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Local responses to the poor in late medieval and Tudor England

  • Marjorie K. McIntosh


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1 Tierney, Brian, The medieval poor law (California, 1959); Bosl, K., ‘Potens und Pauper: Begriffsgeschichtliche Studien zur Gesellschaftlichen Differenzierung im Fruehen Mittelalter und zum “Pauperismus” des Hochmittelalters’, in his Fruehformen der Gesellschaft in Mittelalterlichen Europa (Munich, 1964) 106–34; Mollat, Michel, ed., Études sur l' histoire de la pauvreté, 2 vols. (Paris, 1974); Mollat, , Les pauvres au moyen age (Paris, 1978); Blockmans, W. P. and Prevenier, W., ‘Poverty in Flanders and Brabant from the fourteenth to the mid-sixteenth century: sources and problems’, Acta Historiae Neerlandicae 10 (1979) 2057; and Little, Lester K., Religious poverty and the profit economy in medieval Europe (London, 1978). For cities, see Mundy, J. H., ‘Charity and social work in Toulouse, 1100–1250’, Traditio 22 (1966) 203–87; Courtenay, W. J., ‘Token coinage and the administration of poor relief during the late Middle Ages’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 3 (1972) 275–95; Kirshner, Julius and Molho, A., ‘The dowry fund and the marriage market in early Quattrocento Florence’, Journal of Modern History 50 (1978) 403–38; Roberts, Suzanne F., ‘Les Consulats du Rouerque et l' Assistance Urbaine’. Assistance et Charité (Cahiers de Fanjeaux, au XIIIe et au début du XIVe siécles 13 (Toulouse, 1978) 131–46; Caille, Jacqueline, Hôpitaux et charité publique à Narbonne au may en age (Toulouse, 1978); Fischer, Thomas, Staedtische Armut und Armenfuersorge im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert (Goettingen, 1979); and Maschke, Erich, Staedte und Menschen (Wiesbaden, 1980) 357–79.

2 Grimm, Harold J., ‘Luther's contributions to sixteenth-century organization of poor relief’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 61 (1970) 222–34; Kingdon, Robert M., ‘Social welfare in Calvin's Geneva’, American Historical Review 76 (1971) 5069; Pullan, Brian, Rich and poor in renaissance Venice. The social institutions of a Catholic state, to 1621 (Oxford, 1971), and his Catholics and the poor in early modern Europe’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 5th sen., 26 (1976) 1534; Gutton, Jean-Pierre, La société et les pauvres en Europe, XVIe à XVIIIe siècles (Paris, 1974); Davis, Natalie Zemon, ‘Poor relief, humanism, and heresy: the case of Lyon’, reprinted in her Society and culture in early modern France (London, 1975) 1764; Chrisman, Miriam U., ‘Urban poor in the sixteenth century: the case of Strasbourg’, Studies in Medieval Culture 13 (1978) 5967; Catharina Lis and Hugo Soly, Poverty and capitalism in pre-industrial Europe (New Jersey, 1979); Juette, Robert, ‘Poor relief and social discipline in sixteenth-century Europe’, European Studies Review 11 (1981) 2552; and Riis, Thomas, ed., Aspects of poverty in early modern Europe (Stuttgart, 1981).

3 Leonard, E. M., The early history of English poor relief (Cambridge, 1900) chs. iv–vi; Elton, G. R., ‘An early Tudor poor law’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 6 (1953) 5567; Davies, C. S. L., ‘Slavery and protector Somerset: the Vagrancy Act of 1547’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 19 (1966) 533–49; Beier, A. L., The problem of the poor in Tudor and early Stuart England (London, 1983) and his Masterless men: the vagrancy problem in England, 1560–1640 (London, 1985); and Slack, Paul, ‘Poverty and social regulation in Elizabethan England’, in Haigh, Christopher, ed., The Reign of Elizabeth I (Basingstoke, 1984) 221–41 (abridged in Slack's Poverty in Elizabethan England’, History Today 34 [10, 1984] 513). For towns, see Webb, John, ed., Poor relief in Elizabethan Ipswich, Suffolk Records Society, 9, 1966; Pound, John F., ed., The Norwich census of the poor, (Norfolk Record Society, 40, 1971); Pound, John F., Poverty and vagrancy in Tudor England [for Norwich] (London, 1971); Anderson, Kitty, ‘The treatment of vagrancy and the relief of the poor and destitute in the Tudor period [London to 1552; Hull to 1576]’ (University of London Ph.D. thesis, 1933); and Slack, Paul, ‘Social policy and the constraints of government, 1547–1558 [on London]’, in Loach, Jennifer and Tittler, Robert, eds., The mid-Tudor polity, c. 1540–1560 (London, 1980) 94115.

