordinge to my expectation, where they were staid ; for 
there was a Pallyarde associate with the Dommerar and 
partaker of his gaynes, whyche Pallyarde I sawe not at 
Dartford. The stayers of them was a gentleman called 
Chayne, and a seruant of my Lord Keepers, cald Wostestowe, 
which was the chiefe causer of the staying of them, being 
a Surgien, and cunning in his science, had sdene the lyke 
practises, and, as he sayde, hadde caused one to speake afore 
that was dome. It was my chaunce to come at the begynning 
of the matter. " Syr," (quoth this Surgien) " I am bold here 
to vtter some part of my cunning. I trust " (quoth he) " you 
shall se a myracle wrought anon. For I once" (quoth he) 
"made a dumme man to speake." Quoth I, "you are wel 
met, and somwhat you haue preuented me ; for I had thought 
to haue done no lesse or they hadde passed this towne. For 
I well knowe their writing is fayned, and they depe dissemblers." 
The Surgien made hym gape, and we could s6e but halfe a 
toung. I required the Surgien to put hys fynger in his mouth, 
and to pull out his toung, and so he dyd, not withstanding he 
held strongly a prety whyle ; at the length he pluckt out the 


same, to the great admiration of many that stode by. Yet 
when we sawe his tounge, h^e would neither speake nor yet 
could heare. Quoth I to the Surgien, " knit two of his fyngers 
to gether, and thrust a stycke betwene them, and rubbe the 
same vp and downe a lytle whyle, and for my lyfe h^e speaketh 
by and by." " Sir," quoth this Surgien, " I praye you let me 
practise and other waye." I was well contented to s6e the 
same. He had him into a house, and tyed a halter aboute 
the wrestes of his handes, and hoysed him vp ouer a beame, 
and there dyd let him hang a good while : at the length, for 
very paine he required for Gods sake to let him down. So he 
that was both deafe and dume coulde in short tyme both heare 
and speake. Then I tooke that money I could find in his 
pursse, and distributed the same to the poore people dwelling 
there, whiche was xv. pence halfepeny, being all that we coulde 
finde. That done, and this merry myracle madly made, I sent 
them with my seruaunt to the next lusticer, where they 
preached on the Pyllery for want of a Pulpet, and were well 
whypped, and none dyd bewayle them.' ^ 

The Priggers of Prancers ^ had a thriving trade in sixteenth- 
century England. The difficulty of communication and of 
search for stolen horses made them comparatively safe. A 
prigger if he went on horseback was called a ' Launce man ', 
if on foot a ' Trayler '. The trailers had saddle, bridle, stirrups 
and spurs, which could be folded up and carried in a small 
innocent-looking bag, ready for use on a horse caught in the 
fields.^ The thing which made horse-stealing so profitable 
was the ease with which the booty could be disposed of at 
any small country fair, a little distance from the scene of the 
theft. To make this more difficult, a law was passed in 1588-9 
putting certain restrictions on buying and selling of horses. 
No sale of a horse was legal, unless the seller first proved by 
substantial witnesses, before the Toller (an official established 
for regulating such sales), that the horse belonged to him.* 
But this law was constantly evaded by the easy method of 
having two confederates, apparelled like honest citizens, swear 
that the thief was the owner of the horse.^ 

' Harman, Caueat (N. Sh. Soc), pp. 57-9. ^ Ibid., p. 42. 

' Greene, Second Part of Conny-catching (Grosart), vol. x, pp. 75-9. 
* 2 & 3 Philip & Mary, c. 7 establishes office of Toller. 31 Eliz. c. 12 
provides that witnesses shall swear that seller of the horse is the owner. 
' Greene, Second Part of Conny-catching (Grosart), vol. x, pp. 77-8. 


Greene and Dekker describe many ingenious tricks for 
stealing horses. One of them, which seems somewhat over- 
elaborate, was this : four or five fellows dressed like serving- 
men of the better sort, dusty and dirty from travel, enter an 
inn, pretending to have just sent a footman into town with 
their horses. They stay several days, ordering freely of the 
best that the house affords, giving out that they are waiting 
for their master, about whose wealth and position they talk 
a great deal. After some time in comes another servant to 
say that their master commands them to meet him at a town 
ten or fifteen miles away for two days before he comes to the 
inn. On their master's credit they obtain horses and ride 
away, to sell the horses at 'some blinde drunken thdeuish fayre' 
and divide up the money .^ This is exactly the trick by which 
the three Germans in the Merry Wives of Windsor cozened 
the host of the Garter and 'all the hosts of Readins, of 
Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and money '.^ 

From the early part of this chapter the reader will have 
some idea of the number and variety of legitimately licensed 
vagabonds and beggars. The opportunity for the use of false 
licences is obvious, and it was taken advantage of to the fullest 
extent. Harman gives cant names for several such beggars 
who were usually, he says, bearers of counterfeit licences or 
had obtained their permits under false pretences : Fraters, 
who went about with real or sham licences to beg for a 
hospital or lazar house ; Demanders for Glimmer, who pre- 
tended to be authorized to beg for losses by fire ; and Whip- 
jacks, who carried papers allowing them to ask relief for losses 
at sea, though perhaps ' their shipes were drowned in the playne 
of Salisbery'.^ The forged passport here reproduced was 
used by a typical Whip-jack. Counterfeiters were examined 
frequently by the highest officers of the City and Kingdom. 
The London Aldermen punished two rogues for this offence 
in 1549, three in 1569, and three more in 1571.* The Privy 

■* Dekker, Lanthorne and Candle-light, chap. vii. 

^ M.W.W.,hz\.\N,^z.<,. 

' Harman, Caueat (N. Sh. Soc), pp. 45, 48, and 61. 

* Repertories, xii, pt. i, fo. 38 ; xvi, fo. 449 ; xvii, fo. 234*. 



■ ' 

; ■''... r;:/^ 


^ N. 


i " i 


Council examined some fellows who had counterfeited the seal 
of the Admiralty in 1551,^ and warned the London Aldermen in 
1569 to write their passports for rogues so discreetly as to make 
imitation difficult.^ Harman mentions taking false licences 
away from rogues several times, and warns his readers to trust 
no Proctor's licence unless it bears the Great Seal or is printed, 
' For the Printers will see and wel vnderstand before it come 
in presse that same is lawfull.' ^ Awdeley says there was one 
class of vagabonds called Jarckmen,* whose business it was to 
counterfeit licences and seals ; Harman denies their existence,^ 
and says very plausibly that the rogues had no difficulty in 
buying false licences in any town. In O per se O we have 
some further account of the way in which false licences are 
made and how to tell them from true ones. According to 
this pamphlet the counterfeit seals are carved on the end of 
a stick, and are usually a poor imitation of the head of a dog 
or a horse or a unicorn. They can be told from a genuine seal 
by the fact that there is no circle around the figure and by the 
rough way in which they are made. It says also that the false 
licence is likely to have the words ' For Salomon saith ; Who 
giueth the poore, lendeth the Lord, etc.', and that the bearer 
is sure to have at least one hundred miles to go to his home.^ 
The closing paragraph of a proclamation against false pur- 
suivants in 1596 indicates that counterfeit licences were then 
very common. 

' Moreouer where there are another sort of vagabond persons 
that either themselues doe make, or cause counterfeite Pasports 
to be made, and licenses to begge and gather Almes, pretend- 
ing that they haue beene hurt and maymed in her Maiesties 
seruice, or receiued some other great losse or hinderance by 
casualty, and vnto those licenses doe counterfeit the hands and 
scales of the said Lords, and others of her Maiesties priuy 
Counsell, or of some of them, or of some Justices of the Peace, 

^ Acts of the Privy Council, October 16, 1551. 

" Journals of the Common Council of the City of London, xix, fo. 171 b 
(quoted in Appendix A, 6). 

' Harman, Caueat (N. Sh. Soc), p. 45. Cp. p. 25 above. 

* Fraternitye of Vacabondes (N. Sh. Soc), p. 5. 

" Harman, Caueat (N. Sh. Soc), p. 60. 

' Dekker, O per se O, 1612, sig. N. Concerning the authorship and 
trustworthiness of this pamphlet see Chapter VI. 


or of the Generals of her Maiesties forces beyond the Seas, or 
of the Captaines of companies and other Officers, thereby to 
defraude her Maiesties subiects, and sometimes repaire to the 
Churches at the time of Diuine seruice, to make and gather 
collection by coulour of these counterfeit licences : of which sort, 
there are a great number dispersed in diuers Counties of the 
Realme, conspiring also, and combyning themselues together 
in very tumultuous sort to euill purposes : For the auoyding 
of which abuses, and iust punishment of such wicked and base 
people, her Maiesties pleasure is, that all Parsons or Vicars of 
Parishes, Churchwardens, or other her Maiesties Officers, and 
louing subiects, to whom these kinde of euill disposed persons 
may resort, shall consider well of the said licences, and finding 
cause to suspect the same, they shall bring them before the 
next Justice of the Peace to be strictly by them examined, and 
upon further cause of suspicion, he shall commit them to some 
Prison untill hee may be certainely informed from such, whose 
names are subscribed to the said Pasports or licences, whether 
the same bee true or counterfeited ^ 

Pedlars and tinkers were so useful that, in spite of their 
thieving habits, they were always welcome to the country 
people, and these two trades became a common cloak for 
rogues, as did that of tinker in Scotland for gipsies.^ If the 
tinkers of pamphlet literature represent the class, the members 
of that calling were merry rogues who did a great many things 
besides mend old pots and kettles. Greene, in a favourite and 
often copied story, describes one who added to his income by 
picking locks and stealing in every inn where he stopped. A 
Justice of the Peace who had proof of this entertained the 
tinker kindly, gave him some work, and sent him on an errand 
to the next jail carrying, instead of a letter, his own mittimus. 
Christopher Sly, in the Taming of the Shrew, is Harman's 
' Dronken Tinckar ' drawn to the life. He has the same fond- 
ness for ' bene bowse '. The hostess of the ' bowsing ken ' knows 
him well enough for a rogue, and with the help of the third- 
borough would doubtless soon have put him in the stocks had 
the author not saved him for a merrier purpose. 

^ See Bodleian volume. Proclamations by Elizabeth, under date. May 3, 
1596. Press-work, Arch. F. C. 11, fo. 355. 

^ Harman, Caiieat (N. Sh. Soc), pp. 59 and 60 ; Rid, Art of lugUng 
(1612), sig. Bj verso. 




So far has Harman led us into the mysteries of roguery. 
He understood them extremely well ; but he was, after all, 
a rather stern, serious-minded Justice of the Peace, and one 
class of vagabonds probably visited him very little: these 
were the fellows whose business it was to give the villagers 
amusement : gamesters, fortune-tellers, bearwards, players, 
jugglers, and minstrels. 

Fig. 5. A Pedlar. 
{From a ballad in the Pepysian Collection?) 

The Minstrels, roaming up and down the land singing bawdy 
ballads and furnishing music in taverns, at fairs, and at country 
wakes and feasts, were in very bad repute. But at the same 
time they were very popular. They commonly sold copies of 
the ballads which they sang, as Autolycus does, and like him 
they combined with their trade various kinds of roguery. 
Stubbes thought the honest ones too rare to count, and heartily 
condemned the whole tribe in a passage which contains a good 
picture of their life. 

' I think that all good minstrelles, sober and chast musicions 
(speking of suche drunken sockets and bawdye parasits as range 
the Cuntreyes, ryming and singing of vncleane, corrupt, and 




filthie songs in Tauernes, Ale-houses, Innes, and other publique 
assemblies,) may daunce the wild Moris thorow a needles eye. 
For how should thei bere chaste minds, seeing that their 
exercyse is the pathway to all vncleanes. Their is no ship so 
balanced with massie matter, as their heads are fraught with 
all kind of bawdie songs, filthie ballads and scuruie rymes, 
seruing for euery purpose, and for euerie Cumpanie.' ^ 

Even Sidney, who had no Puritan prejudices and was alive 
to poetry wherever he met it, speaking of the minstrels of his 
day, could only praise the song and not the singer. 

Fig. 6. A Minstrel. 
(From one of the Roxburghe Ballads^ 

' Certainly I must confesse my own barbarousnes, I neuer 
heard the olde song of Percy and Duglas, that I found not 
my heart mooued more then with a Trumpet : and yet it is 
sung but by some blinde Crouder, with no rougher voyce, 
then rude stile.' ^ 

The invention of printing had killed minstrelsy as it was 
known in the Middle Ages. The name survived for all those 
whose business it was to furnish popular musical entertain- 
ment : fiddlers, pipers, singers of songs and ballads. When 
these were attached to great households or licensed by other 
authorities they were considered respectable members of 
society ; when not, they were defined by the law as vaga- 

' Anatomie of Abuses (N. Sh. Soc), p. 171. 
^ Sidney, Apologie, Arber's reprint, p. 46. 




bonds and sturdy beggars.^ Their character and habits were 
much the same in either case. : Dependence upon a noble 
family evidently meant for a minstrel very little constant 
attendance, and the protected and unprotected wandered up 
and down the land entertaining the public, ' changing music 
for money ' where they could. They played in the streets, 
visited great households on the occasion of a wedding or a 
feast, haunted taverns and more questionable resorts, either in 
bands (as Sneak's noise) or singly. They were merry fellows ; 

Fig. 7. A Minstrel in the Stocks. 
(From one of the Roxburghe Ballads^ 

Beggars they are with one consent, 
And Rogues by act of Parliament. 

some of them were decent and sang songs which rather tended 
to edification, others wei-e the reverse. Curious vignettes of 
individual minstrels are preserved : of these Richard Sheale's 
account of himself and Deloney's of Anthony Now-now will 
serve as examples of the better sort, and Chettle's invective 
against the sons of old Barnes of ' Bishop's Stafford ', put into 
the mouth of this same Anthony Now-now's ghost, of the lower. 

' Chambers, in his Mediaeval Stage, vol. ii, App. F, mentions several 
courts of minstrels and guilds which gave, or claimed to give, those 
licensed by them protection from the law against vagabonds. There was 
the Court of Minstrels held by the Buttons in Cheshire, that established 
by letters patent from John of Gaunt at Tutbury, and city guilds in 
London, Canterbury, and Beverley. 



Sheale was a minstrel-retainer of the Earl of Derby about 
the middle of the century. He was not technically a vagabond, 
but he was evidently a skilful beggar and gained a large part 
of his living on the road. He was respectable enough to wish 
to pay his debts, and he was able, with the help of his wife, to 
amass sixty pounds with which to do it, but unfortunately he 
was waylaid by thieves on Dunsmore Heath and his money 
taken from him. A song which he made to recount this event 
and move good people to help make up his loss gives us a very 
good idea of him and of his class. He thought himself secure 
in carrying the money because of the reputation of his calling 
for poverty. 

And withowt company I ryde alone, thus was I folisshe 

I thought beth reason off my harpe no man wolde me 

susspecte ; 
For minstrels offt with mony the be not moche infecte. 

But the thieves got wind of it and lay in wait for him on 
Dunsmore Heath, 

Wher many a man for las mony hathe ofte tymys cought 
his dethe. 

He has grieved so much over it that he can hardly follow his 
calling ; he cannot play the merry knave for thinking of his 

After my robbery my memory was so decayde, 

That I colde neathar syng nore talke, my wyttes wer so 

dismayde ; 
My awdacitie was gone, and all my myrry tawke. 
Ther ys sum hear have sene me as myrry as a hawke; 
But nowe I am so trublyde with phansis in my mynde, 
That I cannote play the myrry knave accordynge to my 


But after all he thanks God it was no worse ; his patron has 
given him letters, friends everywhere have contributed, and he 
hopes present company will do the same. So he ends, 


Desyryng youe all to bear this tayle in mynde, 

That I among your pursis nowe sum frendshipe may fynde. 

Every man a lyttell wold satisfye my nede, 

To helpe a poor man owt off dett, it ys a gracious dede.^ 

Sheale was characteristic of his trade in that his talents lay 
more in the direction of begging than of poetry. In the 
volume from which this poem is quoted is preserved the 
doggerel formula which he evidently used constantly to thank 
his host for hospitality and, at the same time, ask leave to 
come again. 

Deloney's story of how Anthony Now-now got his name 
occurs in the tenth chapter of the second part of The Gentle 
Craft : 

' The greene king (a shoemaker — the hero of this particular 
story. He is now on his way to Flanders) hauing thus taken 
his leaue, went toward Billingsgate, of purpose to take Barge : 
where by the way hee met with Anthony now now, the firkin 
Fidler of Finchlane : 

What master (quoth he) well met, I pray whither are you 
walking ? and how doe all our friends in saint Martins ? Will 
you not haue a crash ere you goe ? 

Yfaith, Anthony (quoth he) thou knowest I am a good 
fellow, and one that hath not been a niggard to thee at any 
time, therefore if thou wilt bestow any musick on me, doe ; 
and if it please God that I return safely from Flanders againe, 
I will pay thee well for thy paines ; but now I haue no money 
for musick. 

Gods-nigs (quoth Anthony) whether you haue money or no, 
you shall haue musick, 1 doe not allways request coyne of my 
friends for my cunning : what, you are not euery body, and 
seeing you are going beyond sea, I will bestow a pinte of wine 
on you at the Salutation : 

Saist thou so Anthony (quoth he) in good sooth I will not 
refuse thy curtesie, and with that they stept into the Tauern, 
where Anthony cald for wine : and drawing forth his Fiddle 
began to play, and after he had scrapte halfe a score lessons 
he began to sing. 

When should a man shew himself e gentle and kinde, 
When should a man comfort the sorrowful minde ? 

^ Wright, Songs and Ballads , . . chiefly of the reign of Philip and 
Mary, i860. The quotations are from No. xlvi, pp. 156-61. 


O Anthony now, now, now. 

Anthony now, now, now. 
When is the best time to drinke with a friend? 
When is it meetest my money to spend? 

O Anthony now, now, now. 

O Anthony now, now, now. 
When goes the King of good fellowes away? 
That so much delighted in dauncing and play? 

O Anthony now, now, now. 

Anthony now, now, now. 
And when should I bid my Master farewell f 
Whose bountie and curtesie so did excell? 

O Anthony now, now, now. 

Anthony now, now, now. 

Loe ye now Master (quoth he) this song haue I made for 
your sake, and, by the grace of God when you are gone I will 
sing it euery Sunday morning vnder your wiues window, that 
she may know we dranke together ere you parted : 

I pray thee do so (said the Greene king) and do my com- 
mendations vnto her, and tell her at my returne I hope to 
make merry. 

Thus after they had made an end of their wine, and 
paid for the shot, Anthony putting vp his Fiddle departed, 
seeking to change musicke for money : while the Greene king 
of Saint Martins sailed in Grauesend Barge. But Anthony 
in his absence sung this song so often in Saint Martins, that 
thereby he purchast a name which he neuer lost till his dying 
day, for euer after men called him nothing but Anthony now 

In his tract called Kind-Harts Dreame, written at the end. 
of 1592, three months after Greene's death, Chettle represents 
the ghosts of various people coming back to earth to bring 
denunciations of abuses in their professions. One of these 
is old Anthony Now-now, come back to protest against the 
abuses in ballad-singing which have sprung up since his day. 
Vile, indecent ballads are printed in large numbers ; boys are 
taught to sing and sent out to sell them, escaping, because of 
their youth, the notice of the authorities : 

'This error (ouer spreding the realme) hath in no small 
measure increased in Essex, and the shires thereto adioyning, 

' Deloney's Works, ed, Mann, pp. 204-5. 


by the blushlesse faces of certaine Babies, sonnes to one Barnes, 
most frequenting Bishops Stafford. The olde fellow their 
father, soothing his sonnes folly, resting his crabbed limes on 
a crab-tree staffe, was wont (and I thinke yet he vses) to seuer 
himselfe from the Booth, or rather Brothell of his two sons 
Ballad shambels : where, the one in a sweaking treble, the 
other in an ale-blowen base, carrowle out such adultrous 
ribaudry, as chast eares abhorre to heare, and modestie hath 
no tongue to vtter. 

While they are in the ruffe of jibaudrie, (as I was about to 
say) the olde ale-knight, their dad, breakes out into admiration, 
and sends stragling customers to admire the roaring of his 
sonnes : where, that I may showe some abuses, and yet for 
shame let slip the most odious, they heare no better matter, 
but the lasciuious vnder songs of Watkins ale, the Carmans 
whistle, Chopingknives, and frier foxtaile, and that with such 
odious and detested boldnes, as if there be any one line in 
those lewd songs than other more abhominable, that with a 
double repetition is lowdly belowed. . . . The father leapes, ^ 
the lubers roare, the people runne, the Diuell laughs, God 
lowers, and good men weepe.' ^ 

These graceless imps of old Barnes, Anthony's ghost informs 
us, have before now been employed by cutpurses to gather a 
crowd and keep them amused while the thieves plied their trade. 

' Where, yer [ere] a leaud songe was fully ended, some mist 
their kniues, some their purses, soome one thinge, soome 
another . . . how euer they sung, it is like they shared : for 
it hath beene saide, they themselues bragge, they gayned their 
twenty shillinges in a day.' ^ 

Singing in public, Anthony proposes, should be allowed only 
to the aged and poor, who have this as a last resort before they 
come to beggary. These are the men — Richard Sheale, 
Anthony Now-now, the sons of Barnes, and their like — who in 
the sixteenth century inherited the name and, to some extent, 
filled the place of the courtly minstrel of the Middle Ages. 

The tricks which wandering jugglers and conjurers performed 

^ Chettle, Kind-Harts Dreame (N. Sh.Soc. : Shakspere Allusion 
Books, i), pp. 48-9. The town is probably Bishop's Stortford. 

' Ibid., p. 50. Cp. the section devoted to pickpockets in Chapter V 


skin and put on under the clothing ; under this was worn 
a bladder full of blood, ' which bloud must be of a calfe or of a 
shdepe ; but in no wise of an oxe or a cow, for that will be too 
thicke,' and under this bladder was a metal plate to protect 
the body. Thus equipped, the conjurer got himself stabbed 
and made the blood squirt from the wound by pressing against 
the plate with his body, at the same time acting the part of a 
dying man, so as to excite the wonder and horror of the 
beholders. At this trick, Scot tells us, ' not long since a 
iuggler caused himself to be killed at a tauerne in cheapside, 
from whence he presentlie went into Powles churchyard and 
died. Which misfortune fell vpon him through his owne follie, 
as being then drunken, and hauing forgotten his plate, which 
he should haue had for his defense.'^ These were the tricks 
of the vagabond jugglers who wandered up and down the land, 
reaping a harvest in every market, fair, and tavern ; they are 
mentioned in every statute against vagabonds, and doubtless 
had a prosperous life, in spite of the constables and judges. 

During the period from 1547 to 1575 — the palmiest days 
of vagabond life in England — we hear of some wanderers who 
did more than obtain a living by clever deception or thieving. 
These were the spreaders of discontent in regard to social and 
political conditions, 

moody beggars, starving for a time 
Of pell-mell havoc and confusion. 

It has been shown how terribly hard conditions were for the 
poor about the middle of the century. One is not surprised 
to learn that some of the victims of enclosures, evictions and 
rent-raisings, driven out to wander as homeless vagabonds, were 
men of too fiery a substance to be able to set to work tamely 
to acquire the wretched vagabond arts of begging and stealing. 
Instead they went about spreading as best they might the 
discontent which was in the air and which is expressed forcibly 
in the various socialistic writings mentioned in the first chapter 
of this book. M. Jusserand conjectures that the sudden and 
mysterious presence of revolt on every hand in 1381 was due 
' Discoaerie of Witchcraft, book 13, chap. 34. 


to the vagrants who swarmed on every highway and who 
spread the idea of discontent and rebellion from shire to shire.^ 
It seems quite certain that this was true in 1549. 

In this way the vagabonds became a serious menace to the 
peace of the realm. The worst days were perhaps in the time 
of Edward VI, but during the first twenty years of Elizabeth's 
reign this army of idle, discontented vagrants, ready to join in 
any rebellion, kept the government in constant danger. It was 
this danger which was responsible for the rapid development 
of the English poor law between 1530 and 1600 : it was this 
danger which made the Privy Council devote so much personal 
attention to all sorts of petty details of its enforcement. The 
legal measures taken in response to this menace on the part of 
the vagabonds will be described in the next chapter ; here we 
shall try only to throw what dim light is possible on their 

Several proclamations were issued in 1548 and 1549 against 
wandering Tale-tellers. One of these (issued July 8, 1549) 
calls them rogues, vagabonds, prison breakers and seditious 
run-a-gates.^ Strype describes the conditions (largely in the 
words of this proclamation) as follows : 

' There was now a sort of leud idle Fellows, the most part 
whereof had neither place to inhabit, nor sought any stay to 
live by. Persons many of them condemned of Felony, or 
Prison-breakers, run from the Wars, and Sea-rovers departed 
from the King's Garisons, and Loiterers ; These Persons ran 
from Place to Place, from County to County, from Town to 
Town, to stir up Rumours, raise up Tales, imagin News, 
whereby to stir and gather together the Kings Subjects, of 
simplicity and ignorance deceived. And by that pretence 
such leud Ruffians and unruly Vagabonds became Ringleaders 
and Masters of the Kings people ; seeking to spoil, rob and 
ravin where, or whom they listed, or might : And so lived, 
waxed rich, and fed on other Mens Labour, Mony and Food. 
And when the Poor of one part of the Country raised up by 
these Fellons, repented and saw their Folly, acknowledged 
their Faults, and returned themselves to their Duty, and 

* English Wayfaring Life, pp. 271-5. 

'' In the library of the Society of Antiquaries in London. Proclama- 
tions, iii (39). 


received the Kings Pardon ; the said Runnagates escaped 
from the Places of their first Attempts, and daily resorted to 
new Places ; and so from Place to Place, Shire to Shire, never 
quieting themselves, but devising slanderous Tales, and 
divulging to the People suchkindof News as they thought might 
most readily move them to Uproars and Tumults ; and pre- 
tending the same time they sought the redress of the Common- 
wealth. The King sent a Proclamation after these, dated 
July 8, Charging all Justices, Sheriifs, Bailiffs, and other his 
Officers, to be diligent to take some good special Order for 
the Apprehension and Attaching of such Persons, whether as 
Vagabonds, Wayfaring Men, Straglers or otherwise. And 
that whosoever should discover any of them should have the 
Kings hearty Thanks, and ao Crowns for a Reward.' ^ 

The Privy Council punished divers such.persons by ordering 
them to be set on pillories, with the words ' Movers of Sedition 
and Spreaders of Fake Rumores ' on their backs, and certain 
of the worst offenders had their ears cut off.^ There are 
occasional notices of tale-tellers and movers of sedition later 
in Elizabeth's reign, but peace, prosperity, and worlchouses 
together seem to have silenced most of them. 

There was a similar state of affairs in regard to religion. 
The vagabond law of 1547 was especially severe against 
wandering monks and friars. Bishop Burnet (writing in 1681) 
says of Edward VI's time that ' these vagrants did every 
where alienate the people's minds from the government, and 
persuaded them that things would never be well settled till they 
were again restored to their houses. Some of these came often 
to London on pretence of suing for their pensions, but really 
to practise up and down through the country.' * Against no 
vagabonds were the efforts of the Privy Council more deter- 
mined. The most extensive and thorough measures used 
against them during Elizabeth's reign — the whipping campaign 
of 1569-72— were caused by the rebellion of the Catholic 
nobles in the north in 1569.* Watches for vagrants were 

' Ecclesiastical Memorials (1721), vol. ii, book i, chap. 21, p. 169. 

^ Acts of Privy Council, vol. for 1552-4, p. 168. 

' History of the Reformation, 1865, ii. 100. 

* See letter ordering these searches. (Transcribed in Appendix A, 6.) 

Plate IV 

Two of Rembrandt's beggars. 
{From the British Museum collection.) 


ordered in every shire and the sheriffs and justices were 
instructed to send in the namesof all vagabonds apprehended, 
probably in order that the Privy Council might trace Popish 
agitators and spies. 

After the Armada there was continual fear lest Popish spies 
should slip into the country to prepare the way for a second 
invasion. A proclamation of October 18, 1591, against 
disguised Popish priests and agitators mentions among their 
various disguises : ' many of them in their behauiour as 
Ruffians, farre off to be thought, or suspected to be Friers, 
Priests, Jesuits, or Popish schollers.'^ And Lodge, in 1596, 
gives a description of these seditious malcontents, which con- 
firms what has just been said. According to him a young 
man of good wits who was tired of living so long in England, 
' where men of good wits are most neglected,' would go abroad 
in search of better entertainment, or more freedom in religion, 
and return later 'with seditious bookes, false intelligences, and 
defamatorie Libels, to disgrace his Prince, detract her honour- 
able counsell, and seduce the common sort '. In Paul's he told 
of the fortune awaiting shrewd fellows abroad ; in the country 
he railed against enclosures and racked rents, calling for revolt, 
insurrection, and commotion.^ 

So much for the life of the wandering vagabonds. Enough 
has been said to give some idea of the variety of their devices 
for begging and stealing, to show how much they contributed 
to the amusement of the lower classes, and in what ways they 
were a serious danger to the peace of the realm. The vagrants 
included many kinds of harmful and harmless persons, but 
they were so hard to distinguish that they were all included in 
the one comprehensive term, Vagabond, and were legislated 
against in common. 

' Bodleian volume. Proclamations by Elizabeth, fo. 316. 
" Lodge, Wits Miserie and the Worlds Madnesse, 1596 (Hunterian 
Club), p. 67. 



The object of this chapter is to outline the laws against 
rogues and vagabonds from 1530 to 1597 and to describe' the 
methods used to execute them. This is worth doing for the 
sake of the information it gives about the vagabond class in 
its relation to society as a whole. Before 1530 there was 
almost no legislation on this subject, although a few towns 
and cities had already for half a century been wrestling with 
the problems presented by the increasing numbers of idlers, 
and vagrants. Fi'om that year, however, until the end of the 
century the rogues and beggars received constant attention 
from Parliament. The legislation against vagabonds which is 
important for us falls into three periods, (i) from 1530 to 
1547; (a) from 1547 to 1573; and (3) from 1573 to 1597, 
The discussion is divided according to this simple scheme and 
in connexion with each period is considered not only the laws 
enacted but also the measures taken to enforce them. How- 
ever, before beginning the discussion outlined above, it may be 
worth while to sum up in one or two paragraphs the general 
tendencies in legislation and in execution of the laws against 
rogues and vagabonds during the entire period. 

At the beginning of the sixteenth century the laws against 
vagrancy were of the simplest character ; they directed that 
all suspicious vagrant persons should be punished by stocking 
and imprisonment until sureties could be found for their good 
behaviour. The next step was to divide these vagrant persons 
into two classes, sturdy and impotent. The first were for- 
bidden to wander on pain of various punishments, stocking, 
whipping, loss of one or both ears, or even death. The second 
were given permits allowing them to beg for their relief. This 


plan of punishment and aid was modified at various times 
through the century, the changes tending always (except for 
one law which was in force only a few years) to make the 
punishments for vagabondage less severe, to make more and 
more ample provision for setting able-bodied vagrants to work, 
and to provide compulsory instead of voluntary payments for 
the aid of the impotent. Apparently the sixteenth-century 
law-makers drew three conclusions from their experiments in 
making laws against rogues and vagabonds : (i) that severe 
and cruel punishments did not suppress vagabondage but only 
made it more exciting ; (2) that the one effective punishment 
for sturdy vagabonds and beggars was to set them to work ; 
and (3) that for the relief of impotent poor it was far better to 
levy a regular tax than to depend on charity. These brief 
general statements sum up what was in reality a great legisla- 
tive triumph. Goaded on by the discomfort and danger from 
the swarms of vagrants which infested the land, English law- 
makers, in a period of seventy years, developed from the 
rudest of beginnings a code of laws which were the foundation 
of English poor relief for the next two hundred years. 

Great as was the contribution to legislation concerning the 
poor during this period, it was not more important than the 
progress in methods of enforcing the laws. The credit for 
this belongs to the Privy Council of Elizabeth. The old 
method of enforcing the poor laws had been to issue emphatic 
proclamations to Justices of the Peace, explaining their duties 
and directing that they should perform them as they wished 
to avoid their sovereign's displeasure. These proclamations 
are valuable to the historian for the way in which they describe 
conditions, but they seem to have had little effect. The same 
pressure which caused Parliament to seek constantly to im- 
prove the Poor Laws drove the Government to seek more 
effective ways of executing them. The members of Eliza- 
beth's Privy Council directed the punishment of vagrants and 
the relief of the poor by means of personal letters to the 
sheriffs and justices of each shire. They ordered privy 
watches and searches for vagabonds and required certificates 
of the names of all who were punished. They personally 


examined vagabonds caught with false licences, investigated 
the complaints of persons who, for any extraordinary reason, 
demanded permits to beg, reproved the University of Cam- 
bridge for allowing wandering gamesters to settle near it, and 
altogether seem to have exercised a minute supervision over 
every detail. The machinery which Elizabeth's Council 
organized, improved by thirty years of use, enabled Charles I 
to enforce the poor law more thoroughly, it is said, than it 
has ever been executed since.^ But in the reign of Elizabeth 
all this vigilance was barely sufficient to restrain the multitudes 
of rogues and vagabonds from grave disorder and rebellion: 
the evil would have been terrible without it. 

1530-47. Legislation. 

In order to understand the Elizabethan laws against vaga- 
bonds it is necessary to go back to the year 1530. The statute 
for the punishment of vagabonds in force at the beginning of 
Elizabeth's reign (a2 Henry VIII, c. 12) had been made in 
1530-1 and had continued in force since then except for three 
years of unsuccessful experimenting, 1547-9. This law pro- 
vided that impotent beggars 'should have licences signed and 
sealed by the Justices of the Peace, allowing them to beg 
within certain limits. All vagabonds and beggars without 
such licences, and all persons able to labour, who were found 
begging, were to be stripped from the waist upward and 
whipped until bloody, or set in the stocks three days and three 
nights on bread and water ; they were then to be sent to the 
place of their usual residence, to be relieved if impotent or set 
to work if able-bodied. Begging scholars, without licence 
from the Vice-Chancellor of their University, shipmen, proctors, 
pardoners, fortune-tellers, fencers, minstrels, players, and the 
like, without proper licence, were to be whipped two days in 
succession : for the second offence this punishment was to be 
repeated, and in addition they were to stand one day in the pillory 
and have an ear cutoff; for the third offence they were to undergo 
like punishment and lose the other ear. The statute specified 

' Leonard, Early History of English Poor Relief, p. 132. 




one form of licence for deserving beggars and another for dis- 
charged prisoners begging for money to pay their jailer's fees ; 
finally, it threatened any one harbouring a sturdy vagabond 
with a fine of loo^. and imprisonment at the King's will. 
This statute was slightly modified by another enacted in 1535-6 
(37 Henry VIII, c. 25), which provided for regular collections 

Fig. 9. Two pretended fortune-tellers in the pillory. 
(From The . . . Cousnages of John West and Alice West, in the Bodleian.) 

of voluntary gifts to relieve the impotent poor and to set 
able-bodied vagrants to work, and made it a felony (punish- 
able by death) to be guilty of vagrancy a third time. How- 
ever, the 27 Henry VIII, c. 35, remained in force only until 
1547, and was not renewed with the 2% Henry VIII, c. I3, in 

I530-47- Enforcement of the Laws. 
A good many attempts were made to see that the law of 
i530-'i was executed. In the year it was passed the King 
rebuked the Court of Aldermen of the City of London for 


allowing great multitudes of vagabonds to infest the streets.^ 
A law was passed in 1541-2 (33 Henry VIII, c. 10) directing 
Justices of the Peace to proclaim and enforce the law of 1530- 1 
along with others against petty disorders ; and there are in 
the Public Record Office papers referring to four or five 
letters from the Privy Council to Justices and other officers 
between 1537 and 1541, directing them to make special effiDrts 
to repress the multitude of idle vagabonds.^ 

In June 1530 a royal proclamation against vagabonds' 
recited that in spite of the efforts to restrain them, they were 
increased 'into great rowtes and companies', and ordered 
every vagrant to ask the nearest Justice of the Peace for a 
' billet ', i. e. passport, to his home. After two days every 
vagabond taken without such a billet was to be whipped and 
then given one (of a form specified in the proclamation), 
signed by the Justice, or, if he could not write, by some 
honest householder living near. On June 16, 1531, another 
proclamation was issued,* directing the due execution of the 
statute just enacted, and between this year and 1547, the date 
of the next law, half a dozen others — most of them against 
vagabonds in London and about the court. There is no 
trace, in such records of punishments as happen to be pre- 
served, of any result from these proclamations, unless it be in 
the superior vigilance exercised against vagabonds in London. 

Vagabonds were more strictly punished in the cities than 
anywhere else, as one would expect. Chester had a code of 
ordinances on this subject in 1540.^ In the records of the 
Borough of Leicester is presei-ved an ordinance of Henry VII 
for the punishment of rogues and vagabonds, dated i486, 
which compliments the rulers of the city for past diligence in 

I Repertory, viii, fo. 218, March S, 1 530-1. 

* Calendar of Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vol. xii, pt. ii, 
No. 14 (to Justices of Peace and religious houses) ; vol. xii, pt. ii, No. 364 
(to Duke of Suffolk) ; vol. xiii, pt. ii, app. 5 (to Justices of Peace) ; vol. xyi, 
No. 945 (to Justices of Peace). 

" Bodleian volume. Proclamations before Elizabeth. Press-mark, Arch. 
F.C. 10 (2). Transcribed in Appendix A, 2. 

* In library of Society of Antiquaries, London. Proclamations, i 

(58, 59). 

* Referred to in Calendar of State Papers, Henry VIII, xv. 141. 


this respect.^ In 1520 there was another from Henry VIII 
ordering weekly watches and searches during the time of 
the king's invasion of France.** Interest in the subject was 
likely to be suddenly stimulated by the depredations of a 
troop of wandering rogues, as in Nottingham, where two 
or three Justices were presented in 1544 for not punishing a 
band of ' valliaunt beggers that hes newle and latle comyn in 
to ower towne '.® 

In London a good deal had been done before 1530. The 
records of these proceedings are found in the Repertories of 
the Court of Aldermen, the Journals of the London Common 
Council, and other documents preserved in the Town Clerk's 
Office in the Guildhall. These records show that frequent 
searches had been made for vagabonds and for harbourers. 
The rogues caught were imprisoned in stocks and cages, had 
yellow V's stitched on their clothing, and were conducted out ' 
of the city with a basin ringing before them and a proclama- 
tion at the Standard in Cheapside. There is preserved in the 
Guildhall an extremely interesting set of orders devised by 
the mayor and aldermen in 151 7, at the command of the 
Privy Council, for the repression of sturdy beggars and vaga- 
bonds. A list had been made for each ward of the beggars and 
poor who really belonged there and for whose support the city 
was responsible. The total number was over 1 ,000. Round tin 
badges with the arms of the city of London stamped on them 
were ordered, one was to be given to each beggar on the list, 
and no one else was to be allowed to beg. At the decease of 
each person having a token, his badge was to be returned to 
the alderman of the ward, to be kept until another impotent 
poor person was found in that ward. Any new vagabonds 
coming into the city were to be severely punished according 
to the statute of Henry VII. In order to carry this into 
effect Henry Barker, carpenter, and three persons with him 
were made surveyors of the beggars ; they were to oversee 
the poor folk having tokens to beg, as well as to drive out 

' Records of Borough of)Leicester, vol. ii, pp. 308 ff. 

^- Ibid., vol. iii, p. 14. 

