Beggars in Southampton


Beggars in Southampton

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lectures and talks

Beggars, Rogues and Vagabonds

There has always been a dichotomy between the instinctive need to support those that are worse off and the niggling worry that some of the poor are not so needy as they appear. As Henry VIII put it the rich should not help those who 'live by the graft of begging slothfully'. Vagabonds were thought to embody "idleness, mother and root of al vices". Beggars could be whipped, vagabonds find themselves with shaved heads and put in the stocks. If you were a member of the deserving poor however, you could be given an official badge and bag in which to collect alms and if you found yourself ill or an orphan you could expect help, a place in the alms house, money for food and clothes, if you were from the town. If you were a stranger you could only expect to be moved on given a passport to travel elswhere. This talk looks at the itinerant poor, the disreputable poor, the sick and ailing poor, the management of the poor.