4 Sidney, and Webb, Beatrice, English poor-law history. Part I: the old poor law (London, 1927); Hampson, E. M., The treatment of poverty in Cambridgeshire, 1597–1834 (Cambridge, 1934); Herlan, R. W., ‘Poor relief in London during the English Revolution’, Journal of British Studies 18 (1979) 3051; Macfarlane, Stephen, ‘The administration of poor relief in London in the later seventeenth century’ (Oxford University D.Phil, thesis, 1979); Slack, Paul, ‘Poverty and politics in Salisbury, 1597–1666’, in Clark, Peter and Slack, P., eds., Crisis and order in English towns, 1500–1700 (London, 1972) 164203; Slack, Paul, ed., Poverty in early-Stuart Salisbury, (Wiltshire Record Society, 1975); Beier, A. L., ‘Poor relief in Warwickshire, 1630–1660’, Past and Present 35 (1966) 77100; Wales, Tim, ‘Poverty, poor relief and the life-cycle: some evidence from seventeenth-century Norfolk’, in Smith, Richard M., ed., Land, kinship and life-cycle (Cambridge, 1984) 351404; and Brown, W. Newman, ‘The receipt of poor relief and family situation: Aldenham, Hertfordshire 1630–1690’, in Smith, ed., Land, kinship and life-cycle, 405–22. For the replacement of the ideas which supported the ‘old poor law’, see Himmelfarb, Gertrude, The idea of poverty (London, 1984).

5 Page, F. M., ‘The customary poor law of three Cambridgeshire manors’, Cambridge Historical Journal 3 (1930) 125–33; Clark, Elaine, ‘Some aspects of social security in medieval England’, Journal of Family History 7 (1982) 307–20; and The custody of children in English manor courts’, Law and History Review 3 (1985) 333–48. For late medieval charity from the donors' perspective, see Thomson, J. A. F., ‘Piety and charity in late medieval London’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 16 (1965) 178–95; Fleming, P. W., ‘Charity, faith, and the gentry of Kent, 1422–1529’, in Pollard, Tony, ed., Properly and politics (London, 1984) 3658; and Rubin, Miri, Charily and community in medieval Cambridge (Cambridge, 1987).

6 Emmison, F. G., ‘Poor-relief accounts of two rural parishes in Bedfordshire, 1565–1598’, Economic History Review 3 (1931) 102–16, and The care of the poor in Elizabethan Essex’, Essex Review 62 (1953) 728.

7 12 Richard II, c. 7. The provisions of the 1388 act are considered below. Caroline Barron has kindly informed me that London had already defined the problem of poverty and attempted to find solutions before 1388: civic legislation passed in 1366 drew a distinction between the impotent poor and sturdy beggars.

8 39–40 Elizabeth I, cc. 3–5.

9 These categories are described in the B- and C-texts of William Langland's Piers Plowman: see Shepherd, Geoffrey, ‘Poverty in Piers Plowman’, in Aston, T. H. et al. , eds., Social relations and ideas: essays in honour of R. H. Hilton (Cambridge, 1983) 169–90.

10 Vagrancy legislation is discussed below; Pound, Poverty and vagrancy; Beier, A. L., ‘Vagrants and the social order in Elizabethan England’, Past and Present 64 (1974) 329, and Slack, Paul, ‘Vagrants and vagrancy in England, 1598–1664’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 27 (1974) 360–79.