' Records of the Borough of Nottingham, vol. iii, pp. 399-400. 


vagabonds and mighty beggars repairing to the city. The 
surveyors of the beggars wore a livery ; they were put in 
charge of a master of the beggars, about whom there are 
occasional entries in the records of the Court of Aldermen 
throughout the sixteenth century.^ 

The beggars who had tokens were expected to help to expel 
and keep out strange vagabonds, on pain of forfeiting their right 
to beg. The directions given to the licensed beggars for this 
police duty are amusing. Evidently it was desired that they 
should not break the peace, but, on the other hand, should 
not be so mild as to fail in their efforts. They were to ' do 
their laufull endeuour to expelle and kepe out the seyd vaga- 
bundes and myghty beggers out of the Citie by exclamacions, 
expulcions and puttyng out of thym' and, if that failed, to notify 
an officer. In asking alms of citizens, beggars were ordered 
to use good manners. If a person denied them by word, 
countenance, or gesture, they were not to trouble hini further 
for that time — a provision which suggests that the ordinary 
beggar's behaviour was just the reverse. Beggars with horrible 
pocks or loathsome sores and diseases were forbidden to beg 
openly; instead, they were to be confined in hospitals and 
lazar houses and a proctor wearing the city token was allowed 
to beg for them. 

These orders illustrate the early sixteenth-century ideas of 
the proper method of poor relief. They were far in advance 
of their time and differ very little in essence from the statutes 
in force until 157a. After the law of 1530-1 the vigilance in 
London was increased, judging from the number of punish- 
ments recorded, but the methods were not materially changed. 
Several vagabonds were commanded to leave the city on pain 
of losing both ears, according to the statute, and this punish- 
ment was no doubt resorted to occasionally, though no instances 
of it are recorded. 

1547-73. Legislation. 

Between 1547 and 1573 the vagabonds increased largely in 

numbers or, at any rate, the troubled times caused the bad 

1 These orders of 1517 are recorded in Journal XI, fo. i2n ff- They 
are transcribed in Appendix A, I, below. 


efifects of their presence to be felt more keenly, and in conse- 
quence there was new (though not successful) legislation 
against them, and real improvement in methods of enforcing 
the laws. In 1547 the laws of 1530-1 and 1535-6 were repealed 
and a new and much severer statute (i Edward VI, c. 3) was 
passed. This decreed that all ahle-bodied persons not working 
should be adjudged vagabonds ; they might be seized by 
their former masters, branded with a V on the breast, and 
made slaves for two years, These slaves could legally be 
chained, given only the coarsest food, driven to work with 
whips or subjected to any other cruelty, Vagrants for whom 
no master could be found were to become slaves of the 
Borough or Hundred, which could employ them at road- 
making or any public work, If they ran away and were 
caught, they were to be branded S on the chest .and made 
slaves for life. The punishment for a second running away 
was death as a felon. This statute was too severe to be en- 
forced,^ and for this reason was repealed after two years, and 
the 32 Henry VIII, c. 13, revived, which law continued in 
force until 1573. 

1547-73. Execution of the Laws, 

The twenty-five years from 1547 to 1573 mark a determined 
effort on the part of the Privy Council to see. the laws regard- 
ing vagabonds enforced. The (troubles of 1548 and 1549 
brought forth ten public proclamations against tale-bearers 
and spreaders of seditious rumours, who were classed as rogues 
and vagabonds.^ During the next decade there were procla- 
mations commanding the vagabonds to leave London. ^ At 
the same time began the series of letters to ofificers in different 
shires commanding them to do their part in suppressing the 

* Cp. Preamble to the law repealing it — the 3 & 4 Edward VI, c. i6, 
' thextremitie of some whereof have byn occation that they have not ben 
putt in ure.' 

' For example see proclamation of July 8, 1549, in the library of the 
Society of Antiquaries, London. Proclamations, iii. 39. Other evidences 
of activity in London during this period are that the aldermen were pro- 
vided with seals for passports, and that blank forms for these and for per- 
mits to beg were printed. Repertory, xii, Pt. i, fos. 226, 230, and 233. 


multitude of rogues. Part of the knowledge upon which 
these letters were based the Privy Council obtained by 
actually examining vagabonds caught in London.^ On 
April 15, 1 55 1, directions for watches and for the punishment 
of vagabonds were issued to the Justices of the Peace in all 
the shires:^ letters were sent to Lord Russell and other 
gentlemen in Bucks, directing them to enforce the statute 
for relief of the poor Nov. 5, J 552,^ to the Lord Mayor of 
London directing him to punish vagabonds September 16, 
1554,^ to the Justices of the Peace in Norfolk March 26, 1555,^ 
to the Lord Lieutenant of Sussex and Surrey in 1559,* to the 
Archbishop of York in 1561,* to the sheriffs and justices of 
Southampton, Devon, Cornwall, Hereford, Stafford, Chester, 
Berks., Bucks., and Oxon., and to Lord Rutland, Lord Presi- 
dent of the North, July 23, 1562,^ 

In 1569 began a still more thorough whipping campaign 
inspired mainly by the desire to restrain a class of idlers 
who were too easily enlisted by the leaders of the religious 
revolts which took place that year in many parts of the 
country, and especially in the North. In this year the 
Council issued a commission to Thos. Andrews, to inquire 
into and enforce the punishment of vagabonds,^ and directed 
the Earl of Sussex (who was employed in putting down the 
rebellion in the North) to do the same.^ A letter had been 
sent to the London Court of Aldermen in March 1569, and 
this being unnoticed another followed June ao,'' i-ebuking 
them sharply for their negligence and commanding searches 
to be held at least monthly during the summer ; all rogues 
punished were to be given passports directing them to their 
homes, or the place where they last resided for a space of 
three years ; these passports to be discreetly written and 
sealed so as to be difificult to counterfeit (' as it ys reported 

^ Cp. Acis of Privy Council, October 16, 1551, and under dates men- 
tioned in text. The date is the most convenient reference to any entry. 

'^ Burnet, History of the Reformation, v. 427. (From Cotton MSS. 
Titus B. II, fo. 116.) 

' D. S. P. Eliz., xciii, No. 18, p. 52. 

* Cal. D. S. P. Eliz., add. 1547-65, p. 510. 

' £>. S. P. Eliz., li. II (1&2). 

° Ibid., Elizabeth, add. xiv. 67, 80. 

' foiimal, xix, fo. 171b. Quoted in Appendix A, 6. 




some of theime can readely doo '), and to name in them the 
different towns by which the rogues should pass in their 
direct way home. Certificates of these searches and punish- 
ments were to be returned promptly to the Privy Council. 

Copies of the same letter were sent to many shires, and it 
was intended that watches should be held throughout the 
country. It is very difficult to determine how extensively 

Fig. 10. Whipping vagabonds at the cart's tail. 
{From the Bodleian copy of Harman's Caueat.) 

this was done.^ A contemporary unsigned letter to Sir 
James Ci'oft (concerning a small rebellion in Suffolk the 
same year) asserts that in the watches held all over the 
country 13,000 masterless men and vagabonds were appre- 
hended, by means of which the rebellion in Suffolk was 
destroyed.^ Strype accepts the statement,^ and it has been 

^ At least three copies of these letters ordering watches and searches 
during the whipping campaign of 1569-72 are readily accessible. They 
may be found in the following places : 

Strype, Annals, vol. i, pt. ii. Appendix, No. 43 (Clarendon Press ed., 
p. 554). The original is in Cotton MS. Titus B II, fos. 278-9. 

Journals of the London Common Council, xix, fo. 171 b (this and the one 
above dated June 20, 1569). 

Shrewsbury Muniments, No. 2,621, Pet. to Bail., &c. (July 30, 1571). 

The second and third, which differ in one or two interesting particulars, 
are transcribed in full in Appendix, Nos. 6 and 8. 

'. Quoted in Strype, Annals, vol. i, pt. ii, chap. Iv (Clarendon Press ed., 
p. 346). The original statement is in Cotton MS. Titus B 1 1, fo. (ink) 471. 

' Annals, vol. i, pt. ii, chap, liii (Clarendon Press ed., pp. 295-6). 

1B2«.1 F 


often copied since, but not the least reliance can be placed 
on it. It is impossible to know whether the writer made 
it from an inspection of the certificates returned to the Privy- 
Council or simply by guess. Some idea of the lack of means 
for making exact statistics may be obtained from the fact 
that the Privy Council had no accurate list of the names 
of the smaller towns in each shire. The letter ordering 
watches and searches to be held was sent only to the chief 
officers in the northern counties on account of uncertainty 
as to the names of the smaller towns.^ It is very difficult 
to check the contemporary estimates by any evidence now 
obtainable. Only a few of the certificates required by the 
Council are preserved, but these are from districts as far apart 
as Devon, Cornwall, Norfolk, and York. In all there are 
certificates from only one-half of the counties of England, 
and usually from only a few hundreds in each county, so that 
they furnish very little basis for statistics, although they show 
very well the methods employed.^ It is probable that a large 
number of vagabonds were apprehended, and that their 
apprehension did something to defeat the rebellions breaking 
out everywhere in this year. 

Watches and searches of a similar kind were held in 
1570,^ 1571, and in the spring of 157a. The fullest official 
returns preserved are those concerning watches held in August, 
September, and October 1571, in response to a general letter 
from the Privy Council dated July 30.* Watches were held 
usually from nine o'clock at night until three or four o'clock 
the next afternoon. The vagabonds were examined by the 
Justices of the Peace, stocked or whipped at a cart's tail — 
sometimes both — and given the usual passports. Had -these 
measures been efficiently carried out vagabondage in England 
would have received a severe check. But plenty of evidence 

' See the letter quoted by Strype, Annals, vol. i, pt. ii, Appendix, 
No. 43 (Clarendon Press ed., p. 556). 

' A table of the returns for 1571 and 1572 will be found in Appendix A, 
10. Characteristic certificates of the punishment of vagabonds are printed 
in Appendix A, 9. In Appendix A, 7, will be found the articles agreed upon 
by Justices in Devon, which give a good account of their procedure. 

' Domestic State Papers, Elizabeth, Ixvii. 45 (April 7, 1570). 

• The letter to Shrewsbury is quoted in Appendix A, 8. 


exists to prove that Dogberry and Justice Shallow are not 
uncharacteristic pictures of Elizabethan officers of the law. 
Even the London Court of Aldermen had been fooled by 
a counterfeit crank, and in the country the rogues probably 
fared much better. A letter from Burghley to Walsingham, 
describing the watches set to apprehend three members of 
Babington's conspiracy in 1586, points its own moral. Burghley 
saw watchmen standing in groups near each village, by the 
roadside or under a shed ; he stopped near one group and 
asked why they were watching. They said,. 'To take three 
young men.' Asked further how they were to know them, 
they replied, ' One of the parties hath a hook'd nose.' When 
Burghley demanded whether they had any more information 
about him, they said, ' No.' ^ This watch was set for a con- 
spirator against the life of the Queen. How much less 
vigilance may we imagine in the watches for common vaga- 
bonds, with whom half the countrymen sympathized. A 
certificate from Gloucestershire sends no names, but only 
alludes to ' such poore beggerlye persons as we think vnmette 
to troble your Honnors withall, whoo haue receyued condigne 
punyshement according to the lawes in suche case provyded '.^ 
One may be sure that only a small proportion of the rogues 
were caught, and that for the most part their counterfeit 
diseases and counterfeit licences got them a fairly untroubled 
passage up and down the land. As long as they were not 
set to work, 'of which punishment', says Harrison, 'they 
stand in greatest feare,' ^ occasional watchings and whippings 
furnished them only with an element of adventure and a 
means of exciting compassion. 

In London the period from 1550 to 1570 was one of great 
activity in whipping vagabonds. There was more effort than 
formerly to make each alderman find out the harbouring 
places and restrain the vagabonds in his ward : the alderman 
or his deputy committed the rogues to Bridewell on their 
own authority, and towards the close of the period less is 

^ Domestic State Papers, Elizabeth, cxcii. 22 (August lo, 1586). 
' Domestic State Papers, Elizabeth, Ixxx. 52 (August 27, 1571). 
' Description of England (N. Sh. Soc.), Book ii, p. 103. 

F a 


heard of ordinary cases in the city courts. Means were 
sought to put the vagabonds imprisoned in Bridewell to some 
useful labour. In the summer of 1564 they were employed 
in cleaning the pond in Smithfield,^ and frequently during 
the decade following, committees were appointed to find out 
other work for them. 

The letters of the Privy Council in 1569-72 increased the 
activity of the city officials still more, with the result that 
there were many watches and searches ; finally, the Lord 
Mayor and Bishop of London presented a memorandum of 
orders for dealing with vagrants to the Council, March 9, 
1 57 1 -3, and the Lords promised to appoint a commission to 
execute them.^ 

1573-97. Legislation. 

At the same time that the Privy Council had been so 
active in its efforts to repress vagabondage and disorder by 
enforcing the existing laws, there had been a great deal of 
discussion in Parliament about a new and better law on the 
subject. The result of six years' thought and debate was 
the statute of 1572 (14 Eliz. c. 5), which provided a stricter 
punishment for sturdy beggars and inaugurated a compulsory 
poor rate to aid the deserving poor. This measure contains 
the well-known definition, which reflects vividly the varied 
character of the Elizabethan wayfarers. It places in the 
ranks of rogues and vagabonds all proctors without sufficient 
authority, idle persons using subtle, crafty, and unlawful 
games, and all able-bodied persons who are not working and 
have no good excuse for being idle. To these are added 
all fencers, bearwards, players, and minstrels not belonging to 
any baron or honourable personage of greater degree, all 
jugglers, pedlars, tinkers, and petty chapmen, unless such 
fencers, bearwards, &c., have licences from two Justices of the- 
Peace, one of whom is of the quorum in the shire where they 
are wandering. Finally, the law enumerates, in addition to 

''■ Repertory, xv, fo. 367. 

^ Acts of Privy Council. The entry on the subject is exceptionally 


the above, common labourers refusing to work, counterfeiters 
of passports and licences and users of the same knowing them 
to be counterfeit, scholars of the universities wandering and 
begging without licence from their Vice-Chancellor, shipmen 
pretending losses at sea, discharged prisoners begging for 
money to pay their jailers' fees or for support on their way 
home to their friends, unless they have a licence from a 
Justice of the Peace in the "Shire where they were imprisoned. 
A proviso is made for soldiers and sailors on their way home 
after they have been discharged from Her Majesty's seivice, 
for harvest workers, for persons who have been robbed on 
the highway, and for servants who have been turned away 
or whose masters have died. All the rest, being over fourteen 
years of age, the law declared were to be whipped and burned 
through the gristle of the right ear with a hot iron one inch 
in circumference, unless some master could be found to take 
them to service for a year. For wandering, loitering, idling, 
or begging a second time, the penalty was death as a felon, 
unless some one could be found to take the culprit to service 
for two years. For running away from this service, or for 
a third offence the penalty was death without benefit of clergy. 
The principal defect in the law was that it pi-ovided no 
effective means for setting sturdy rogues to work. An attempt 
was made to remedy this three years later by an act (i 8 Eliz. 
c. 3) ordering stocks of wool, hemp, iron, &c., to be provided 
in each parish for the poor to work on, and also directing that 
one or more houses of correction should be established in 
each county. The famous poor law of 1597 was nothing 
but a modification of these two statutes, moderating the 
punishments while it made more explicit and practicable the 
directions for collecting and distributing the poor rate, and 
for setting the able-bodied to work. 

^57'i-97- Execution of the Laws. 

The statutes of 157a and 1575 mark the beginning of the 
end of the old free, merry, vagabond life. The houses of 
correction and the provision of wool and hemp did what the 


whips and stocks, and even the gallows, could not do. The 
Mayor of London himself went to Southwark on the day 
the 14 Eliz. c. 5 was proclaimed to oversee its execution, and 
the Court of Aldermen prepared a book of orders to enforce 
the 18 Eliz. c. 3, which were printed in 1579 or 1580 and 
again in 1587.^ Committees were continually appointed to 
devise new means for setting idlers to work ; some rogues 
were taken from Bridewell to be impressed as soldiers ; and 
in 159 1 when the ditches about the city were badly in need 
of cleaning, a search was made for vagabonds, they were set 
to work, and actually paid 4d. each a day for their labour.* 
London and the large cities were of course far ahead of the 
rest of the country, and their practice no doubt fell behind 
their ' orders ', but the resolutions show the trend of the efforts 
for reform. 

The whipping and branding punishments of the 14 Eliz. 
were promptly administered in some places at least. In the 
accounts of the Chamberlain of the city of Leicester, between 
1570 and 1575, there are several records of payments to 
' Richardson the burneman ' for his cart about town to whip 
vagabonds.^ In the Middlesex sessions, between 157a and 
1575, forty-four vagabonds were sentenced to be branded, five 
to be hanged, and eight set to service ; * several of those 
hanged had been set to service previously and had run away. 
One remarkable case is that of Joan Wynstone, who was 
whipped and branded as a vagabond February 6, 1576. The 
26 July following she was caught wandering again and only 
saved from hanging by being taken to service for two years 
by Thos. Wynstone her husband. On October 3 she was caught 
wandering again, having run away from her husband, and 
was sentenced to be hanged.^ 

' Journal, xx, pt. ii, fo. 325. The pamphlet was called ' Orders 
appointed to be executed in the cittie of London for setting roges and idle 
persons to worke and for releefe of the poore.' A copy is to be found in 
the Guildhall Library. 

" Repertory, xxii, fo. 268 verso— 269. 

» Records of the Borough of Leicester, vol. iii, pp. 133, 137, 160, and 161. 

* See entries in printed volume between these dates. 

" Middlesex Sessions' Rolls (Middlesex County Records, J). The exact 
date is the most convenient reference to any entry. 




Immediately after the defeat of the Armada the number 
of vagabonds in England was greatly increased by poor 
soldiers and sailors on their way home from the wars. Con- 
tinual proclamations testify to the multitudes of these throng- 
ing the streets of London. The Records of the Middlesex 
Sessions furnish grim confirmation of their numbers. In 1589, 
between October 6 and December 14, seventy-one rogues 
were sentenced in this court to be whipped and burned 

Fig. II. A Hanging. 
{From a ballad in the Pepysian Collection^ 

through the ear. Much is heard of vagrant soldiers, real and 
pretended, throughout the remainder of Elizabeth's reign. 
Provost-marshals were appointed with the special duty of 
apprehending and punishing them, and occasionally special 
tribunals were held to inquire into their complaints. The 
council finally ordered that they should be given, along with 
their discharge at the port towns, an allowance of money for 
their expenses homewards and a licence permitting them to 
travel unmolested so long as they followed a specified route 
and arrived within a definite limited time.^ 

' A statute (35 Eliz. cc. 3, 4) made a general provision for pensions, aid 
to soldiers on the way home, &c., and ordered that any soldier found 
begging should forfeit his pension. During the ten years after the Armada 


The Poor Laws of 1597 and 1601. 

The poor laws of 1597 and 1601 had little influence on 
conditions during Elizabeth's reign, and hence need no detailed 
notice here. They only carried out the principles of the statutes 
of 157a and 1575.; the greatest advance was made in methods 
of enforcing them. The task of instructing the Justices of the 
Peace and Overseers of the Poor in their duties and of making 
them feel a responsibility to the Privy Council for performing 
them was not adequately performed until 1 630-1. But this 
task the Privy Council of Elizabeth had begun with the order 
for searches and certificates in 1569-7^. Searches were held 
and certificates returned occasionally through Elizabeth's reign. 

the following proclamations were directed against vagrant soldiers. They 
show, in the most graphic way, the disorder which followed the war with 
Spain. Hundreds of rogues, assuming the role of discharged soldiers, 
took advantage of the gratitude and patriotism of the people to commit all 
manner of depredations. 

November 13, 1 589 (found in Bodleian volume. Proclamations by Eliza- 
beth). Recites depredations of vagrant soldiers and commands them and 
all vagabonds to apply to a Justice of the Peace within two days for a 
passport to their homes. 

November 5, 1591. (Ibid.) Many vagabonds pretend to be soldiers 
who are not ; all are to be examined, undeserving ones punished, and 
others given help to go home. After this all discharged soldiers will be 
given money at the port where they are dismissed, to pay their expenses 
home. The Lieutenants of the different counties are to appoint Provost- 
marshals to help in apprehending vagrants. 

February 28, 159^- (Ibid.) The streets of London are infested with 
idle soldiers. The Justices of the Peace, Treasurers of War, and other 
discreet persons are to be formed into a special court to try them at the 
Sessions Hall, Old Bailey. All idle soldiers commanded to appear there 
Saturday next at I p.m. and such as cannot prove themselves genuine will 
be committed and punished. 

No. 349 in the same volume is a set of orders for the behaviour of 
soldiers, for provisions for their relief, for fortnightly searches for rogues, 
and for two special courts— one to examine pretended soldiers, the other 
to try rogues — to sit twice a month in the Sessions Hall near Newgate. 
It is dated July 4, 1595. 

1596 (?) (Domestic State Papers, Eliz. cclxi. 70.) The court and city 
still crowded with vagabonds and pretended soldiers. Certain days in 
each month will be set aside to search for and imprison them. Some 
soldiers being armed have committed robberies and murders ; the Queen 
willappoint Provost-marshalstoapprehendand execute them without delay. 

September 9, 1598 (Bodleian volume, Proclamations by Elizabeth). 
Vagabonds who pretend to be soldiers still disturb the peace of London 
and surrounding country. A Provost-marshal is to be appointed to assist 
in catching them, and those apprehended are to be executed by Martial 


Justices met in various shires and' devised Books of Orders for 
•dealing with vagabonds and beggars. Workhouses were estab- 
lished here and there, and gradually the new ideas of poor 
relief took hold. 

Meanwhile conditions remained in many places very bad. 
It seemed as if all the laws and all the trouble taken to have 
them enforced had been in vain. In 1596 Edward Hext, 
a Somersetshire Justice, wrote a letter to one of the members 
of the Privy Coun(:il giving a very discouraged account of the 
vagabonds and disorder in his shire. He encloses in it the 
■calendar of the Somerset assizes for that year, showing that 
forty felons had been executed, and one hundred and eighty 
persons, committed or bound over for felony, were turned loose 
to live by spoil. Furthermore, Hext says that as a rule only 
one-fifth of the persons who committed felony were appre- 
hended, and many that were taken escaped before their trial. 
Thieves when detected often obtained freedom by restoring 
the stolen goods, and many simple people would refuse to 
swear a thief to death for any goods whatsoever, even though 
their own had been stolen. The escaped thieves infected the 
rest until the whole country was pestered with them. Many 
•of the vagabonds were not suffering from poverty. Hext 
■encloses a forged passport used, he says, by a young man who 
was heir to land worth 40 pounds. The blame for all this 
disorder Hext places on the inferior ministers and justices, 
who were careless, selfish, and corrupt in the discharge of 
their duties. The letter suggests a terrible picture of the 
state of England socially at the time when Elizabethan litera- 
ture was at the height of its greatness.^ 

Conditions in London were no better than those in the 
-country. In 1594 the Lord Mayor, Sir John Spencer, in a 
letter to the Council, asserted that Kentish Street, Newington, 
and other places on the south side of the river were very 
nurseries and breeding-places of the begging poor who swarmed 
the streets of the city. For this he blamed covetous landlords 
who rented their houses to several families, tenement fashion, 

^ The letter is found in the British Museum, MS. Lans. 81 (62). It is 
printed as Appendix A, 14, below. 


for so-called ' penny-rents ', which were paid weekly and usually 
got by begging. The Mayor estimated the number of these 
beggars at 13,000, and he asked for a meeting of the justices 
of Sussex and Surrey to take measures to banish them from 
the city or prevent them from crossing the bridge.^ One of 
the last proclamations of Elizabeth's reign is directed against 
rogues and vagabonds, and contains practical directions to the 
justices for enforcing the laws.^ In 1613 Sir Thomas Middleton, 
when he became Lord Mayor, set to work to rid the streets of 
the beggars. There is in the City Records in the Guildhall 
a copy of an interesting letter from him to the Lord Chamber- 
lain describing his methods and reflecting the conditions as he 
found them. He punished no one for begging, but set them 
to work, which, he says, was worse than death to them. He 
sent spies to find out lewd houses, and even visited some of 
them himself in disguise. Bawds, as many as he could catch, 
he carted, whipped, and banished. He made a list of all the 
ale-houses and victualling-houses in the city, of which there 
were more than 1,000. In some of these he found more than 
300 barrels of strong beer and about 40,000 barrels in them 
all. These ale-houses he regulated by making strict rules as 
to the amount of beer each house could use, with the result 
that the prices of corn and malt fell. He made some other 
reforms, and intended, he said, to go on to restrain the thieving 
brokers or broggers who encouraged theft by receiving stolen 

All this proves that neither the laws of 157a and 1575 nor 
those of 1597 and 1601 worked immediate reform. But many 
things show that conditions gradually improved in the latter 
part of Elizabeth's reign. There are fewer orders from the 
Privy Council to justices concerning vagabonds, fewer precepts 
about them in London. The measures of, restraint became 
regular instead of being violent and spasmodic as they had 
been. Particularly striking is the fact that although rogues 

' Remembrancia, ii. 74. 

'^ January 14, 1599/1600. Bodl. Arch, F.C. 11 (391). See also one 
dated February 15, 1600/01, B.M. Press mark G. 6463 (383). 
" Remembrancia, iii. 159. The letter is dated July 8, 1614. 


and vagabonds were much more popular in pamphlet litera- 
ture after 1590 than before, the descriptions of their life are 
mainly copied from the old books — especially from Harman. 
The merry, wicked, resourceful vagabonds of the middle of 
the century had become merely tame beggars. The interesting 
and dangerous element in the early part of Elizabeth's reign 
had been not the impotent poor, but the sturdy beggars. 
These were the fellows who had been strong and keen- 
witted enough to make vagabond life exciting and pleasant. 
Whippings and even worse punishments they had been able 
to evade or endure, but work was another matter : with the 
advent of this punishment in 1575 the poetry of their life 
began to decline, and the literature of rogues and vagabonds 
to fall back upon tradition. 


Fahtaff. Well, sirs, I am almost out at heels, . . . 
There is no remedy ; I must conny-catch ; I must shift. ... 

Pistol. Let vultures gripe thy guts ! for gourd and fuUam holds, 
And high and low beguiles the rich and poor. 

Merry Wives of Windsor,, hzt III, sc. i. 

In Elizabethan London there was a band of rogues and 
sharpers very different from the race of vagabonds we have 
just been describing, although they were all united in the 
common bond of roguery and freely borrowed each other's 
tricks. The city rogue lived as a gallant, haunted taverns, 
ordinaries, and theatres, beat the watch, took purses, and 
outwitted gulls. When he had sunk a stage lower he played 
the roystering boy and bullied the punk he lived on, or, if he 
was a fellow of more courage or desperation, he became a 
professional ruffian and murderer, of the type depicted in 
Macbeth and Arden of Fever sham. 

These rogues had more brains and more daring. .than.J;he 
ordinary vagabonds, and they played for bigger stakes/ They 
formed the gallant company of shifters who lived by their wits ; 
their business was not begging, but;' cozening. Elizabethan 
literature is full of them : Jack Wilton, Falstaff and his conny- 
catching companions. Subtle, Edgeworth, Knockem, Cutting, 
and so on ; in Middleton's plays we find them on every page, 
and the list might be extended indefinitely. 

The accounts of the city rogues and sharpers were written 
not by honest, substantial gentlemen like Harman, Harrison, 
and Scot, but by Bohemian pamphleteers with more clever- 
ness than honesty, many of whom lived the same life as the 
rogues they were describing. The purpose of the writers of 
conny-catching books was not the reformation of the common- 
wealth, their pretences notwithstanding, but rather the selling 


of pamphlets. Like all popular literature these pamphlets 
followed the prevailing fashions, and this fact must be allowed 
for in estimating what the rogue life which lay behind their 
descriptions really was. They worked quite as often fi'om 
earlier accounts of rogue tricks as they did from the life 
around them. Some of the rogue pamphlets of Thomas 
Dekker and Samuel Rowlands, for example, resemble the 
Latin verses made from old vulgus-books in Tom Brown's 
School Days. Eygn^ Greene, the realest Bohemian of them 
all, is guilty of some plagiarisriis7i~ These facts must make 
the reader wary. Are the pamphleteers to be believed at all ? 
Is not the whole conny-catching world with its manners and 
customs a literary fiction? Or is it not, at any rate, an 
inextricable tangle of fiction and fact? 

Let us consider these questions separately. In the first 
place, to reject the whole of conny-catching lore as fiction is 
to go, I believe, quite contrary to the evidence which we find 
outside the pamphlets themselves. From many sources in 
Elizabethan history and literature, the statements of Greene 
and his fellows are confirmed. We find on the statute books 
a law directed against the combination of pickpockets which 
Greene describes. All the satirists of the day inveigh against 
the cheating tricks which Greene explains. In the plays 
dealing with contemporary life are hundreds of conny-catchers, 
pickpockets, cheaters, and lifters, who practise exactly the 
tricks which the pamphleteers attribute to them. Foreigners 
travelling in England corroborate the pamphlet descriptions 
of the methods of English horse thieves. The cheating tricks 
are still practised in our city streets and dives, and many 
words of the sixteenth-century rogue cant are still used by 
thieves and sharpers. Nowhere is there a contemporary 
statement that these rogue customs are a literary fiction. 
Nevertheless the pamphleteers, as we shall see later, are not 
slow to criticize each other for inaccuracies, and to point out 
the widespread plagiarism which certainly existed in this 
kind of literature. Had the whole thing been a myth some 
pamphleteer or many would have hastened to say so. 
^ For details see Chapter VI below. 


On the other hand, it is clear that some of the tricks 
recounted by the pamphleteers are impossible, obviously made 
to sell and not to practise. Greene admits as much (see 
Chapter VI below), but one need not stretch this admission 
too far. The main outlines of the life which he and his fellows 
describe are clear and authentic enough. With these we can 
rest satisfied and reconcile ourselves to some uncertainty in 
regard to details. One statement must be added to the 
foregoing. It seems pretty clear that many of the rogue 
pamphlets are somewhat behind the times. The greatest 
vogue for these exposures followed the conny-catching series 
of Robert Greene published in 159 1 and 159a, and continued 
for about twenty-five years. Most of these later works are 
made up of borrowings ; they describe conditions more as they 
were in the middle of the reign of Elizabeth than as they were 
in the time of James I. 

The prey^ the cozeners was the tribe of gulls, of whom 
Dekker has given^lnThe~Guls Horne-booke, the most vivid and 
convincing picture to be found in Elizabethan literature. 
Jonson painted his idea of the type in the play of Bartholomew 
Fair, but Cokes is too much of a caricature, too much of a fool, 
too helpless, and too easily gulled. Dekker's account is full 
of humour and even sympathy. He shows us the Elizabethan 
fop walking in St. Paul's, sitting on the stage of the theatre 
to display his clothes, and dawdling, pipe in hand, among 
the booksellers' shops, ' where, if you cannot reade, exercise 
your smoake, and inquire who has writ against this diuine 
wdede '?■ The Gull pretends to wit, fashion, or wealth in the 
ordinary, lets a sonnet drop from his glove, or inquires who 
has need of help to obtain a suit at court; he feasts in a 
tavern on a tapster's credit, and directs his link boy, hired 
for one night, to call him ' Sir ' as they pass the watch going 
home. The cozeners, who pretended to be men of fashion 
themselves, found these gulls easy prey. When a young heir 
came to the city, after the ' worme-eaten Farmer, his father,' 
had died and left him ' five hundred a yeare, onely to keepe 
' Guh Horne-booke, 1609, p. 19 (Temple edition, p. 33). 

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an Irish hobby, an Irish horse-boy and himself like a gentle- 
man ', they showed him the haunts of fashion, taught him to 
be a gallant and a gamester, and eventually absorbed a good 
part of his money. If at any time he found his purse bare 
before his rents were due, he could easily get as much as he 
needed from a money-lender ' without usury ', which was illegal 
above lo per cent., by taking one-half or three-fourths of his 
loan in commodities,^ and putting a piece of land to forfeit 
if he did not pay by a certain time. Woe unto him if he 
failed to keep his day ! The usurer could seize not merely 
enough of the land to satisfy his debt, but the whole.^ It 
would not take many transactions of this kind to leave the 
young heir penniless. After he was ruined, if he was dis- 
honest enough, he was ready to make a capital conny- 
catcher's assistant, to hunt for gulls among his own friends 
from the country, and thus eke out a living helping to cozen 
others as he had been cozened himself. This was the typical 
' rake's progress ' from the state of gallant, gaily feathered 
gull to that of poor and needy cozener, who lived from hand 
to mouth by the practice of the various cheating ' laws '. 

The places in which this fleecing process was carried on 
were, as has been indicated, the fashionable resorts of London. 
There were first of all regularly licensed gaming-houses, for 
a description of which the reader is referred to the next 
chapter. In addition, gambling was carried on in every 
ordinary, bowling alley, inn, or tavern. George Whetstone's 
Touchstone for the Time (1584) describes the different kinds 
of ordinaries. The most expensive ones were the resorts of 
the gentleman cheater. Here he posed as a man of wealthy 
and fashion, or a soldier7^r a witj and impressed the^ull 
with his conversation Before dice were mentionedj,-^ When the 
disTies were cleared'away play began, and soorier or later the 

'"^^ See the 37 Henry VIII, c. 9, which was in force from 1545 to 1551-2, 
and again from 1571 to 1623-4. The custom of making part of a loan in 
commodities was common because of the lack of ready money. It was 
not necessarily dishonest, but it multiplied the opportunities for sharp 
dealing. Lutestring (luster, a kind of silk) and paper, which were often 
used, were valuable and readily saleable articles. 

* Cp. Defence of Conny-catching, Grosart's edition of Greene, vol. xi, 
pp. 52 fif. 



new-com er'sjiongjjjiwas lost. However, fleecing a gull was 
a business not of one afternoon, but of many, during which 
time his new friends went with him to the theatre, to the 
Bear Garden, or to walk in Paul's ; and in their gaming, in 
order to give more appearance of honesty, they freely lost 
large sums to each other, but not to the gull. The Pander 
and Usurer haunted the best ordinaries no less constantly 
than the Cheater, ready to complete the young Prodigal's ruin. 
There were cheaper ordinaries, dicing houses, and bowling 
alleys where dice and cards were kept for the citizens, who 

Fig. 12. A Tavern Scene. 
(From a ballad in the Persian Collection^ 

were addicted to gaming no less than gallants. Dekker de- 
scribes the citizens' ordinary very well : 

' There is another Ordinary to which your London Usurer, 
your stale Batchilor, and your thrifty Atturney do resort: 
the price three-pence : the roomes as full of company as a 
laile, and inddede diuided into seuerall wards, like the beds 
of an Hospital. The complement betweene these is not 
much, their words few : for the belly hath no eares, euery 
mans eie heere is vpon the other mans trencher, to note 
whether his fellow lurch him or no : if they chaunce to dis- 
course, it is of nothing but of Statutes, Bonds, Recognizances, 
Fines, Recoueries, Audits, Rents, Subsidies, Suerties, In- 
closures, Liueries, Inditements, Outlaries, Feoffments, ludg- 


ments, Commissions, Bankerouts, Amercements, and of such 
horrible matter, that when a Lifetenant dines with his punck 
in the nexte roome, hee thinkes vei-ily the men are coniuring.' "^ 

These places were patronized so extensively that Whetstone 
advocated a law prohibiting any citizen from taking a meal 
outside his own house except when he visited a friend. 

A third great class, composed of rogues, thieves, and 
rufifians, was addicted to gaming, and had still cheaper and 
more secret eating and gaming houses — ruffians' ordinaries. 

' Nowe remayneth the discouerie of the thirde sort of these 
hauntes, which are placed in Allies, gardens, and other obscure 
corners out of the common walks of the Magistrate,' The 
dayly guests of these priuie houses, are maisterles men, needy 
shifters, theeues, cutpurses, unthriftie seruants, both seruing 
men, and prentises. Heere a man may pick out mates for 
all purposes, saue such as are good. Heere a man may finde 
out Brauoes of Rome and Naples, who for a pottle of wine, 
will make no more conscience to kill a man, than a Butcher 
a beast, heare closely lie good fellowes, that with a good 
Northren Gelding, will gaine more by a halter, than an honest 
yeoman will with a teame of good horses . . . the most of 
these idle persons haue neither landes nor credite, nor will 
liue by an honest occupation : forsooth they haue yet handes 
to filch, heades to deceive, and friendes to receive: and by 
these helpes, shift meetely badly well.' ^ 

In Middleton's Black Book we have an account of the com- 
pany at Master Bezle's, which was just such a rogues' ordinaiy. 

' There was your gallant extraordinary thief that keeps his 
college of good fellows, and will not fear to rob a lord in his 
coach for all his ten trencher-bearers on horseback ; your 
deep-conceited cutpurse, who by the dexterity of his knife 
will draw out the money, and make a flame-coloured purse 
show like the bottomless pit, but with never a soul in't ; your 
cheating bowler, that will bank false of purpose, and lose a 
game of twelvepence to purchase his partner twelve shillings 
in bets, and so share it after the play ; your cheveril-gutted 
catchpoll, who like a horse-leech sucks gentlemen ; and, in ^11, 
your twelve tribes of villany.' * 

' Dekker, Guts Horne-booke, 1609, pp. 26-7 (Temple edition, pp. 45-6). 
* Whetstone, Touchstone for the Time (an addition to A Mirour fo>' 
Magestrates ofCyties, 1584), leaf 33 and verso. 
" Middleton, Black Book (Bullen's edition), vol. viii, pp. 30-1. 


It is difficult to find out exactly the conditions in the 
sanctuaries of Elizabethan London, but they do not seem to 
have been especially the haunts of rogues and conny-catchers. 
One finds some mention of them but no evidence indicating 
that they were the scenes, more than other places, of such life 
as that which Shadwell describes in Alsatia (the cant name for 
Whitefriars) during the Restoration, and which Scott has 
transferred to the reign of James I.^ Shadwell and Scott's 
Alsatia is not a real sanctuary as that term was understood 
before the Reformation and, to some extent, throughout the 
sixteenth century, but only a criminal quarter such as one 
finds in modern cities, where the immunity from arrest was 
based partly on custom but mostly on the strength of the 
criminals and the weakness or indifference of the officers of 
the law. Alsatia was not the only such refuge in the city. 
The law of 1696-7 mentions as well the Savoy, Salisbury 
Court, Ram Alley, Mitre Court, Fuller's Rents, Baldwin's 
Gardens, Montague Close, the Minories, the Mint, the Clink, 
and Deadman's Place.^ Several of these and other places like 
them, some sanctuaries, others not, are mentioned as haunts 
of rogues in the reign of Elizabeth. William Fletewood, 
Recorder of the city of London from 1571 to 1591, writes to 
Lord Burghley August 8, 1575, reporting the progress he has 
made in the suppression of rogues: ' As for Westminster, the 
Duchie (the district about the Savoy), St. Giles, Highe Hol- 
born, St. Johne's streate,and Islington, \Oere never so well and 
quiet.for neither roge nor masteries man dare once to looke into 
those parts.' In January 1581 he writes, ' The chiefe nurserie 
of all these evell people is the Savoye and the brick-kilnes 
nere Islington.' In July 1585 he sends a list of eighteen 
' Harboring-howses for maisterles-men, and for such as lyve 
by thefte and other such like shifts '. Two of these are in the 
sanctuary of Westminster, one in Southwark, one at Newing- 
ton Butts; the others are scattered all about the city and 

' See Shadwell, Squire of Alsatia ; and Scott, Fortunes of Nigel. 
8-9 Wilham III, c. 27, s. 15. Against those who resisted arrest for 
debt in these pretended liberties. 


suburbs.^ The ' manor of Pickthatch ' he does not mention, 
but it was doubtless another of the same sort. My point is 
that there was no necessary connexion between the conny- 
catchers and the sanctuaries. In the early part of the sixteenth 
century, before the privilege of sanctuary was seriously cur- 
tailed, the men who sought refuge there were likely to be 
more important criminals in danger of their lives for murder 
or felony. Machyn gives us a glimpse of this old sanctuary 
life which was even then (i553) passing away.^ Elizabethan 
rogues and sharpers herded together anywhere, in the old 
sanctuary precincts, on the Bankside, or in any tenements or 
stews, sallying forth to pursue their calling among the haunts 
of better men. 

