Order for Suppression of Vagabonds


ff [61–1v] (20 April)

Ad generallem sessionem pacis apud Thriske
vicesimo die Aprilis
: 1631

fforasmuch as by seuerall actes of Parliament standing nowe in force all the persons hereafter mencioned are declared to be Roagues, vagabonds and sturdy beggers, and are appointed to be punished accordingly: That is to say all persons Calling themselves schollers going about begging, all begging seafaring men pretending losses of their shipps, or goods on the sea: And all other Idle persons going about in the Countrie begging, or vsing any subtile Crafte, or vnlawfull games, or playes, or seying themselves to have knoweledge in Phisiognomie Palmestrie or other like Craftie science or pretending that he Can tell destinies, fortunes or such otherlike fantasticall Imaginations. All persons that be or vtter themselves to be proctors, procurors, pattentgatherers, or Collectors for Gaoles, prisons or hospitalls All ffencers, Bearewardes, Common players of Interludes and minstrells wandring abroade, All Iugglers, Tinckers, pedlers, and pettie Chapmen wandring abroade All wandring persons, and Common Laborers nott having liveing other to mainetene themselves, being persons able in body, that shall use loyteringe, and shall refuse to worke for such wages as are sett downe according to the Lawe: All persons deliuered out of gaoles that begg for their fees or otherwaies doe travaile begging: All such persons as shall wander abroad begging pretending losses by fyre or otherwaies, all glasse men, all such persons nott being ffellones wandring and pretending themselves to be Egiptians, or wandring in the habitt or attire of ‸⸢Conterfeit⸣ Egiptians, And all souldiers and Marriners that shalbe taken begging./

And whereas dyvers of the persons before recyted in Contempt of the said lawes established doe notwithstanding wander abroade and some of them Carrying about with them pastports and lycenses to travaile abroade, and to begge by the way: All which Lycenses are for the most parte Counterfeite, for yf all lycenses maide by any subiecte to any of the persons declared to be Roagues Authorisyng them to wander abroade, and to aske releife, or Almes are directly against the lawe: And whereas every person declared to be a Roague as well such as Carry pasports with them to begge, as others which shalbe found wandring or begging in any place ought to be apprehended, and by the appointement of a Iustice of peace of the Countie, or by the Constable of the Towne, or parishe, where any of the persons declared to be roagues shalbe apprehended, the said Constable being assisted with the advice of the minister and one other of yat towne or parishe ought to be stripped naked from the midle vpwards, and to be openly whipped, vntill his, or her body be bloodye and to be forthwith sent from parishe to parishe by the officers of euerye of the said parishes the next and straight waie, to the parishe where he or she was borne, if the same may be knowne by the parties Confession, or otherwise: or els to the parishe where he or she last dwelt before the said punishement by the space of One whole yeare, or if that Cannott be knowne then to the parishe throughe which he or she last passed without permission there to be sett to worke, and relieved according to the lawe: And after the whippinge a Testimonyall ought to be maide, and deliuered to the partie whipped subscribed with the hand and sealed with the seale of the said Iustice of peace, or of the same Constable and minister of the same parishe, or of any Two of them testyfying that the same person hath beene punished accordingly, and mencyoning the day and place of his or their punishement, and the place wherevnto such person is Lymited to goe, and by what tyme he or she is to passe thither att his or her perill: And the substance of the said Testimonyall ought to be regestred by the minister in a booke to be provided for that purpose:

And whereas by the said statutes every person ought to apprehend, or cause to be apprehended every of the said persons declared to be roagues, as he or she shall see them to resorte to his or their houses to begge or receive almes, and to Carry them to the next Constable t<.> be punished according to the lawe, v vpon paine to forfeite for every defalte x s.: | And everye Constable is to vse his best endeavour to apprehend every of the said persons declared Roagues, and to cause them and such other as shalbe brought vnto him to be punished as aforesaid, vpon paine to forfeite for every default: xx s./

And because we doe finde so verie greate neglecte for the execution of the said statutes through this whole Northridding, the Court doth this day order that the said statutes shall hereafte<...>strictly observed in every seuerall Constablerie within this said Northridding, and for the <...> performance of them, that the night watche be daylye kept duely kept in them yea<...> from the feast of the assention vntill the feast of sancte michael the Archangell, accor<...> vnto the law in yat behalfe maide and provided: And also that there be a day watche kept throughout the yeare within every seuerall Constablerie, eyther by the Inhabit<...> inhabiting therein according to the Nomber yat are able to watche, or by some able person<...> for that service, that may be paid for the same during his performance thereof by agr<...> to be maide amongst the inhabitants as by themselves shalbe thought most fitt, soe <...> same be assessed according to their seuerall abilities: And it is also ordered that the<...> shalbe seuerall Copies of this order deliuered vnto the highe Constables of euery wapenta<...> witnessed by the Clarke of peace to be true Copies, to the end that they may wit<...> Convenyent speed disperce them by sending a seuerall Coppie, to the minister or C<...> of euery seuerall parishe, and the Chappelrie, within their seuerall divisions to be Regest<...> in the Regester booke which they are bound to keepe, and therein to enter the substan<..> all the Testimonialls given vnto such vagrant persons, as have beene or shalbe punished within their parishe or Chappelrie, and also to reade the same to all h<...> parishioners vpon some Lords day Imediatly after Morning prayer, and divi<...> service of Almightie god shalbe ended: And the said highe Constables are als<....> this order enioyned to give due regarde from tyme to tyme with all diligence <...> the true performance hereof, and to present att every quarter sessions the name<...> surnames of all such pettie Constables and other persons as shall neglecte the <...>mance of this order together with the dayes and tymes of their neglect Comm<...>