11 See, e.g., Tawney, R. H., The agarian problem in the sixteenth century (London, 1912); Tawney, , Religion and the rise of capitalism (London, 1927); Knowles, D., The religious orders in England, 3 vols., (Cambridge, 1959), esp. 3; Jordan, W. K., Philanthropy in England, 1480–1660 (London, 1959); and Thomson, , ‘Piety and charity’, 178–95.

12 One of the best examples is the town of Hadleigh, Suffolk, described by Foxe as ‘a university of the learned’ for its knowledge of true Protestant doctrine even in Henry VIII's reign, a leading Puritan pulpit and congregation throughout the Elizabethan years, and the home of probably the most fully developed system of poor relief and coercion found in the sixteenth century apart from the largest urban centres. See Jones, W. A. B., Hadleigh through the Ages (Ipswich, 1977), chs. 34, and the fine records preserved in the Hadleigh Urban District's strongroom, kindly made available to the author by the District Council and its archivist, Mr Jones.

13 Examples of strong responses to poverty in communities with a variety of powerful pre-Reformation institutions are Sudbury, Suffolk and Louth, Lines., with town structures; Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire and Clare, Suffolk, with manor courts; and Wisbech, Isle of Ely and Saffron Walden, Essex, with fraternities. Continuity of function is particularly visible when the pre-Reformation fraternity became the town government of the 1540s or 1550s, as in Wisbech, Saffron Walden, and Bury St Edmunds.

14 The Parliamentary response is discussed below.

15 Smith, R. M., ‘Some reflections on the evidence for the origins of the “European marriage pattern” in England’, in Harris, Christopher C., ed., The sociology of the family: new directions for Britain (Keele, 1979), 74112; Hatcher, John, Plague, population and the English economy, 1348–1530 (London, 1977), chs. 24; and Dyer, Christopher, Lords and peasants in a changing society: the estates of the Bishopric of Worcester, 680–1540 (Cambridge, 1980), ch. 9.

16 Clark, ‘Some aspects of social security’. Maintenance agreements appear to have been less frequent after 1349 than in the first half of the fourteenth century, owing to the relative abundance of land.

17 Page ‘Customary poor-law’, and Clark, ‘Custody of children’.

18 Heal, Felicity, ‘The archbishops of Canterbury and the practice of hospitality’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 33 (1982) 544–63; and The idea of hospitality in early modern England’, Past and Present 102 (1984) 6693.

19 The prohibition of begging is discussed below.

20 For clerical almsgiving, see Tierney, , Medieval poor law, 106–9; 15 Richard II, c. 6.

21 12 Richard II, c. 7.

22 Beier, , Problem of the poor, 1920, and see Savine, A., English monasteries on the eve of the dissolution (Oxford, 1909); Snape, R. H., English monastic finances in the later Middle Ages (Cambridge, 1926); and Knowles, Religious orders.

23 Smith, Toulmin and Smith, L. T., eds., English Gilds E.E.T.S., 40, (London, 1870); Westlake, H. F., The parish gilds of medieval England (London, 1919); Scarisbrick, J. J., The Reformation and the English people (Oxford, 1984), ch. 2; Hanawalt, Barbara A., ‘Keepers of the lights: late medieval English parish gilds’, in Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 14 (1984) 2137; Brigden, Susan, ‘Religion and social obligation in early sixteenth-century London’, Past and Present 103 (1984) 67112; Rosser, A. G., ‘Medieval Westminster: the vill and urban community, 1200–1540’, (University of London Ph.D. thesis, 1984) esp. ch. 7; and Barron, Caroline M., ‘The parish fraternities of medieval London’, in Barron, C. M. and Harper-Bill, C., eds., The Church in pre-Reformation society: essays in honour of F. R. H. DuBoulay (Suffolk, 1985) 1337.

24 Calendar Close Rolls, 1385–1389, 624, and Babington, Churchill and Lumby, J. R., eds., Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden, Rolls Series, 9 (London, 1866) 191.

25 Westlake, Parish gilds, Appendix. See also Palmer, W. M., ‘The village gilds of Cambridgeshire’, Transactions of the Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Archaeological Society, 1 (1900) 330402.

26 A guild might invite a few poor men to participate in the fraternity's feast or give out pennies or grain on the patron saint's day or at the burial of members (Westlake, Parish gilds, Appendix).