It is a curious fact that even the jails served now and then 
as a refuge for Elizabethan rogues and as a basis for their 
operations. We hear of fellows who lived in jail and would 
not be persuaded to leave, who kept themselves loaded with 
suits for debt to cover their other knaveries. In the King's 
Bench and the Marshalsea, as we shall see later in this chapter, 
they had their workshops for the manufacture of false dice ; 
to the Counters they returned for safety after committing 
highway robberies. A prison is a place to learn more villany, 
Mynshul tells us, than twenty dicing houses, bowling allies, 
brothels or ordinaries.^ The knowing prisoner did not suffer 
too much restraint. He could go abroad at any time with 
a keeper (who doubtless was not above winking at a trick now 
and then, of which he would receive part of the proceeds) on 

^ These three quotations are from Fletewood's letters, printed by 
T. Wright in his Queen Elizabeth and her Times, vol. ii, p. 18 (from MS. 
Lans. 20, 8) ; p. 166 (from MS. Lans. 34, 3) ; p. 249 (from MS. Lans. 

44, 38). 

* Diary, Camden Soc, p. 121. A reference to the sanctuary men in 

' On the points mentioned see the following pamphlets, at the pages 
given and ■passim : Oeconomy of the Fleet, Camden Soc, p. 9 ; William 
Fennor, Compters Commonwealth, 1617, pp. 56-7, 73, and 83-4 (the 
meeting of the governing council in the ' Hole ' sounds very much like the 
deliberations of Duke Hildebrod and his advisers in The Fortunes of 
Nigel) ; Geflfray Mynshul, Essayes and Characters of a Prison and 
Prisoners, 1618, pp. 3, 7, 19, 27-g ; Manifest Detection, Percy Soc, p. 27. 


the payment of a stated price per day or half-day.' In jail 

he could receive freely the visits of friends, confederates, and 

mistresses, he could have readily any luxury he could pay for, 

and he could live on charity or on the donations of friends 

when his money was gone. Even here there were gulls to be 

fleeced, and gaming went on from morning till night. One 

reads a great deal about the miseries of Elizabethan jails, 

and conditions in them were certainly from pur point of view 

terrible, but not all the prisoners were iimocent debtors or 

recusants exposed to the cruelty of merciless keepers. There 

were not wanting conny-catchers who could make life in a 

debtor's prison tolerable, and who, if they were not regular 

jail-birds, were yet glad now and then, when the Aldermen 

were active, to pay something for a night's lodging in one of 

the Counters to escape ' privy watches and searches ' without.'' 

/" Conny-catching went on all the year round, but it had its 

busy and its dull seasons. The best time was during the 

terms of court, when hundreds of countrymen came to London 

on business or pleasure, with purses well stocked with money. 

)^ / Then Paul's walk swarmed with crowds of honest men and 

/ knaves, and all kinds of business, honest and dishonest, went 

f on merrily. Dekker has a description of London in term 

time, done in his best style. The pamphlet in which it occurs, 

The Dead Tearme, is in form of a dialogue between St. Paul's 

and Westminster. Paul's church is speaking : 

' What whispering is there in Terme times, how by some 
slight to cheat the poore country Clients of his full purse that 
is stucke vnder his girdle? What plots are layde to fur- 
nish young gallants with readie money (which is shared after- 
wards at a Tauern) therby to disfurnish him of his patrimony ? 
what buying vp of oaths, out of the hands of knightes of the 
Post, who for a few shillings doe daily sell their soules ? What 
layinge of heads is there together and sifting of the brains, 

^ This was in the Fleet, in the time of James I, lod. per day, \od. for 
the half-day. See Oeconomy of the Fleet, quoted above, pp. 76 ff. 

^ See Stow's Survey, ed. Kingsford, i. 350-1 : ' Being of a lury to en- 
quire against a Sessions of Gaile deliuery in the yeare 1552 we found 
the prisoners hardly dealt withall, for their achates and otherwise, as also 
that theeues and strumpets were there lodged for foure pence the night, 
whereby they might be safe from searches that were made abroad.' 


still and anon, as it growes towardes eleuen of the clocke, (euen 
amongst those that wear guilt Rapiers by their sides) where 
for that noone they may shift from Duke Humfrey, and bee 
furnished with a Dinner at some meaner mans Table ? What 
damnable bargaines of vnmercifull Brokery, and of vnmeasure- 
able Vsury are there clapt vp ? What swearing is there : yea, 
what swaggering, what facing and out-facing ? What shuffling, 
what shouldering, what lustling, what leering, what byting of 
Thumbs to beget quarrels, what holding vppe of fingers to 
remember drunken meetings, what brauing with Feathers, 
what bearding with Mustachoes, what casting open of cloakes 
to publish new clothes, what muffling in cloaks to hyde broken 
Elbows, so that when I heare such trampling vp and downe, 
such spotting, such balking, and such humming (euery mans 
lippes making a noise, yet not a word to be vnderstoode,) I 
verily bel^eue that I am the Tower of Babell newly to be 
builded vp, but presentlie despaire of euer beeing finished, 
because there is in me such a confusion of languages. 

For at one time, in one and the same ranke, yea, foote by 
foote, and elbow by elbow, shall you s^e walking, the Knight, 
the Gull, "the Gallant, the vpstart, the Gentleman, the Clowne, 
the Captaine, the Appel-squire, the Lawyer, the Vsurer, the 
Cittizen, the Bankerout, the Scholler, the Begger, the Doctor, 
the Ideot, the Ruffian, the Cheater, the Puritan, the Cut- 
throat, the Hye-men, the Low-men, the True-man, and the 
Thiefe : of all trades and professions some, of all Countryes 
some ; And thus dooth my middle Isle shew like the Medi- 
terranean Sea, in which as well the Merchant hoysts vp sayleis 
to purchace wealth honestly, as the Rouer to light vpon prize 
vniustly. Thus am I like a common Mart where all Com- 
modities (both the good and the bad) are to be bought and 
solde. Thus whilest deuotion kneeles at her prayers, doth 
prophanation walke vnder her nose in contempt of Religion. 
But my lamentations are scattered with the winds, my sighes 
are lost in the Ayre, and I my selfe not thought worthy to 
stand high in the loue of those that are borne and nourished 
by mee. An end therefore doe I make heare of this my 
mourning.' ^ 

So much for the Gull to be fleeced and the time and place 
of his fleecing. Now for the methods. These were the so-called 
conny-catching ' laws '. The word ' law ' was the cant term 
for any cheating trick ; it had been used in this sense at least 

^ Dekker, The Dead Tearme, 1608, sig. D4 verso — E (ed. Grosart, 
vol. iv, pp. 50-3). 


as early as the middle of the sixteenth century. Greene 
describes, in his first and most reliable pamphlet, eight ' laws ', 
and in his second one adds five more ^ ; they are : 

High Law. Barnard's Law. 

Sacking Law. Black Art. 

Cheating Law. Courbing Law. 

Crossbiting Law. Vincent's Law. 

Conny-catching Law. Prigging Law. 

Versing Law. Lifting Law. 

Figging Law. 
Two of these are methods of cozenage with cards, one is 
cheating with dice, two more are methods of blackmailing 
with the help of whores, one a cozenage at bowls, and the 
others different kinds of theft : horse-stealing, pocket-picking, 
shop-lifting, and so on. In nearly every case the methods and 
tricks are full of ingenuity, and worthy of detailed description, 
especially since various legal records, reports of trials, &c., are 
full enough to prove that the tricks which the pamphleteers 
describe were actually practised. 

The method of cozenage with cards Greene called Conny- 
catching Law.^ It was so common that the word ' conny- 
catching' became the name for the whole varied art of 
cozening. Conny-catching proper was played by four per- 
sons : the first of these was a Setter, whose duty was to 
entice into a tavern the destined Conny, some countryman 
visiting the city, or a farmer up for the term of court. He 
had many ways of doing it, which he adapted to his prey. 
He began perhaps by greeting him warmly in the street, and 
upon the farmer declaring that he did not know him, the 
Setter — guessing what part of the country he was from by his 
accent — would say, ' You come from such and such a shire, 
do you not ? ' If he missed he would ask the farmer's name, 
and when he had heard it and perhaps those of one or two 
other gentlemen living near him, would beg his pardon and 
leave, to impart the information to the Verser — the fellow 

* A Notable Discouery of Coosnage, 1591; The Second Part of Conny- 
catching, 1 59 1. 

' Greene, Notable Discouery of Coosnage (Grosart, x. 15-29). 




whose duty it was to play the game in any case — who, thus 
equipped, would probably be more successful. Perhaps 
the Verser would claim kinship with some gentleman in the 
farmer's neighbourhood and say he had often called at 
the good man's house. If all failed, there were other tricks to 
get the Conny into a tavern. One was to drop a shilling in 

Fig. 13. Conny-catching law. 
(From Greenes Notable Discouery of Coosnage.) 

front of him and, when he picked it up, to cry ' half part ', and 
then, quoting the proverb, ' 'Tis ill luck to keep found money,' 
induce him to go into a public-house to spend it. Another 
was to pretend to want him to carry a letter to some one in 
his neighbourhood, and to ask him to step in while the letter 
was written. Once inside, a game was started, perhaps the 
Setter and the Verser playing for the wine, the Conny looking 
on or helping one to cozen the other at some apparently sure . 
trick. Then the Barnacle blundered in, pretending to be 
drunk, and the Conny helped one of his companions to strip 


the new-comer of some trifling amount. They won a few 
times perhaps, but the Barnacle doubled the stakes each time 
he lost, and finally, when the amount was high enough, the 
luck turned ancJ the poor Conny was caught. 

According to Greene the game most commonly used for 
this villany was called Decoy, or Mumchance-at-cards.^ It 
was very simple : the pack was shuffled and cut, each player 
called a card, and the man whose card came first won. The 
trick was in cutting to bring a card which you had seen your- 
self or shown to a confederate near the top of the pack. Every 
card-player understands such tricks, and doubtless did in 
Greene's time. Reginald Scot explains how to shuffle and 
manipulate the cards for tricks of this kind, and describes 
a number of similar sleights : ' How to deliuer out foure aces, 
and to conuert them into foure knaues ; — how to tell what card 
anie man thinketh ; — how to make one drawe the same or anie 
card you list, etc' The success of the game depended upon 
the skill with which the trick was performed and upon the 
eagerness of the Conny to fleece the drunken Barnacle. Scot 
evidently understood this part of the conny-catching game 
also, for he warns his readers against it. 

' If you plaie among strangers,' he writes, ' beware of him 
that sdemes simple or drunken ; for vnder their habit the 
most speciall couseners are presented, and while you thinke by 
their simplicitie and imperfections to beguile them (and therof 
perchance are persuaded by their confederats, your verie freends 
as you thinke) you your selfe will be most of all ouertaken. 
Beware also of bettors by, and lookers on, and namelie of them 
that bet on your side : for whilest they looke in your game 

' Greene, Notable Discouery of Coosnage (Grosart, x. 21 and 25). 
' Mumchance ' is much commoner as the name of a game with dice,- as the 
following quotations show : ' Ye must also be furnished with high men, 
and low men for a mumchance and for passage.' — A manifest detection of 
the moste vyle and detestable vse of Diceplay, 1552, sig. C4 (Percy Soc, 
vol. xxix, p. 27). 

But leauing Cardes, lett's goe to dice awhile, 
To Passage, Treitrippe, Hazarde, or Mumchaunce. 

—Machiuells Dogge, sig. B verso. Greene's name ' Mumchance-at-cardes ' 
may indicate this. I have not seen the game mentioned explicitly as a 
game of cards elsewhere except in Dekker's Belman of London, which 
is copied from Greene. 







without suspicion, they discouer it by signes to your aduer- 
saries, with whome they bet, and yet are their confederates.' ^ 

Conny-catching was simply a new name for an old trick 
which was practised half a century or more before Greene 
wrote. It is described in the pamphlet called A manifest 
detection of the moste vyle and detestable vse of Diceplay 
(1552) under the name of Barnard's Law.^ Greene says that 
conny-catching is a much more detestable villany than Barnard's 
Law, but there is really little difference — the most surprising 
thing about the history of cozening tricks is that they change 
so little. In Barnard's Law there is the Taker-up — an affable 
fellow, able to converse engagingly on any subject, and to get 
the 'Cousin' (the ancestor of Greene's Conny) into a tavern and 
into a game, no matter how determined he is against it. The 
other confederates — the Setter, the Verser, the Barnard (whom 
Greene calls the Barnacle), and the Rutter, agree exactly 
in the parts they perform. The change in name is only a 
common alteration of rogue's cant* Pamphleteers following 
Greene ten years later describe the same trick under the 
name of Batfowling with suitable changes in the names of 
the characters.^ .In a similar way Figging Law became the 
art of Fool-taking,* and the seventeenth-century pamphlets 
on villany have an almost endless variety of cant terms for 
the same old tricks. 

The art of using false dice, called Cheating Law, was no less 
popular and no less well supplied with its own proper vocabu- 
lary. Greene refused to describe the dicing tricks, for what 
reason I do not know. ' Pardon me Gentlemen/ he says, ' for 
although no man could better then my selfe discouer this lawe 
and his tearmes, and the name of their Cheats, Barddice, Flats, 
Forgers, Langrets, Gourds, Demies, and many other, with 

' Discouerie of Witchcraft, Book xiii, chaps. 27 and 28, 

^ Percy Society edition (vol. xxix), p. 37 — copied by Greene in the In- 
troduction to a Notable Discouery of Coosnage. See Chapter VI for dis- 
cussion of Greene's debt to this pamphlet. 

' Greenes Ghost Haunting Conie-catchers (1602), by S. R. Also Bel- 
man of London, sig. F3. 

* Greene, Thirde and Last Part of Conny-catching, 1592 (Grosart 
X. 156). 


their nature, and the crosses and contraries to them vpon 
aduantage, yet for some speciall reasons, herein, I will be 
silent.' ^ Reginald Scot avoids it also ; he speaks of dice play 
as a means ' whereby a man maie be inevitablie cousened ', 
and dismisses it with this declaration : ' I dare not (as I could) 
shew the lewd iuggling that chetors practise, least it minister 
some offense to the well disposed, to the simple hurt and 
losses, and to the wicked occasion of euill dooing.' ^ 

The principal authority on cheating law is the Manifest 
Detection mentioned above. At least three later descriptions 
of this art are, as we shall see, copied verbatim from it. This 
pamphlet informs us that dicing has grown from a game to 
a profession with a whole army of followers. Any one of 
these is able to make a fool of any dice-player of the genera- 
tion gone by. Hodge Setter, who forty years ago was thought 
'pereles in crafty playe', would be nothing in a modern 
game : 

'Lyke as all good and lyberall scyences had a rude be- 
ginninge, and by the industrye of good men, beeinge augmented 
by lytell and by litell at laste grewe to a iuste perfection : so 
this detestable priuy robery from a few and deceytful rules is 
in few yeres grown to the body of an arte, and hath his perculiar 
termes, and therof as great a multitude applied to it, as hathe 
Gramer or Lodgicke, or any other of the approued sciensis.' * 

This improvement in the art of dicing has come about from 
the many new and ingenious varieties of false dice which have 
been invented, and from the skill with which the gamesters 
substitute one kind for another, juggler fashion. False dice 
of a good quality were made, the author informs us, in the two 
jails, the King's Bench and the Marshalsea : ' yet Bird in 
Holburn is the finest workman, acquaint your self with him, 
and let him make you a bale or ii. of squariers of sundry sisis, 
some lesse, some more, to throw into the first play, til ye 
perceiue what your company is. Then haue in a redines to 

1 Notable Discouery of Coosnage, 1591, sig. C, verso (Grosart, x. 37). 

^ Discouerie oj Wttcho'aft, Book xiii, chap. 27. 

' Manifest Detection, sig. B3 and verso. (Percy Society reprint, vol. 
xxix, p. 16. In this reprint the spelling is modernized and there are many 


be foisted in when time shalbe, your fine chetes of all sorts.' ^ 
There were fourteen varieties of ' fine chetes ', i. e. false dice, 
necessary for the cheater's outfit : 

A bale of barde sinke deuxis. 
A bale of flatte synke deuxis. 
A bale of flatte sixe eacis. 
A bale of barde syxe eacis. 
A bale of barde cater trees. 
A bale of flat cater trees. 
A bale of fullans of the best making. 
A bale of light grauiers. 
A bale of Langretes contrary to the vantage. 
A bale of Gordes with as many hyghe men as lowe men for 

A bale of demies. 

A bale of long dyce for euen and odde. 

A bale of brystelles. 

A bale of direct contraries.^ 

It is rather difficult to tell just what all these terms mean. 
Ban-ed and flat cinq-deuces, six-aces, and quater-treas seem 
to be dice forged slightly longer one way or the other so as to 
make it easier or more difficult for certain numbers to turn 
up, barred cinq-deuces, six-aces, and quater-treas tending to 
prevent the numbers in question, while flats turned them 
upward. That this is the correct explanation is proved by 
a passage in this pamphlet : 

'Lo here saith the chetor to this yong Nouisse, a well 
fauored die that semeth good and square : yet is the forhed 
longer on the cater and tray, then any other way, and there- 
fore holdeth the name of a langret, such be also called bard 
cater tres, bicause commonly the longer end will of his owne 
sway draw downwards, and turne vp to the eye sice sinke, 
deuis or ace, the principal vse of them is at Nouem quinque. 
So long as a paier of bard quater tres be walking on the bord 

' Manifest Detection, sig. C3 verso. (Percy Society, vol. xxix, p. 27.) I 
have changed the reading ' roysted ' of the copy printed by Abraham Veale 
to 'foysted', for which it was evidently intended. The mis-reading of 
' quartiers ' for ' squariers ' in the Percy Society reprint spoils the mean- 
ing of the passage. 

'■' Ibid., on reverse of title-page. I have changed the reading ' con- 
trames ' to ' contraries ', for which it was evidently meant. This list is 
copied in Mihil Mumchance and the Belman of London. 


so long can ye cast neither .v. nor .ix. onles it be by a great 
mischance that the roughnes of the bord, or some other stay, 
force them to stay and run against their kind. For without 
quater trey, ye wot that, v. nor .ix. [the pamphlet has x, an 
obvious mistake] can neuer fall.' ^ 

A langret, according to the above, was the same as a balred 
quater-trea. A langret cut contrary to the vantage was evi- 
dently the opposite, and most readily showed three or four : 
' when the Chetor with a langret, cut contrarie to the vantage, 
will cros-bite a bard cater tray.' ^ 

Fullams were dice loaded with quicksilver or lead : bristles 
were those with a short hair set in one side to prevent that 
face lying on the table. Capell conjectures that gourds were 
dice hollowed out on one side to accomplish the same result 
as loading. ' As for Gords and bristle dice, [they] be now to 
grose a practise to be put in vse,' says the Manifest Detection? 
However, the worthy Pistol still reposed confidence in gourds 
at any rate. High men and low men were names used for 
various dice according to the numbers they turned up ; high 
fullams and low fullams are common terms. Sometimes the 
dice were wrongly numbered, high or low as the case might 
be. A story quoted by Strutt from the Harleian MSS. will 
illustrate this : 

' Sir William Herbert playing at Dice with an other gentle- 
man, there arose some question about a cast : The other swore it 
was a 5 and 4 : and he swore it could not be so, for it was 6:^\ 
the other swore againe, and curst himselfe to the pitt of Hell, 
if it were not 5 and 4 : Well sayes Sir Will : now I see plainly 
th'art a damn'd periurd Rogue ; for giue me but 6d, and if 
there be e're a 4 in the Dice, i'le giue the 1000 1. : at which 
the other was presently blanch't; for indeed the Dice were 
false, and of an high cutt, without a 4.' * 

Concerning demies, light graviers, direct contraries, and long 
dice for even and odd, I have no information to offer, and shall 

' Manifest Detection, sig. Cj (Percy Society reprint, vol. xxix, p. 24). 

^ Greene, A Notable Discouerie of Coosnage,ii^l,sig.A.i\ixso(Grosaxt, 
X. 12). 

' Sig. C4 (Percy Society, vol. xxix, p. 28), where fullams are also 

* StrnXX, Sports and Pastimes, ed. Cox, p. 247 (from Harl. MS. 6395, 
Art. 69). The story as given here is from the MS. 


venture no conjecture further than that they also doubtless 
' beguiled the rich and poor '. 

The accomplished cheater did not make the advantage in 
his dice too great, but was content to win slowly. Perhaps he 
would use ' squares ' to begin with, in order to give his intended 
victim a chance. It was a proverb that the cheater always 
lost to the gull if the dice were fair. But gradually the 
langrets, gourds, and fuUams came walking on the board, one 
kind in the box when the cheater was casting, and another 
when the turn came for his opponent. The dice were changed 
by a sleight of hand which took long practice to learn. Indeed, 
ars longa could be applied to the whole art of conny-catching. 

' Is it a small tyme, thinke yow,' asks Harington, ' that one 
of these cunninge gamesters spendes in practysinge to slurre 
a dye sewerly, to stop a card cleanly, to laye a pack cunningly ? 
I have herd some (and those no novyses in these misteryes) 
affyrme, that the devyser of the sett at the new cutt, (that did 
cut so many ere the edge was fully discovered,) coulde not 
spend so little as a moneths earnest, study, beatinge his 
brayns ere hee could contryve it, — if it colde be donne 
withowt the help of the devell, for, indeed, whom the devill 
should the devill assyst, but soch as labor and study night and 
day in his service ? ' ^ 

It was no small task merely to recognize the different forms 
of false dice by their looks and to know immediately what 
numbers they would turn up in combination. But when all 
this was mastered, the sharper had his opponent at his mercy ; 
his difiSculty then was to avoid the unsavoury reputation of 
always winning. The best way to manage this was to play 
into the hands of a confederate, for which office no one was 
better than a ruined gull. The gull might have a good 
acquaintance in the country, and could bring in his friends to 
be fleeced. The old gamester in the Manifest Detection, who 
is coaching a ruined young heir in the mysteries of the art by 
which his inheritance had been rattled away, instructs him 
especially to avoid swearing in his play, rather giving up a 
point than making a quarrel. 

* Sir John Harington, Nugae Antiquae, ' A Treatise on Playe "^ 
{c. 1597), i. 214 (ed. Park, 1804). 


Bowling was almost as common in Elizabethan London as 
cards and dice. It was very popular among the citizens, and 
the alleys were thronged with them, even the poorer men who 
could ill afford the money they spent in play and lost in 
betting. Sir Nicholas Woodrofe, Lord Mayor in 1580, in a 
letter to the Privy Council described alleys as places of the 
most vicious and disorderly character. There are far too many 
of them in the city, he says, both open ones for summer and 
closed ones for winter ; all kinds of people resort to them, and 
such is the fascination of the sport that the poor labourers 
neglect their work, and play away their money and even their 
household goods, while their wives and children are in want 
at home. Drink is commonly sold, and dice, cards, and table 
play kept in addition to bowling ; the alleys are dangerous in 
time of plague owing to the great crowds in them, and they 
are the scene of daily drunkenness, blaspheming, picking, 
cozening, and all kinds of disorder.^ 

One cozening trick used in bowling alleys, Greene describes. 
It was called Vincent's Law. Certain sharpers, apparelled like 
honest substantial citizens, would begin a game, apparently 
for the sake of a little honest recreation, while their con- 
federates stood among the spectators, waiting for an oppor- 
tunity to bet. If any man offered a wager, these fellows took 
it, no matter how small the chance of their winning. Perhaps 
the play would go still further against them, and the gull — 
here called the Vincent — would lay bets more freely and at 
greater odds, but in the end the game swung round, the 
sharpers won their bets, and, at the close of the day, shared 
the spoils with the players.^ 

Picking pockets was ah art or mystery. Every writer about 
it speaks of the fraternity of cut-purses, to which they paid 
dues for insurance when they were caught, and through which 
they apportioned their territories and privileges. A statute 
of 1564 (the 8 Eliz. c. 4) mentions this reputed association 
of pickpockets and prescribes severe punishments for any 

' See Chapter V below. His letter is recorded in Rememirancia, i. 133. 
" Second Part of Conny-catching {Gxosa.rt, x, 82). 


members of it who shall be caught, these to be administered 
without benefit of clergy,^ ' I remember their hall', says Greene, 
' was once about Bushops gate, neere unto fishers follie, but 
because it was a noted place, they have remooued it to Kent- 
street, and as far as I can learne, it is kept at one Laurence 
Pickerings house, one that hath bene if he be not still, a notable 
Foist.' ^ Recorder Fletewood was very likely the man who 
' noted ' it ; he was always in hot pursuit of pickpockets and 
conny-catchers of all kinds. Among the jolly letters from him 
to Lord Burghley printed by Wright in his Elizabeth and her 
Times is one dated July 7, 15851 which gives us a picture of 
a cut-purse hall and training school much better than Greene's. 
Fletewood shall speak for himself : 

'The same dale my Lord Maior being absente abowte the 
goods of the Spanyards, and also all my Lords the justices of 
the benches being also awaye, we fewe that were there did 
spend the same daie abowte the searching owt of sundry that 
were receptors of felons, where we found a greate many as well 
in London, Westminster, Sowthwarke, as in all other places 
abowte the same. Amongst our travells this one matter 
tumbled owt by the way, that one Wotton, a gentilman borne, 
and sometyme a marchaunt man of good credyt, who falling by 
tyme into decay, kepte an alehowse at Smart's Key', neere 
Byllingsgate,and after for some mysdemeanor being put downe, 
he reared up a new trade of lyfe, and in the same howse he 
procured all the cuttpurses abowte this cittie to repaire to his 
same howse. There was a schole-howse sett up to learne young 
boyes to cutt purses. There were hung up two devyses, the 
one was a pocket, the other was a purse. The pocket had 
in it certain cownters, and was hung abowt with hawkes' bells, 
and over the top did hang a little sacring bell ; and he that 
could take out a cownter without any noyse was allowed to be 
a publique foyster, and he that could take a piece of sylver out 
of the purse, without the noyse of any of the bells, he was 
adjudged a judiciall nypper. Nota, that a foyster is a pick- 
pokett, and a nypper is termed a pickpurse, or a cutpurse.' ^ 

' Cp. Chapter V below. 

''■ Second Part of Conny-catching {Gxosaxt, x. 109). 

' Wright, Elizabeth and her Times, ii. 245-51 (from Lansdowne MS. 
44, 38). Fletewood appends a list of the names of forty-five masterless 
men and cut-purses, and mentions the eighteen harbouring houses for 
them in London and the suburbs referred to above. Maitland, in his 
History of London, 1756, vol. i, p. 269, prints this extract. 


It was the long schooling and apprenticeship required to 
become an expert in this profession, we are told, that kept it 
so well organized : 

' Their craft of all others requireth most slyght, and hath a 
meruelus plenty of terms and strange language, and therfore 
no man can attayne to bee a workman therat, till he hauehad 
a good time of scoling, and by that meanes they do not 
only know cache other well, but they be subiecte to an order, 
suche as the elders shal prescribe. No man so sturdy to 
practise his feate but in the place apoynted, nor for any cause 
once to put his fote in an others walke.' ^ 

The pickpockets are the heroes of the best stories of the 
pamphleteers, and their manners are described at length, 
There were two classes, each of which disdained the other : 
the Nip who cut purses with a knife and a horn thumb, and 
the Foist who drew them with his fingers, scorning to carry 
a knife even to cut his meat, lest he should be suspected of using 
it in the profession. Further, there were city foists and country 
foists, who were very jealous of any infringement of territory. 
A pickpocket was often followed by a ' cloyer ' who claimed 
a part of each haul as ' snappage ' on pain of exposing the 
theft if he was denied.^ Their best fields of operation were 
St. Paul's at the crowded hours, Westminster during term, the 
theatres, the Bear Garden, Fleet Street, the Strand, Tyburn on 
the day of an execution, and all fairs and celebrations. Some- 
times, in order to draw a crowd, they would hire a fellow to 
sing ballads and sell them (as in the case of the sons of old 
Barnes of ' Bishop's Stafford'), the Foists in the crowd watching 
where each buyer put his purse in order to filch it before he 
left,^ or they hired a nimble fellow to climb a steeple, and, 
while the crowd watched him with heads in the air, they 
nipped a fine lot of purses * ; or they exhibited some freak or 
curiosity at a fair. There were not lacking bold spirits who 

' Manifest Detection, sig. Dj (Percy Society, vol. xxix, pp. 40-1). 
The whole account of the pickpockets' corporation here and their ways 
of helping each other is most interesting. 

^ Greenes Ghost Haunting Conie- catchers, 1602, Hunterian Club 
edition of Rowlands, i. 16-17. 

' Greene, Thirde and Last Part of Conny-catcHng (Grosart, x, 161). 
Cp. also p. 49, above. 

^ Mihil Mumchance, sig. Dj. 


could take a purse under the most difficult circumstances. 
One fellow, meeting a gentlewoman who had a purse hanging 
from her girdle, pretended to mistake her for a relative, 
greeted her warmly, kissed her, drew her purse, apologized for 
his mistake, and retired before she perceived her loss. Another 
coming up to a lawyer from behind, clapped his hands over his 
eyes, and cried, < Who am I ? ' while a confederate who had 
pretended to retain the lawyer for a case and had paid the fee 
in advance, secured the purse with the fee and all. The first 
rogue then made an apology, pretending to have mistaken the 
lawyer for a friend, and departed, followed soon after by the 
second to share the booty .^ 

Greene's Crossbiting Law ^ — cozenage with whores — was 
only a new name for the Sacking Law mentioned in the 
Manifest Detection. A common woman enticed a young gull 
into a room with her, then a Roystering Boy who pretended 
to be her husband or brother swaggered in, sword in hand, 
threatening murder in revenge for the wrong done to his 
honour, which wrong the trembling culprit appeased with all 
the money in his purse in order to save his life or his reputa- 
tion. The Crossbiter was considered the lowest possible type 
of rogue ; he was more contemptible than the professional 
murderer, and iit only to swagger in the stews, hold the door 
for the customers he procured, and live on mouldy stewed 

Prigging Law and Courbing Law have been described in 
another chapter. Lifting Law (that is, shop-lifting) and the 
Black Art (picking locks) need no detailed account.^ Theft 
of all kinds was encouraged by the large number of brokers, 
or broggers, who flourished in every part of the city, and who 
were ready to buy any kind of booty without asking ques- 
tions. Many of them were no better than thieves themselves. 
They kept their houses open all night, aided the thieves 
in every way they could, and disposed of articles which it was 

■■ Greene, Thirdeand LastPart of Conny-catchinff{GxQsa.ii,ii,i^6-()o). 

^ Notable Discouery of Coosnage (Grosart, x. 39). 

' Second Pari of Conny-catching (Grosart, x. 118 and 128). 

1526-1 H 


unsafe to sell in England, to Dutch and French brokers who 
conveyed them secretly out of the country.^ The trade of 
brokage flourished in spite of a storm of protest and in the 
face of the strictest prohibitive legislation. 

There remains one kind of villany which could be used 
•gainst persons who would not be caught by any bait set for 

Fig. 14. The Black Art — picking locks. 
{From Greene's Second and Last Pari of Conny-catcking.) 

gulls. This was High Law, or highway robbery. It was a 
kind of thieving which seems to have been considered fit for 
a gentleman. It was one way for the ruined heir to work 
poetic justice on the wealthy merchant who had his land. 

Whetstone says that many a fellow who played the gallant at 
the fashionable ordinaries, waited behind a hedge on the high- 

1 See Greene, Thirde and Last Part of Conny-catching (Grosart, x. 
155); and compare with it the letter from the Lord Mayor of London to the 
Attorney-General on this subject, which is transcribed in Appendix A, 12. 


way in a green mask to get his living.^ A large proportion of the 
men convicted of highway robbery in the Middlesex Sessions 
during the sixteenth century called themselves gentlemen. It is 
reasonable to suppose that they were superior to the conny- 
catchers and cozeners heretofore described. It required more 
courage to rob a man on the highway than to cheat him at 
cards or pick his pocket. ' All the former Lawes are attained 
by wit,' says Dekker, ' but the High Law stands both vpon 
Wit and Manhood! ^ The stories told of the sixteenth-century 
highwaymen have a little of the same code of ethics, so 
delightful to the popular mind, as the tales of Robin Hood. 
Gamaliell Ratsey is a good example. A little pamphlet 
about his life and death, published in 1605, narrates divers of 
his adventures, showing his wit and daring : how he robbed 
nine men alone in Northamptonshire ; how he robbed a 
Cambridge scholar and made him afterwards deliver an 
oration on the sinfulness of theft ; how he robbed two men 
and knighted them.^ But some of the stories also illustrate 
his kindness of heart. On one occasion Ratsey robbed a poor 
man of five nobles, his entire fortune, which he had saved for 
several years to buy a cow. But when the poor old man told 
him this, the gallant highwayman returned the money, gave 
him forty shillings in addition, and sent him joyfully on to 
the fair to buy two cows instead of one.* Another time he 
held up a poor farmer who was carrying 150 pounds to pay 
on a bond for which all his land and goods were pledged 
as forfeit. The whole sum due was aoo pounds, but the 
poor man was able to pay only 150, and with that he 
intended to try to save his farm, although he had great fear 
of losing it, because he could not make up the full sum. When 
Ratsey understood the poor fellow's situation (and could find 
no convenient place for the robbery), he lent him fifty pounds 
in addition to pay the bond. The next day when the landlord 

' Touchstone for the Time (an addition to A Mirour for Magestrates 
of Cyties, 1584), leaf 28. (The numbering is mixed; it runs 25, 28, 27, 
26, 29, &c.) 

^ Belman of London, 1608, sig. G^ verso (Temple edition, p. 142). 

' The Life and Death of Gamaliell Ratsey (1605). 

* Ibid., sig. C3. 



was carrying this, along with some additional money, to make 
a purchase at the next town, Ratsey robbed him, getting back 
his own fifty pounds, the poor man's 150, and 100 besides.^ 
These stories are manifestly fiction — borrowings from Robin 
Hood ballads and traditional highwaymen stories. The trade 
had perhaps lost some of its poetry by the sixteenth century, 
but it was still flourishing nevertheless. 

Harrison says that few highway robberies were committed 
without the help of the inn-keepers and chamberlains, who 
found out which men were worth robbing, what direction 
they were going, and perhaps even sent a confederate along 
with the intended victim. This confederate would guide the 
rest of the party into the highwayman's hands, and would for 
appearance' sake be robbed along with them.^ The robbery 
on Gad's Hill in Henry IV follows the traditional method 

Richard Sheale, the minstrel (see Chapter II), thinks that 
something of the same kind happened to him. 

And sum hath bene robde in ther yns, as I have hard men tell : 
The chamberlayne or ostelare, when the have a bowgyt 

May gyve knowlege to fals knavis whiche way ther gest 

wyll ryde; 
And he him selfife wyll byd at hom, and his office styll 

Many a man thus hathe be robde, and so I think was I.* 

Highway robberies were not so common in the sixteenth 
century as they had been in the fourteenth and fifteenth, and 
they were not so often accompanied by murder as they had 
been in earlier times. But they were still very frequent. The 
little hundred of Benhurst on the road from London to 
Reading, paid £1^$ in one year in damages for robberies 
committed within the hundred when the hue and cry failed 
to catch the malefactors.* The Privy Council was frequently 
occupied in investigating important robberies committed in 

* The Life and Death of Gamaliell Ratsey (1605), sig. C^ verso. 
Description of England, B< 
Wright, Songs and Balladi 
Cp. 39 Eliz. c. 25 (1597-8). 

^ Description of England, Book iii, chap, xvi (N.ShTSoc., pp. 108-9). 
' Wright, Songs and Ballads, Sr'c., i860, p. 159. 


different parts of the country. During the reign of Elizabeth 
there are frequent convictions for highway robbery recorded 
in the Middlesex Sessions' Rolls. 

This completes the list of cozening 'Laws' reported by 
Greene. There are hundreds of variations and illustrations 
of them in the pamphlets which follow him, but all of these 
add very little to his account, whilst his writing has a certain 
convincing ring usually wanting in his imitators. As was 
said earlier in this chapter, the main outlines of this vagabond 
life are clear and convincing. Of course, one would not care 
to vouch for the authenticity of every trick nor of every story, 
but this credit must be given to the pamphleteers, that their 
account ha s a c ertain reality not to be found always in mere 
facts. They reproduce^ the spirit of connyi.catGhing- life. - This 
mad merry rogue spirit is illustrated nowhere better than 
in a short, dateless, nameless sermon reprinted by Viles and 
Furnivall from a Cotton MS. in the British Museum-^a 
sermon in praise of thieves and thieving. A certain jParson 
H^erdyne, so the document states, was robbed by a. band 
of^hieves at Hartley Row in Hampshire. After the robbery 
the thieves compelled their victim to preach them a sermon 
in praise of thieves and thieving. This the merry parson did 
so well that they restored his money again and in addition 
gave him two shillings to reward his eloquence. The sermon 
recites the manly qualities demanded for the trade of thieving — 
especially for highway robbery; it encourages boldness, forti- 
tude, and courage. Thieving is practised by all men, and 
has precedent in Scripture. Jacob stole his Uncle Laban's 
kids and his father's blessing ; David stole the hallowed bread 
from the temple, and even Christ took an ass and a colt that 
were none of his. With a burst of eloquence the preacher 
concludes : 

'But moste of all I marvell that men can dispyse yow 
theves, where as in all poyntes almoste yow be lyke vnto 
christe hym selfe : for chryste had noo dwellynge place ; noo 
more haue yow. ' christe wente frome towne to towne ; and 
soo doo yow. christe was hated of all men, sauynge of his 
freendes ; and soo are yow. christe was laid waite vpon in 


many places ; and soo are you. chryste at the lengthe was 
cawght; and soo shall yow bee. he was browght before the 
iudges ; and soo shall yow bee. he was accused ; and soo 
shall you bee. he was condempned ; and soo shall yow bee. 
he was hanged ; and so shall yow bee. he wente downe into 
hell; and soo shall yow dooe, mary! in this one thynge 
yow dyffer frome hym, for he rose agayne and assendid 
into heauen ; and soo shall yow neuer dooe, withowte godes 
greate mercy, which gode grawnte yow ! to whome with the 
father, and the soone, and hooly ghoste, bee all honore and 
glorye, for euer and euer. Amen ! ' ^ 

' Tie Rogues and Vagabonds of Shakesfiere's Youth (N. Sh. Soc), 
p. 95. (From MS. Cott. Vesp. A. xxv, leaf 53.) The sermon is also reprinted 
inWrightand 'ila.\\rfi&\l'sReliquiaeAntiquae,lZ/l^l-^,n. ill. They assign 
to it the date <;. i S73. Ribton Turner, History of Vagrants and Vagrancy, 
p. 40, tells a story (without giving the reference) which looks as if it 
might be a fourteenth-century form of this one. 


Slender. Marry, sir, I have matter in my head against you, and against 
your conny-catching rascals, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol. 

Merry Wives of Windsor, Act I, so. I. 