Maines This first of
May 1631/
(signed) Iames Dodsworth

°To the Constables and Churchwardens of MashamWell<...>

°Thornetone Watlasse:°

These are to will & requir you to deliuer this to you<...> Minister or Curatt/ of your parish to be Reade & Register<..> according to the Contente theirof faile you not hereof att your perilles°

  • Marginalia
  • Footnotes
    • Ad … 1631: 'At the general session of the peace at Thirske, 20 April 1631'
    • t<.>: letter at left margin lost to cropping
    • <...>: readings at right margin, as many as 4 characters, lost due to cropping of leaf
  • Endnote

    The Thornton Watlass churchwardens' accounts for 8 March 1632/3 note a payment of 1s to the 'head Constable for a warrant sent by him, for stayinge of vagrantes & punishinge them' f [62v].

  • Document Description

    Record title: Order for Suppression of Vagabonds
    Repository: NYCRO
    Shelfmark: PR/TW 3/1
    Repository location: Northallerton

    The statutes controlling 'Roges, Vacabond[es] and Sturdy Beggers' (collectively known as the 'poor laws') derive primarily from Henry VIII's statute of 1536 (27 Hen VIII c. 25) (Great Britain, The Statutes of the Realm, vol 3 (London, 1817; rpt 1963), 558–62). This legislation did not last and was repealed in the same year but it formed the basis of Elizabeth's statute, first promulgated in 1572 (14 Eliz I c.5) and repeated in 1597–8 (39 Eliz I c.4) and 1601 (43 Eliz I c. 2). The 1572 act was particularly severe in its punishments: '[A]ll Fencers Bearewardes Comon Players in Enterludes & and Minstrels, not belonging to any Baron of this Realme, or toward[es] any other honorable Personage of greater Degree),' wandering abroad without the license of two justices at the least, were subject 'to be grevouslye whipped, and burnte through the gristle of the right Eare with a hot Yron of the compasse of an Ynche about' (Great Britain, The Statutes of the Realm, vol 4, pt 1 (London, 1819; rpt 1963), 591). These provisions were modified and lightened in the 1597–8 legislation: '[A]ll idle persons going about any Cuntry eyther begging or using any subtile Crafte or unlawfull Games and Playes, or fayning themselves to have knowledge in Phisiognomye Palmestry or other like crafty Scyence, or pretending that they can tell Destenyes Fortunes or such other like fantasticall Ymagynacions; all persons that be or utter themselves to be Proctors Procurors Patent Gatherers or Collectors for Gaoles Prisons or Hospitalles; all Fencers Bearewardes common Players of Enterludes and Minstrelles wandring abroade, (other than Players of Enterludes belonging to any Baron of this Realme, or any other honorable Personage of greater Degree, to be auctoryzed to play, under the Hand and Seale of Armes of such Baron or Personage); all Juglers Tynkers Pedlers and Petty Chapmen wandring abroade; all wandering persons and common Labourers being persons able in bodye using loytering and refusing to worcke for such reasonable Wages as is taxed or commonly gyven in such Partes where such persons do or shall happen to dwell or abide, not having lyving otherwyse to maynteyne themselves; all persons delivered out of Gaoles that begg for their Fees, or otherwise do travayle begging; all such persons as shall wander abroade begging pretending losses by Fyre or otherwise; and all such persons not being Fellons wandering pretending themselves to be Egipcyans, or wandeirng / in the Habite Forme or Attyre of counterfayte Egipcians' (Great Britain, Statutes of the Realm, vol 4, pt 2 (London, 1819, rpt 1963), 899). This statute became the basis for the prosecution of entertainers of all sorts who travelled without gentry patronage. All the prosecutions of the Simpson and Hudson companies cite the statute, whose provisions remained in force until the reign of Queen Anne (13 Anne c.26; Great Britain, Statutes of the Realm, vol 9 (London, 1822; rpt 1963), 976–83). The process of administrative distribution of the statute is clarified by its appearance in the Thornton Watlass parish register, indicating that the contents of the statute were filtered down through the hierarchy of the church to the churchwardens, who were responsible for presenting offenders at the quarter sessions.

    1574–1722; English and Latin; paper; ii + 135 + ii, loose page slipped in between ff [121] and [122]; original leaves 295mm x 185mm, mounted on modern paper 390mm x 245mm; unfoliated; last 16 folios fragmentary, often several fragments to a folio; 19th-c. vellum-covered boards, gold stamped edging front and back, title on front: 'THORNTON WATLASS | GENERAL REGISTER | 1574 – 1722.'

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