27 In addition to the returns used by Westlake and shown in Table 1, the Public Record Office in London has since 1970 discovered nine other returns among its own records; Caroline Barron has recently identified four more stray returns at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

28 Palmer, , ‘Village gilds’.

29 Clay, R. M., The medieval hospitals of England (London, 1909); and Knowles, David and Hadcock, R. N., Medieval religious houses: England and Wales (revd. edit., New York, 1971).

30 Heath, Peter, The English parish clergy on the eve of the Reformation (London, 1969) 8. By the nineteenth century the number of parishes had risen to over 10,000 through subdivision of large units: Wrigley, E. A. and Schofield, R. S., The population history of England, 1541–1871 (London, 1981) Table A7.10.

31 Hilton, R. H., The decline of serfdom in medieval England (London, 1969) 32–5; DeWindt, E. B., Land and people in Holywell-cum-Needingworth (Toronto, 1972) 158; and Howell, Cicely, Land, family and inheritance in transition: Kibworth Harcourt, 1280–1700 (Cambridge, 1983) 44–8.

32 12 Richard II, cc. 7, 3, and 9.

33 Razi, Zvi, ‘Family, land and the village community in later medieval England’, Past and Present 93 (1981) 336.

34 For a more detailed discussion of this period, see McIntosh, M. K., ‘Local change and community control in England, 1465–1500’, Huntington Library Quarterly 49 (1986) 219–42; and ‘Economic change in southeast England, 1350–1600’, prepared for the University of California/Cal. Tech. conference on ‘Pre-industrial developments in peasant economies: the transition to economic growth’, 05, 1987.

35 For a sample of diverse historical assessments of the fifteenth-century economy, see Postan, M. M., ‘Medieval agrarian society in its prime: England’, The Cambridge economic history of Europe 1 (2nd ed., Cambridge, 1971) 548632; and Medieval economy and society (London, 1972); Bridbury, A. R., Economic growth: England in the later Middle Ages (2nd ed., Brighton, 1975); Hilton, , Decline of serfdom; and Dyer, Christopher, ‘A redistribution of incomes in fifteenth-century England?’, Past and Present 39 (1968) 1133.

36 Hatcher, , Plague, 63–4; Rosser, , ‘Medieval Westminster’, 183–6, Kershaw, Ian, ed., Bolton priory rentals and ministers' accounts, 1473–1539 (Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 1970) xv–xvi; Dyer, , Lords and peasants, 189–90 and 288305; Jones, Andrew, ‘Bedfordshire: fifteenth century’, in Harvey, P. D. A., ed., The peasant land market in medieval England (Oxford, 1984) 179251, esp. 199200; and McIntosh, , Autonomy and community: the royal manor of Havering, 1200–1500 (Cambridge, 1986) 221–3.

37 Baker, A. R. H., ‘Changes in the later middle ages’, in Darby, H. C., ed., A new historical geography of England before 1600 (Cambridge, 1976) 186247, esp. 206; Howell, , Land, family and inheritance, 5960; Bolton Priory, Table 3, Dyer, , Lords and peasants 240–2 and 352–3; and McIntosh, , Autonomy and community, 221–6.

38 Glennie, Paul D., ‘A commercializing agrarian region: late medieval and early modern Hertfordshire’. (Cambridge University Ph.D. thesis, 1983); Moss, Douglas, ‘The economic development of a Middlesex village [Tottenham]’, Agricultural History Review 28 (1980) 104–14; McDonnell, Keven, Medieval London suburbs (London, 1978); and McIntosh, , Autonomy and community, 226–7; cf. Searle, Eleanor, Lordship and community: Battle Abbey and its Banlieu, 1066–1538 (Toronto, 1974) 365–6. Agricultural wages dropped by about 30 per cent between their peak in the 1430s and the 1480s; they rose again from the 1490s onward (Hatcher, , Plague, Table II, 49).