The history of the sixteenth-century legislation against 
vagabondage and begging is the story of a great legislative 
triumph. In a space of seventy years the Parliament and 
Privy Council of England devised a set of laws and a system 
for putting them in force which harassed the poor vagrants on 
every side and visited thousands of them with that most 
effective of all punishments — work. The history of the legis- 
lation against conny-catchers, on the other hand, is the story 
of an absolute failure. Slender's remark quoted above repre- 
sents the attitude of the laws, but, despite many clumsy 
attempts, the matter went very little further. The problem 
was more complicated, of course ; the conny-catchers were far 
more clever than the wandering beggars; it was obviously 
difficult to legislate against a tribe whose pride it was to have 
a new trick for every occasion. It was also true that the 
conny-catchers were far less numerous than the vagabonds, 
and their doings were more carefully hidden from the public : 
without a detective force and a rogues' gallery it was hard to / 
catch them. 

But the most important reason for the conny-catchers' 
immunity from legal interference was what we should call 
in modern American parlance ' graft '. They had influence in 
high places. Gaming-houses and bowling-alleys were licensed, 
bales of dice were approved and sealed, and playing-cards 
were sold — all under monopolies granted by royal patents, so 
that the protection of gaming yielded a good revenue to 
favourites of the Queen. Hence it is that our study of the 
relation in which this kind of roguery stood to society in the 


reign of Elizabeth leads us not as in the case of vagrants and 
beggars to a study of laws and reports of trials, but instead to 
a study of the legal machinery by which this gaming was 
licensed and protected. 

The laws against gaming were strict enough. At the begin- 
ning of Elizabeth's reign bowling, quoits, closh, kayles, half- 
bowl, tennis, dice, tables, and cards were forbidden by 
numerous statutes and proclamations ; the people were com- 
manded to practise, instead, archery and such other exercises 
as were calculated to preserve the ancient strength of English 
soldiery. These statutes went into such detail as to prescribe 
that bowmakers (whose high prices had been alleged in 
divers petitions as the chief reason for the decline of this 
manly sport in favour of the more decadent cards, dice, and 
bowling) should not demand more than six shillings and eight 
pence for a longbow of the best quality.^ 

However, the royal patents permitted what the laws forbade. 
It was an age which loved gaming ; in spite of the laws and 
proclamations and the seduction of six shilling and eight-penny 
bows, all manner of games of chance were increasing. Hence the 
government saw iit to license what it could not restrain. The 
official excuse is expressed very well in Elizabeth's patent of 
1576 allowing Thomas Cornwallis, her Groom-porter, to 
license gaming-houses in London : ' seyng the inclination of 
menne to be geven and bent to the aforesayd pastymes and 
playe, and that secretlye or openlye they do commonly playe, 
and that no penaltye of the lawes or statutes aforesayd hath 
heretofore restrayned them.' ^ The laws against all manner of 
games remained on the statute books, but their only effect 
was to benefit the owners of the patents. 

There was continual opposition by the city government to 
this royal protection of gaming, just as there was to the royal 
protection of the theatres. The profits all went to the favourites 
of the Crown while the trouble and disgrace fell on the city, 
in consequence of which there was more than one sharp dis- 
pute between the Aldermen and the Privy Council. 

^ 8 Eliz., c. 10 (continued ten times during the next sixty years). The 
prices, as fixed by this law, ranged from 6s. Bd. down to 2s. 
' P.R.O. Patent Roll, 18 Eliz., pt. i, m. 31. 


Gaming-houses, so licensed, were the principal field of 
operation of the sharpers and cozeners with whom this chapter 
and the preceding are concerned. We shall begin our ex- 
planation of the system by looking for a moment at the history 
of these permits granted in direct opposition to the statutes 
and proclamations forbidding ' unlawfull games '. 

Licensed gaming-houses had existed at least since the reign 
of Henry VIH. In 154c the king made Gilbert Clerc and 
Nicholas Damporte ' Keepers of the Plays ' in Calais, which 
plays were, as specified in the patent, ' Hande oute and Keiles 
without the Lantern Gate,' and dice, cards, and tables in the 
market-place.^ This office Robert Donyngton had occupied 
before them. In 1545 John Swynerton, alias Vennet, had a 
licence to keep gambling-houses in London.^ GrSom-porter 
Lewknor, under Philip and Mary, held public gaming at his 
house at Christmas time, under the protection of the sovereigns. 
All such licences were revoked by the 3 and 3 Philip and 
Mary, cap. 9, in 1555, on account of the great disorders arising 
from gaming-houses, only to be reissued early in the reign of 

It was one of the perquisites of the Groom-porter of the 
Household to arrange cards, dice, and other games for the royal 
family and courtiers to play at Christmas time, and to make 
what profits he could from them. The play at the Groom- 
porter's at Christmas is alluded to frequently, and is well 
described by Pepys in the entry in his Diary for January i , 

It was by a natural extension of this privilege that Elizabeth 
granted, by a patent dated July 9, 1576, to her Groom-porter, 
Thomas Cornwallis, the right to issue licences to gaming- 
houses in London.* He was to require persons whom he 
licensed not to suffer any frauds or cozenage in their gaming- 

^ Rymer, Foedera, vol. xiv, p. 707. 

'^ Patent Roll, 36 Henry VIII, pt. 17, m. 16 (Dec. 21). 

' For other allusions see Evelyn's Diary, January 6, 1661-2 ; Jonson, 
Alchemist, Act III, sc. 2; Ordinary, Act II, sc. 3 (Hazlitt's Dodsley, xii, 
p. 247) ; Harington, Nugae Antiquae, ed. Park, i. 187 ; Lilly, A Collec- 
tion of Seventy-nine Black Letter Ballads, &c., 1867, pp. 123 IF. 'The 
Groome-porters lawes at Mawe.' 

* Patent Roll, 18 Eliz., pt. i, m. 31. 


places, nor to allow any apprentices or suspected persons to 
frequent them. Comwallis was also empowered to moderate 
or compound such fines and penalties as should be levied on 
any person under the laws in respect to unlawful games, or 
under this patent, and he could sue out process compulsatory 
on any offenders who refused to compound. All licences 
granted by him were to be in tripartite indenture, one copy 
for each party concerned, and one to be deposited in the 
records of the High Court of Chancery. In the Public 
Record Office three of these licences are preserved, very much 
defaced, from which the form quoted in Appendix A, 13 has 
been reconstructed. 

This protection of gambling brought profit to the favourites 
of the Crown, but it made the city harder to govern and was 
resented by the city authorities. The Lord Mayor in 1580, 
Sir Nicholas Woodrofe, stopped the building of a licensed 
bowling alley, because there were two more very disorderly 
ones adjoining it on the same half-acre of ground. The 
keeper appealed to Sir James Croft, Comptroller of the Royal 
Household (to whom he stood in some relation denoted by 
the vague word, servant), and the outcome of the correspon- 
dence was that the Mayor wrote to the Privy Council the 
letter mentioned in Chapter IV above, complaining indignantly 
that licensed gaming-places violated habitually all the pro- 
visions of the Queen's patents, and asking the Council to give 
him power to restrain them, or else to do it themselves, ' for if 
such alleys are allowed to continue, the work of dayly looking 
to them will be infinite.' ^ 

Cornwallis's patent of 1576 was revoked in 1596, and a new 
one granted to him designed to give him more power to prevent 
the wholesale deceit and cozenage, which had been found to 
accompany the gaming.^ This new patent gave Comwallis 
practically the same privileges as the first one, for thirteen 
years following, and, in addition, enabled him or his deputies 
to search gaming-houses, in order to discover violations either 
of the law or of this patent, and directed that no dice-makers 

' For three of the letters see Remembrancia, i. 131, 132, 133. 
"■ Patent Rolls, 38 Eliz., pt. 6, m. 35. 


(who, says the patent, are responsible for most of the cozenage) 
should make or sell any dice not examined and sealed by the 
said Thomas Cornwallis. It fixed the penalty for making or 
selling false dice at 3J. 4<f. for each one. This patent confirms 
strikingly the stories of the pamphleteers about dice play, 
and indicates that the use of unfair dice was extremely 

The new power of surveillance given to the Groom-porter 
was one step in a strenuous effort made in 1596 by the Privy 
Council and the London Court of Aldermen, to restrain the 
use of false dice. In the proceedings of the Court of Alder- 
men for April 20, there is an allusion to letters from the 
Council, calling the Aldermen's attention to the manufacture 
of such dice in the city.^ A committee was appointed to 
investigate. On July 22 Cornwallis's new patent was granted, 
and another committee appointed by the Aldermen to consider 
it.^ On August 27 several haberdashers were added to this 
committee to devise means for searching for false dice in the 
haberdashery shops.^ The means devised seem to have been 
inadequate, for two years later (December 30, 1598) the court 
drew up new and elaborate orders for search for false dice.* 
Perhaps Cornwallis's deputies had at first charged an extrava- 
gant fee for sealing bales of good dice, for this order provides 
that searchers, agreed upon by Cornwallis and the Board of 
Aldermen, shall seal dice found to be correctly made for a 
charge not exceeding one halfpenny per bale of nine pairs. 
After March i following no unsealed dice were to be offered 
for sale, on pain of forfeiting them. All this supervision may 
have checked the open sale of unfair dice ; less is heard in the 
later pamphleteers of such fine workmen in that trade as Bird, 
of Holborn, who flourished in the middle of the century ; ^ but, 
whether the vending of them was secret or open, false dice 
were still made and used on every hand. 

Playing-cards were supplied by a monopoly granted under 
a patent. The monopoly of importing them was first granted 

' Repertory, xxiii, fo. 523. "^ Repertory, jaiii, fo. 560 b. 

' Ibid., fo. 570 b. * See Appendix A, 11 for transcription. 

° Cp. Chapter IV, above. 


to Raphe Bowes and Thos. Bedingfield, July a8, 1576, in con- 
sideration of 100 marks a year.^ Their patent prohibited the 
manufacture of playing-cards in England. The privilege 
was regranted June 4, 1578, givep up June 13, 1588, and 
the monopoly vested in Raphe Bowes alone for twelve 
years, he to pay 100 marks a year and one-half the fines 
collected for violations.* The records of the Borough of 
Leicester contain a notice of a visit of two deputies of Bowes, 
September 18, 1593, with licence to search everywhere touch- 
ing playing-cards.^ It seems that these searches were common 
enough to make a good opportunity for fakers, since we are 
told on the same page that some pretended deputies had visited 
the town a short time before. It is easy to see what an excellent 
chance for booty such rogues would have ; blackmailing other 
rogues in the card business, and compounding for fines and 
penalties as Bowes was allowed to do under the patent. 

Bowes's patent expired in 1600, Two years before the 
Queen granted to Edward Darcy, Groom of the Privy 
Chamber, a similar patent to extend for twenty-one years from 
the expiration of that of Bowes, out of which grant arose the 
famous ' Case of Monopolies ' (Darcy v. Allen) which is still 
cited in English courts. Darcy brought suit in i6oa against 
T. Allen, a haberdasher, for making and selling playing-cards 
contrary to the patent. The decision handed down by Chief 
Justice Popham in the Easter term, 1603, declared the patent 
null and void as creating a monopoly contrary to common law 
and as being against divers Acts of Parliament.* 

Another patent for playing-cards, granted to Sir Richard 
Coningsby June 34, 1615, was the occasion of one of the 
many conflicts with James I over the right of the King to 
grant monopolies. Coningsby was empowered to search and 
seal all cards sold in the realm, for which he exacted a fee of 
five shillings a gross. This, in addition to the customs and 

^ Patent Rolls, 18 Eliz., pt. i, m. 32. 

'^ Se& Proclamations,yo\. iv, No. 12, in library of Society of Antiquaries, 
London. (The date at the end of the proclamation ' the thirtenth yeare ' 
is an evident mistake for ' thirtieth yeare '.) 

° Records of the Borough of Leicester, iii. 291. 

* J. W. Gordon, Monopolies by Patents, 1897, pp. 193-232. 


imposts, destroyed all profit in importing cards, with the 
result that the haberdashers and merchants trading into 
France objected. The Privy Council temporarily suspended 
the patent June 30, 161 6, whereupon both Coningsby and the 
King asked for a rehearing, but I have found no record of 
the end of the dispute.^ 

In connexion with these patents one request for a still 
more valuable grant has some interest. In 159a Thomas 
Bedingfield asked the Queen to give him a monopoly of all 
the gaming-houses in London, Westminster, and the suburbs, 
arguing that this would offer a means of controlling the number 
of houses, now grown very great, and of ensuring that none 
but fitting persons — 'noblemen, gentilemen, marchants, and 
such others as shalbe ceased in the books of subsedye at x^ in 
land or goods ' — should have access to them, and * guylaful 
and deceightfull playe ' suppressed.^ Such a monopoly would 
have been a mine of wealth, but the Queen did not see fit to 
grant it. She could not have done so without rendering void 
the patent held by Thomas Cornwallis, if for no other reason.^ 

Next to the users of unlawful games, the members of the 
conny-catchers' tribe to receive most attention from the law- 
makers, were the cutpurses and pickpockets. The most 
singular and interesting of all the laws against conny-catchers 
of any sort is the 8 Elizabeth, c. 4 (1566), directed against 
these thieves. As was pointed out in Chapter IV, the act 
recognizes that picking pockets has become a trade or craft, 
the practisers of which are bound together for mutual support, 
and it goes on to give an interesting description of their 
fields of operation. In church during the time of divine 
service (one thinks immediately of the stories about Paul's), 
at court, at fairs and markets, at executions ' ordeined chieflye 
for Terrour and Example of evill doers ', and in all sorts of 

^ The papers from which this account is made are preserved in the 
British Museum, Lansdowne MSS. clx. fos. 291-301. 

' Domestic State Pafers, Elizabeth, vol. 243, No. 58. 

' One of Cox's additions to Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, 1903 (p. 86), 
says that this monopoly ' was apparently granted '. I have been able to 
find no trace of it in Patent Rolls or elsewhere. Cox puts the date 1597 ; 
there is no date in the document but it is assigned in the Calendar to 
October 1592. 


public assemblies these light-fingered gentry, the law asserts, 
are busy reaping a harvest of purses from the pockets of 
honest men. The passage is so interesting that it is worth 
quoting in full. 

' Where a certayne kynde of evill disposed persons com- 
monly called Cutpurses or Pyckpurses, but in deede by the 
Lawes of this Lande very Fellons and Theeves, doo confeder 
togethers making among themselves as it were a Brotherhed 
or Fraternitie of an Arte or Mysterie, to lyve idellye by the 
secrete Spoyle of the good and true Subjectes of this Realnie, 
and aswell at Sermons and Prechings of the Woorde of God, 
and in places and tyme of doing sei-vice and common Prayer 
in Churches Chappelles Closettes and Oratories, and not only 
there but also in the Princes Palace House, yea and presence, 
and at the Places and Courtes of Justice, and at the tymes of 
Mynystracion of the Lawes in the same, and in Fayres 
Markettes and other Assemblies of People, yea and at the 
tyme of doing of Execucion of suche as ben attaynted of anye 
Murder Felonye or other crimynall Cause ordeined chieflye 
for Terrour and Example of evill doers, do without respect 
or regarde of anye tyme place or person, or anye feare or 
dreade of God, or any Lawe or Punyshment, under the cloke 
of Honestie, by their owtwarde Apparell Countenance and 
Behaviour subtiltie privilye craftelye and felonyously take the 
Goodes of dyvers good and honest Subjectes from their 
persons by cutting and pycking their Purses and other 
felonious Slaightes and Devices, to the utter undoing and 
impoverishment of many : Bee it therefore enacted by the 
aucthorite of this present Parliament,' &c., &c., to the effect 
that persons convicted of this crime shall be executed as felons 
without benefit of clergy. 

The sixteenth-century court records indicate that no part 
of the country was free from pickpockets,^ but London was 
their best field, and there are frequent entries on the Middle- 
sex Sessions' Rolls of male and female pickpockets sentenced 
to be hanged. Sometimes such fellows were not left for the 
tender punishments of Constable Dogberry and Justice Shallow. 
If one was caught in a theatre the custom was to tie him to 

^ For example, in 1598 three pickpockets were hanged at the mid- 
summer sessions at Exeter Castle (Hamilton, Quarter Sessions, p. 33) ; 
and in 1606 some suspected cutpurses and rogues were whipped at 
Malton in the North Riding of Yorkshire {North Riding Records, vol. i, 
p. 52). 


a post on the stage to let the people jeer at him through the 
rest of the play. ' I remembred one of them to be a noted 
Cut-purse,' says Will Kemp in his account of his Morris dance 
from London to Norwich, ' such a one as we tye to a poast 
on our stage, for all people to wonder at, when at a play 
they are taken pilfring.' ^ Another allusion to the same 
custom occurs in the old play Nobody and Somebody. 

Once pickt a pocket in this Play-house yard, 
Was hoysted on the stage, and shamd about it.^ 

The authorities sought in other more or less clumsy ways 
to restrain the shifty tribe of conny-catchers and cozeners. 
There were numerous attempts to restrain the number of 
taverns and ale-houses. Lists of tavern-keepers were made, 
and reported to the sessions in different shires, and to the 
Board of Aldermen of London in the Wardmote presentments, 
and these persons were repeatedly sworn not to keep their 
houses open during hours of church service, to allow no 
unlawful games, and to serve no meat on fish days.^ There 
were proclamations against the stews and against the crowds 
and traffic in Paul's Walk — all of which seem to have been 
very little enforced.* 

A few stray records of punishment will show what was 
considered adequate penalty for a cozener when caught. The 
law was not definite, and the penalties, compared with those 
covered explicitly by statute, seem very light. In 1537 
a man who had obtained a horse ' per fraudem deceptionem 
et astutiam vocat' Cosenyage' was fined 40J. and put in 
Cheapside pillory.^ Had he stolen it directly, he would of 
course have been hanged. At Leicester in the year 1575-6 
two 'cosoners' were set on the pillory with printed papers 

^ Kemps Nine Dales Wonder, 1600 (Camden Soc. edition, p. 6). 

^ Simpson, School of Shakespeare, i. 352. 

' See Middlesex Sessions' Rolls, pp. lo-ll (June 20 to September 5, 
6 Edward VI), and MS. Wardmote presentments in Guildhall Record 

* Proclamations, ii. 164, April 13, 1546, inlibrary of the London Society 
of Antiquaries ; also Proclamation of October 30, 1 561 , in Bodleian volume. 
Proclamations by Elizabeth. 

' Middlesex Session^ Rolls, June 9, 19 Eliz. 


(evidently describing their offences) above their heads.^ The 
same thing was done in London in 1571, and a proclamation 
by the mayor was posted on the pillory reciting how, 

Fig. 15. A man in the pillory with a paper over his head 
describing his offence. 

{From a ballad in the Pepysian Collection^ 

' theis towe personnes here present with diuerse other there 
Complices and confederates yet not apprehended, have bynne 
Cointis(?)^ Cosiners and Deceyvers of the Quenes Maiesties 

^ Records of the Borough of Leicester, vol. iii, p. l56 'for pentinge 
2 papers for the cosoners that were sett on the pillorye %d.' 

* Word not legible : it may be some spelling of quaint, i. e. cunning, in 
a bad sense. 


liege people, beinge symple, with false cardes and false play at 
the same. Whereby they haue spoiled diverse personnes of their 
monies, as they themselues have confessed. And therefore it 
hath bynne thought good by my Lord Maior and his brethren, 
thaldermen of this Cytie, that for their punishment in that 
behalf, they shuld stand here apon the pillory, for an example 
to all such like malefactors, Cosyners and Deceyvers. If they 
be not vtterly destitute and void of grace ; to desist and 
from hensforth leave of the like false vnlaufuU and develish 
exercise. And also for that all suche personnes as shuld 
behold and loke vpon them shuld beware of them and such 
like at all tymes hereafter, and gyve warning to all their 
Friends and neighbors to beware of the like deceat. 
God save the Queene.'^ 

These might well have been members of a band of conny- 
catchers, and it is doubtful whether the punishment used 
would have any effect either in reforming the two caught 
or in frightening their fellows ' still at large '. It may have 
helped a little to teach the public to be wary of their tricksi 
It is interesting to note that the authorities, in punishing 
offences such as these, were usually most concerned to give 
the people warning to escape such fellows in the future, by 
exhibiting their persons and describing their methods. The 
actual punishment for getting a man's money by some cozening 
trick seems very light compared with the legal penalties for 
stupidly stealing the same amount. 

Hence it was that conny-catching, shielded by royal protec- 
tion on the one hand, and by the vagueness of the laws and 
stupidity of the officers on the other, went on practically 
unchecked. The Elizabethans loved gambling. No men 
ever cherished a stronger belief in the possibility and advi- 
sability of getting something for nothing : this idea was a 
natural result of the age of expansion in which they lived, 
and on this task their greatest minds were bent. It is not 
surprising, then, that the 'tribe of conny-catchers, who were 
only trying the same thing in their own way, flourished and 
prospered among them. 

* Journal, 19, fo. 353 verso. 

• 1526.1 I 


In this chapter it is my purpose to give some account of 
the Elizabethan pamphlets in which the lives of rogues and 
vagabonds are treated. That does not mean that I shall 
attempt to criticize all the works which have been drawn 
upon for material for the preceding parts of this essay. I 
shall limit my discussion to books belonging to two classes : 
(i) those early pamphlets (down to 159a) upon which this 
study is primarily based — the Manifest Detection and the 
works of Awdeley, Harman, and Greene ; and (a) the late 
pamphlets (from 159a to 1616) which followed the fashion 
of exposing rogue life. These make twenty or twenty-five 
pamphlets in all ; other books of which I have made use 
(and some, like Scot's Discouerie of Witchcraft, although not 
rogue pamphlets, have furnished important material) are 
mentioned in foot-notes or in the text. The earlier pamphlets 
have the interest that belongs to honest and real descriptions 
of a little-known phase of sixteenth-century life. The later 
ones are mostly borrowed from the earlier, and the interest 
and value which they have for us is in the light they shed 
upon the unscrupulous methods of Elizabethan hack-writers. 
Before beginning the discussion it is necessary to make 
a short digression in order to consider the influence of foreign 
rogue literature of the period on the English. 

During the sixteenth century rogue literature became 
popular in Spain, France, and Germany, In Spain early 
and in France late in the century the prevailing type was 
the picaresque novel ; in Germany late in the fifteenth century 
and early in the sixteenth arose the type represented by the 
English jest-book. This foreign literature had its effect upon 
English humour and satire ; the curious reader will find the THE ROGUE PAMPHLETS 115 

lines of influence admirably traced in Chandler's Literature 
of Roguery and in Herford's Literary Relations of England 
and Germany in the Sixteenth Century. A very brief summary 
yvill be enough to indicate its relations to the pamphlets with 
which we are dealing. 

The two Spanish rogue books which mainly influenced 
English literature of this kind in the sixteenth century, the 
Celestina and Lazarillo de Tormes, are quite different in nature 
from the books we are studying, much better as works of art 
and much less prosaically realistic. Their influence tended 
more in the direction of such work as Nash's Vnfortunate 
Traueller, though the opinions of those entitled to speak 
differ as to how much that novel owes to Spanish sources. 
So far as one can judge from translations and from the 
accounts of the history of the picaresque novel there is 
nothing in this quarter to take away the credit of originality 
from the most important sixteenth-century English exposures 
of rogue life.^ The Spanish influences upon seventeenth- 
century English works do not concern us here. 

The German influence on English jest-books concerns us 
almost as little. Professor Herford points out the debt of 
such compilations as the C. Mery Talys, Tales and Quicke 
Answer es, Scogins Jests, and Skelton's Jests, to the Eulen- 
spiegel cycle of jest-books in Germany. But while these contain 
many anecdotes of clever knavery, there is in them practically 
nothing illustrating the peculiar life and manners of English 
rogues and vagabonds. When one comes to the later Peeks 
Jests and Dekker's Tests to make you Merie, which do contain 
native vagabond lore, the authors have done what Dekker truth- 
fully says he did in the Guls Horne-booke — ' of a Dutchman 
fashioned a meere Englishman'. 

It is the Narrenschiff of Sebastian Brandt, published in 
1494 and translated into English by Alexander Barclay as 
the Shyp of Folys in 1508, which comes nearest to the litera- 
ture with which we are dealing. It contains a great deal 
about rogues, beggars, gamesters, and other knaves, but its 

* The best treatment of this subject is to be found in Chandler's 
Romances of Roguery, and in his Literature of Roguery, vol. i. 

I 3 


statements are so general that they are as true of the rogues 
of one country as of another. It had a great vogue in England 
as in the rest of Europe. One finds in Cocke Lorelles Bote, in 
Copland's Hye Way to the Spyttel Hous, and in one part of 
Awdeley's Fraternitye of Vacabondes, an unmistakable debt 
to the general and artificial satire of the Shyp of Folys, and 
sometimes, mixed with this, definite references to English 
rogue life. The two elements are quite distinct; as the 
second increases the first declines. A brief examination of 
the three works mentioned will make the point clear. 

Cocke Lorelles Bote (n.d., printed by Wynkyn de Worde) 
represents a ship of fools and knaves under the command of 
Cock Lorell setting out on its voyage. The crew contains 
members of every trade, from goldsmith to rat-catcher, all of 
whom are rascals. In one place we are told that 

They sayled fro garlyke hede to knaves in, 

and in another 

They sayled England thorowe and thorowe, 
Vyllage, towne,,cyte, and borowe. 

The poem is rudely interesting, but throws no light on con- 
temporary rogue manners. Cock Lorell, the hero, has been 
regarded by many early and modern writers as a real person — 
a famous leader of rogues and vagabonds. But there is no 
convincing evidence in support of this. E. F. Rimbault, the 
editor of Cocke Lorelles Bote for the Percy Society, quotes 
from Martin Mark-all, where, however, the name of Cock 
Lorell occurs in the midst of a jumble of evident myth 
and hopelessly inaccurate history, which makes most un- 
trustworthy evidence. The five or six other contemporary 
references to Cock Lorell that I have seen are of the same 
character. The word ' lorel', meaning rogue or rascal (a variant 
of 'losel'), was in common use after the fourteenth century, and 
Cock Lorell as a chief or leader of rogues is apparently the 
invention of the author of this poem. 

Copland's Hye Way to the Spyttel Hous (which is usually 
dated about the middle of the reign of Henry VIII) represents 
an interview between the author and the porter of an alms- 


house. The porter describes the various kinds of fools whose 
deeds put them on the high road to dependence on public 
charity. The poem contains interesting bits of description of 
contemporary life and some rogue tricks and beggars' cant. 
It is mainly, however, a warning against various kinds of 
foolishness which will lead one to beggary, evidently based on 
the Shyp of Folys, not primarily an exposure of rogue life. 
There is a mention of the apparently traditional ' ordres VIII 
tyme thre of knaves only ', a description of which forms one 
portion of Awdeley's tract, his ' Quartern of Knaues confirmed 
for euer by Cocke Lorell '. 

Awdeley's Fraternitye of Vacabondes (1561) is a compound 
of this foreign satire, of the type inspired by the Shyp of Folys, 
with native English vagabond lore, the result of observation of 
contemporary manners and customs. It illustrates strikingly 
the difference between the two. The pamphlet divides clearly 
into two parts : the first is ' The Fraternitye of Vacabondes, as 
wel of ruflying Vacabondes as of beggerly, of women as of 
men, of Gyrles as of Boyes, with their proper names and 
qualities, with a description of the crafty company of Cousoners 
and Shifters'. This is a description of real vagabonds and 
conny-catchers — drawn apparently from life. The second part 
is ' literary ' rogue satire, drawn not from life, but, as Herford 
points out, from Barclay's Shyp of Folys Vis. Cocke Lorelles Bote. 
The rest of the title-page reads : ' Whereunto also is adioyned 
the .XXV. Orders of Knaues otherwyse called a Quartern of 
Knaues. Confirmed for euer by Cocke Lorell.' The connexion 
between the two Awdeley attempts to establish in poetical 
fashion by the following stanzas underneath the title. 
The Vprightman speaketh. 

Our Brotherhood of Vacabondes, 

If you would know where dwell : 

In graues end Barge which syldome standes. 

The talke wyll shew ryght well. 
Cocke Lorell aunswereth. 

Some orders of my Knaues also 

In that Barge shall ye fynde: 

For no where shall ye walke I trow, 

But ye shall see their kynde. 


In the first part the pamphlet gives brief descriptiohs of 
nineteen orders of beggars comprised in the Brotherhood 
of Vagabonds, explaining the cant names for them — Upright 
Man, Rogue, Palliard, Counterfeit Crank, &c. — ^for the first 
time. It then describes at some length the tricks of three 
of the company of cozeners and shifters (thus making a 
distinction between wandering rogues and London sharpers). 
Awdeley says that the information in his pamphlet came from 
a vagabond who had confessed before some Justices. 

Which at the request of a. worshipful man, 
I haue set it forth as well as I can. 

There is no reason to doubt the truth of this assertion : his 
classes of knaves, their methods of begging, and the tricks of 
the ' Cousoners and Shifters ' are confirmed in almost every 
detail by Harman and Greene. 

In the second part the 'XXV Orders of Knaves' are so 
many different kinds of unruly, idle, gluttonous, thieving 
serving men — knaves but not necessarily vagabonds — de- 
scribed under such titles as ' Obloquium ', ' Nichol Hartles ', 
' Simon soone agon ', ' Mounch present ', ' Choplogyke ', ' Esen 
Droppers ', ' Unthrift ', ' Nunquam ', &c. The artificial satire 
of the 'Quartern of Knaves', the vagueness of the state- 
ments, the straining for a moral, all contrast sharply with the 
plain realistic tone of his description of the ' Fraternitye of 
Vacabondes'. The one is the manner of the foreign works 
we have just been considering, the other the manner of 
Harman and Greene. 

The contrast just pointed out brings me to my thesis con- 
cerning the rogue literature upon which the foregoing essay is 
based. This literature is not founded upon Spanish or German 
accounts of rogue tricks, but is instead a trustworthy picture 
of the terrible social conditions of the early part of Elizabeth's 
reign. In the seventeenth century, when these conditions had 
been somewhat improved by legal administration, and still more 
by economic adjustment, rogue literature fell back upon tradi- 
tion and imitation, sometimes of earlier English works, some- 
times of foreign. These later borrowings are explained in 
detail in Professor Chandler's book, which follows the history 


of rogue literature from the sixteenth century down to the 
present time. We are here concerned only with those six- 
teenth-century studies which were founded upon actual life. 

One other work demands mention here, the Liber Vaga- 
torum, first published about 1513 and edited by Martin Luther 
in 1528. This book describes various orders of beggars and 
illustrates their tricks. Its plan is something like that of 
Awdeley and Harman, but its material is as distinctly German 
as Harman's is distinctly English. In the preface to his 
translation of the Liber Vagatorum, J. C. Hotten maintains 
that Awdeley and Harman show influences of the German 
work, and Chandler takes the same view.^ However, I find 
it very difficult to believe this; there are only such vague 
resemblances in material as would exist in the art of begging 
in all countries, and while it is of course impossible to prove 
that the English books do not owe their existence to the 
suggestion of the German one, there is nothing except the 
subject and the common use of a very natural and simple 
form to indicate that either Harman or Awdeley ever saw or 
heard of the Zz^^r Vagatorum. 

The most important and trustworthy English rogue 
pamphlets, those upon which this study is principally based, 
and of which it is now time to give a more detailed account, 
are the following : 

I. A manifest detection of the moste vyle and detestable vse 
of Diceplay, 155a, attributed to Gilbert Walker. 

a. The Fraternitye of Vacabondes, 1 561, by John Awdeley. 

3. A Caueat or Warening for Commen Curse tors Vulgarely 
Called Vagabones, 1566, by Thomas Harman. 

4. A Notable Discouery of Coosnage, 1591. 

5. The Second Part of Conny-catching, 159 1 (reprinted in 
1592 as The Second and Last Part of Conny-catching). 

6. The Thirde and Last Part of Conny-catching, 159a. 

7. A Disputation Betweene a Hee Conny-catcher and a Shee 
Conny-catcher , 159a. 

^ Hotten, The Book of Vagabonds and Beggars, i860, preface ; Chand- 
ler, Literature of Roguery, vol. i, pp. 27-8. Hotten's preface is full of 
mistakes in regard to the English rogue books which he mentions. 


8. The Blacke Bookes Messenger, 1592, all five by Robert 

The Manifest Detection was printed by Richard Tottyl, 
155a, and by Abraham Veale without date. It is clear from 
internal evidence that it was written about the year 1552.^ It 
was reprinted by Halliwell in 1850 for the Percy Society from 
a copy of the Veale edition. In this reprint the spellingi is 
modernized and there are misreadings which in many places 
spoil the sense, mistakes which are due to the fact that 
Halliwell was unable to collate his proofs with the original. 
The Veale edition itself is very carelessly printed. My quota- 
tions follow the copies of it in the Bodleian and the library of 
the University of Cambridge, but because of the importance 
and rarity of the tract I have given references in the notes to 
the Percy Society reprint as well. Both the Tottyl and Veale 
copies were anonymous, but a manuscript note (said to be in 
an ancient, perhaps contemporary, hand) in a volume of tracts 
formerly belonging to Topham Beauclerc attributes the 
Manifest Detection to Gilbert Walker, about whom nothing is 

The pamphlet is important as being the first exposition of 
the art of conny-catching as it was practised in the second half 
of the sixteenth century. It explains cheating with dice and 
cards, picking pockets, and cozenage with whores substantially 
as they are described by Greene and his fellow pamphleteers 
forty years later, using many of the same cant words and 
recounting many of the same tricks. The later pamphleteers 
owe a great deal to it. In so far as Greene has a literary 
original for his conny-catching books, it is this pamphlet. He 
cribs from it now and then, and does, much better, it is true, 
the same thing which this pamphlet attempted. Other writers, 
as we shall see, use page after page of it verbatim. 

^ A reference to the battle of Boulogne (which occurred September 8, 
1 544) as a matter of recent news, and an allusion to the King's laws, prove 
that it was written between 1544 and 1553. Then the pamphlet refers to 
a pickpocket as a disciple of James Ellis. Ellis was tried and hanged for 
this crime in 1552 (Machyn's Diary, Camden Society, pp. 18 and 21-2), and 
the reference is probably an echo of this event. The 1834 Lowndes dates 
the Tottyl copy 1532, which mistake Halliwell copies in his introduction 
to the Percy Society reprint. Tottyl began business in 1552. 


Ts!t& Manifest Detection is a dialogue between two friends, 
M and R. R has been cozened by a band of cheaters, and M 
is revealing to him the tricks by which he has been deceived. 
The dialogue begins by R's account of the way he was cozened. 
A well-dressed gentleman accosted him in Paul's, and when 
they had conversed awhile invited him to dinner, where after 
the meal the company indulged in play for a little sport. R 
won at first, and became so enamoured of the engaging 
manners of his host that, at the latter's solicitation, he took up 
his quarters there. Each day he and other friends of the 
cheater played cards or dice after meals, paying a small 
fraction of each stake to the house for current expenses. R 
speedily began to lose, but played on hopefully, waiting for 
his luck to turn, as his new friends assured him it would sooner 
or later. M shows R that this was only a wicked cozening 
plot, and tells him how common cheating at dice has become 
in the last twenty years. The art was invented by Hodge 
Setter, but whereas his followers a score of years before had 
been few and poor, they were now many and rich. M explains 
the names of the false dice, where the best ones are made (as 
we have seen, in the King's Bench, the Marshalsea, and by the 
most excellent workman of all, Bird of Holborn), and tells 
something about their use. He then goes 'on to explain the 
various devices employed to attract the gull and hold him 
until he is entirely stripped. There were the bawds with 
whom all cheaters had a close alliance ; and there were various 
means of getting his money besides dice play — by cheating at 
cards, by taking him to Paris Garden or an interlude to get 
his pocket picked ; or, if all failed, by robbing him on a high- 
way as he returned to his home. M describes the cut-purses' 
corporation and their craft, and ends with a warning against 
all these detestable villanies. The pamphlet is rather crudely 
written, and is very plain matter of fact in tone. It lacks the 
snap and spirit of Greene's conny-catching books and the 
homely, personal sincerity of Harman's Caueat, but it ranks 
with them as one of the best first-hand authorities on rogue 
life. It is the beginning of the Elizabethan literature of conny- 


We have already spoken of Awdeley's Fraternitye of Vaca- 
bondes, which chronologically follows the Manifest Detection 
and precedes Harman's Caueatfor Commen Cursetors. Harman 
was a country gentleman of Kent who, as he tells us, was kept 
much at home by poor health, and who amused himself by 
questioning the beggars and vagrants who came to his door, 
and by preparing his exposure of their knaveries. He tells 
many amusing anecdotes about his own experiences with 
vagabonds and the devices he employed to outwit them. He 
was keen enough to extract from them a surprising amount of 
information about their lives ; indeed, the rogues confided all 
sorts of delicate matters to him, confidences which the good 
man, in his zeal to protect the public, did not hesitate to 
betray. Everything points to the accuracy of his account. 
Many bits of evidence supporting his descriptions of begging 
tricks have been given already. His list of cant words is 
confirmed by the rogue dialect found in many Elizabethan 
plays and pamphlets, and even by the Thieves' Latin of the 
present day. One piece of evidence remains, more curious 
and striking, perhaps, than any. The worthy justice gives at 
the end of his book a list of the names of three hundred of the 
most notorious rogues who habitually passed his house in Kent 
at the time he wrote, in the year 1566. Among the certificates 
still preserved of rogues punished during the ' watches and 
searches ' of 1571-a, in Southern and Midland counties, occur 
the names of fourteen of Harman's rogues, and five or six 
others of them are mentioned in the Middlesex Sessions' Rolls 
down to 1590.^ A few correspondences could be attributed 
to coincidence, but so large a percentage in such fragmentary 
records makes it practically certain that Harman's list was a 
genuine one. 

The Caueat was so popular that it went through three 
editions 1566-8, and another in 1573.^ Viles and Furnivall 
were inclined to assign the first edition to 1567. But it is 

' See Appendix A, 5 for a list of these, with references. 

'^ The first has disappeared. There are two different issues, each calling 
itself the second edition, and both dated 1567, but, from internal evidence, 
both must have appeared early in 1568, new style. — See introduction to 
the edition of Viles and Furnivall, N. Sh. Soc, pp. iv-vii. 


dated November 11, 1566, by Robert Burton (who evidently 
knew it well) in a manuscript note in his copy of the Belman 
of London, now in the Bodleian (Art. 4°, G. 8. BS), which date 
seems to fit every indication in the Caueat. The privilege of 
printing it seems to have been eagerly sought. One printer, 
Henry Bynnyman, was fined by the Stationers' Company for 
trying to obtain it by unfair means from William Griffith, to 
whom it was licensed. According to another entry in the 
Stationers' Register Gerard Dewes paid £% 6s. 4d. fine for 
printing it ; this was evidently a penalty for having used it 
without licence.^ It was copied freely by later Elizabethan 
writers, who added little to it except from their imaginations. 
The book is a plain, homely piece of work which inspires 
respect for its unpretending writer. It was useful then and it 
is interesting now as an honest picture of Elizabethan life near 
at hand. 

Robert Greene was as good an authority on London 
sharpers and conny-catchers as was Thomas Harman on 
wandering beggars. He wrote five pamphlets describing their 
tricks, the titles of which are given in the list above. He had 
lived among the conny-catchers and perhaps practised their 
tricks himself in his wild days following his travels in France 
and Italy. The pamphlets exposing them he wrote during the 
violently repentant years (1591-1593) just before his death. 
They show evidence of great haste in composition, and are 
somewhat haphazard in their arrangement ; one of them, Tke 
Second Part of Conny-catching, seems to have been garbled in 
the printing, since the paragraphs apparently intended to begin 
the pamphlet occur somewhere in the middle.^ 

The Notable Discouery of Coosnage is evidently an experi- 
ment undertaken with the double intention of satisfying his 
conscience and attracting the public. It contains a table 
giving the principal methods of cheating, a few of which 
Greene describes in detail, and a long discourse at the end on 

* Arber's Transcript of the Stationers' Register, \. 345 and 369 (on 369 
is a repetition of the entry crossed out p. 348). 
^ At p. 88 of vol. X of Grosart's edition. 


the ' Coosenage of Colliars '. Tlu Second Part of Conny-caich- 
ing is manifestly the result of the success of the Notable Dis- 
couery of Coosnage, and the best part of it is an enlarge- 
ment on matters merely outlined in the first pamphlet. The 
Thirde and Last Part of Conny -catching is a continuation of 
the series as a result of the great success of the first two parts. 
It is composed entirely of stories illustrating the methods 
which Greene has just been describing. One is tempted to 
say that here Greene leaves fact and begins with fiction, 
according to the words of his confession quoted below. 