39 Jacob, E. F., The fifteenth century (revised ed., Oxford, 1976) 369. For below, see Leadam, I. S., ed., The Domesday of Inclosures, 1517–1518, 2 vols., (1897; reissued London, 1971) esp. 2 521 and 591; and Baker, , ‘Changes’, 207–15. Recent work has emphasised that these changes were as much the result of a long-term drop in the population as a cause of depopulation. See Blanchard, Ian, ‘Population change, enclosure, and the early Tudor economy’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 23 (1970) 427–45; and Dyer, Christopher, ‘Deserted medieval villages in the West Midlands’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 35 (1982) 1934.

40 Ramsey, Peter, ‘Overseas trade in the reign of Henry VII: the evidence of the customs' accounts’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 6 (1953) 173–82.

41 Baker, , ‘Changes’, 219–26; and Lander, J. R., Conflict and stability in fifteenth-century England (3rd ed., London, 1977) 35–6.

42 Smith, Patricia, ‘The brewing industry in Tudor England’ (Concordia University [Montreal] M.A. thesis, 1981); Clark, Peter, The English alehouse (London, 1983) 31–2 and 101; and Dyer, , Lords and peasants, 347–8.

43 Searle, , Lordship and community, 365; Dyer, , Lords and peasants, 349; Cornwall, Julian, ‘English country towns in the fifteen twenties’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 15 (1962) 5469; and McIntosh, , Autonomy and community, 229–31. For carriers, see Kendall, Paul M., The Yorkist age (1962; paperback, New York, 1970) 242–3.

44 Material on this region was generously furnished to the author by A. J. Pollard of Teesside Polytechnic, Cleveland, on the basis of his own research for a study of the economy and politics of the North east in the fifteenth century.

45 For stagnation, see Blanchard, , ‘Population change’; Campbell, B. M. S., ‘The population of early tudor England’, Journal of Historical Geography 7 (1981) 145–54; and Poos, L. R., ‘The rural population of Essex in the later Middle Ages’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 38 (1985) 515–30; for growth in the later fifteenth century, see Gottfried, R. S., Epidemic disease in fifteenth-century England (Leicester, 1978) 187206; and Dyer, , Lords and peasants, ch. 9; Hatcher, , Plague, ch. 5 offers a convenient summary.

46 E.g., Howell, , Land, family and inheritance, Fig. 16 and Table 28; Ballon Priory, Table 3; McIntosh, , Autonomy and community, ch. 6; and Butcher, A. F., ‘The origins of Romney Freemen, 1433–1523’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 27 (1974) 1627.

47 Goldberg, P. J. P., ‘Female labour, service and marriage in the late medieval urban North’, Northern History 22 (1986) and Marriage, migration, servanthood and life-cycle in Yorkshire towns of the later Middle Ages: some York cause paper evidence’, Continuity and Change 1 (2) (1986). The rural figure has been calculated by Goldberg from Smith, R. M., ‘Hypothèses sur la nuptialité en AngleterreauxXIIie–XIVe siècles’, Annales: E.S.C. 38 (1983) table 3, p. 118.

48 In Havering, Essex, for example, the number of people described as servants in my composite listing derived from all local records was six times higher in the 1470s than in 1430–60, despite only a limited increase in total population. (By 1562, servants constituted about 20% of the estimated population of Romford parish: McIntosh, M. K., ‘Servants and the household unit in an Elizabethan English community’, Journal of Family History 9 [1984] 323.) The records of other communities show increases in the number of servants too. It is of course possible that some of this apparent change resulted from more precise terminology on the part of clerks.

49 Phythian-Adams, Charles, Desolation of a city: Coventry and the urban crisis of the late Middle Ages (Cambridge, 1979) ch. 20; McIntosh, , ‘Servants and the household unit’; and Ann, Kussmaul, Servants in husbandry in early modern England (Cambridge, 1981).

50 A statute of 1495 confirmed the 1388 requirement that an impotent poor person might beg only in his own community (11 Henry VII, c. 2). A revision of this act in 1503–4 offered a tighter definition of a person's ‘home community’: beggars were to return to the ‘city, town or hundred where they were born, or else to the place where they last made their abode the space of three years’ (19 Henry VII, c. 12). The three-year rule was to determine eligibility for local support in all subsequent legislation until 1598.

51 E.g., Suffolk Record Office, Bury, FL 509/1/15, fos 19r–26v (Long Melford), Lincolnshire Archives Office, Louth, St James parish, 7/2, fos 22r–33v, and see Scarisbrick, , Reformation and the English people, chs. 1–3.

52 Kreider, Alan, English chantries: the road to dissolution (Cambridge, Mass., 1979), and see, e.g., Kitching, C. J., ed., London and Middlesex chantry certificates, (London Record Society, 1980); Brown, J. E., Chantry certificates for Hertfordshire (Hertford, c. 1909); Hussey, Arthur, ed., Kent chantries (Kent Archaeological Society 12 1936); and Hussey, Arthur, ed., Kent obit and lamp rents (Kent Archaeological Society 14 1936).

53 In the 1540s, 64 parishes in London and Middlesex reported an annual income of£1980, of which£70, or 4 per cent, was given to the poor. Eighteen fraternities and chantries, with an income of£1050, gave£73 (7 per cent) to the poor (London and Middlesex chantry certificates, passim).

54 Tierney, , Medieval poor law, 128.

55 Thus, in Norwich 10–13 fraternities were in existence at any one time between 1370 and 1470, a number which had risen to 21 between 1510 and 1532 (Tanner, Norman P., The Church in late medieval Norwich, 1370–1532 [Toronto, 1984] 74). The gradual abandonment of a belief in Purgatory during the 1530s and 1540s together with fear of royal confiscation undermined the position of the fraternities. Of testators whose wills were proved in the commissary court of London, for example, 23.6 per cent left bequests to fraternities between 1522 and 1539 whereas only 8.5 per cent did so between 1539 and 1547 (Brigden, , ‘Religion and social obligation’, 101, note 191).

56 Lincolnshire Archives Office, Misc. Don. 169, fo. 7. The guild had an annual income of£324 in 1548: Foster, C. W., ‘The chantry certificates for Lincoln and Lincolnshire returned in 1548’, Associated Architectural Society Reports and Papers 36 (19211922), and 37 (19231925).

57 See Table 3 below. In 1548, the fraternity of Salve Regina in the London parish of St Magnus, whose members were of modest economic station, was providing lifetime support to one blind brother and three poverty-stricken sisters as well as temporary support to a sister during her illness and a brother then imprisoned in Ludgate (Bridgen, , ‘Religion and social obligation’, 99). The Confraternity of St George in Norwich, with about 200 prosperous members, gave annual support in 1533 to three fellows who had fallen into poverty, at the rate of 6d./week; one of these, an elderly man, had received similar aid for the past three years (Tanner, Church in late medieval Norwich, 80).

58 For almshouses, see, e.g., Essex Record Office, T/A 104/2, Wisbech Corporation Records, 1, p. 69; Statham, Margaret, Jankyn Smyth and the guildhall feoffees (Bury St Edmunds, 1981) 67; Swaby, J. E., A history of Louth (London, 1951) 71–5, and Scarisbrick, , Reformation and the English people, 21 and 30.

59 Beier, , Problem of the poor, 1920.

60 Legislation concerning games was tightened in 1477–8 and 1495 (17 Edward IV, c. 3, and 11 Henry VII, c. 2). The latter act also introduced licensing of alehouses and ordered that vagrants be placed in the stocks before being sent out of the community, measures which did provide some practical assistance to local leaders. The only early Tudor royal proclamation dealing with the poor, from 1487, concerned the punishment of vagabonds, Hughes, P. L. and Larkin, J. F., eds., Tudor royal proclamations (New Haven, Connecticut, 1964) 17. These measures came after several decades of local activity on the issues they addressed.

61 Hearnshaw, F. J. C., Leet jurisdiction in England (Southampton Record Society, 1908); and Morris, W. A., The Frankpledge system (New York, 1910).