The same criticism applies to the Disputation Betweene a Hee 
Conny-catcher and a Shee Conny-catcher and the Blacke Bookes 
Messenger. The first is a discussion 'between a thief and a 
whore as to which can do the most harm. They maintain 
their arguments by describing their various tricks, telling 
many stories in illustration, till the woman finally wins the 
day, The Blacke Bookes Messenger was intended by Greene 
to herald the publication of a Black Book containing the 
names of all the conny-catchers and cozeners which were then 
operating in London. The Messenger is a pamphlet narrating 
the wicked life and shameful death of Ned Brown, a cut-purse, 
whom Greene represents as practising all kinds of conny- 
catching tricks. It shows carelessness in composition : on the 
title-page we are told that Brown died unrepentant, but the 
event is different, for he ends" piously enough with a long 
exhortation to those disposed to follow in his footsteps. 

It is evident that Greene, finding that conny-catching 
pamphlets paid well, worked them during that wretched last 
year of his life for all they were worth. In the address to ' The 
Gentlemen Readers' prefixed to his Vision (the address was 
probably written in 1593, though it is clear, as Churton Collins 
points out, that the Vision itself was written in 1590) Greene 
says, ' I haue shotte at many abuses, ouer shotte my selfe in 
describing of some ; where truth failed, my inuention hath 
stood my friend.' ^ I believe that this statement was meant 
by him to apply especially to the fantastic stories and ' laws ' 
of the Thirde and Last Part of Conny-catching, Disputation 

' Greene's Vision, ' To the Gentlemen Readers ' (Grosart, xii. 195-6). 



Betweene a Hee Conny-catcher and a Shee Conny-catcher, and 
Blacke Bookes Messenger; but there is no reason for making from 
Greene's morbid confession too sweeping a condemnation of 
the three pamphlets. Their atmosphere is that of the earlier 
exposures which he gives himself so much credit for mak- 
ing, and a hundred details in them help to fill out the picture 
of rogue life. One can only guess which stories were true 
and which imaginative; this conjecture is hardly worth the 
trouble, since no importance attaches to the decision. One of 
them, the story of the ' Cutler and the Nip ', was apparently 
told about the town for true, since Greene tells it a second 
time in the Thirde Part of Conny-catching, because he had 
made a mistake in his version of it in the Second Part. 
Although his pamphlets are not to be taken in the same literal 
way as Harman's Caueat, they are far more valuable than 
Harman's in suggesting the atmosphere of rogue life. Harman's 
book is plain, honest matter of fact : Greene's pamphlets are a 
part of the literature of roguery. 

Greene's exposures seem to be made from the life, but in 
two or three places, as we have noted, he copies from an 
earlier work. The description of 'Barnard's Law', in the 
introduction to the Notable Discouerie of Coosnage, follows 
practically word for word the account in the Manifest Detec- 
tion} But Greene introduces this passage as a quotation (or 
at least as history), prefacing H with the words : ' There was 
before this many yeeres agoe a practise put in vse by such 
shifting companions, which was called the Barnards Law,' 
&c., and he quotes it only to show how much worse is the 
modern practice of conny-catching. 

Later in the same pamphlet his explanation of the word 
' law ' as used for a method of cheating, and his conny- 
catcher's speech in self-justification, on the ground that there 
is deceit in all professions, are likewise borrowed word for 
word from the Manifest Detection."^ These plagiarisms are all 
in comparatively unimportant passages, and, considering the 

' Compare Manifest Detection, sig. D, verso f. (Percy Society, vol. xxix, 
p. 37 ff.), with Greene, Notable Discouerie of Coosnage (Grosart, x. 9 ff.). 

' Manifest Detection, sig. B4, f., and B, verso (Percy Society, xxix, 
pp. 17 f. and 22 f.) ; Greene, Notable Discouerie of Coosnage (Grosart, 
X. 33-S)- 


standards of the time, it would be a mistake, it seems to me, 
to argue from them any general impeachment of the truth of 
Greene's exposures. 

Greene was a queer compound of idealist and rogue. He 
began, evidently, with aristocratic notions of literature, writing 
his early love pamphlets in elegant euphuistic language. For 
the Elizabethan popular drama he had a contempt for which 
we should have much more sympathy if we knew that 
stage only as it was in the early '8o's. In a general way 
Greene's position at the beginning of his literary career was 
that of the classicists of his day, Webbe, Puttenham, and 
Sidney. But a reckless and dissipated life soon brought him 
to terms with the stage, and he became a fairly popular 
dramatist. His plays brought in money, but money only in- 
creased his dissipation, and he sank a step lower, from writjjjg 
plays to roguery, or at least to association with rogues. From 
Euphuist to playwright, from playwright to conny-catcfaer : 
the second descent seemed no greater to him than the first. 
Dissipation soon played havoc with his bodily health, and at 
length, two years before his death, out of money, estranged 
from his wife and from whatever of good reputation he may 
have had, he began to write his confessions and his exposures 
of low life. He was prompted, perhaps, by a real, although 
sentimental repentance, perhaps by want of money, perhaps 
by love of notoriety — who shall untangle his motives ? In any 
event the result was the conny-catching pamphlets, which, in 
spite of their carelessness and occasionally improbable stories, 
bear on their face the stamp of truth and are the most vivid 
and brilliant works of the kind which the age produced. So 
much for his work. Regarding the man himself— too brilliantly 
talented to be called unfortunate, and too weak to be called 
tragic— no sentence fits so well as Stevenson's comment on 
Villon : ' the sorriest figure on the rolls of fame.' 

The unique interest and the popularity of the works de- 
scribed above, especially of Greene's conny-catching pamphlets, 
started a craze for rogue pamphlets the effect of which was 
to call forth a large number of imitations of Harman and 


Greene. The most important of the works which followed this 
fashion and the ones I have selected for discussion are as 
follows : 

I. Tke Groundworke of Conny-catching, 159a. 
3. The Defence of Conny catching, 159a. 

3. Mihil Mmnchance, His Discouerie of the Art of Cheating 
in false Dyceplay, &c., 1597. 

4. The Life and Death of Gamaliell Raisey, 1605. 

5. Greenes Ghost Haunting Conie-catchers, by S. R., 1603. 

6. Martin Mark-all, Beadle of Bridewell, by S. R., ? 1608 
(both attributed to Samuel Rowlands, but the latter probably 
by Samuel Rid). 

7. The Belman of London, hy Thomas Dekker, 1608. 

8. Lanthorne and Candle-light, by Thomas Dekker, 1608 
(with the continuations of 161 3 and 161 6). 

9. The Art of lugling or Legerdemaine, by Samuel Rid, 
161 2. 

A few sentences will give an idea of the wholesale cribbing 
in these late works. The first is almost entirely stolen, word 
for word, from Harman. The second is a satire on other 
trades and professions trying to ride on the wave of conny- 
catching popularity. The thii-d is stolen verbatim from the 
Manifest Detection, the fourth is largely a rehash of the stories 
of the Robin Hood ballads, the fifth is made up of bits from 
Harman, Greene, and various other sources. For the most part 
the sixth is original. The seventh and eighth are cribbed 
from Harman, Greene, and such other sources as Dekker 
could find. The ninth is reprinted with only a change here 
and there from Reginald Scot. Conny-catching books would 
sell, and such were the methods by which hack-writers supplied 
the demand. As one goes on into the seventeenth century 
the situation remains the same, except that the borrowings 
cross and recross with increasing complexity. The four 
volumes of the English Rogue are one long tangled mass of 
pilferings from every possible source, English and foreign. 

A prompt tribute to the popularity of Greene's work was 
a book called The Groundworke of Conny-catching, anonymous, 


which was printed in 159a, by John Danter for William 
Barley, with a woodcut on the title-page made by combining 
seven illustrations which had formerly been used for the 
conny-catching pamphlets. The title is almost the only part 
of the work which has anything to do with conny-catching. 
The main part of it is about beggars and vagabonds, reprinted 
word for word from Harman's Caueat. The opening sentence 
shows that it follows Greene's exposures and is issued as a 
continuation of that popular series, in order to describe abuses 
not noticed by Greene. 

'Whereas of late diuers coossening deuises and deuilish 
deceites haue beene discouered, whereby great inconueniences 
haue beene eschewed, which otherwise might haue been the vtter 
ouerthrowe of diuers honest men of all degrees, I thought this, 
amongst the rest, not the least worthie of noting, especially of 
those that trade to Faires and Markets, that thereby being 
warned, they may likewise be armed, both to see the deceit, 
and shun the daunger. ' ^ 

The Defence of Conny catching, 159a, is another tribute to 
the selling power which Greene's works had given the title. 
The author of it calls himself Cuthbert Cunny-cateher, and he 
sets out to show that the members of his tribe are not the 
only thieves in the realm. There is conny-catching in all 
professions, as he proves by many examples, and even 
Mr. R. G. himself is accused of selling the same play twice, 
to two different dramatic companies. What is that but 
conny-catching? The pamphlet is often credited to Greene, 
but it is evidently not by him. Grosart saw this, although he 
reprinted it in his edition of Greene's works. In the Second 
Part of Conny-catching Greene asserts that the rogues, in 
revenge for his exposures, have hired a scholar to make an 
invective against him. ' Marry the good men Conny-catchers, 
those base excrements of dishonesty, they in their huffes 
report they haue got one ( ) I wil not bewray his name, 

but a scholler they say he is, to make an inuectiue against me, 
in that he is a fauourer of thoSe base reprobates,' &c.^ It is 
a tempting hypothesis that the Defence is this invective. 

^ N. Sh. Soc. edition, p. 100. 
'^ Grosart's Greene, x. loi . 


Another pamphlet which quickly followed the conny- 
catching fashion was Mihil Mumchance his Discouerie of the 
Art of Cheating in false Dyce play (licensed 1597)- This is 
only a copy of the Manifest Detection discussed above. Mihil 
Mumchance was a bookseller's venture, like the Groundworhe 
of Conny-catching, apparently intended to fill another gap left 
in Greene's exposures. It reprints its original almost word 
for word : one sentence in the Detection which mentions places 
where false dice are made is altered so as to leave out the 
names; references to the King's Court are changed to the 
Queen's; directions for making lone Silverpin as good a 
maid as she was before she ever came to the stews are 
omitted in the later work for fear of offending chaste ears ; 
one or two other cozening shifts are inserted ; and the dialogue 
form of the Manifest Detection is changed into ordinary dis- 
course. Except for these changes the two pamphlets run on 
page after page exactly alike, and they end together. 

In order to discuss all the works of each man together, 
I shall depart a little from the chronological order here, 
leaving the pamphlet Greenes Ghost Haunting Conie-catchers 
(1602), by Samuel Rowlands, until I come to him, and begin 
with the works of ' honest ' Dekker. 

The Belman of London (1608), by Thomas Dekker, was one 

of the most popular of all the conny-catching books. It went 

through four editions the first year.^ Its popularity is attested 

by a sentence in the Compters Common-wealth (1617), by 

William Fennor. ' Why sir,' says the author, when an old 

jail-bird from the Hole offers to expose some of the villanies 

of the time, 'there is a booke called Greenes Ghost Haunts 

Cony-catchers ; another called Legerdemaine, and The Blacke 

Dog of Newgate^ but the most wittiest, elegantest and 

eloquentest Peece (Master Dekkers, the true heire of Apollo 

composed) called The Bellman of London, haue already set 

foorth the vices of the time so viuely, that it is vnpossible the 

' Hazlitt's Handbook, and Miss M. L. Hunt's Thomas Dekker (Col. 
Univ. Press, 1911) mention only three, but Mr. F. P. Wilson, who is 
making a Dekker bibliography, tells me that it is quite certain there were 
four. It was anonymous in all its editions. 


Anchor of any other mans braine can sound the sea of a more 
deepe and dreadful mischeefe.' However, Dekker's book is a 
tissue of borrowings from earlier pamphlets — not even clothed 
in new language, but copied word for word — woven together 
and ornamented with liberal additions of his own swashing 
rhetoric and extravagant humour. There is no more enter- 
taining pamphlet to be found, for Dekker had a wonderful 
knack, acquired by long practice in hack-work, of weaving 
small parings of other men's wit into an effective whole. But 
it lacks the air of reality. 

The Belman of London opens with a surprising eulogy of 
country life, and a description of a wonderful grove in which 
the trees overarch so as to make a thick ceiling, while the 
ground to our surprise is covered with long grass thickly 
studded with yellow field-flowers and with 'white and red 
daizies ', looking in the sunlight, which was apparently strong 
enough to pierce this leafy ceiling, like gold and silver nails. 
In the grove Dekker comes upon an inn where is to be held 
the quarterly feast of vagabonds, which he is allowed to watch 
and which he describes very well. So far, the pamphlet is 
entirely original. After the feast, the old wrinkled beldam 
hostess explains to him the orders of beggars and their 
various tricks and sleights, which explanation is taken direct 
from Harman. Returning to London, Dekker meets the Bell- 
man on his rounds, who straightway discloses to him various 
villanies practised in the city — the tricks of conny-catchers — ■ 
all of which is also borrowed, sometimes word for word, some- 
times paraphrased. The art of cheating with false dice he 
copies from Mihil Mumchance (the author of which pamphlet 
had copied it from the Manifest Detection). The account of 
Sacking Law, and Barnard's Law, he copies and paraphrases 
from Greene's Notable Discouery of Coosnage ; Figging Law, 
Courbing Law, Vincent's Law, Prigging Law, and the Black 
Art from the Second Part of Conny-catching. He borrows 
three stories from the Thirde and Last Part of Conny-catching, 
and the five tricks which he calls ' Five Jumps at Leap-Frog.', 
from the pamphlet called Greenes Ghost Haunting Conie- 
catchers (i6oa) by Samuel Rowlands. 


It is interesting to find that the MS. notes in Robert 
Burton's copy of the Belman of London in the Bodleian point 
out many of Dekkef's thefts from Harman. Burton was as 
much interested in vagabond lore as in other curious know- 
ledge ; the Anatomy of Melancholy contains several references 
to the cant terms and begging tricks with which we have been 
occupied in former chapters.^ 

Lanthorne and Candle-light or the Bell-mans second Nights 
walhe (1608) begins with a canting dictionary copied from 
Harman, and a canting song from Copland's Hye Way to the 
Spyttel Hous? Dekker then goes on to describe things which 
he knows more about : Gul-groping in ordinaries, how gentle- 
men are undone by taking up commodities, the cozenages of 
literary men, the villanies of horse-traders, the infection of the 
suburbs, &c. The life in it is not such as it would require an 
extraordinary Bohemian experience to observe ; and although 
Dekker probably did not know much about rogues and vaga- 
bonds, he understood very well cozening tricks practised by 
citizens, brokers, horse traders, needy poets, and hack-writers. 

This pamphlet has special interest for the student of minor 
Elizabethan literature, because in it are described the various 
forms of literary cozenage — the hack-writer's methods of 
'yarking' up a pamphlet, and of getting money by means 
of false dedications. A rogue who practises the latter deceit 
Dekker calls a Falconei-. The ordinary way of working it 
was to buy up a whole edition of some old sermon, or other 
unsaleable work, print for it new dedications, every copy to 
a different man, and present each patron with the book con- 
taining his name in the hope of receiving a handsome fee 
from each. Sometimes the Falconer would patch up a whole 
book in praise of a wealthy gentleman, copy it out neatly, 
and present it to him ; in return for such labour he might 
receive, if he were lucky, a gift large enough to keep him in 
gaming-money for a month. The pamphlet gives an interesting 

^ For Counterfeit Cranks, Dommerers, and Abraham Men see the 
Anatomy, Part I, Sect. II, Mem. IV, Subs. VI (York Library edition, vol. i, 
p. 409). 

* Grosart, iii. 197 ; Copland, Hye Way, 1. 1046 fF. (Hazlitt, Remains of 
the Early Popular Poetry of England, iv. 69). 


but very unattractive idea of the position and character of an 
Elizabethan hack-writer. 

Lanthorne andCandle-ligktvfas reissued frequently in revised 
and enlarged editions during the first half of the seventeenth 
century. The first of these is Oper se 0, 161 a. This pamphlet 
follows the 1608 edition to the end and then begins the section 
called ' O per se O ', from which this reprint takes its name. 
The style and tone of the addition are so different that one 
cannot avoid the suggestion that it is a continuation by a 
different author. That we may know that his material is 
genuine, this writer carefully tells us that when he was High 
Constable in the late Queen's time he examined maiiy rogues 
and took one to service, a Clapperdudgeon whom he calls 
by the name of O per se O (this is the refrain of a beggar song 
which he gives). He then goes on to tell us what this rogue 
revealed to him about vagabond life. The most curious of 
these additions are perhaps those concerning artificial sores 
and counterfeit licences, which have been already noted in 
Chapter H. But all of the material is interesting, and, while it 
follows the main lines laid down by Harman, many details 
are new. In several places the writer hints that the Bellman 
was not entirely master of his subject, and that now we are to 
hear some revelations never made before.^ This may be only 
Dekker playing with us, but the authorship seems to me at 
least open to question. 

The next revision oi Lanthorne andCandle-lightwa.s Villanies 
Discouered, &c., 1616. This contains all the material of the 
1608 and 1612 forms, somewhat differently and rather con- 
fusedly arranged : the first chapter, ' On Canting,' now appears 
as chapter xvii, prefaced by one new sentence. The new part 
begins with chapter xi, ' Of a Prison ' (the numbering in the 
table of contents is confused here). The description of prison 
life is very good, and sounds more like Dekker than do the 
additions which appeared first in O per se O? Geffray 
Mynshul, in his Essayes and Characters of a Prison and 

' Cp. sig. L3, M and verso, N, and O. 

"^ Compare for instance the references to prison life in lests to make you 
Merie,a.nd Newesfrom Hell, neither of which, however, is exactly fol- 
lowed in Villanies Discouered, 


Prisoners, 161 8, cribs latgely from these chapters.^ After 
the prison section the pamphlet follows O per se O to the end. 

Grosart includes neither the additions of O per se O nor of 
Vitlanies Discouered in his reprint of Dekker's prose works, 
nor does he (in spite of promises in several notes) examine 
into the question of their authorship. 

Not much is known about Dekker's life and character, but 
from these rogue pamphlets one or two things are clear. He 
was a typical hack-writer, following the fashion, writing what 
would sell, unscrupulous in borrowing other men's work, but 
brilliant in patching it together and dressing it out in the 
showy rhetoric which Elizabethans loved. Evidently he was 
more bourgeois than Bohemian, if one may judge from the 
fact that the Guls Horne-booke and Shoemaker's Holiday, both 
excellent pictures of city life, are his own work, while his 
rogue pamphlets are mainly borrowed. 

Samuel Rowlands was also a hack-writer, with much less 
ability than Dekker and no perceptible honesty. The greater 
part of his work is a series of verse pamphlets which are 
a storehouse of material gleaned from jest-books and rogue 
pamphlets worked over into doggerel verse. They may 
deserve more consideration than I have given them, but 
because the stories are all old, nearly all borrowed, with no 
marks of original observation, and always badly told, I have 
chosen to leave them out of account and confine myself here 
to two prose pamphlets, one of which is interesting for its 
pilferings and the other for its original material. The first is 
Greenes Ghost Haunting Conie-catchers (1603) and the second 
Martin Mark-all, Beadle of Bridewell (? 1 608). The works are 
both signed S. R. and are both included in the only reprint of 
Rowlands' works. However, as will be seen below, they 
cannot both belong to Rowlands, and it is the second and • 
more original pamphlet which must be denied him, though 
the man to whom it must be ascribed is, in his only other 
known work, a more shameless plagiarist than Rowlands. 

^ Compare Mynshul's tract, pp. 7, 6, 9-14, 16-19, and 20-2, with 
Villanies Discouered, chapters xi, xii, xiii, xiv, and xv. 


Greenes Ghost Haunting Conie-catchers is an excellent 
illustration of the kind of book-making practised by Dekker's 
Falconer, who 'scraped together certaine small paringes of 
witte ', cut them into pretty pieces, and of these patched up a 
book. ^ Its titl'e is an attempt to conjure up buyers with the 
magic name of Greene. The pamphlet itself is a milange of 
stories borrowed from recent popular tracts on roguery. It 
copies some cut-purse material from the Second Part of 
Conny-catcking ; the ' who am I ' story, and the trick of in- 
viting a man to drink and departing with a silver cup, leaving 
him to pay the loss, from the Thirde and Last Part of Canny- 
catching; and an excellent courbing story from the Blacke 
Bookes Messenger. It uses two-thirds of what little material 
there was in the Groundworke of Canny-catching not borrowed 
from Harman, and has one trick which may possibly be worked 
over from Mihil Mumchance? 

On the other \\z.vl6., Martin Mark-all, Beadle a f Bridewell is 
an extremely interesting and remarkable work. It opens with 
a capital arraignment of Dekker for his pilferings from 
Harman in the Belman af London and in Lantharne and 
Candle-light. The substance of this has been explained in the 
paragraphs on Dekker's works. It has also been pointed out 
that Dekker's Belman af London copies some passages ver- 
batim from the pamphlet called Greenes Ghost Haunting 
Conie-catchers. The partial exposure of Dekker in- the 
Beadle of Bridewell proves that Samuel Rowlands is not the 
author both of it and of Greenes Ghost Haunting Conie- 
catchers, although they are both attributed to him in the 
Hunterian Club edition of his works. If he had been, he cer- 
tainly would have noticed Dekker's cribbing from Greenes 
Ghost, and have accused him of it as well as of the pilferings 
from Harman. 
, After soundly trouncing Dekker, Martin Mark-all goes on 

' Lantharne and Candle-light (Temple edition), p. 223. 

^ The trick of substituting a copper chain for a gold one is nearly the 
same as that described in M.M. (sig. E). The most complete list of the 
borrowings in Greenes Ghost is that in Mr. Edward D. McDonald's essay, 
'An Example of Plagiarism among Elizabethan Pamphleteers', in 
Indiana University Studies, 1911. He finds in it cribbings from no less 
than ten different sources. 


to give an account of the original of the Regiment of Rogues, 
narrating what seems to have been the traditional belief about 
their origin, giving a list of their leaders, and ends with a 
promise to complete the list down to the author's time : ' so 
that what betw^ene them both (i.e. common rogues and 
gipsies), they were two pestiferous members in a Common- 
wealth : but I will leaue them both, and pray for a pros- 
perous winde to bring my Barke to the wished port of her 
desire . . . which if good fortune fauour me so much, I shall 
be bouldened once more to play the Merchant venturer . . . 
wherein ... I will proceed and set downe the successours from 
Cocke Lorrell vntill this present day.' 

Another writer with the initials S. R. (Samuel Rid) pub- 
lished a vagabond book called the Art of lugling, in 161 3. 
From the opening of this pamphlet it is evident that the 
author had published one before on canting rogues and gipsies 
(which are treated in the Beadle of Bridewell) and had pro- 
mised another pamphlet. ' Here to fore we have run over the 
two pestiferous carbuncles in the commonwealth, the Egyptians 
and the common canters : the poor canters we have canvassed 
meetely well, it now remaines to proceede where I left, and 
to goe forward with that before I promised.' For several 
reasons it seems clear that the author of Martin Mark-all 
was Rid. The ending of the earlier pamphlet fits neatly with 
the beginning of the later. The whole discussion of the 
gipsies and their captain, Giles Hather, in the last page or 
two of Martin Mark-all resembles closely that which begins 
the Art of lugling: both are largely founded on Harman's 
dedicatory epistle and preserve the same bits of Harman's 
wording. The prefaces to the two pamphlets are addressed 
alike and signed with the same formula. In that to the Art 
of lugling there are scornful allusions to ' caprichious coxe- 
combes, with their desperate wits' which may be a survival 
of Martin Mark-all's quarrel with Dekker, since they close 
with what looks like a reference to Lanthorne and Candle- 
light : ' But I cannot stand all day nosing of Candle-sticks.' 
And at the end of the Art of lugling the author refers to 
himself as the Beadle, an obvious reference to the sub-title of 


Martin Mark-all: 'thou s^est simplicity can not doubte, 
nor plaine dealing cannot dissemble, I could wish thde to 
amend thy life, and take heede of the Beadle.' 

No edition of Martin Mark-all earlier than i5io is 
known, but an earlier form of the pamphlet must have been 
published in 1608 since in Lanthorne and Candle-light, which 
appeared during the latter part of that year, Dekker replies 
to the Beadle of Bridewell's attack upon his Belman of London. 
Probably the lost 1608 edition of Martin Mark-all differed in 
many respects from that of 1610, since the pamphlet was 
newly licensed in that year (Arber, iii. 430) as 'Martyn Marke 
all his defence' beinge an answer e to 'the bellman of London.' 

The Art of lugling is a treatise on Legerdemain copied 
verbatim from Reginald Scot's Discouerie of Witchcraft (15S4) 
with a little discussion of cheating with cards and dice coming 
via Mihil Mumchance from the Manifest Detection. In order 
to illustrate more vividly the way in which not only ideas but 
the words of former writers were borrowed by Elizabethan 
pamphleteers I have quoted, in Appendix B, four versions of 
a passage from the Manifest Detection, which appears almost 
word for word in Mihil Mumchance and later in Dekker's 
Belman of London and in Rid's Art of lugling. 

It has seemed worth while to comment in detail in this 
chapter only on the most important pamphlets which were 
written directly about rogue life. But those selected are not 
sufficient to show the use made of this material by pamphle- 
teers. The rogue stories were utilized freely in such books as 
Tarltons Jests, Peek's Jests, Dekker's lests to make you 
Merie, Chettle's Kind-Harts Dreame, and later very largely 
by the writers of seventeenth century jest-books and chap- 

There are a good many pamphlets following Greene's death 
which, like Greenes Ghost Haunting Conie-catchers, made use 
of his name in their title-pages with the hope of thus attract- 
ing purchasers, as Greenes Newes both from Heauen and 
Hell, and Greene in Conceipt New raised from his graue to 
write the Tragique History affair Valeria of London. There 


were satirical works describing life in London, like Stubbes's 
Anatomie of Abuses, Whetstone's Touchstone for the Time} 
Dekker's Guls Horne-booke, Lodge's Wits Miserie and the 
Worlds Madnesse, Nash's Pierce Penilesse and Vnfortu- 
nate Traueller, Gosson's Sckoole of Abuse, &c. These, while 
they have been used freely in the account of rogue life, have not 
been thought to call for criticism as rogue pamphlets. Whet- 
stone, one imagines, might have contributed a great deal more to 
our knowledge of low life in London had he wished. One of the 
magistrates of London to whom he dedicates his Mirourfor 
Magestrates of Cyties is ' Mr. Seriant Fleetwood, Recorder of 
the same citie, his approued good Frende and Kinsman ' ; from 
Fleetwood Whetstone might have learned whatever his own 
experiences with cozeners (at the end of the Touchstone\\s. says 
that the adventures of P. Plasmos in ihe Rock e of Regard -wetQ 
his own) had not taught him. But he evidently hated these 
caterpillars of the commonwealth too much to give us the 
detailed account of their ways that he could have otherwise. 
As it is, his works abound in allusions to cozeners and in 
invective against them, especially against dicers, brokers, and 
dishonest lawyers. 

The chief merit of the works upon which this study is based 
is that they pulsate with the life of the time. From no other 
source could one get so true a picture of the lives of the men 
of town and country as from the prose pamphlets. They 
yield neither to the drama nor the poetry of the age. Most 
of the works I have been considering are, of course, satires, 
but in many of them the satire is so tinged with sympathy that 
it is almost disguised. There is in them more of the spirit 
with which Shakespeare drew Falstaff and his conny-catching 
companions than of the attitude of Ben Jonson in his comedies, 
or that of the later satirists. Greene tells stories of the wit 
and cleverness of his rogUes with a gusto and sympathy not 
the less apparent for the moralizing and invective with which 
he conceives it his duty to end each pamphlet Dekker enjoys 

' This is copied almost entire in a tract called Look on Me, London, 
published in 1613. 


his Gull too much not to like him a little. Nash reforms Jack 
Wilton at the end and tries to believe, and to convince us, 
that he made a good citizen after he married his courtezan 
and settled down. There are a few exceptions. To Stubbes 
the vices of his age aie horror unrelieved. The merry books 
are only things which ' infect the soule, and corrupt the minde, 
hailing it to distruction, if the great mercy of God be not 
present '} In him and in his fellows the Puritan age had 
already begun, and for them Bohemianism had no charms. 

As to the form of these pamphlets the task of the critic is 
harder. It is easy to point out many ways in which the prose 
of earlier and of later periods is better. Elizabeth's reign was 
a time of experiment and transition in prose style. The chief 
factor in the change was Euphuism, a style in which the newly 
awakened feeling for order and form in prose ran to the greatest 
extremes. The immediate results of Euphuism were bad. 
No one, perhaps, enjoys the tortured antitheses and far-fetched 
comparisons which this style produced unless he has cultivated 
the taste. But when the follower of Lyly forgot his pseudo- 
science and his moral saws, his pyrite stones which when they 
looked coldest were most hot, his salamanders, and all the 
rest of this wonderful zoology and mineralogy, the effect of 
Euphuism on his style was good. At their best Dekker and 
Greene write with ease and clearness, and they put on their 
works the stamp of their own characters, full of the excess and 
confusion of their age, yet touched with its magic charm. 

The style of the pamphleteers is as good as their thought ; 
neither has any elements of greatness. Historical criticism 
usually tends to overrate these minor Elizabethans. As a 
matter of fact, most of them were lost in the intellectual con- 
fusion of the age, no less than in the social. They admired 
the literature of the Italian renaissance without perceiving its 
weakness. The mediaeval standards of art and of life they 
rejected ; the classic they misunderstood ; and the result was 
that, in the case of these men who had not the extraordinary 
power of intellect needed to map out right paths for them- 
selves, their most careful art was grotesque, their views of life 

^ Anatomie of Abuses, N. Sh. Soc, p. 185. 


superficial and false. They are interesting to us for what the 
times made them ; we receive instruction from their failures 
rather than from their thought. 

It is no wonder that they failed to ' see life steadily and see 
it whole.' No age in the history of England has offered to its 
thinkers such difficult problems with such scant help toward 
their solution. The greatest of them in his greatest work has 
done little more than put the question : ' What a piece of 
work is a man ! How noble in reason ! How infinite in 
faculty ! In form and moving how express and admirable ! 
In action how like an angel ! In apprehension how like a 
god ! . . . And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust ? ' 

It is man the quintessence of dust that we find in these 
pamphleteers. Gay and attractive or sordid and mean, in 
either case it is only the outside that they show us, only their 
realism that is convincing. They loved life and could paint 
its externals : they did not trouble about its meaning. They 
had lost the old faith, but they could not formulate a new. 
They expressed the unrest of their time : they could not direct 
its aspiration. 


[In the documents which follow, ordinary abbreviations and contrac- 
tions have been expanded, and in two or three instances accidental 
repetitions of a word have been silently corrected. The punctuation and 
capitalization of the manuscripts is followed except in a few places where 
it is so bad as to make the meaning difficult, ^is transcribed i^ or/ as 
occasion demands.] 



Journal 11, 337 IF. 

Te° Thome Exmewe ^ militis maioris. 

Articles devysyd by the mayer and aldermen of the citie of 
london at the commaundement of the lordes of the kynges 
moste honorable Councell for thavoyd}mg and puttyng out of 
myghty Beggers and vacabundes out of the same. 

First, it is certified by euery alderman the nombre and the 
names of euery persone abidynge wythin his warde beyng so im- 
potent, aged, feble, or blynde, that they be nat able to gette their 
lyvynges by labour and worke, and also be in suche extreme 
pouerte that they may nat lyve but oonly by almes and charite 
of the people, whose names appere in the Guyldhall in the 
bylles of certificates of euery alderman more at large, whiche 
is and amounteth to the nombre of a M^ and aboue. 

Item, there is deuysyd as many tokens to be made as be cer- 
tified poore almes persons in the seyd billes, that is to say a 
payer of beedes rounde with tharmes of london in the myddys, 
to be stryken with a stampe in metall of pure white tynne, and 
the tokens seuerally shalbe delyuered to euery alderman 
accordyng to the nombre of the seyd poore almes persones by 
hym certified to thentent that he shall delyuer to euery suche 
poore persone impotent, aged, and feble that can nat gette 
theyr lyvyng by labour or werke as is aboueseyd, and to none 
other, one of the seyd tokens by the seyd alderman to be sette 
vpon their ryght shulders of ther Gownes openly to be seene, 

' Lord Mayor, 1517 to 1518. 


which persones hauyng the seyd tokens vpon theym shalbe 
sufferd to begge and aske almes of the people within the citie 
and the suburbes of the same. 

Item, if it happen any of the seyd poore people hauyng the 
seyd tokens to decesse that then the Constable or bedell by the 
commaundement of the alderman of the warde and parysshe, 
where the seyd poore persone was admitted and had his token 
delyuered shall cause the seyd token to be brought to the 
seyd alderman, and wyth hym to remayne tyll the tyme that 
some other like poore impotent, feeble, blynde, or aged persone 
by the same alderman be admytted to the same token. 

Item, that none other persone as vagabunde or myghty 
begger nor any other be suffred to begge within the seyd Citie, 
but only suche seyd persones as haue the seyd tokens vpon 
theym as is aforeseyd. 

Item, yf any suche vagabund or myghty begger come into 
the seyd citie, that then the lawes in suche cases ordeigned and 
prouyded be duelyexecutyd vpon them accordyngto the statute 
therof made in the tyme of kyng henry the vijth without any 
favour or forberyng of the hole punysshment therof. 

Item, it is farther aduysed that certayne persones, that is to 
saye, henry barker. Carpenter, pryncipall, with other ij persones 
vnder hym, shalbe assigned to survey aswell the seyd beggers 
and poore folke hauyng the seyd tokens as other vagabunds 
and myghty beggers repayryng to the Citie, that they from 
tyme to tyme geve notice and knolege to the seyd alderman 
Constable and bedell of euery suche vagabund and myghty 
begger commyng into the Citie to thentent that they may be 
avoyded out of the same and to go to ther countreis ther as 
they were borne or to the place where as they last made ther 
abode by the space of iij yeres, accordyng to the statute in 
that case ordeigned and prouyded. 

Item, that the seyd persones hauyng their tokens do their 
laufuU endeuour to expelle and kepe out the seyd vagabundes 
and myghty beggers out of the Citie by exclamacions, expul- 
cions and puttyng out of thym, and yf they be nat able of 
theym selfes so to do. Then they to resorte to the seyd sur- 
ueyours. Constable, bedell, and to the alderman if nede shal 
requyre, and of theym to haue helpe and assistance in that 
behalf vpon the payne of lesyng and forfeytyng of ther seyd 

Item, it is ferther ordred that the seyd people hauyng the 
seyd tokens be of good behauoure in askyng their almes of the 
people, and if he or they be denyed of almes of any persone 
outher by his word or Countenaunce of his hand, That then the 


seyd poore persone or persones so askyng almes to cease of any 
farther crauyng of the seyd persone so denyeng, and to departe; 
from hym for that tyme, and thys from tyme to tyme as often 
as it shall so happen, vpon the payne of lesyng and forfeytyng 
of ther seyd tokens, endeuour them selfe diligently to obserue 
and performe all thother premysses afore reherced for and 
concernyng the seyd auoydaunce of the seyd vagabimdes 
and myghty beggers vpon the payne aforeseyd. 

Prouyded alwayes that all such poore people as been visited 
with the greate pokkes outwardly apperyng or with other 
greate sores or maladyes tedyous lothsom or abhorible to be 
loked vpon and seen to the great anoyaunce of the people, be 
nat suffred to begge and aske almes in churchus and other 
open places but that they be sent to thospytallys suche nombre 
as the seyd hospytallys may or ought to logge accordyng to 
ther Foundacion ther to tary and abide vpon thalmes and 
charitie of the worshipfull and substanciall persones of the 
Citie and suburbes of the same for whose releif and comforte 
ther shalbe a proctour admytted for euery such hospitall 
hauyng as well one of the seyd tokens vpon hym as a token 
of the seyd hospitall to gather and receyue the almes of the 
people within the seyd Citie and Suburbes of the same. 

Item, that a proclamacion be made of the premysses. 


Bod. Arch. F. C. lo. (2). 

Mense lunii Anno regni metuendissimi domini nostri regis 
Henrici octaui, xxij. 

A Proclamation made and diuysed by the kyngis highnes, 
with the aduise of his most honorable Counsaile, for punissh- 
inge of vacabundes and sturdy beggars. 

The kynge our moste dradde soueraigne lorde, hauynge 
always in his moste blessed remembrance, as well the cure 
and charge of his dignite royall, as also the present astate of 
this his realme, and his subiectes of the same, considereth, 
that in all places thorowe out this his realme of Englande, 
vacabundes and beggars, haue of longe tyme encreased and 
daily dothe encrease in great and excessiue nombres, by the 
occasyon of ydelnes, mother and roote of all vices : whereby 


haue insurged and spronge, and dayly insurgeth and springeth 
contynuall theftes, mourdi-es,and other sundry haynous offences 
and great enormities to the high displeasure of god, the inquie- 
tation and damage of his true and faithfull subiectes, and to the 
disturbance of the hoole common weale of this his sayd realme : 
And where as many and sundry good lawes, statutes, and 
ordinaunces haue ben before this tyme deuised and made, as 
well by his hyghnes as also by diuers his moste noble pro- 
genitours kynges of Englande, for the moste necessary and 
due reformation of the premysses : yet that not withstandynge, 
the sayde nombres of vacabundes and beggars, be not seen in 
any parte, to be mynyshed but dayly to be augmented and 
encreased in to great rowtes and companyes. Whiche his 
grace euidently perceyueth to happen, for as moche as his 
sayde lawes, statutes, and ordinances be not from tyme to 
tyme put in effectuell execution, accordynge to his gracis 
expectacion, pleasure, and commandement : His highnes ther- 
fore wyllynge to declare to all his subiectes, his moste godly 
and vertuous purpose, and perseuerance in the persecution, 
correction and reformation of that moste damnable vyce of 
ydelnes, chiefe subuerter and confounder of commune weales, 
Eftsones wylleth and straytely commandeth all Justices of the 
peas, maires, sheryffes, constables, bursholders, tethynge men, 
and other his mynysters, as they wyll auoyde his hygh indigna- 
tion and displeasure, that if they or any of them, shall after 
two dayes nexte ensuynge after this proclamation publisshed, 
happen to fynde any vacabunde or myghty beggar (be it man 
or woman) out of the hundred where he or she was borne, or 
out of the towne or place, where he or she last dwelled in, and 
continued by the space of thre yeres nexte before, and that 
vpon knowledge of the sayde proclamation, he or she hath not 
demaunded a Byllet, to conuey them selfe to the sayde hundred 
or dwellynge place, and so be in theyr iourney thetherwarde, 
within the sayd two dales, that than the sayde Justices and 
minysters and euery of them, shall cause the sayde vacabundes 
and beggars and euery of them, to be stripped naked, from the 
priuey partes of theyr bodies vpwarde (men and women of 
great age or seke, and women with childe onely excepte) and 
beinge so naked, to be bounden, and sharpely beaten and 
skourged. And after that they be so beaten in fourme afore 
said, that there be deliuered to them and euery of them so 
whypped or skourged, a sedule or byllet, the forme whereof 
appereth in the ende of this present piroclamation : And that 
the sayde sedule or byllet be signed with the hande of the 
Justice of peas, mayre, sheriffe, constable, bursholder, tethinge 


man, or other minister, by whose commandement the sayd 
vacabunde or beggar was whipped or skourged. And in case 
that any of them can not write, than the same byllet to be 
signed, by one of the best and most substantial! inhabitantes 
nexte adioynynge. And if it happen the person beaten in 
forme aforesaid, to be eftsones founden in the sayd place, as 
a vacabunde or beggar, that than he or she to be taken and 
eftsones beaten and skourged as is afore said: And so fromtyme 
to tyme, and as often as they shall happen to be taken out of 
the place to them lymitted, for theyr abode by the statute. 
More ouer, if any of the sayd vagabundes or myghty beggars, 
whipped in forme aforsayd, do after the sayd whippinge, make 
their abode in any place longer than a dyner tyme, or the 
space of one night, vntyll they be come to the sayd place of 
their habitacion appoynted (beinge not veryly seke or hurte) 
that than they shalbe eftsones whypped, and ordered as is 
before written. Semblably if any vagabunde or mighty beggar 
beinge taken, wyll affirme that he was late whypped, and can 
not shewe forthe a cedule or byllet signed, as before is men- 
cioned, he shall, not withstandynge his said afiSrmacion, be 
stripped naked and seen by the Justice, or some of the 
ministers before named. And if it may euidently appere 
vnto them by the tokens on his body, that he hath ben 
al redy skourged or beaten, they shall than suffer hym to 
depart without other harme, with a byllet signed by them, 
mencionynge where, and at what tyme he was beaten. And 
if they fynde no tokens or signes of skourgynge or beatinge 
on his body, than they to se hym to be whypped or skourged, 
and further ordered as is before written. And more ouer, the 
kyngis highnes commandeth al Justices of the peace, mayres, 
sheriffes, constables, bursholders, tethyngmen, and other his 
sayd ministers, that al vayne pitie and other excuses layde 
aparte, they endeuour them selfes with all their power, study, 
and diligence, to put this his sayd ordinance in effectuell 
execucion, without any delay. And also that they endeuour 
them selfes to kepe theyr watches and serches, accordynge to 
the lawes and statutes of this realme, and accordynge to the 
instructions before this tyme made and diuised by his highnes 
and his honorable counsayle, and by his grace to them sent, 
to be put in due execution: As they wyll answere to his 
highnes at theyr vttermoste peryls. 

God saue the kynge. 

The fourme and tenore of the sedule or byllet aboue men- 


A. B. taken at C. in the countie of D. as a vagabunde, 
without a cedule or token of skourginge, and therfore whypped 
at C. aforesaid, the day of the moneth of the 

yere of the reigne of our soueraigne lorde kynge 
Henry the eyght, in the presence of T. E. constable and other 
of the inhabitantes of the same towne. 

Tho. Bertheletus regius impressor excusit. Cum priuilegio. 


S. p. Henry VIII, 141, fos. 134-5. Calendar, Letters and Papers 
of Henry VI/I,xin (ii). 1229. 

For as myche as youre grace att all tyms haythe beyne redy 
to tayke intollerabyll payns not only for the settynge forthe 
off gods honor but allso for the common and publyq weall off 
youre Reallm I can do no lesse wythe dyschayrge off my con- 
tyens towarde god and my obedyence observyd wyche by the 
commandement off gode I ow vnto youre pryncly maiesty but 
T muste neydes opeyn and dysclosse syche thyngs as I thowght 
dyshonerous vnto your grace and tedyus and discomfortaybyll 
vntothecommonweall off your peopU: yett lesse that I shoullde 
be tedyus or trobylsome vnto youre grace or hyndrance off 
youre moste godly stydys I have drawne forthe and wrytyn 
heyre the thyng that at syche tyme as your grace shall thynke 
convenyent ye may loke apon yt : fyrst wer that youre moste 
gratyus nobyll and exelent maiesty haythe ordynyd and set 
forthe many tyms god and holsome statutes and lawes for the. 
condynge punyshment off all vagabonds and valyent beggers 
that ys to say that none of thayme shall ryne frome towne to 
towne or place to place withoute a lawfuU lysynys or cause 
but that they and all syche shall be taykyne and after your 
moste gratyus lawes to be punysshyd yett never the lesse I can- 
not perceave but the multytude of thayme dothe dayly en- 
creace more and more: for werre that your grace and your 
grace hys predycesers haythe gyvyn and put forthe in fye 
farm lordshype to your rewlers and gentylmen of your Realme 
wome your grace puts in tryst to the entent that they 
shoulde hayde and defend youre pure subiects and commons 
in all ryght and iustyce : but alass I thynke you[r] pure friends 
had never more neyd to complayne vnto youre grace in any 
matter then they have in thys wyche yff yt pleasse your grace 
to perdon me your subiect I shall shortly shew : Now werapon 


that I am so bold to trobyll or dysquyet your grace hys 
maieste your grace shall vnderstand that I am a powre 
Artyfycer or craftesman, wyche haythe travyled and gone 
thorowe the most payrt of your Reallme to gett and erne my 
lyvynge. I have beyne in the most payrte off the cytys and 
greyt townes in england ; I have allso gone thorowe many 
lytyll townes and vylygys : but alasse yt dyd pety my hert, 
to se in evyry place so many monyments wer that howsess and 
habytatyons hayth beyne and nowe nothynge but bayr walls 
standynge. Wyche thyng me thynk is very dyshonerous vnto" 
your hyghynys and not that only but by the occatyon theroflf 
myche inconvenience doth encreasse amenge your peopU : yt 
causythe men to lye by the hye way syde and thayre one ^ to 
robe and vnto another yt causythe allso myche morder and 
fornycatyon to be wythe in your Reallme ; for yf so wer that 
every man myght have in townes and vylagys but one lythyll 
howsse or cotage to inhabyt and but a lytyl garden grownde 
wythe all thay wolde so order yt wythe thayr Jabor that thay 
woldeernethayr lyvynge: so showlde thayr noplace be untylde 
nor wythe oute inhabyters so that in townes or vylagys thay 
shoulde be allway in a reydynes att your grace hys call and 
comandement. Now yf yt please your grace to haerre wat ys 
the cause off syche decay and ruyne wythe in your Reallme 
your grace shall vnderstande that in evyry place wer that 
your gratyus maiesty hathe gyvyn in fey farme and Lord- 
sshype to any gentyllman or syche as be your grace hys fye 
farmers, that beynge your grace hys fye farmers showlde lett 
thayme agayne vnto your powre subiects to inhabyt and tyll, 
that they payinge thayre rent trewly to thayr landeslordys 
myghte have a suffytyent and compleyte lyvynge by thayr 
labor but alass how far be thes fey farmers or rewlers wyde in 
thys poynte, for yf so be that any of thes fye farmers have eny 
tenement or farme in thayr hands, yf a power man come vnto 
one of thayme desyrynge hym to be good vnto hym in 
thys tenement or farm that he myght have yt to inhabyt 
payinge the rent for yt as yt hathe beyne before tyme, he 
answeres and saythe yf that thow wylt have thys tenement of 
me thow must pay me so myche mony at thy commynge in 
for a fyne : so that he rasythe that thynge wyche never was at 
no fyne before to a greyt some of mony and the rent to be 
payd yerly besyde : the power [man] then seynge thayr ys no 
remedy but other to have yt or to be destytute of an habyta- 
tyon sells all that he haythe from wyffe and chyldryn to pay 
the fyne theroff. Then the landes lorde persavynge the howsse 

' i. e. thereon. 


in decay wyl not repayr yt tenendhabyll althoff the tenende 
payd never so myche for his fyne : so that the tenande comyth 
to a decayd thynge : then the landes lorde perceavyng yt the 
howsse ys redy to fall downe dothe call the tenand into the 
court. And thayr commands hym to beyllde vp hys howse 
ayenst a certayn day in payne of forfeytyinge a certayne sume 
of mony : then the power man because he payd so greyt a 
some of mony for the fyne of yt ys not abyll to beylde yt vp 
so shertlye ; then the seconde tyine ys he callyd in agayne to 
the courte and thayr commandyd in payne off forfeytynge hys 
tenement to byellde yt so that the power man beynge not 
abyll to repayr yt dothe forfet yt agayne vnto the lorde : thetf 
because yt ys so far in decay and the fyne so greyt wythe all 
no man ys desyrous to tayke yt so that the howsse commythe 
downe shortlye after : yet saythe the landes lorde : the landes 
shall rayse me as myche rent as they dyd before wen the 
howsse was styndynge. O good lorde how myche dothe thes 
men regayrde more thayr owne peculyer and proper vantage 
then your grace hys honor, or havynge respect wer that your 
peopU showlde inhabyt that so lats your grac hys habytatyons 
decay : ys yt not as ryght that they showlde forfet vnto your 
grace wo ys lorde and governer over all as the pour tenands 
vnto thayme : youfr] grace may se how herdeherttyd they be 
vnto thayr tenands [that]^ thay rayther let fall then beylde : ys 
yt not a petyfull cays : to come in to a lytyll vylage or towne 
wer that thayre haythe beyne twentye or thyrty howses and 
now are halfe off thayme nothynge butbayre walls standing: 
ys yt not a petyfull cays to se one man have yt in hys hands 
wyche dyd suffyse ij or iij men wen the habytatyons were 
standynge. No dowte thys thynge ys the cause of myche 
[in]convenience ^ wythe in your reallm. 

I thynke thayr were never moo peoplle and fewer habyta- 
tyons wyche thynge I wolde wysshe and desyer that your grace 
wolde se a reformatyon in : but in as myche that I have taykyn 
in hande to dysquiet your gratyus maiesty as concernynge thys 
eomplaynt I wold desyer your moste gratyus pardon: and that 
your grace wold accept the love and zeylle that I have to 
your hyghnys and to your most gratyus hayr and prince that 
I wolde not se that hys grace showlde enter into a decayd lande. 

By your poure and faythfull subiect Ihon bayker in the 
cownte of Wylshier and lordship of Castyll cowme. 

[Superscrided.'] lohn Baykers Devyse to redresse a cbmon- 

' MS. 'yet', evidently written by mistake for y* = that. 
''MS. torn at marg^in. 

L a 



Society of Antiquaries, London, Proclamations, ii. 164: 13 April, 1546. 

A Proclamation to avoyd the abhominable place called 
the Stewes. 

Rex Maiori et vice-comitibus Ciuitatis London. Salutenr. 
Vobis mandamus, etc. 

The Kings most Excellent Maiestie, considering, howe by 
toUeracion of such dissolute and miserable persons, as putting 
awaie the feare of almightie God, and shame of the world, 
haue byne suffered to dwell besides London and elles where 
in Common open places, Called the Stewes, and there without 
punishment or Correccion, exercise their abhominable and 
detestable synne, there hath of late encreased and growne 
such enormities, as not only provoke, iustly the anger and 
wrath of almightie God, but alsoe engender such Corrupcion 
amoung the people as tendeth to the intollerable annoyance 
of the Common wealth, and whete not only the youth is 
provoked, inticed, and allowed to execute the fleshly lust, 
but alsoe by such assemblies of euill disposed persons haunted 
and accustomed as daily devise and Conspire howe to spoyle 
and robb the true labouring and well disposed men ; For thes 
Consideracions, hath by the aduice of his Counsell thought 
requisite, vtterly to extinct such abhominable Licence and 
Cleerely to take awaye all occasion of the same ; Wherefore 
his Maiestie straightlie chargeth and Commaundeth that all 
such persons as haiie accustomed most abhominably to abuse 
their bodies, contrary to Gods lawe and honestie in any such 
Common places called the stewes, in or about the Cittie of 
London : Doe before the feaste of Easter next comyng depart 
from those Common places and resort incontinently to their 
naturall Countries with their bagges and baggages vpon paine 
of ymprisonment, and further to be punished at the Kings 
maiesties will and pleasure ; Furthermore his maiestie straight- 
lye chargeth and Comaundeth that all such Housholders as 
vnder the name of Baudes haue kept the notable and marked 
houses and knowne hosieries for the said euill disposed per- 
sons ; That is to saie such housholders as doeinhabite the houses 
whited and painted with signes on the front for a token of 
the said houses shall avoyd with bagge and baggage before 


the feast of Easter next comyng, vpon paine of like punish- 
ment, at the Kings maiesties will and pleasure ; Furthermore 
the Kings maiestie straightlye chargeth and Comaundeth that 
all such as dwell vpon the Banke, called the Stewes, neere 
London, and haue at any tyme before this proclamacion sold 
any manner yictualls to such as haue resorted to their houses, 
doe before the said feast of Easter cease and leaue of their 
victualling and forbeare to retayne any Gest or strainger into 
their house, either to eate drinke or lodge after the feast of 
Easter next Comyng vntill they haue presented themselues 
before the Kings maiesties Counsell and there bound them- 
selues with suertie in Recognizance not to suffer any such 
misorder in their house or Lodge any serving man. Prentice, 
or woman vnmarried, other then their hired servants, vpon 
the paine before specified ; The Kings most excellent Maiestie 
alsoe Chargeth and Comaundeth that noe Owner or meane 
Tenaunt of any such whited howse or howses where the said 
lewd persons haue had resort, and vsed their most detestable 
life, doe from the said feast of Easter presume to lett any 
of the houses heretofore abused in the said mischeefe in the 
street called the Stewes aforesaid, to any person or persons 
before the same owner or meane Tenaunt intending to make 
lease as afore doe present the name or names of such as 
should hier the same to the Kings maiesties Counsell, and 
that before them the leasee hath putt in Bond and suertie 
not to suffer any of the said houses to be abused as hath 
byne in tymes past with the said abhominacion, vpon like 
paine as before is mencioned ; Finallie, to thentent all resort 
should be eschued to the said place, The Kings maiestie 
straightlie chargeth and Comaundeth that from the feast of 
Easter next ensuing there shall noe Bearebating be vsed in 
that Rowe or in any place on that side the bridge called 
Londonbridge, whereby the accustomed assemblies may be 
in that place cleerely abolished and extinct, vpon like paine 
as well to them that keepe the Beares, and Dogges, which 
haue byn vsed to that purpose as to all such as will resort to 
see the same. 

Et hoc sub periculo incumbenti nullatenus omittatur. 
Teste me ipso apud Westmonasterium xiij° die Aprilis anno 
Tricesimo septimo regni Regis Henrici Octaui. 



Apryce, Richard, upright man. 

Rich. Aprisse, Johann his wife, and five children were 
whipped as vagabonds at Wotton, Oxon., April, 1573. 
D. S. P. Eliz., vol. Ixxxvi, no. 16 (9). 

Barnard, James, upright man. 

'James Barnard of burlyngton in ye North aged XXII yrs.' 
Punished as a vagabond in Surrey, September 13-13, 1571. 
D. S.P. Eliz., Ixxxi. 18 (3). 

Basset, Thomas, upright man. 

Thomas Basset punished at Burbach, in the Hundred of Spar- 
kenhoe, Leicester, September, 1 57 1 . ID. S.P. Eliz., Ixxxi. 24 (i). 

Graye, John, upright man. 
John Gray punished with a band of vagabonds on their 
way to Sturbridge Fair, Aug. or Sept. 1,571. D.S.P. 
Eliz., Ixxxiii. 36 (5). (See p. 161 below.) 

Harrys, John, rogue. 

John Harris was whipped and branded in the ear as a vaga- 
bond in London, October 6, 1589. Midds. Sess., p. 190. 

Holmes, Ned., upright man. 
Edward Holmes was whipped as a vagabond and branded 
in the ear, London, November 9, 1589. Midds. Sess., p. 191. 

Jones, John, upright man. 

There is a record of a John Jones punished as a vagabond 
at Copthorne or Effingham in Surrey in 1571. Z>, 5. P. Eliz., 
Ixxx. 44 (i). 

Jones, William, upright man. 

William Jones was stocked and whipped as a vagabond in 
Surrey in 1571. D. S.P. Eliz., Ixxx. 44 (i). 

Mores, John, upright man. 
John Morrys, stocked and whipped ag a vagabond, Oxon., 
in 1571. Z>. 5. P. Eliz., Ixxx. 57. 

Myllar, John, upright man. 

A John Mylner was stocked and whipped at Southcley, 
Notts., Aug. 157 1 ; and he or another in the same county 
in September of that year. D. S. P- Eliz., Ixxx. 37 and 
Ixxxi. 33. 

Raynoles, John, rogue (Irysh man). 

John Reynolds punished as a vagabond in Cambridgeshire, 


157 1. Caught with the band going to Sturbridge Fair. 
D. S.P. Eliz., Ixxxiii. ^6 (5). (See p, 161 below.) 

Robynson, Wm., upright man. 

William Robinson convicted of being a vagabond, flogged 
and burnt on the right ear at Fulham, co. Midds., Oct. 15, 
3a Eliz. (1589). Mtdds. Sess. 

Smith, Thomas, rogue. 

Thomas Smith convicted of being a vagabond and ordered 
to be flogged and burnt on the left ear, London, March 18, 
1574. Midds. Sess., p. 92. 

Smyth, Harry, upright man. 

Henrye Smythe, punished as a vagabond in Cambridge, 
among the band going to Sturbridge Fair, 1571. -D. S.P. 
Eliz., Ixxxiii. 36 (5). (See p. 161 below.) 

Thomas, Richard, palliard. 

Richard Thomas of Wantage, Berks., was stocked as a 
vagabond at Dorchester, Oxon., November i, 1571. D. S. P. 
Eliz., Ixxxiii. 2. 

Thomas, William, palliard. 

William Thomas was convicted as a vagabond, flogged and 

burnt on the left ear at Seynt Johns strete, co. Midds., 

Nov. 21, 1590. Midds. Sess., p. 171. 
Tomas, John, upright man. 

John Thomas, whipped as a vagabond at Chelmsford, Aug. 

ao, 157 1. D. S. P. Eliz., Ixxx. 24. 
Williams (alias Wyn), John, upright man. 

John Williams was punished as a vagabond in Northampton, 

September la, 1571. D.S.P. Eliz., Ixxxi. 14. 

Among these names a few are doubtless only accidental 
coincidences, but it seems fair to suppose that as many as 
ten or twelve belong to the vagabonds who visited Thomas 
Harman at his country house in Kent. It will be noticed 
that the places mentioned are nearly all in the middle and 
south of England. 

There are twelve or thirteen more names in Harman's list 
which may coincide with entries in various records. In some 
cases Harman gives only the surname, thus making identifica- 
tion doubtful. In other instances men whose names exactly 
correspond are punished for highway robberies, for house- 
breaking, or for brawls in the suburbs of London — all crimes 
of which a vagabond might be guilty without departing far 
from his profession. But it has seemed best in this list not to 
include more doubtful examples. 



Apryce, Richard, upright man. 

Rich, Aprisse, Johann his wife, and five children were 
whipped as vagabonds at Wotton, Oxon., April, 157a. 
D. S. P. Eliz., vol. Ixxxvi, no. 16 (9). 

Barnard, James, upright man. 

' James Barnard of burlyngton in ye North aged XXII yrs.' 
Punished as a vagabond in Surrey, September 12-13, 1571. 
D. S.P. Eliz., Ixxxi. 18 (3). 

Basset, Thomas, upright man. 

Thomas Basset punished at Byrbach, in the Hundred of Spar- 
kenhoe, Leicester, September, 1571./?. S.P. Eliz., Ixxxi, 34 (i). 

Graye, John, upright man. 

John Gray punished with a band of vagabonds on their 
way to Sturbridge Fair, Aug. or Sept. 1.57 1. D.S.P. 
Eliz., Ixxxiii. 36 (5). (See p. 161 below,) 

Harrys, John, rogue. 

John Harris was whipped and branded in the ear as a vaga- 
bond in London, October 6, 1589. Midds. Sess., p. 190. 

Holmes, Ned,, upright man. 

Edward Holmes was whipped as a vagabond and branded 
in the ear, London, November 9, 1589. Midds. Sess., p, 191. 

Jones, John, upright man. 

There is a record of a John Jones punished as a vagabond 
at Copthorne or Effingham in Surrey in 1571. D. S. P. Eliz., 
Ixxx, 44 (i). 

Jones, William, upright man, 

William Jones was stocked and whipped as a vagabond in 
Surrey in 1571, Z>, S.P. Eliz., Ixxx. 44 (i). 

Mores, John, upright man. 
John Morrys, stocked and whipped ag a vagabond, Oxon., 
in 1571, Z>. S.P. Eliz., Ixxx. 57. 

Myllar, John, upright man. 

A John Mylner was stocked and whipped at Southcley, 
Notts., Aug. 1571 ; and he or another in the same county 
in September of that year, D. S. P. Eliz., Ixxx. 27 and 
Ixxxi. 33. 

Raynoles, John, rogue (Irysh man). 

John Reynolds punished as a vagabond in Cambridgeshire, 

.i i 


1,571. Caught with the band going to Sturbridge Fair. 
D. S.P. Eliz., Ixxxiii. ^6 (5). (See p. 161 below.) 

Robynson, Wm., upright man. 

William Robinson convicted of being a vagabond, flogged 
and burnt on the right ear at Fulham, co. Midds., Oct. 15, 
3a Eliz. (1589). Midds. Sess. 

Smith, Thomas, rogue. 

Thomas Smith convicted of being a vagabond and ordered 
to be flogged and burnt on the left ear, London, March 18, 
1574. Midds. Sess., p. 93. 

Smyth, Harry, upright man. 

Henrye Smythe, punished as a vagabond in Cambridge, 
among the band going to Sturbridge Fair, 1571. D. S.P. 
Eliz., Ixxxiii. 36 (5). (See p. 161 below.) 

Thomas, Richard, palliard. 

Richard Thomas of Wantage, Berks., was stocked as a 
vagabond at Dorchester, Oxon., November i, 1571. D. S. P. 
Eliz., Ixxxiii. 2. 

Thomas, William, palliard. 

William Thomas was convicted as a vagabond, flogged and 

burnt on the left ear at Seynt Johns strete, co. Midds., 

Nov. 21, 1590. Midds. Sess., p. 171. 
Tomas, John, upright man. 

John Thomas, whipped as a vagabond at Chelmsford, Aug. 

20, 157 1 . D.S. P. Eliz., Ixxx. 24. 
Williams (alias Wyn), Jolm, upright man. 

John Williams was punished as a vagabond in Northampton, 

September la, 1571. D. S. P. Eliz., Ixxxi. 14. 

Among these names a few are doubtless only accidental 
coincidences, but it seems fair to suppose that as many as 
ten or twelve belong to the vagabonds who visited Thomas 
Harman at his country house in Kent. It will be noticed 
that the places mentioned are nearly all in the middle and 
south of England. 

There are twelve or thirteen more names in Harman's list 
which may coincide with entries in various records. In some 
cases Harman gives only the surname, thus making identifica- 
tion doubtful. In other instances men whose names exactly 
correspond are punished for highway robberies, for house- 
breaking, or for brawls in the suburbs of London — all crimes 
of which a vagabond might be guilty without departing far 
from his profession. But it has seemed best in this list not to 
include more doubtful examples. 




20 June, 1569. Journal XIX, fo. 171 -verso — 172. 

After our verey hartie commendacions, where aboute the 
begynnynge of March laste, wee in the queries MaieSties 
behalfe directed our Letters to you for the inquisicion of the 
multitude of vacabondes and such as comonlye are called 
Roges, and for the punyshment and ordre of them accordinge 
to the lawes of the realme, and therefore allso by our letters 
requyred you to make certificat vnto us, whereas vntill this 
tyme wee haue harde nothinge and therefore wee do chardge 
youe with that fault and do require youe forwith to aduertise 
vs what haith byn tlie cause thereof, whiche when wee shall 
heare wee will thereof consider, and precede against suche as 
shalbe found faultie therin as the cause shall require, for 
surelie wee doe not meane to overpasse so great an oversight, 
wherin besides your sellfes, wee fynde not many throughoute 
the whole realme that haue so notoriouslie offended. Never- 
theles trustinge that for the contents of our letters some execu- 
cion hath byn, though the same be not to vs certefied, wee haue 
founde necessarie, and so haith her Maiestie commaunded vs 
to haue theise thinges folowinge to be duelie executed. First 
youe shall secretlie accorde by way of distribucion of your' 
sellfes with the helpe of other inferior officers whom youe 
male well trust, to cause a straight serch and good stronge 
watche to be begon on sondaie at night abowte ix of the 
clocke, which shall be the tenth of July, in every parishe and 
warde of that Citie and the suburbes of the same within youre 
rule and iurisdiccion and to continewe the same all that night, 
vntill foure of the clocke in the after none of the nexte dale, 
and in that search and watch to apprehend all vacabonds, 
sturdy beggers comonlie called Roges, or Egiptians, and all 
other idle vagarant personnes havinge no masters nor any 
certaintie howe or wherby to lyve, and theime cause to be 
imprisoned in stockes and suche like, and accordinge to the 
qualities of there faultes to procede againste theyme, as by 
the lawes ys ordered, and that with convenient severytye, so 
as thei may bee by punyshment forced to labor for theire 
lyvinge. And, as it is likly that youe haue in your former 
orders already remytted them whom youe haue not thought 
mete to retaine in work to departe to theire natyve countries, 
so are youe to take good heed howe to aduoid the abuses of 
youre pasportes, by the which when the names only of the 


places to which thei are directed ar speciallie namyd, the said 
lewed persones craftelie [do] spende theire tyme in passage, 
idellye, do stray fare oute of theire righte waies, and doo in 
some places coullor theire goinge to the bathes for recouery 
of theire counterfeit sycknes, and therfore in the pasportes 
would be also named speciall townes beinge in theire right 
waies, by which thei shuld be chardged in theire pasportes to 
passe so as yf thei shall be founde oute of those highe waies 
thei may be newely and more sharplie punyshed, and in this 
cause allso the pasportes woolde be so discreatlie sealed, sub- 
scribed, and written, as thei shuld not easilie counterfait the 
same, which, as it ys reported, some of theime can readely 
doo, and do carry aboute with theim certaine counterfait scales 
of corporat townes and suche like to serve theire purposes in 
that behalfe ; for the which before they shalbe dimissed due 
searche woulde be made. And after this searche made, which 
is intended to be made generall at one tyme throughe the 
whole Realme, wee thincke yt good for more suertie to the 
totall rowtinge owte of this mischiefe that youe do agrey 
emongst your sellfes to make at the least monnethlie the like 
serch in that Citie vntill the firste of November or longer as 
youe shall see cause. And we requyre you for avoidinge of 
further reproofe to returne vs breefly the certificat of this that 
shall be doone by your firste searche. 

I Wee cannot allso but consideringe that in the search hereof 
dyverse vagrant personnes will be founde who will counterfait 
them selfes as impotent beggars, and that after triall thereof, and 
punyshment made in such caases. it wilbe necessarye to provide 
charitablie for suche as shalbe indede founde vnfaidnedlie 
impotent by age, sycknes, or otherwise, to get theire lyvinge 
by laboure, and for those wee earnestlie, and in the name of 
God, as wee ar all commaunded, requyre and chardge youe all 
and euery of youe, to consider dilgentlie howe suche of theime 
as dwell within youre iurisdiccion, may be releyved in every 
parishe by the good order that is devised by a late acte of 
parliament, and that thei be not suffred to wander or lye 
abroad as comonley thei doo, in the streites and highe waies, 
for lack of sustentacion. And for the due and charitable 
execucon of that statute, wee thincke it good that the Bisshope 
or other ordinaries of the Diocesse, be moved by you in owr 
name to directe commaundement to the Curates or ministers in 
all churches to exhort the parisshoners to gyu[e] there comen 
almes at there churches and to procure remedy against suche 
as Jiaue welth and will not contribut at the churches vppon 
exhortacion and admonicion, and thervnto wee require you to 


gyve your aydes and assistance in every parishe where your 
dwellinge is, and by your good example incorage others to 
this charitable good dede. 

Wee do furder requyre you at this your meetinge for this 
searche to conferre howe the statutes that are prouided for 
avoydinge of all vnlawfoU games and speciallie of bowlinge 
(a disorder verey muche vsed at this daye throughoute the 
realme) and for the maintenance of Archery, maye be speedelye 
and rowndlie executed in all pointes throughoute youre rule 
and iurisdiccion, the great comon misusing hereof doth so 
abound, as wee cannot but presently, gyue you warninge 
thereof, and wee meane in deede to herken hereafter howe this 
oure admoniccion ys regarded of youe on all your behallfes. 
And in this behalfe also we cannot but admonishe you to 
be ware and carcumspecte what licences youe gyue to persones 
to kepe commen sommer gammes, for wee here of some great 
abuses therin in sundrie parts of the Realme, both that thei 
are over generall, and lewdnes and vngodlynes commytted by 
the confluence of nombers of evill disposed people, for lacke 
of the presence of some wise, honest and godlie iustices and 
officers, whereof as we shall be furder informed so will we 
provide remedy. 

You shall do well also to cause the ordinary watchmen in 
all your parishes to be well warned that by no lewde practises 
of evill disposed personnes passinge by theime in the nyghte by 
pretence of watchewoordes or suchelike lewed devises,anylevye 
or raysinge of people be made, as in some corners of the realme 
hathe bynne latelie attempted, thoughe well stayed by the wyser 
men. As for other thinges wee meane not by any particuler 
chardge to admonishe you of any more, but wishe you to 
contynue in your carefulness of youre offices, to see the peace 
duelykepte, and the disturbers thereof by woordes, tales, newes, 
spreadinge of vnlawfuU bookes and writinges or by deedes to be 
at the firste with speed stayed and sharplie punyshed. And so 
fare you well. From Grenewich the xxth of June 1569. 
your lovynge Frendes 

Bacon, Cancellarius 
Norffblk W. North 

W. Howard R. Leycester 
F. KnoUys W. Cecill 

[R. Sadleir (?)] Wa. Mildmay. 

[The letter of the same date in Cotton MS. Titus B 1 1, fo. 278, ordering 
watches and searches in Yorkshire, which is quoted in Strype's AnnOls, is 
practically a duplicate of this.] 


VAGABONDS, NOV. 5, 1569 

Bodleian MS. Rawl. B. 285. 11 verso— 12. 

Qiiinto Nouembris, 1569 

Articles agreed vppon by the lustices of peace in the 
Cowntie of Devon at the Chapter House in excester touchinge 
the Suppression of sedicious rumors and the punishemente of 
vacabondes and Rogues. 

Firste that everye fortenighte betwene this and christmas 
Sessions there be stronge nighte watche, and serche in everie 
parishe, and tythinge in the same cowntie, and a stronge warde 
and serche the daye followinge, videlicit, the nynetene daye of 
November at nighte, iij° Decembris, xvij Decembris, et vltimo 
Decembris, in whiche watche and serche greate diligence to be 
vsed for the apprehendinge of all vacabondes, rogues, suspects, 
and breders of sedicious rumors, that shall in any place remayne 
and lurke in honeste barnes, woodes, hedges, or brakes, and to 
make strayte serche, whether they haue any letters or billes 
vppon them, and the same beinge founde together with certifi- 
cate of the reste of their doinges in the serches, watches, and 
wardes, to be broughte before the nexte lustice of the peace 
to be sene, vewed, and fexamyned by the said lustice. 

Item that none do lodge or keape lodginge for comon 
travelours but suche as haue bene heretofore or shall hereafter 
be assigned and appoyncted therevnto by the iustices of the 
peace of that division, and that those that do lodge common 
travaylours, shall with the officer of the towne, or two of the 
beste of the towne or villadge examyn all suche as they lodge 
of their names, dwellinge places, and whether they be bownded, 
and thoccasion of their travayle or passage. And findinge any 
suche suspicious by spreadinge of any slaunders or sedicious 
rumors or otherwise, to staye him and cause the constable or 
tythinge-man to bringe him before the nexte lustice of the 

Item that the Rogues beinge alien or borne owte of this 
Realme taken in any serche [be] punyshed and conveyed from 
constable to constable vnto the nexte porte towne next ad- 
ioyninge to the realme wheare he dwellethe or was borne. 
And that yf the inhabitaunts of the porte towne will not or 
do not receyve and transporte them, accordinge to the statute. 


that then foure of the said porta be bownden by the nexte 
Justices of the peace to appere at the nexte Session. 

Item that two lustices of the peace at the leaste of everye 
of the thre divisions of the lustices of the peace do assemble 
the xix"' daye after this assemblye, and so the xix*"* after that 
assemblye at excester to certifie the privie cowncell of the state 
of this sheire accordinge to ther laste honors letters in that 
behalfe to them directed. 

7iem yf any matters of greate importaunce happen in anye 
of the thre divisions that then the same division do certifie 
with all spede the same to the privie cowncell. 

W. Exon 
Robertas Dennys 
P. Edgecombe 
William Strodevicer 
Richardus Duke 
Gregorye Doddes 
Johannes Wyddon 
Roberte Earye 
Johannes Seintleger 
Johannes Fulforde 
Johannes Moore 
Richardus Fortescue 
John Coplestonne 
Thomas Domrishe 
John Parker 
Richarde Renell. 


ROGUES, 1571 

From Shrewsbury Corporation Muniments, No. 2,621, Petitions to the 
Bailiffs, &c. Printed in Transactions Shropshire Arch, and Nat. Hist. 
Soc, 1908, 3rd Series, vol. viii. Misc. p. ix. The document is here 
printed from a careful transcription made for me in 1907 by the Rev. C. H. 

After our hartie comendacions The grete benefitte towards 
the goode order of the comen wealthe which came this laste 
yere throughe your diligence in serching out and ponishing 
Vagabonds and sturdye beggars, according to the goode and 


holsome lawes of the Realme, and the disorders and incon- 
veniences which hath rysen sith this laste wynter, and from 
thense hetherto a forbearing hath byn in executing the said 
lawes dothe cawse us by the Quenes Majesties comaundment 
ones agayne to call vpon you and to chardge you most 
straightly in this three next monethes, that ys Awgust, 
September, and October to cawse and see to be made throughe 
out all the hole shere as well in places exempte as all other, a 
most straighte watche and serche from the xxth of Auguste 
vij of the clock in the nighte vntill the next daye iij' at the 
afternone, and that namely by Constables and ij° iiij""^ or 
more of the most substauncyall parisheners of eche paryshe, 
accordinge to the bignes of the paryshe to apprehend all 
Roges, Vagabonds, Sturdie beggars, masteries mene, and all 
persones otherwise suspected. All which so taken you shall 
cawse to be ponished by stockinge and sharpe and severe 
whippinge according to the lawes effectually : and that without 
redempcion or favor according to their deserts. And after 
ponishement due done to them to be conveyed from Constable 
to Constable tyll they do come to their place of birth or laste 
abode with in three yeres according to the Statute. The like 
watche, serch, and ponishment to be done to the same per- 
sones, if any shalbe founde the xij*'' of September and October 
at vij of the night vntill the next daye of the same moneth 
at three of the clock at the afternone. And from thense eche 
xv"' or XX*'' dayes as you shall agree within your selfes most 
for the comodytye and quiet of your shere and the hole 
realme, not omittinge yf betwixt the tyme of the serches or 
after any such Vagaraunte persones be founde, that they be 
ponished accordinge to the lawes and statutes of the Realme. 
For there ys no greater disorder nor no greater root of theftes 
murders pickinge stealinge debate and sedicion then ys in 
these Vagabonds and that riseth of them. And therfore yt is 
her Highnes most godlye and zelouse plesure to have this 
evill repressed and redressed, wherin ye ought not to deceave 
her Majesties trust which ys reposed in you chefly by her 
highnes therto. And we praye you from tyme to tyme 
certifie vs of your doings herin from eche quarter and devisyon 
so as youe the Shirref shall cawse the same to be sent to vs 
wherof we praye you not to fayle, as ye tender her majesties 
pleasure and wyll answere to the contrary. So faire you well 
from Hamptone Courte the xxx"" of July 157 1. 

Here follows a list of eleven bands of watchers and searchers 
with their captains, about 1 2,5 persons in all. 



1571. Z>. 5. /'.£'//>., Ixxx. 45. 


Right worshippfuU, these are to certyfye your worshippes 
that accordinge vnto your commaundemeflt in your precepte 
directed vnto vs the xviijth of this Auguste 1571, concerninge 
the generall watche to be kept the xxth daye of the sayde 
monethe for all vagabundes and suspecte persons, we have 
warned every pettye Constable within our lymyts, and com- 
maunded them to cause two, three, or foure of the Inhaby- 
tauntes of their townshippes or villages after the quantyty 
of the same to kepe watche from seven of the clocke of the 
aforesaide xxth daye vntyll three in the after noone of the 
next day ensuinge. And what soever vacabundfes or suspecte 
persons as might happen or chaunce to come in their wallke 
within the foresaide tyme of their watche, to aprehend and 
brynge them before vs to have theym examyned and punyshed 
accordinge to the Statute. Therfore Such masteries persons 
and vagarants as have ben taken in the sayde watche and 
brought vnto vs synce vntyll this present tyme, we have caused 
to be punyshed accordinge to the Statute, and have geven 
every one of them warrant vnder the Seale of our Lymyts 
to be conveyde from Constable to Constable vntyll they 
might com vnto the place where theye were borne or last 
dwelled by the space of three yeres, lymytinge vnto every 
one of them certayne dayes wherein we thought they might 
convenyentlye be convayde vnto the end of their iorneye, 
whose names we have here subscribed in this our certy- 
fycate vnto your worshippes, the daye wherin they were 
taken, and the places whether we have directed them to be 
convayde, yeven vnder the Seale of our Lymyts this xxv"* 
of this present moneth Auguste In the xiij* yere of the raigne 
of our Soveraig[n]e Ladye Elyzabeth by the grace of god 
Quene of England, Fraunce and Ireland, deffender of the fayth 

your woorshippes at comaundement, 

Roger Quatermayne and Steeven Smyth high Con- 
stables of the hallff hundred of Ewellme. 


Thomas Blese taken at haseleye the xxj*'' day of August, 
punyshed as a vacabounde and sent toward Kynnlett in the 
County of Salope where he said he dwelled last by the space 
of tenne yeres with Sir George Blunte, Knight. 

Thomas Harrwood taken at Tumors Courte the xxiij* of 
this August, punyshed as a roge and sent toward oxeford 
where he said he abode last by the space of xix yeres. 

Rychard meademan taken at Turnors Court the xxiij*'' of 
this August punyshed as a vacabounde and convayde toward 
Wantydge in the Countye of Berks where he sayd he last 
dwelled by the space of xiiij yeres. 

loane Freeman taken the aforesaid xxiij*'' of August and 
punyshed accordinge to the S[t]atute and directed toward 
Chyllton in the county of Bucks where she said shee was 
borne and had her moste abyding. 

Dorchester) Watche was orderly kepte in the said hundred 
Hundred J and all things was founde well. 

Olmer Doncaster. 

Nichalas Higges. 

Pirton I Watche was orderly kept in the said hundred and 
Hundred) all things was founde well. 

Robt. Ewstace. 

lohn Quatermayne. 


1571. D. S. P. Eliz., Ixxxi. 35 (l). 

Eccleshall, Stafford. 

A certyfycate made to Sir Walter Aston Knyght and 
Sheriffe of the Countye of Staff. Towchittge the watches and 
searches for vagaboundes and Beggers as Foloweth. Viz. 

Disesimo Die August. 

Imprimis in Eccleshall home 


In the constablewicks of 

Weare and Aston 
Cold Norton 

No vagaboundes nor beggers Founde in these places. 


Duodecimo Die Septembris'. 

lohn Smyth — A yonge man and servaunte to one Robert 
Compton taken the xiij"' Daye of September by the watche- 
men of Muccleston, and brought before me to Eccleshall by 
the Constable there, for suspicion, who had but one Letter 
writen by George Higgens of Salopp, to his maister. But for 
that there was no matter of suspicion in the sayed Letter, he 
was dymyssed. 

Edward Greaves with) Beingeof thage of xliij yeares, Taken 
Agnes his wiffe J at Asheleye, and brought to Eccles-' 

hall where they were punyshed accordinge to Lawe, and after- 
ward send by pasporte to Bowsell strete in the parishe of 
Barkeswell within the county of Ware, where theye were 

Feales Buknall) Being of thage of xlj yeares, and Taken 

with one child ) in Asheley afforesayd was brought to 

Eccleshall and there punyshed as afforesayed, And afterward 

send by pasporte to Caps Madeley .within the county of 

Salopp where she sayed she was Borne. 

Eliz. Kingston^ Beinge of thage of 1 yeares taken by the 
widowe, with [ watchemen of wootton within Eccleshall 
one child. ■' home, was Brought to Eccleshall, and pun- 

yshed as affore, was send by pasporte to Newporte where she 
sayth she was borne. 

lone Smythe\ Beinge of thage of 1 yeares, was Taken in 
with one \ wootton afforesayd, and punished as affore- 
child > sayed, was send by pasporte to the newcastle' 

vnder Lyne where she was Borne. 

Fowlk \ Taken by the Constables of Eccleshall, was 
Conway j Brought before me, but havynge a passeport 
was Send with the same to the next Constable home- 

Margeret \ A pore woman, taken by the Constable of 
BiUingtonJ Staundon, was brought to Eccleshall. But send 

backe agayne and dymyssed for that she had taken hai-vest 

work in hand. 

Thomas, Coveyt & Lich ^ 

' i. e. Thomas Bentham, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. 



1571. D.S.P., Eliz., Ixxxiii. 36 (s). 

Several Hundreds in Cambridgeshire. 

Cambridge The Certifycate of the names of Rogues and 
ijhyre Vagabondes taken and punyshed in severall townea 
within the hundreds of Wetherley and Thryplowe, Arnyng- 
ford and Stowe in the countye of Cambridge in two pryvie 
■watches kepte the xx*'^ daye of August and the xij"" of 
September last past accordinge to the tenor of the letters 
of her Maiesties most honorable counsell, dyrected vnto the 
Justices of the peax of the seid Shyre. Made and subscribed 
vnder the handes of the Justices within the same hundreds, 
as Foloweth — 

Rychard Gryffith 
Hughe lennam and 
Elizabeth his wyfife 
Rychard Durman 
lohn Martyn and 
lohane his wyffe 
lames Westfelde and 
loyce his wyfife 
Elisabeth Anngell 
lohn Reynolde 
lames Thomas 
lohn Marshall 
Martyn Norrys 
Mathewe robynsone and 
Elsabeth his wyffe 
Gefferye smythe 
Robt. Pasye and 
Elsabeth his wyff 
Wylliam Meakes 
Richard Lewys 
Richard Mortley 
lohn Arys and 
Martha his wyffe 
Launslytt Grene 

Ellen Lyster 
George Symson 
Edwarde Reynolde 
Elisabeth Bownde 
William Tompson and 
lane his wyffe 
lames Bell 
lohn Ladlye 
lohn Davye 
Alys Blumsted 
Margareth Lownys 
henrye smythe 
Alyce Okeley 
Thomas Carter 
Richard Mylward 
Robt. fyssher 
Alyce Wicke 
Margerie marvell 
Margareth Lawe 
Thomas Lames 
lohn graye and 
Margareth his wyffe 
lane Larde 

The nomber whereof were so greate at that present by 
reason of the confluence to and from Sturbridge fayer. 

(signed) John Boldwell 
— ent.^ 
Ch. Chiley (?) 
* First part of signature illegible. 




This table shows the number of rogues punished according to the 
official returns which happen to be preserved. There is every reason to 
believe that the number of searches and the number of vagabonds caught 
were many times what is represented here. 

20 Aug. 

12 Sept. 

12 Oct. 

11 Nov. 

Mch. Apr, 





1571- „ 

t'tS?'- ,, 

no.H. no. V. 

no. H. no. V. 

no. H. no. V. 

no. H. no. V. 

no. H. no. V. 

Cheshire . - 

' divers ' 

'a few -Vs. 

Hereford . . 

I a few 

Gloucester . 

16 107 

2 a few 

Notts. . . . 

6 68 

? 8 

Stafford . . 

4(?) 5 

4(?) 19 

Worcester . 

'a few' 

Leicester , . 

4 10 

4 14 


4 ir 

I 8 

3(?) 23 

9 30 

Oxford . . . 

io(?) 26 

4 19 

3 4 

3 8 

IS 60 

Bucks. . . . 

6 20 

Midds. . . . 

' several ' 

Lincoln , . 

'watch kept' 

Essex . . . 

6 £0 

I 2 

Cambridge . 

I 4 

5 51 

2 2 

Hunts. . . 

I 4 

2 II 

Kent . . . 

2 22 

Surrey . . 

IS 59 

12 13 

3 20 

9 " 


Total 145 + 

Total 49 

Total 8 

Total 121 + 

(about) 366 


ilfori57i . 

. . . 568 + 


IN LONDON, 1598 

Rep. 24, fo. 349 ff. Dec. 30, 41 Eliz. (1598). 

Mr. Cornewallys Forasmuch as great abuse hath bene com- 

serche *" "" ' " ' ' 


for false mytted and daily is Commytted by the 
making of false dice and dyce of advantage, 
and by reason thereof by playne Cosenage 
and deceipt manie of her Majesties subiects stripped of their 


goodes and patrimony the discovery whereof is not easily 
discerned, but by those that be skilfull in those kinde of 
wares. And for somuch also as searche Correccion and 
punishment of all sorts of wares deceiptfully made and sett 
to sale within the Citty of London doth appertayne to the 
Lord Maior of the Citty of London as chiefe and principall 
warden of all misteries and Companies and to the maisters 
and wardens of the Companyes to which such wares are 
incident and belonging aswell by Charters graunted by her 
most excellent Maiestie and her most noble progenitors in 
that behalf as by Lawful prescripcion and vsage tyme owt of 
mynde vsed and accustomed. To thend that a speedy reforma- 
cion of theis abuses may be had and yett neverthelesse nothing 
attempted or done that ether shold tend to the infringing or 
impeaching of the libertyes of the Citty or of anye the worship- 
full Companies within the same and especially to the Companie 
of Haberdashers who (as they alleadge) haue accustomed to 
haue the vtterance and searchin[g] of those wares : It is there- 
fore ordred by the right honourable the Lord Maior and Courte 
of Aldermen with the Consent of Thomas Cornewallys Esquire 
her Maiesties groomeporter who hath charge and Commaunde- 
ment from her most excellent Maiestie by letters Patents vnder 
the great seale of England to cause speedy reformacion of theis 
abuses to be had that two or three discreet Cittizens and free- 
men to be chosen by the Lord Maior and some one officer of 
the Lord Maior ayding and assisting them by the appointe- 
ment of the Lord Maior shalbe appointed from tyme to tyme 
at their will and pleasure during the terme of her Maiesties 
graunte to the said Groomeporter made, to searche for all dyce 
vntruly and deceiptfully made and suche as shalbe so founde 
from tyme [to tyme] to seaze and deface and to thende that the 
dyce which be searched and allowed for square and good maye 
be discerned from other dyce deceiptfully made and receaue 
such allowance as appertayneth, The said searcher or searchers 
shall haue power from the said Groomeporter to seale euery 
bayle of the said dice so searched and founde and allowed for 
good with such seale as for that purpose by the said Groome- 
porter or his Deputie is or shalbe appointed : For the sealing 
whereof no fee nor profitt shalbe exacted or taken directly or 
indyrectly exceading or aboue the value of one halfe penny at 
the most for every bailie so sealed and every baile to conteyne 
nyne paire of dyce : And which searcher or searchers at all 
tyme and tymes Conveynent shalbe readie to searche and seale 
all dyce truly made whereby no defalt shall any waie growe 
nor anye inhauncement to the price above the some of one 

M a 


halfe penny vpon every Baylle. And that from and after the 
first daie of Marche next commyng noe dyce shalbe offred to 
sale or bought within the Citty of London or liberties of the 
same which haue not bene or shalbe first so searched sealed 
and allowed as aforesaid vppon payne of forfeyture of the 
same and of such further punishment as to the Lord Maior 
shall seeme fitt and Convenyenti And this order during the 
tyme aboue Limytted from henceforth to be duly observed 
vpon perill that shall ensewe, Provided allweyes that if any 
thinge above sett downe shall at any tyme hereafter appeare 
inconvenyent to the then Lord Maior and Courte of Aldermen 
for the tyme being Or any preiudiciall to the Liberties of this 
Cittie or of any the Companies of the same, That then this 
present Order may be revoked and adnihilated at the pleasure 
of the Lord Maior and Courte of Aldermen for the tyme being, 
any thing in this Order to the Contrary notwithstanding. 


LONDON, 1601 

Remembrancia, ii. 213 (fo. 63 verso). 

To the Queenes After our verie hartie Commendacions. 

Attorney generall ^ Whereas there is a bill preferred to the 
Parliament for the reformacions of abuses 
practized by brokers in and aboute this Cittie which bill hath 
beene twice reade in the vpper house and soe referred to Com- 
mittyes a3nt for as muche as the Committies did not meete 
at the time appointed there hath bene nothinge at all done 
therein. Whereby soe necessarie a matter is like to fall to 
the ground : vnlesse yt be renued againe by some extraordinarie 
helpe. And therefore we thought good to be verey earnest 
suiters vnto yow being (as we vnderstand) one of the Com- 
mitties for that busines for your honorable furtherance therein : 
as a matter of speciall Consequence for the discouerie of diuers 
Fellonies which the Brokers seeke by all possible meanes to 
abett by sellinge the stolen goods vnto duchmen, Scotts and 
French Brokers : Whoe secretlie convey the same beyonde the 
seas to the great hurte and preiudice of her Maiesties subiects. 
Soe much the rather for that those Brokers are nowe of late 
growensoemanieand soedispersed intopriveledged and exempt 

^ Sir Edward Coke. 


places in and nere vnto this Cittie of verie purpose to auoide 
the entry into the Register of suche parcells of goods as they 
buy or take to pawne : By meanes whereof manie times suche- 
goods as are stoUen are neuer found althoughe they Come to 
the hands of the same Brokers, which by these meanes woulde 
easelie be preuented. And therefore once againe we verey 
seriously recommend yt to your grave consideracion and 
Committ you to the proteccion of the Almightie. Lond : 
i December 1601. 

Your verey assured lovinge Freinds. 



This form is made from three very much defaced indentures preserved 
in the records of the Court of Chancery in the Public Record OfiSce.' 
Only a small part of any one is legible and the transcription following was 
possible only because the three follow the same form, differing only in the 
names. No. i is an indenture between Thomas Comwallis, Groom- 
porter, and John Yardley ; 2, between Thomas Comwallis and William 
Judith ; 3, between Thomas Comwallis and Francis Stowe. A number 
in parenthesis above the line indicates that the portion following has been 
taken from that indenture. The transcription has some interest as show- 
ing that such licences existed and as suggesting what they were lilje, but, 
of course, it makes no pretence to complete accuracy. 

(i> This indenture Tripartite made the Thirtieth daie of 
lanuary anno ^^^and in the yer of our sover[aign] Lord 
lames, by the grace of God King of England, Fraunce and 
Ireland, defendor of the faith, the (^' fifteenth, and of Scotland 
(2) the one and fiftieth . . . . (^) Sir Thomas Comwallis, Knight, 
Groome porter to . . . P' most excellent Maiestie of the one 
partie (^)And William ludith Cittizen and cloth worker of 
London of the <*) other partie WITNESSETH that where our said 
Soveraigne Lord the Kinges Maiestie (^' that now is, in and by 
his highnes Letters Patents under the great ^^'> scale of england 
bearing date at Westminster the two and twentieth day of 
lanuary (?) the Fourteenth yeare (^' of his Highnes Reigne hath 
giuen full power, licence and authoritie to the said Sir Thomas 
Coi-nwallis (^) to license such persons '^' as he shall (?)..,. 
keepe Bowlinge allies, Tennys Courts and Plaie at Bowles, 
Cards and Dice for honest Recreation of Persons of (^) abilitie 
and credit . . . ^^^ the citties of London two miles 

^ Petty Bag, Certificates various, Bundle i. 


distance of the same. As in and by the said Letters Patents 
more plainlie appeareth Now THE SAID Sir (?) Thomas Corn- 

wallis of the good and honest behavior of the said 

William ludith Hath by force of the said Letters Patents 
(^> Licensed and authorized and by these presents . . . (^> said 
William ludith duringe the Terme of foure ^ yeere from the 
dale of the date hereof to keepe, haue and (^) reteine .... 
[at his house], ? . . . . (^' lyuinge and beeinge in Coleman streete 
in the parish of St. Stephen in London, Plaie and gameing at 
all convenient '■^^ tyme and tymes .... (^^ and tables and at 
no other game or play (^'and the said William ludith doth 
covenante promis and graunte to and w*"^ the said Sir Thomas 
Cornwallis (^' his executors, adjninistrators and assignes by 
thes Presents (^> . . - the saide William ludith shall and will 
soe foresee and provide That noe Plaie or game whatsoeuer 
shallbee used in his aforesaid howse . . . (^' upon anie Saboath 
daie or in the tyme of Divyne Service or ^^^ Sermon on any 

holyday or after nyne of the clock And that the said 

(2) [William ludith] <') shall and will soe foresee and provide 
that noe apprentices W suspected or suspicious person or 
persons shall use any kinde of Plaie or Bettinge (^'in the 
said bowling alley, yard or house aforesaid nor to the uttei-- 
most of his power will use or suffer to be used '^) any sinister 
Practise, Cosoning, fraude or (^) [deceiptfuH play or other- 
wise whereby any of his Maiesties liege (^'Subiects maie be 
defrauded or deceaved during the said Terme of one yeere And 
the said William ludith (*) doth further covenant promise . . . 
'^) the said Sir Thomas Cornwallis, his executors, administrators 
and assignes by thes Presents that he the said William ludith 
'■'^^ [will not] assyne or doe . . . . ^^^ away his present Licence, 
Placard and authoritie to anie persone or persons (^' without . . . 
with agrement and consent of the sayd [Sir Thomas] ? corn- 
wallis indorsed under his hand on the Back side of the ''' inden- 
ture (^) And alsoe the said Willm ludith promises and agreeth 
by thes presents .... [to allow] .... the said Sir Thomas Corn- 
wallis his deputies and assignes duringe the said foure yere to 
enter and resort (^' into the said house of the said (^' [William 
ludith] f^) there to search for ^^'finde and trie out (^) abuses 
without the Lett or interruption of him the said William 
ludith P' his executors, administrators or assignes And that 
the said '^^ Willm ludith (^' . . his executors, administrators 

^ The MS. has been erased here and the word four written in ; the 
same is true at the next occurrence of four below. The singular yere in 
each case and the expression ierme of one yere below indicate that the 
licence was made for one year and then altered to four. 


or assignes ... (2) or any other dayming by, from, or under 
him . . . (2) And that the said Wilim ludith his executors 
administrators or assignes . . . (^) shall not doe any act or 
thing contrary to the intent and true meaning of (^' the said 
letters Patents . . . (^> Provided allwaies that if the said 
William ludith (')his executors administrators or assignes 
shall not performe and fulfill the Condicion of our obligacion 
beringe the date hereof the said (2) William ludith (^^ standeth 
bounden to ... of London gent in the (^'some of Thirty 
pounds of lawfuU money of England (and) (^' that then and 
from henceforth '^'the present license and (^) authoritie to be 
utterly voide and of no effect (^' [PROVIDED allwais that the said 
. shal not keep Plaie in his house from the dale 

of December next cominge untill the daie of January next 
followinge] 1 In Wittnes whereof the said parties to this 
presente Indenture . . . (8)haue sett their bondes and seales 
the day and year first aboue mentioned. 

(signed) '^' Tho. Cornwaleys [Willm ludith]. 



British Museum, MS. Lansdowne, 81, Nos. 62 and 64. (Reprinted in 
Strype, Annals, 1824, vol. iv, pp. 404-13, Nos. 212-14.) 

The four documents in MS. Lans. 81, Nos. 61-4, bear upon the 
same subject and seem to have been kept by Burghley together. 
No. 61 is an enclosure in Hext's letter, the calendar of various 
assizes in Somerset in the year 1596 (see page 73 above), in 
support of his contention that the laws are badly executed, 
that not one felon in ten suffers the legal penalty for his 
crime, with the result that the number of criminals grows daily 
larger. No. 6'}, is a plan, drawn up apparently by Recorder 
Fletewood and dated April 12, 1586, for a more efficient 
method of apprehending rogues and thieves in London, by 
a system of registration ward by ward throughout the city. 
The other two papers, which explain themselves, are as 

^ This proviso is found in (i) but not in the others. It seems intended 
by the Groom-porter to avoid competition with the public gaming held at 
his house during Christmas time. 


No. 6 (fos. i6i-a) 

Right honorable and my very good Lord, 

Havynge longe observed the rapynes and thefts Comytted 
within this Countye wher I serve, and fyndynge they multyplye 
daylye to the vtter impoverysshinge of the poore husbond- 
man that beareth the greatest burthen of all services, And 
knowyng your most honorable Care of the preservacon of the 
peace of this land, do thynck yt my bounden dewtye to present 
vnto your honorable and grave consideracion these Calenders 
inclosed of the prisoners executed and delyvered this yere past 
in this Countye of Somerset, wherin your Lordship may be- 
hold clxxxiij most wycked and desperate persons to be 
inlarged. And of these very fewe come to anye good, for none 
wyll receave them ynto servyce, And yn treuth worke they 
will not, nether canne they withowt most extreame paynes by 
reason their zinowes are so benumed and styff throwghe 
Idlenesse as theyr lyms beynge putt to any hard labor will 
greve them above measure. So as they will rather hazard 
ther lyves then work. And this I knowe to be trewe, for att 
suche tyme as our howses of Correccion weare vp (which are 
putt downe in most parts in Ingland the more pyttye) I sent 
dyvers wandrynge suspycyous persons to the howse of Correc- 
cion, and all in generall wold beseche me with bytter teares 
to send them leather to the gayle, and denyinge yt them, some 
confessed felonyes vnto me by which they hazarded ther 
lyves, to thend they wold not be sent to the howse of Correc- 
cion where they shold be ynforced to worke. Butt my good 
Lord these are not all the theves and Robbers that are 
abroad in thys Countye for I knowe yt yn the experyens 
of my service heare, that the fyveth person that comytteth 
a felonye ys not browght to this tryall, for they are growen 
so exceadynge Cunnynge by ther often beynge in the gayle 
as the most part are never taken, yf they be and come ynto 
the hands of the symple man that hathe lost hys goods, he ys 
many tymes content to take hys goods and lett them slypp, 
because he will not be bound to give evidens at the assises to 
hys troble and chardge, others are delyvered to simple Con- 
stables and tythingmen that sometymes wylfiillye other tymes 
negligently suffer them to escape, others are brawght before 
some Justice that eyther wanteth experyence to examyn 
a Cunnynge thief, or wyll not take the paynes that owght to 
be taken yn siftynge him vppon every circumstance and pre- 
sumpsyon and that donne see that the partye Robbed give 
full evidence, and yf he find an Ignoramus found by the graUnd 


luiye, and knowe by the thexamynacion he hath taken, that 
yt ys in defalte of good evidence, then he owght to informe 
the ludge that the party Robbed may be called and ynioyned 
by the Court to frame a newe byll and give better evidence. 
And then owght the lustyce to be present att the tryall of his 
prisoner that he may informe both ludge and lury what he 
found by examynacion and lykewise see that the pai'tye robbed 
give that evidence to the petytt lury that he canne. In which 
default of Justice manye wicked theves escape, for most 
comonly the simple Cuntryman and woman, lokynge no 
farther then ynto the losse of ther owne goods, are of opynyon 
that they wold not procure a mans death for all the goods 
yn the world, others vppon promyse to have ther goods agayne, 
wyll gyve faynt evidens yf they be not stryctly loked ynto by the 
lustyce, And these that thus escape ynfect great numbei^s, ym- 
boldenynge them by ther escapes, some havynge ther books by 
intreatye of the lustices them selves that cannot reade a word, 
others havinge byn burnt in the hand more tymes then ones 
for after a moneth or too ther wilbe no signe in the worlde. 
And they will change both name and habytt and comonly 
go ynto other sheeres so as no man shall knowe them, And 
the greatest parte are nowe growen to thes petytt felonyes for 
which they may have ther booke, by which they are imboldened 
to this great wickednesse. And happye weare yt for England 
yf Clergy weare taken awaye in case of felonye. For god ys 
my wytnesse I do with gj-ief protest yn the dewtye of a subiecte, 
I do not see howe yt ys possible for the poore Cuntryman 
to beare the burthens dewly layde vppon hym, and the rapynes 
of the Infynytt numbers of the wicked wandrynge Idell people 
of the land, So as men are dryven to watch ther sheepe- 
folds, ther pastures, ther woods, their Cornfylds all things 
growyng too too comon. Others there be (and I feare me 
imboldened by the wandrynge people) that styck not to say 
boldlye they must not starve, they will not starve. And this 
yere there assembled Ixxx in a Companye and tooke a whole 
Carte loade of Cheese from one dryvynge yt to a fayre and 
dispersed yt amongest them, for which some of them have in- 
dured longe imprisonment and fyne by the ludgment of the 
good Lord Chief lustice att our last Crismas Sessions, which 
may gi'ow dangerous by the ayde of suche numbers as are 
abroade especyally in this tyme of dearthe, who no dowpt 
anymate them to all contempte bothe of noble men and 
gentlemen contynially Bussynge into there eares that the ritche 
men have gotten all into ther hands and will starve the poore. 
And I maye lustlye saye that the Infynyte numbers of the 


Idle wandiynge people and robbers of the. land are the chefest 
cause of the dearthe, for thowghe they labor not, and yet they 
spend dobly as myche as the laborer dothe, for they lye 
Idlely in the ale howses dayeand nyght eatinge and drynkynge 
excessively. And within these iij monethes I tooke a thief 
that was executed this last assises that confessed vnto me that 
he and too more laye in an Alehouse three weeks in which 
tyme they eate xx*^ fatt sheepe wherof they stole every night 
on, besydes they breake many a poore mans plowghe by stealing 
an Oxe or too from him and not beinge able to buy more 
leaseth a great parte of his tyllage that yere, others leese ther 
shepe owt of ther folds by which ther grounds are not so frute- 
fuU as otherwyse they wold be. And such numbers beynge 
growen to this Idle and thevyshe lief ther ar scant sufficyent to 
do the ordynary tyllage of the land, for I know that some 
having had ther husbandmen sent for souldiers they have lost 
a great parte of ther tyllage that yere and others are not to be 
gotten by reason so manye are abroad practysinge all kind of 
villanye. And when these lewde people are comytted to the 
gayle, the poore Cuntry that ys robbed by them, are inforced 
there to feede them which they greve att, And this yere ther 
hathe bynne disbursed to the releefe of the prisoners in thegayle 
above lxxiij\ And yet they are alowed but vi'^ a man weekely. 
And yf they weare not delyvered att every quarter Sessions, so 
myche more mony wold not serve, nor too suche gayles wold not. 
hold them, but yf this monye myght be ymployed to buylde 
some howses adioynynge to the gayle for them to worke yn 
And every prisoner comytted for anye cause and not able to re- 
leve him self compelled to worke, And as manye of them as are 
delyvered vppon ther trialls, eyther by acquitall of the graund 
lury or petytt lurye, burnynge yn the hand, or whyppynge, 
presently transferred thence to the howses of Correccion to be 
kept in worke except some present will take any into servyce, 
I dare presume to saye the x*"" felonye will not be Comytted 
that nowe ys. And yf some lyke course myght be taken with 
the wandrynge people they wold easely be brawght to ther 
places of aboade, And beinge abroade they all in general are 
receavers of all stolen things that are portable, as namely the 
Tynker in his Budgett the pedler in his hamper the glasseman 
in his baskett, and the lewde proctors which carye the broad 
Scale and Grene seale yn ther baggs Covers infynytt numbers of 
felonyes yn suche sort as the tenth felony cometh not to light 
for he hath hys receaver at hand in every alehowse in every 
Bushe, And these last rable are very Norseryes of roages. 
And of wandryng souldiers ther are more abroade then ever 


weare notwithstanding her Maiesties most gracyous proclama- 
tion lately sett forth for the suppressinge of them, which hathe 
not donne that good yt wold, yf yt had bynne vsed as yt owght, 
for the Justices in every shere owght to have assembled them 
selves yppon yt, and vppon dewe consideracion had of her 
Maiesties most gracyous pleasure therin aquaynted all inferior 
officers with yt, and so taken somestryctcoursefor theapprehend- 
ing of them, but the proclamacions beinge sent to the Shiryffs, 
they delyver them over to the Baylyffs to be proclaymed in the 
markettsther a fewe ignorant persons heares a thinge redd which 
they have lyttle to do with and lesse regard And the x"" lustyce 
knoweth not yet that ever ther was any such proclamacion. 
Your good Lordship may perceave by this Counterfect passe 
that I send you inclosed that the lewde yonge men of England 
ar devoted to this wicked course of lief, for the man that 
traveled by color of yt, ys inheritor to xl' land after his 
father and hys name ys Lymeryck hys father a gentleman 
and dwelleth att northlache in the County of Gloucester. 
I kept him in prison to monethes and examyned him often 
and yet still confirmed the trewth of his pasporte with most 
execrable othes, whervppon I sent ynto Cornwall wher he 
sayde hys mother dwelt and by that meanes discoveiynge him, 
he confessed all by which your Lordship may see yt ys most 
'hard to discover any by examinacion all beinge resolved never 
to confesse anye thinge, assuringe them selves, that none will 
send too or three C myles to discover them for a whippinge 
matter which they regard nothinge, for all that weare whipped 
heare vppon my apprehension ar all abroade, And otherwyse 
will yt never be withowt a more severe course the libertye of 
ther wycked lyef ys so sweete vnto them. I may lustlye saye 
that the able men that are abroade sekynge the spoyle and 
confusion of the land ar able yf they weare reduced to good 
subieccion to give the greatest enymye her Maiestie hath a 
stronge battell. And as they ar nowe they ar? so myche 
strength vnto the enymye, besides the generacion that 
daylye spryngeth from them ys lyke to be most wicked. 
The corn that ys wastfullye spent and consumed in Ale- 
houses by the lewde wandring people will fynde the greatest 
parte of the poore, for yt ys most certeyne yf they light 
vppon an Alehowse that hath stronge ale they will not departe 
vntill they have druncke him drye. And yt falleth owt by 
experyens that the alehowses of this land consumeth the 
greatest parte of the barly, for vppon a surveighe taken of the 
Alehowses onely of the towne of wells leavinge owt the 
Tavernes and Inns yt appeared by ther owne confessions that 


they spent this last yere twelve thowsand busshells of Early 
malt, which wold have afforded to every markett of this shere 
X busshells weekely, and wold have satisfied a great parte of 
the poore, a great parte wherof ys consumed by these wandring 
people, who being reduced to Conformytye, Corne no dowpt 
wilbe myche more plentyfuU, By this your good Lordship 
maye informe your self of the state of the whole realme which I 
feare me ys in as ill case or worse then owrs for we are woun- 
derfuUy ayded by the best lord Chief lustice that ever was 
and the good Baron Mr. Ewens, and our Justices of Assise 
very reverent good men and most carefull in ther callynge, 
But the greatest fault ys in the inferior mynyster[s] of 
lustice, who shold vse more ernest indevor to brynge them to 
the seate of Judgment and lustice, wherin yf every lustice of 
peace in England dyd in every of ther devisions quarterly 
meete and before ther metyng cause a diligent serche to be 
made for the apprehendinge of all roages and vagrant sus- 
picious persons. And to brynge them before them where they 
shold receave the Judgment of the lawe, and the sturdyest of 
them that are most daungerous Comytted to the howse of 
Correccion or gayle and at this meetynge inquyre of the de- 
faults of Alehowses which harbor them, of Constables and 
Tythingmen that suffer them to wander, and of inhabitants 
that releve them contrary to the lawe, and inflyct punysh- 
ment accordinge to the statute a roage cold hardlye escape. 
Experience teacheth that thexecucion of that godlye lawe 
vppon that wycked secte of Roages the Egipsions had 
clene cutt them of, but they seynge the libertye of others do 
begynne to sprynge vp agayne and ther are in this Cuntry 
of them. But vppon the perill of my lief I avowe yt, they 
weare never so daungerous as the wandryng Souldiers and other 
stout roages of England, for they went visibly in on company 
and weare not above xxx or xl of them in a shere, but of these 
sort of wandringe Idell people there ar three or fower hun- 
dred in a shere, and thowgh they go by too and three in a Com- 
panye, yet all or the most parte yn a shere do meete eyther att 
feare or markett or in some Alehowse once a weeke. And yn 
a great haye howse in a remote place ther dyd resort weekely 
xl sometymes Ix, where they dyd roast all kynde of good 
meat. The inhabitants beinge wounderfuUy greved by ther 
rapynes made Complaynte at our last Ester Sessions : after 
my Lord Chief lustice departure precepts weare made to 
the Tythings adioynynge for the apprehendinge of them : 
they made aunswere they weare so stronge they durst not 
adventure of them, whervppon precepts weare made to the 


Counstables of the hundred but fewe apprehended, for they 
have intellygens of all things intended agaynst them, for ther 
be of them that wilbe present at every assise, Sessions, and 
assembly of lustices and will so clothe them selves for thattyme 
as anye shold deame him to be an honest husbondman, So as 
nothinge ys spoken, donne, or intended to be donne but they 
knowe yt. I know this to be trew by the confession of some. 
And they growe the more daungerous in that they fynde they 
have bread that feare in lustices and other inferior officers 
that no man dares to call them into questyon, And at a late 
Sessions, a tall man a verye sturdy and auncyent traveller was 
Comytted by a Justice and browght to the Sessions and had 
Judgment to be whipped, he presently att the barre in the face 
and hearynge of the whole benche, sware a great othe that yf 
he weare whipped yt shold be the dearest whipping to some 
that ever was, yt strake suche a feare in him that Comytted 
him as he prayed he myght [be] deferred vntill the assises 
wher he was delyvered without anye whipping or other 
harme. And the Justice glad he had so pacyfyed his wrath. 
And they lawghe in ther sieves att the lenyty of the lawe and 
the tymorousnesse of thexecutyoners of yt. And if [yt] please 
your honor for the good of your Cuntry to Comaund a view 
of the Callenders of all thegayles in England, you shall behold 
a lamentable estate, wherby your good Lordship may informe 
yourself and receave nothing from me which I humbly crave, 
fearinge least yt shold be conceaved amysse by some : but 
knowinge the danger that may growe by these wycked people to 
my dread and most deare soveraygnes most peaceable govern- 
ment, I will not leave yt unadvertysed thowghe I shold hazard 
my lyef by yt. And so most humbly crave pardon for this 
my boldnesse with your honorable acceptaunce of my most 
bounden dewty and love, from my poore howse att Netherham 
in Somersetshire this xxv* of September 

your good Lordships in all humblenesse to be Comaunded 

Edw. Hext. 

No. 64 (fos. 169-70) 
(Reproduced as Plate III in this book.) 
This pasport confessed to be Counterfeicted by Raphe Bower 
a Scolemaster dwellyng att Pe[n]reth in Cumberland. 

To all and singuler lustices of the pease. Mayors, Baylifes, 
Constables ; and all other her Maiesties officers, Minesters and 
lovinge subiectes ; aswell within Liberties as withoute : Knowe 
that I (Thomas Scroope) Knighte, Lorde Scroope of Bolton ; 


Lorde warden of the middle marshe of Englande, a fore and 
agaynste Skottlande ; and Capptayne of her Maiesties Cittye, 
and Castill of Carlile ; gevethe ye and everye one, to whom 
this maye or shall concerne, that this bearer lohn Maneringe, 
latelie arived in Skottlande, and came before me, bringinge 
luste proofe, by his Conduckte from the lorde warden of 
Skottlande, the cause of his arivall in that lande and countrye ; 
These ar therefore to certifie you of a truthe, that the saide 
lohn with other of his companye, (throughe tempeste of fowle 
wether) wer driven a shore vppon the northe parte of Skott- 
lande ; where by they wer by the north-lande-men Cawled the 
Skottyshe-Ireshe robbed and spoilede of theire Barke and 
all therin. Wherein the saide lohn, loste of his owne parte 
the valewe of three-skore poundes with the better, besides 
beinge g[r]evousIie wounded in the theighe with a darte, and 
in the arme with an arrowe, vppon the gra[p]pelynge of theire 
shippe. These are therefore vppon the dewe consideration of 
this his losse his hurts and greate necessatie ; not onlie to 
requeste you quietlie to permitt him to passe vnto wornyll in 
Cornwall to his mother and other of his Frindes there, but also 
in her Maiesties name requier you to se him releeved and 
holpen acco[r]dynge vnto her Maiesties moste godlye and 
gratious lawes in this case providede ; And for that I am 
Credablye informed he is a gentleman of good parentage I doe 
in regarde of pietie and Christian charitie, allowe him fower 
monethes to passe vnto the a fore said towne of wornyll by 
reason of his hurte and grefe ; not able to goe farr in a daye, 
yeaven vnder my hande and seale att Carlile this xxv"' of 
marche in the xxxviij"' yeare of her Maiesties most prosperous 

Tho. Scroope. 

Cumberland. Allowed to passe this Countye xxx**" of 
Marche by me Richard Lowther. 

Westmorland. Allowed to passe this countye behavinge 
him selfe well and honestelie by me lames Bellingam. 

Yorke Shire. Accordynge vnto the tenore within written 
by me Allowed to passe Timothy Whittyngam. 

Stafford. Allowed to passe this Countye xx"* Apprill be- 
havinge himselfe honestly Tho. Cresley. 

Woster Shire. Seene and Alowed to passe this Countye the 
xxx*" of Aprill by me Edward Horwell. 

Gloster. Allowed to pass this countye accordynge to the 
tenor within written. Ed. Wynter. 




The explanation of the use of the false die called the langret was copied 
by one hack-writer after another in the same words for at least sixty years. 
The following passages trace it from the reign of Edward VI to that of 
James I. 

From the Manifest Detection, 1552, Sig. Bg verso — Cj verso (Percy 
Society reprint, xxix, p. 23 fF.). 

M. . . . Then bringeth he forth a gret box with dice, and 
first teacheth him to know a langret. 

R. a gods name what stuf is it ? I haue often hard men 
talk of false dice, but I neuer yet heard so dainty a name 
giuen them. 

M. so much the soner may ye be deceued, but suffer me 
a while and breke not my talk, and I shal paint you anon 
a proper kind of pouling, lo here saith the cheator to this 
yong Nouisse, a well fauored die that semeth good and square : 
yet is the forhed longer on the cater and tray, then any other 
way, and therefore holdeth the name of a langret, such be also 
called bard cater tres, bicause commonly the longer end will 
of his owne sway draw downwards, and turne vp to the eye 
sice sinke, deuis or ace, the principal vse of them is at Nouem 
quinque. So long as a paier of bard quater tres be walking 
on the bord so long can ye cast neither .v. nor .ix. onles it be 
by a great mischance that the roughnes of the bord, or some 
other stay, force them to stay and run against their kind. 
For without quater trey, ye wot that, v. nor .x.^ can neuer fall. 

R. By this reason he that hath the first dice is like alwaies 
to strip, and robbe all the table aboute ? 

M. Trew it is, wer ther not another help, and for the pur- 
pose an od man is at hand, called a flat cater tre^ and none 
other numbre. 


This was copied almost exactly by the anonymous pamphlet called 
Mihil Mumckance, 1597, Sig. B4 verso. 

Then drawing from his bosome a great bagge of Dyce, first 

the Cheator teacheth him to knowe a Langret which is a Dye 

that simple men hath seldome or neuer heard off, but often 

seene to theyr cost : Nowe quoth the Cheator to this young 

' The X here is evidently a printer's mistake for ix. 


Nouice, here is a well fauored Dye, that seemeth good and 
square, yet is it forged longer vppon the Cater and Trea than 
any other way, and therefore it holdeth the name of Langret: 
Such be also called Bard Catertreas, because commonly the 
longer end will of his owne sway drawe downewards, and turne 
vp to the eye, Sice, Sinke, Dewce, or Ace, the principall vse of 
them is at Nouum: For so long as a payre of Bard Cater- 
treas be walking on the Boord, so long can ye not cast neither 
fiue nor nine, vnlesse it be by great chance that the roughnes 
of the table or some other stop force them to stay and runne 
against theyr kinde, for without Catertrea, ye know that fiue 
or nine can neuer come. 

But then some will question, that by this reason h^e that 
hath the first Dyce is like alwayes to strip and rob all the 
Table about : To whom I thus answere, that their must be 
a helpe, and for that purpose there must be ready at hand an 
odde Dye called a flat Catertrea, and no other number, etc. 

The dicing lore in Mihil Mumchance was borrowed by Thomas Dekker 
in Belman of London (1608) and by Samuel Rid in his Art of lugling 
(161 2); in each case there is only a slight variation in the wording, as 
the following extracts will show. 


Thomas Dekker : The Belman of London, 1608, Sig. Ea verso 
(B.M. copy). 

To set down all the Legierdemaine of this handy craft, 
would peraduenture instruct some ill minded persons in that 
villanie, which is published onely to haue others shunne it : I 
will therefore shew you a few of their iugling trickes, (that are 
Graduates in the Art) and by the shape of them iudge the 
rest, for all are alike. 

A Langret is a Die, which simple men haue seldome heard 
of, and happily neuer sden (but to their cost). It is (to the 
eye of him that is but a Nouice) a good and square die, yet is 
it cut longer vpon the Cater and Trea, then vpon any other 
point, and is for that cause called a Langret: these Langrets 
are also called Bard Cater Treas, because in the running, the 
longer end will commonly (of his owne sway) draw downe- 
wards, and turne either Sice, Sinke, Deuce, or Ace vpwards on 
the boord ; the principall vse of them is at Nouum. For so 
long as a paire of Bard Cater Treas, be walking, so long can 
you cast neither 5. nor 9, vnles it be by great chance, that the 
roughnes of the Table, or some other stoppe force them to stay. 


and to runne against their kind ; for without Cater Trea, 5, or 9, 
you know can neuer come. 

Here some may imagine, that by this meanes, he that hath 
the first Dice in his hand, may strip all that play at the Table 
of their money ; but this must be their helpe. An odde Die 
called a Flat Cater Trea, (and no other number) is to be ready 
at hand, etc. 


Samuel Rid : The Art of lugling, 1612, Sig. C,. 

I dare not (as I could) shew the lewde lugling that cheators 
practise, least it minister some offence, to the well disposed, to 
the simple hurt and losse, and to the wicked occasion of euill 
doing. But by the way, I will a little speake of dice, and the 
vse of them, as caueats, rather to let you take heede of their 
cosonings, then to giue you light to follow their doings : Non 
ad imitandum sed ad euitandum. 

First, you must know a Langret, which is a die that simple 
men haue sildom heard of, but often scene to their cost, and 
this is a well fauoured die, and seemeth good and square, yet 
is it foi-ged longer, vppon the Cater, and Trea, then any other 
way : And therefore it is called a Langret. Such be also cal'd 
bard Cater treas, because commonly, the longer end will of his 
owne sway drawe downewards, and turn vp to the eie. Sice, 
Sincke, Deuce or Ace. The principall vse of them is at 
Nouum, for so longe as a paire of Bard cater treas be walking 
on the bourd, so longe can ye not cast fiue, nor nine, vnles it 
be by greate chance, that the roughnes of the table, or some 
other stoppe force them to stay, and runne against their 
kinde : for without Cater or trea, ye know that fiue or nine 
can neuer come. 

But you will say by this reason, he that hath the first dice, 
is like alwaies to stripp and rob all the table about. To helpe 
this, there must be for that purpose, an odde Die, called a flat 
Cater trea ready at hand, and no other number, etc. 

1626-1 N 


(In this index the general heads of the analytical Table of Contents are not 

Abraham Men, 27, 36. 

Actors, see Players. 

Ale-houses, 11 1 ; Sir Thomas Middleton 
on, 74; Hext on, 17 1-2. 

Allen, T., haberdasher, Darcy's suit 
against, 108. 

Alley, William, Bishop of Exeter, 1 56. 

Andrews, Thomas, Privy Council to, 

Anglers, 27, 30-1. See also Courbing 

Anngell, Elisabeth, vagabond, 161. 

Anthony Now-now, minstrel, 47-9. 

Apryce, Richard, upright man, 150. 

Archery, laws in favour of, 104 ; Privy 
Council on, 154. 

Arden of Feversham, 76. 

Argenter, Lucas, licensed to beg for 
ransom of his family, 23. 

Armingford Hundred (Arnyngford), 
Cambridgeshire, vagabonds in, 161. 

Arys, John, and Martha his wife, vaga- 
bonds, 161. 

Asheleye, Stafford, vagabonds in, 

Aston, Sir Walter, Sheriff, 159. 

Antem Morts, 27. 

Autolycus, 31-3, 43. 

Awdeley, John, his Fraternitye of 
Vacabondes, 117-18 ; mentioned, 114, 
ij6, 119, 122; quoted on rogue 
customs, 19, 20, 27, 28, 36, 41. 

Aylmer, John, Bishop of London, 24. 

Babiflgton's conspiracy, watch for mem- 
bers of, 67. 
Bacon, Sir Nicholas, 1 54. 
Ballad singers, see Minstrels. 
Barclay, Alexander, Shyp of Folys, 

Barker, Heniy, surveyor of the beggars 

in London, 61, 141. 
Barnacle (in Conny-catching), 87-9. 
Barnard (in Barnard's Law), 89. 
Barnard's Law, 86, 89. 
Barnard, James, upright man, 150. 

1828-1 N 

Barnes of Bishop's Stafford, ballad-sing- 
ing sons of, 45, 49, 96. 

Basset, Thomas, upright man, 150. 

Bat-fowling, 89. 

Bawds, 74; proclamation of Henry VIII 
against, 148-9. 

Bawdy-baskets, 27. 

Bayker, John, his letter on causes of 
vagabondage, Ii-I2, 145-7. 

Bear-baiting, 149. 

Bearwards, 21, 68. 

Beaumont and Fletcher, Beggars Bush, 
quoted, 30. 

Bedingfield, Thomas, his patent for im- 
porting playing cards, 108 ; his re- 
quest for a monopoly of all gaming 
houses in London, 109. 

Beggars, surveyor of, 61-2, 141 ; badges 
for, 140-1 ; permits for, see Licences. 
See also Rogues, Vagabonds, and 
Poor Relief. 

Bell, James, vagabond, 161. 

Bellingam, James, endorsement on 
passport, 174. 

Benhurst, robberies in hundred of, 100. 

Bentham, Thomas, Bishop of Lichfield 
and Coventry, 160. 

BiUington, Margaret, vagabond, 160. 

Bird of Holborn, dice-maker, 90, 107, 

Black Art, 86, 97. 

Black Death of 1349, effect on economic 
conditions of sixteenth century, 7-10. 

Blese, Thomas, vagabond, 1 59. 

Blnmstead, Alys, vagabond, 161. 

Blunt, Nicholas, see Gennings. 

Blunte, Sir George, 159. 

Boldwell, John, 161. 

Boorde, Andrew, his Introduction of 
Knowledge, quoted, 35. 

Borrow, George, Zincali, 18. 

Bower, Raphe, schoolmaster, 173, 

Bowes, Raphe, his patents for import- 
ing playing cards, 108. 

Bowling, Privy Council on, 154 ; alleys 
for, 94, 106. See also Vincent's Law. 

Bownde, Elizabeth, vagabond, 161. 



Branding, see Punishments. 

Brandt, Sebastian, Narrenschiff, 115. 

Bridewell, 67, 70. 

Brinklow, Henry, 10; his Complaynt 
of Roderyck Mors, 12, 15. 

Bristle dice, 92. 

Brokers, 74, 97-8, 164-5. 

Buckinghamshire, searches for vaga- 
bonds in, 64, 162. 

Bnknall, Feales, and child, vagabonds, 

Bnrbach, Leicester, vagabonds in, 150. 

Bnrghley, Lord (William Cecil), 154 ; 
his letter to Walsingham, 67 ; letters 
from Fletewood to, 82, 95; letter 
from Hext to, 73, 167-74. 

Burnet, Gilbert, History of Reforma- 
tion, quoted, 13-14, 16, 35, 54, 64. 

Burton, Robert, on date of Harman's 
Caueat, 123 ; on Dekker's thefts from 
Harman, 131; rogue lore in the 
Anatomy of Melancholy, 131. 

Butler, Thomas, licensed to beg, 24. 

Cambridgeshire, searches for vagabonds 

in, 161-2. 
Cant language of rogues, Preface, 18, 

77. 122- 
Cardan, Jerome, on the number of 

rogues hanged in reign of Henry 

VIII, 5. 
Cards, see Playing-Cards. 
Carter, Thomas, vagabond, 161. 
Cecil, Sir William, see Lord Burghley. 
Celestina, 115. 
Certificatesofpunishmentsof rogues and 

vagabonds, 65,67, 72, 152-3, 156-62. 

See also Punishments, aitd Watches 

and Searches. 
Chambers, E, K., Mediaeval Stage, on 

minstrels, 45. 
Chandler, F. W., Literature of Roguery, 

Preface, 115, 118-19; ^^'^ Romances of 

Roguery, 115. 
Charity in sixteenth century, 16, 22. 
Cheating Law, 86, 89-93. 
Chelmsford, vagabonds in, 151. 
Cheshire, searches for vagabonds in, 

Chester, ordinances against vagabonds, 

Chettle, Henry, Kind-Harts Dreame, 

on ballad-singing, 48-9 ; mentioned, 

Cheyney, Edward P., Social Changes in 

England in the Sixteenth Century, 

quoted, 7, 12. 
Chiley, Ch., 161. 
Clapperdudgeons, see Palliards. 

Clerc, Gilbert, Keeper of Plays in 

Calais, 105. 
Cloyer, 96. 
Cock Lorell, 116, 117, 135; Cocke 

Lorelles Bote, 116, 117. 
Coke, Sir Edward, Attorney-General, 

letter to, 164-5. 
Cokes, Bartholomew, 78. 
Cold Norton, Stafford, vagabonds in, 

Compton, Robert, 160. 
Coningsby, Sir Richard, his patent for 

playing-cards, 108-9. 
Conjurers, see Jugglers. 
Conny (in Conny-catchmg), 86-9. 
Conny-catchers, difficulty of legislating 

against, 103. 
Conny-catching, meaning of the word, 

I ; methods, 86 ; Conny-catching 

Law, 86-9, 
Conway, Fowlk, vagabond, 160. 
Copland, Robert, Hye Way to the 

Spyttel Hous, 116-17, 131. 
Coplestone, John, Justice, 156. 
Copthoine, Surrey, vagabonds in, 150. 
Cornwallis, Thomas, Groom-porter, his 

patents for protection of gaming, 104, 

105-7, ^°9; licence for gaming-house, 

165-7; search for false dice, 162-4. 
Cotton MSS., quoted, 4, 64, 65, 101-2, 


Counterfeit Cranks, 27, 33-5, 118. 

Courbing Law, 30-1, 86, 97. 

Cousin (in sense of Conny), 8g. 

Cozeners, punishments for, 111-13. 

Cresley, Thomas, endorsement on pass- 
port, 174. 

Croft, Sir James, letter to, on number 
of vagabonds apprehended in 1569, 
65-6; appealed to about bowling 
alleys in London, 106. 

Crossbiting Law, 86, 97. 

Crowley, Robert, 10; his Informadon 
and Peticion, on cruelty of landlords, 
lo-i I ; on uncharitableness of English 
clergy, 16 ; his Way to Wealth and 
Last Trump, on merchants buying 
land, 13. 

Cunningham, William, Growth of 
English Industry and Commerce, 14. 

Cunny-catcher, Cuthbert, see Defence of 

Cut-purses, see Pickpockets. 

Dalton, Michael, Countrey Justice, 26. 

Damporte, Nicholas, Keeper of Plays 
in Calais, 105. 

Darcy, Edward, patent for playing- 
cards, 108 ; Darcy v. Allen, 108. 

Davye, John, vagabond, 161. 



Decoy (game at cards), 88. 

Defence of Conny-ccUching, 128; men- 
tioned, 127; quoted, 79. 

Dekker, Thomas, 11, 133, 137-8. 
Belman of London, 129-31 ^ plagi- 
arisms from Manifest Detection via 
Mihil Mumchance, 176-7; men- 
tioned, 123, 127, 129-36 ; quoted on 
logue customs, 91, 99. 
Dead Tearme, 84-5. 
Guls Home-booke, quoted, 78-9, 81 ; 
mentioned, 115, 133, 137. 
lests to make you Merie, 115, 132, 

Lanthorne and Candle-light, 131-3; 
mentioned, 127, 134-6; quoted, 18, 
19, 40. 
Newes from Hell, 132. 
perse O, 132, 133 ; quoted; 36-7, 41. 
Shoemaker's Holiday, 133. 
Villanies Discovered, 132-3. 

Dells, 27. 

Deloney, Thomas, Gentle Craft, on 
Anthony Now-now, 47-8. 

Demanders for Glimmer, 27, 40. 

Dennys, Robertus, Justice, 156. 

Devon, articles for suppressing rogues 
in, 155-6. 

Dice, false, art of cheating with, 89-93; 
kinds of, 90-3 ; efforts of City to 
restrain making of, 107 ; orders for 
search for, 162-4. 

Dickenson, John, Greene in Conceipie, 

Discourse of Common Weal, quoted, 

Divorce, gipsy ceremony for, 20. 

Doddes, Gregorye, Justice, 156. 

Dogberry, 67. 

Dommerers,. 27, 35, 38-g. 

Domrishe, Thomas, Justice, 156. 

Doncaster, Olmer, 159. 

Donyngton, Robert, Keeper of Plays in 
Calais, 105, 

Dorchester, Oxon., certificates fiom 
hundred of, 151, 159. 

Doxies, 27. . 

Duke, Richardus, Justice, 156. 

Durman, Rychard, vagabond, 161. 

Earye, Roberte, Justice, 156. 

Eccleshall, Stafford, certificate from, 

Economic literature of sixteenth cen- 
tury, 10-14. 

Edgecombe, P., Justice, 156. 

Edward VI, Cardan's horoscope for, 5 ; 
Discourse about the Reformation of 
many Abuses, 13-14. 

Effingham, Surrey, vagabonds in, 150. 

Elizabeth, Queen, Letters patent for 

. Wales, 25. 

Ellis, James, pickpocket, 120. 

Enclosures as cause of vagabondage, 
5~7i 9> 12-14. ^^^ ^^'' Sheep- 

Essex, searches for vagabonds in, 162. 

Eulenspiegel cycle of jest-books, 115. 

Evanes, Robert ap Thomas ap, proctor, 

Evelyn, John, Diary, 105. 
Ewelme, certificate from, 158-9. 
Ewstace, Robert, 159. 
Exmewe, Thomas, Lord Mayor, 140. 

Falconers (cozening authors), 131. 

Farmer, John 8., and Henley, W. E., 
Slang and its Analogues, Preface. 

Fencers, 68. 

Fennor, William, Compters Common- 
wealth, 83, 129. 

Feudal system, decay of, as a cause of 
vagabondage, 7-15. 

Fiddlers, see Minstrels. 

Figging Law, 86, 8g. See also Pick- 

F'ish, Simon, 10. 

Fitzherbert, Sir Anthony, Boke of Sur- 
ueyeng, on enclosures, 13. 

Fletewbod, William, Recorder of Lon- 
don, letters to Burghley, 82-3, 95 ; 
relationship to Whetstone, 137 ; 
scheme for apprehending rogues, 167. 

Foists, see Pickpockets. 

Fool-taking, 89. 

Fortescue, Richardus, Justice, 156. 

Fortune-tellers, ai. 

Fragmenta Antiqua (in British Mu- 
seum), licences to beg from, 23, 25. 

Fraters, see Proctors. 

p'reeman, Joane, vagabond, 159. 

Froude, J. A., on Cardan's and Harri- 
son's 72,000 rogues, 5. 

Fulforde, Johannes, Justice, 156. 

Fulham, co. Middlesex, vagabonds in, 

FuUams, 92. 
Fyssher, Robert, vagabond, i5i. 

Gallants, see Gulls. 

Gamesters, 68. 

Gaming, fondness of Elizabethans for, 
104, 113 ; laws against, 104 ; Privy 
Council on, 154. 

Gaming-houses, 79; licensing of, 103, 
105-6, 165-7; Bedingfield's request 
for monopoly of, 109. 

Gennings, Nicholas, alias Blunt, up- 
right man and counterfeit crank, 



Gilpia, Bernard, sermon quoted, ii. 
Gipsies, relation to English rogues, 

1 7-20 ; their language and rogues' 

cant, 18 ; Hext on, 172. 
Gloucester, searches for vagabonds in, 

Gordon, J. W., Monopolies by Patents, 

quoted, 108. 
Gosson, Stephen, Schoole of Abuse, 


Gourds (false dice), 92. 

Graye, John, upright man, 150; and 
Margareth his wife, 161. 

Greaves, Edward, and Agnes his wife, 
vagabonds, 160. 

Greene, Robert, 114, 118, 126, 134, 
137 ; his plagiarisms from the Mani- 
fest Detection, 120, 125-6; use of 
his name in titles, 136. 
Conny-catching pamphlets, I, 78, 121, 
133-6, 128; Notable Discouery of 
Coosnage, 123-4; cribbings from 
Manifest Detection, 125-6; men- 
tioned, 119, 130; quoted on rogue 
customs, 86, 88-90, 97 ; Second Part 
of Conny-catching, 124; mentioned, 
119, 123, 125, 128, 130, 134; quoted 
on rogue customs, 39, 86, 94-5, 
97 ; Thirde and Last Part of Conny- 
catching, 124; mentioned, 119, 125, 
'3°; 134; quoted on rogue customs, 
31, 89, 96-8; Disputation, 119, 124; 
Black Bookes Messenger, 124 ; men- 
tioned, 120, 125, 134; quoted, 31. 
Neuer too late, 26. 
Greenes Vision, 124. 

Greenes Newes both from Heauen and 
Hell, 136. 

Grene, Launslytt, vagabond, 161. 

Groom- porter, right to hold gaming- 
tables at Christmas, 105. 

Groundworke of Conny-catching, 127-8, 
129, 134. 

Gryffith, Rychard, vagabond, 161. 

.Gulls, 78-9, 121. 

Halliwell, J. O., edition of Manifest 

Detection, 120. 
Hamilton, A. H. A., Quarter Sessions, 

Hanging, see Punishments. 
Harington, Sir John, Nugae Antiquae, 

quoted, 93, 105. 
Harleian MSS., quoted, 24, 92. 
Harman, Thomas, 75-6; mentioned, 

114, 118, 130, 133, 135. 
Caueatfor Commen Cursetors, 122-3 ; 

evidence supporting its accuracy, 122, 

150-1 ; date of, 122-3; mentioned, 

I, 119, 121, 125, 128; quoted on 

rogue customs, 1-2, 19, 22-3, 26-31, 

33i 36. 38-42- 
Harrison, William, Description of 

England, on size of vagabond class, 

4-5 ; on punishment of vagabonds, 

67 ; on highway robberies, 100. 
Harrwood, Thomas, vagabond, 159. 
Harrys, John, rogue, 150. 
Hazlitt, W. C., Handbook, quoted, 1 29. 
Hereford, searches for vagabonds in, 162. 
Herford, C. H., Literary Relations of 

England and Germany, &c., quoted, 

Hext, Edward, letter to Burghley on 

punishment of vagabonds, 73, 167- 

74; on gipsies, 19, 172. 
Higgens, George, 160. 
Higges, Nichalas, 159. 
High Law (highway robbery), 86, 98- 


Holmes, Ned, upright man, 150. 

Hookers or AJiglers, 27, 30-1. See also 
Courbing Law. 

Horse thieves, see Triggers of Prancers. 

Horwell, Edward, endorsement on 
passport, 174. 

Hotten, J. C, translation of Liber 
Vagatorum, 119. 

Houses, John Bayker on decay of, 

Houses of Correction, see Punishments. 

Howard of Effingham, Lord, 154. 

Hundred Mery Talys, iig. 

Hunt, M.L., Thomas Dekker, 129. 

Huntingdonshire, searches for vaga- 
bonds in, 162. 

Hurtado de Mendoza, Diego, La Vida 
de Lazarillo de Tormes, 115. 

Hutton, Luke, Blacke Dogge of New- 
gate, 129. 

Hyberdyne, Parson, his sermon in 
praise of thieves and thieving, 101-2. 

Initiation of rogues, 28-30. 

Jarckmen, 27, 41. 

Jennam, Hughe, and Elizabeth his wife, 

vagabonds, 161. 
Jest-books, debt to German, 115 ; rogue 

stories in, 136. 
Jones, John, upright man, 150. 
Jones, William, upright man, 150. 
Jonson, Ben, 137; Alchemist, 105; 

Bartholomew Fair, 78; Masque of 

Metamorphosed Gipsies, 19. 
Judith, William, gaming-house keeper, 

Jugglers, 49-53, 68. 
Jusserand, J. J., English Wayfaring 

Lifi, 3) 31. 53- 



Kemp, Will, Kemps 'Nine Dates Won- 
der, quoted, iii. 

Kent, searches for vagabonds in, 162. 

King's Bench prison, false dice made in, 
83, 90, 121. 

Kingston, Elizabeth, and child, vaga- 
bonds, 160. 

Kirkman, Francis, and Richard Head, 
English Rogue, 127. 

Knollys, Sir Francis, 154. 

Kynchin Goes, 27, 33. 

Kynchin Morts, 27, 33. 

Ladlye, John, vagabond, 161. 

Landlords, John Bayker and others on, 
10-12, 146. 

Langrets, 91-2, 175-7. 

Language of rogues, Prefece, 18, 77. 

Lansdovirne MSS., quoted, 73, 83, 95, 
109, 167-74. 

Larde, Jane, vagabond, i6i. 

Lames, Thomas, vagabond, 161. 

Lawe, Margareth, vagabond, 161. 

'Laws ' (methods of cheating), 85-6. 

Laws, see Statutes of the Realm. 

Leicester, Town of, punishment of 
vagabonds in, 60-1, ,70; search for 
playing-cards in, 108 ; records of, 
quoted, 33, 61, 70, 108, 112. 

Leicester, County of, search for vaga- 
bonds in, 150, 162. 

Leicester, the Earl of, 154. 

Lemon, Robert, Catalogue of Broadsides, 

Leonard, E. M., Early History of Eng- 
lish Poor Relief , quoted, 58. 

Lewknor, Groom-porter, 105. 

Lewys, Richard, vagabond, 161. 

Liber Vagatorum, i ig. 

Licences to beg, kinds of, 23-6 ; 
early use of, 56, J8-9; counter- 
feits of, 38, 40-2,69, 173-4. ^^^ "l^" 

Lifting Law, 86, 97. 

Lilly, Joseph, Collection of Black Letter 
Ballads, 105. 

Lincolnshire, search for vagabonds in, 

Lisieux, Bishop of. Cardan's authority 
for the 72,000 rogues, j. 

Liveries and Maintenance, see Retainers. 

Lodge, Thomas, Wits Miserie, 55, 137. 

London, ale-houses in, 74 ; authorities 
object to royal protection of unlawful 
games, 104, 106 ; brokers in, 74 ; 
jails as sanctuaries for rogues and 
dice-makers, 83-4, 90, 121 ; number 
of beggars in, 4, 61, 74, 140 ; orders 
for suppressing rogues and vagabonds, 
61, 70, 140-2 ; ordinaries in, 78-81 ; 

Privy Council to Aldermen and Lord 
Mayor of, 64-5 ; sanctuaries of, 82 ; 
setting vagabonds to work in, 68; 
surveyor of beggars in, 61-2 ; 
term time in, 84-5; treatment of 
vagabonds in before 1530, 61-2 ; 
from 1550 to 1570, 67-8 ; after 1570, 
Places in, Alsatia, 82 ; Bishop's gate, 
95 ; Cheapside, 5 2,61 ; Counter prisons, 
83-4 ; High Holbom, 82 ; Islington, 
82 ; King's Bench prison, 83, 90, 
121; Kent Street, 73, 95; Marshal- 
sea, 83, 90, 121 ; Newington, 73, 82 ; 
Pickthatch, 83; St. Giles, 82; St. 
John's Street, 82, 151 ; St. Paul's, 52, 
78, 80, 84-5, 96, 109, III, 121 ; 
Savoy, 82 ; Smart's Key, 95 ; South- 
wark, 82 ; Westminster, 82-3, 96 ; 
Whitefriars, 82. 
Records of, quoted. Journals, 41, 
61-2, 64-5, 70, 113, 140-2, 152-4; 
Remembrancia, 4, 23, 74, 94, 106, 
164-5 )■ Repertories, 24, 26, 34-5, 
40, 60-1, 63, 70, 107, 162-4; Ward- 
mote Presentments, 1 1 1 . 

Look on Me, London, 137. 

Lownys, Margareth, vagabond, 161. 

Lowther, Richard, endorsement on pass- 
port, :74. 

Luther, Martin, edition of Liber Vaga- 
torum, 119. 

Lyster, Ellen, vagabond, 161. 

McDonald, Edward D., on plagiarisms 

in Greenes Ghost, 134. 
Machiuells Dogge, quoted, 88. 
Machyn, Henry, Diary, quoted, 83, 120. 
Maitland, William, History of London, 

Maneringe, John, alias Lymeryck, 

vagabond, 171, 173-4. 
Manifest Detection, 120-1 ; attributed 

to Gilbert Walker, 120; plagiarisms 

from, 120, 125-7, 129-30, 136, 

175-7; mentioned, 114, iig, 122; 

quoted on rogue customs, 83, 88, 90-3, 

Mankynd, 22. 

Marshall, John, vagabond, 161. 
Marshalsea, false dice made in, 83, 90, 

Martyn, John, and Johane his wife, 

vagabonds, 161. 
Marvell, Margerie, vagabond, 161. 
Meademen, Rychard, vagabond, 159. 
Meakes, Wylliam, vagabond, 161. 
Middlesex, searches for vagabonds in, 

150-1, 162 ; Sessions' Rolls of, 

quoted, 70-1,99, loi, iio-ii, 150-1. 



Middleton, Sir Thomas, Lord Mayor, 
on beggars in the city, 74- 

Middleton, Thomas, Black Book, 
quoted, 8i ; rogue characters in bis 
plays, 76. 

Mihil Mumchance, 129 ; mentioned, 91, 
96, 127, 130, 134, 136; plagiarisms 
iram. Manifest Detection, 129,175-6. 

Mildmay, Sir Walter, 154. 

Minstrels, 43-9, 68. 

Monasteries, as a cause of begging and 
vagabondage, 15-17. 

Moone, Thomas, licensed to beg for 
losses by fire, 23-4. 

Moore, Johannes, Justice, 156. 

More, Sir Thomas, Utopia, on enclo- 
sures and sheep-farming, 6. 

Mores, John, upright man, 150. 

Morris dance, 18. 

Mortley, Richard, vagabond, 161. 

Morts, 27. 

Muccleston, Stafford, vagabonds in, 

Mumchance-at-cards, 88. 

Myllar, John, upright man, 150. 

Mylward, Richard, vagabond, 161. 

Mynshul, Geffray, Essayes and Charac- 
ters of a Prison and Prisoners, 83, 

Nash, Thomas, 138 ; Vnfortunate 

Traueller, 115, 137; Pierce Penni- 

lesse, 137. 
Nips, see Pickpockets. 
Norfolk, Duke of, 154. 
Norman, Thomas, licensed to beg, 24. 
Norrys, Martyn, vagabond, 161. 
Northampton (county), searches for 

vagabonds in, 151, 162. 
Northampton, the Marquis of, 154, 
Nottingham, vagabonds in, 61, 150 ; 

searches in, 162 ; records of, quoted, 

25, 61. 
Now-a-dayes, on retainers becoming 

thieves, 15. 

Oeconomy of the Fleet, quoted, 83-4. 
Okeley, Alyce, vagabond, 161. 
Ordinaries, gaming in, 79-81. 
Ordinary, quoted, 105. 
Oxford, Register of University of, list of 

begging scholars, 24. 
Oxfordshire, searches for vagabonds in, 

150-1, 158-9, 162. 

Palliards (or Clapperdudgeons), 27, 

Pamphleteers, character of, 76, 131. 
Parker, John, Justice, 156. 
Passports, 60, 64-6, 143-5, 158, 160; 

abuse of, 152-3; counterfeiting of, 

40, 73> 153. 173-4; form fo"^. 145- 
See also Licences to Beg. 

Pasye, Robert, and Elizabeth his wife, 
vagabonds, 161. 

Patents for protection of gaming, 103-9. 

Patrico, 19-20, 27. 

Pedlars, 21, 27, 42, 68, 170.. 

Peeks Jests, 115, 136. 

Pepys, Samuel, Diary, quoted, 105. 

Pickering, Laurence, pickpocket, 95. 

Pickpockets, 77, 94-7 ; corporation of, 
94-6, 109-10 ; devices for attracting 
a crowd, 49, 96 ; hatmts of, 96 ; laws 
against, 109-11 ; Nips and Foists, 
distinction between, 96 ; punishment 
in Theatre, iio-ii ; training required 
for, 95-6. See also Figging Law. 

Pillory, see Punishments. 

Pirton Hundred, certificate from, 159. 

Players, 21-2, 68. 

Playing-Cards, cheating with,je« Conny- 
catchingLaw; patents for importing, 

Pollard, A. W., on vagabond players, 

Poor relief, development in methods of, 
3-4. S3 ; early ideas of, 56, 62 ; 
methods after 1535, 57, 59, 72-4, 


Popham, Chief Justice, 108. 

Popish spies, 54-5. 

Priggers of Prancers and Prigging Law, 
27. 39-4°. 86, 97. 

Privy Council, letters from, ordering 
watches and searches for vagabonds, 
4. 65, 152-4, 156-7; other measures 
against vagabonds, 41, 57-8, 60, 

63-8, 72, 74. loo-i. i°9- 
Acts of Privy Council, quoted, 54, 64. 

Proclamations: against cozeners, 112- 
13 ; false pursuivants, 41-2 ; playing- 
cards, 108; Popish agitators, 55; 
Stews, III, 148-9; tale-tellers, 53, 
63; traffic in St. Paul's, iii; vaga- 
bonds, 60, 74, 142-S ; vagrant 
soldiers, 72. 
Enforcement of, 171. 

Proctors, 24-5, 27, 40, 62, 68, 142, 170. 

Provost-marshals, 71-2. 

Punishments for rogues and vagabonds, 
changes in, during the sixteenth cen- 
tury, 56-7 ; certificates of, 65, 67, 
72, 152-3, 156-61 ; laxness of, 73, 
Varieties of: branding, 63, 69-71, 
150-1, 169; death, 56, 59, 63, 69- 
70; drumming out of the city, 61 ; 
ears cut off, 56, 58, 62 ; imprison- 
ment, 56, 61 ; marking with a yellow 



V, 61 ; pillory, 39, 54, 58, 111-12 ; 
servitude or slavery, 63, 69-70; 
stocks, 56, 58, 61, 66, 150-1, 157; 
tying to post on stage, iio-ii ; 
whipping, 54, 56, 58, 66-7, 69-71, 
75. 143-4. 150-1. 157 ; work, 64, 
59, 63, 68-70, 73-s. 
Puttenham, George, 126. 

Quatermayne, John, 159. 
Qnatermayne, Roger, constable, 158. 

Ratsey, Gamaliell, highwayman, Lije 

and Death of, 99-100, 127. 
Rawlinson MSS., quoted, 155-6. 
Raynoles, John, rogue, 1 50-1. 
Renell, Richarde, Justice, 156. 
Retainers as source of vagabondage, 5, 


Reynolde, Edwarde, vagabond, 161. 

Reynolde, John, vagabond, 161. 

Richard, Thomas, palliard, 151. 

Richardson the bumeman of Leicester, 

Rid, Samuel, Art of lugling, 135-6 ; 
mentioned, 127, 129) plagiarisms 
from Manifest Detection via Mihil 
Mumchance, 177; quoted on rogue 
customs, 42. 
Martin Mark-all, Beadle of Bride- 
well, 134-6; authorship of, 135-6; 
mentioned, 133. 

Robin Hood Ballads, cribbings from, 
99-100, 127. 

Robynson, William, upright man, 151. 

Robynsone, Mathewe, and Elsabeth 
his wife, vagabonds, 161. 

Rogue characters in Elizabethan litera- 
ture, 76. 

Rogue life, historical evidence for, 77-8. 

Rogue pamphlets, craze for, i, 77-8, 
126-7; literary value of, 137-9; 
spirit of, 1 01-2. 

Rogues, Harman's, found also in 
records, 150-1 ; ' rogues ' (in canting 
sense), 27, 31-3, 118, iso-i. 

Rogues and Vagabonds of Shakesperis 
Youth, quoted, 102. See also Awde- 
ley, Harman, and Groundworke of 

Rolls of Parliament, on serfs becoming 
vagabonds, 8. 

Romany, relation to rogues' cant, 18. 

Rose, Miles, counterfeit crank, 34-5. 

Rowlands, Samuel, 133-6 ; plagiarisms, 

Greenes Ghost Haunting Conie- 
catchers, 134; mentioned, 127, 129- 
30. 133-4, 136; quoted on rogue 
customs, 31, 89, 96. 

Martin Mark-all, see Rid, Samuel. 
Roystering boy, 76, 97. 
RufBers, 27-8. 

Russell, Lord, Privy Council to, 64. 
Rutland, Lord, Privy Council to, 64. 
Rutter (in Barnard's Law), 89. 
Rymer, Thomas, Foedera, quoted, 105. 

Sacking Law, 86, 97. 

Sadler, Sir Ralph, 154. 

Sailors, as vagabonds, 69, 71. 

Sanctuaries, 82-3. 

Satirical works, rogues mentioned in. 

Scholars of universities, begging, 6g. 

Scogin's Jests, 115. 

Scot, Reginald, Discouerie of Witch- 
craft, on jugglers, 50-2 ; on cards, 
88-9 ; on dice, 90 ; mentioned, 76, 
"4, 127. 136. 

Scott, Sir Walter, Fortunes of Nigel, 

Scroope, Lord, name forged to passport, 

Seals, counterfeit, how made, 41 . 
Seebohm, Frederic, on Black Death, 7. 
Seintleger, Johannes, Justice, 156. 
Setter (in Conny-catching), 86-7, 89. 
Setter, Hodge, dicer, 90, 121. 
Shadwell, Thomas, Squire of Alsatia, 

Shakespeare, William, Henry IV, 100 ; 

Henry VI, 38 ; Lear, 36 ; Macbeth, 

76 ; Merry Wives, 40, 76, 103 ; 

Taming of the Shrew, 42 ; Winter's 

Tale, 21, 32, 43. 
Shakysberie, Robert, counterfeit crank, 

Shallow, Justice, 67. 
Sheale, Richard, minstrel, 45-7, 100. 
Sheep-farming as cause of vagabondage, 

6-7, 9. See also Enclosures. 
Shrewsbury, letter from Privy Council 

to, 65, 156-7. 
Shrewsbury, Elizabeth, Countess of, 22. 
Sidney, Sir Philip, Apologie, 44, 126. 
Simpson, Richard, School of Shakespeare, 

Simsou, Walter, History of the Gipsies, 

Skeltoris Jests, 115. 
Slavery, see Punishments. 
Smart, B. C, and Crofton, H. T., 

Dialect of the English Gipsies, 18. 
Smith, Thomas, rogue, 151. 
Smyth, Harry, upright man, 151, 161. 
Smyth, John, servant, 160. 
Smyth, Steeven, constable, 158. 
Smythe, Gefferye, vagabond, 161. 
Smythe, lone, and child, vagabonds, 160. 



Soldiers, vagrant, 69, 71 ; Hext on, 
1 70-1. 

South Clay, Notts., vagabonds in, 150. 

Spencer, Sir John, Lord Mayor, on poor 
in city, 73. 

Stafford, searches for vagabonds in, 162. 

State Papers, quoted : S.P. Henry VIII, 
60, 14S-7 ; D.S.P. Eliz. 64, 66-7, 
72, 109, 150-1, 158-61 ; Chancery 
records, 165-7; Patent rolls, 104-6, 
108 ; Warrant book, 24. 

Stationers' Company, Register of, 
quoted, 123, T36. 

Statutes of the Realm, quoted : Statutes 
of Labourers, 8-9 ; 22 Henry VIII, 
c. 12 (vagabonds and poor), 16, 25, 
58-9, 63; 27 Henry VIII, c. 25 
(poor), 16, 59, 63; 33 Henry VIII, 
c. 10 (vagabonds), 60; 37 Henry 
VIII, c. 9 (usury), 79 ; I Edward VI, 
0. 3 (poor and vagabonds), 16, 63 ; 
3 & 4 Edward VI, c. 16 (poor and 
vagabonds), 63 ; 2 & 3 Philip and 
Mary, c. 7 (selling of horses), 39 ; 
c. 9 (gaming), 105 ; 8 Eliz. c. 4 
(pickpockets), 94-5, 109-10 ; 8 Eliz. 
c. 10 (gaming), 104; 14 Eliz. c. 5 
(poor and vagabonds), 68-70 ; 1 8 
Eliz. c. 3 (poor), 69-70 ; 31 Eliz. 
1. 12 (selling of horses), 39; 35 Eliz. 
cc. 3, 4 (vagrant soldiers), 71 ; 39 
Eliz. c. 25 (highway robberies), 100 ; 
Poor Laws of 1597 and 1601, 17, 69, 
72 ; 8 & 9 William III, c. 27, s. 15 
(sanctuaries), 82. 


Stevenson, R. L., on Villon, 126. 

Stews, Henry VIII's proclamation 
against, 148-9. 

Stodcs, see Punishments. 

Stow Hundred, Cambridgeshire, vaga- 
bonds in, 161. 

Stow, John, Survey of London, 84. 

Stowe, Francis, gaming-house keeper, 

Strodevicer, William, Justice, 156. 

Strutt, Joseph, Sports and Pastimes, ^2, 

Strype, John, Annals, quoted, 4, 65-6, 
154, 167 ; Ecclesiastical Memorials, 
quoted, 11, 24-5, 53-4. 

Stubbes, Philip, Anatomie of Abuses, 
137-8 ; on minstrels, 43-4. 

Sturbridge Fair, vagabonds on way to, 
150-1, 161. 

Summer games, abuse of, 154. 

Supplication of the Poore Commons, on 
rent raisings, 12 ; on uncharitable- 
ness of new clergy, 16. 

Surrey, searches for vagabonds in, 150, 

Sussex, Earl of, Privy Council to, 64, 

Svfynerton, John, alias Vennet, gaming- 
house keeper, 105. 

Symson, George, vagabond, 161. 

Taker-up (in Barnard's Law), 89. 
Tales and Quicke Answeres, 115. 
Tale-tellers and spreaders of sedition, 

52-5, 154- 
Tarltons Jests, 136. 
Taverns, III. i'e£ o&o Ale-houses. 
Tenants, John Bayker on eviction of, 

Thieving, Parson Hyberdynes sermon 

in praise of, 101-2. 
Thomas, James, vagabond, 161. 
Thomas, Richard, palliard, 151, 
Thomas, William, palliard, 151. 
Tinkers, 27, 42, 68, 170. 
Toller, office of, 39. 
Tomas, John, upright man, 151. 
Tompson, William, and Jane his wife, 

vagabonds, 161. 
Trevelyan, George Macaulay, Age of 

Wycliffe, quoted, 7-8. 
Triplow Hundred, Cambridgeshire, 

vagabonds in, 161. 
Turner, C. J. Ribton, History of 

Vagrants and Vagrancy, Preface, 

Upright men, 27-30, 117-18, 150-1. 
Usury, 79. 

Vagabonds, badges for, 61 ; boldness of, 
169-73 ; customs in fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries, 17, 21 ; legal 
definition of, 68-9 ; legal measures 
against, see Statutes, Punishments, 
Certificates, and Watches ; menace to 
peace, 1 7, 53-4, 64 ; orders or ranks 
of, 27 ; ordinances for restraining, 
140-2 ; passports for, see Passports 
and Licences. 

Verser (in Conny-catching), 86-7, 89. 

Versing Law, 86. 

Viles, Edward, and F. J. Fumivall, 
Rogues and Vagabonds ofShakespere's 
Youth, 101-2, 122. See also AwieXey , 
Harman, and Groundworke of Conny- 

Villon, Fran;ois, 126. 

Vincent's Law, 86, 94. 

Vinogradoff, P., Villainage in Eng- 
land, quoted, 7-8. 

Vox Populi, Vox Dei, on merchants 
buying land, 13. 



Walker, Gilbert, see Manifest Detection. 

Walking Morts, 27. 

Walsingham, Sir Francis, Lord Bnrgh- 

ley to, 67. 
Wantage, Berks., vagabond from, 

Watches and searches for vagabonds, 

4, 64-7, 72, 152-62. 
Weare and Aston, Stafford, vagabonds 

in, 159. 
Webbe, William, 126. 
Westfelde, James, and Joyce his wife, 

vagabonds, 161. 
Wetherley Hundred, Cambridgeshire, 

vagabonds in, 161. 
Whetstone, George, jRocke of Regard, 

137; Touchstone for the Time, 

quoted, 79, 81, 99, mentioned, 137. 
Whip-jacks, 27, 40. 
Whipping, see Punishments. 
Whittyngam, Timothy, endorsement 

on passport, 1 74. 
Wicke, Alyce, vagabond, 161. 
WUd rogues, 17, 27,33. 
Williams, John {jilias Wyn), upright 

man, 151. 
Wilson, F. P., on editions of Belman of 

London, 129. 

Woodrofe, Sir Nicholas, Lord Mayor, 

on bowling alleys, 94, 106. 
Wootton Hundred, Oxon., vagabonds 

in, 150. 
Wootton, township, Stafford, vagabonds 

in, 160. 
Worcester, searches for vagabonds in, 

Work-houses, see Punishments. 
Wotton, keeper of school for pick- 
pockets, 95. 
Wright, Thomas, Queen Elizabeth and 

her Times, quoted, 83, 95 ; Songs 

and Ballads, 47, 100. 
Wright, Thomas, and Halliwell, J. O., 

Reliquiae Antiquae, 102. 
Wyddon, Johannes, Justice, 156. 
Wynstone, Joan, vagabond, and 

Thomas, her husband, 70. 
Wynter, Ed., endorsement on passport, 


Yardley, John, gaming-house keeper, 

York, Archbishop of. Privy Council to, 

Yorkshire, North Riding Records, 

quoted, no.