62 The new role of the leets is discussed more fully in McIntosh, , ‘Local change and community control’. For bye-laws, see Searle, , Lordship and community, 415–17; Guth, DeLloyd J., ‘Borough law and leets: the contribution to representative government’, unpublished paper read at the Medieval Conference, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 05, 1980; Dyer, , Lords and peasants, 358–9 and 368–9; and McIntosh, , Autonomy and community, 250–2. For punishments, see, e.g., Essex Record Office, D/DBy M10, mm. 8 and 12 (Saffron Walden); Searle, , Lordship and community, 409–14; McIntosh, , Autonomy and community, 250; Guildhall Library, London MS 10312, Roll 182 (Bishop's Stortford); Mattingly, Joanna (doctoral student, University of London), ‘Statutory law and criminal activity in the Middle Thames Valley under the early Tudors’, unpublished seminar paper read at the Institute of Historical Research, London; and Dyer, , Lords and peasants, 359.

63 E.g., Mattingly, , ‘Statutory law and criminal activity’; and McIntosh, , Autonomy and community, Table 5.4 and ch. 6.

64 E.g., Essex Record Office, D/DBy M9–10 (Saffron Walden); Public Record Office, SC 2/203/72 (Clare, Suffolk); Mattingly, , ‘Statutory law and criminal activity’ (the hundreds of Isleworth, Middlesex, and Cookham and Bray, Berkshire); Searle, , Lordship and community, 415; and Dyer, , Lords and peasants, 358–9. The laws are 12 Richard II, c. 6, and 11 Henry IV, c. 4.

65 E.g., Public Record Office, SC 2/203/72 (Clare, Suffolk); McIntosh, , Autonomy and community, 255–61; Pembroke College, Cambridge, Framlingham MSS, manor court roll G; Essex Record Office D/DBy M10 (Saffron Walden); Searle, , Lordship and community, 409–15; and Mattingly, , ‘Statutory law and criminal activity’ (Cookham and Bray hundreds, Berkshire).

66 Similar concerns were seen during the period of intense population pressure in the later thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries; many of them reappeared during the later Elizabethan years. This topic is considered more fully in McIntosh, ‘Local change and community control’.

67 Although it is possible that other courts now began to deal with these issues, there is no sign of their appearance in surviving church court records; we know too little about the actual jurisdiction of the Justices of the Peace in this period to reach any conclusions about their role.

68 Beier, , Problem of the poor, 1920.

69 Rosser, ‘Medieval Westminster’, ch. 7; and London and Middlesex chantry certificates, 65; Brigden, Susan E., ‘The early reformation in London, 1520–1547’ (Cambridge University Ph.D. thesis, 1980) 351–3; and Redstone, V. B., ‘Chapels, chantries and guilds in Suffolk’, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and Natural History 12 (1906) 3087.

70 The yield of private benefactions for poor relief mentioned in wills in Jordan's ten counties between 1551 and 1560 was 4.5 times higher than in the 1510s and 1520s and 1.8 times higher than in the 1530s and 1540s; the total cumulative yield of private institutions founded since 1480 was more than a third higher in the 1550s than in the 1540s at contemporary prices. Hadwin, J. F., ‘Deflating philanthropy’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 31 (1978) 105–17, esp. Table 2. When corrected for inflation, the cumulative yield in the 1550s was no higher than in the preceding two decades, but this reckoning does not take into account the inflating value and hence higher yield of assets given in earlier bequests. For charity and the calculation of its worth, see Jordan, , Philanthropy in England and the companion volumes dealing with individual counties, Bittle, W. G. and Lane, R. T., ‘Inflation and philanthropy in England: a re-assessment of W. K. Jordan's data’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. 29 (1976) 203210; and Wilson, Charles, ‘Poverty and philanthropy in early modern England’, in Aspects of poverty, 253–79.

71 For towns, see, e.g., Hadleigh, Suffolk (Jones, , Hadleigh through the ages, 31); Bury St Edmunds (Statham, , Jankyn Smyth and the guildhall feoffees, 7); and Saffron Walden (Richard Lord Braybrooke, The history of Audley End [and] Saffron Walden [London, 1836] 252–3). For rural parishes, see Suffolk Record Office, Bury, 1871/18–20 (Icklingham); and Lincolnshire Archives Office, Addlethorpe parish, 10, for the transition from the guildhall of the 1540s to the church house of 1556.

72 Slack, , ‘Social policy’; and Pound, , Poverty and vagrancy, 61.

73 Elton, , ‘An early Tudor poor law’,; and Guy, J. A., The public career of Sir Thomas More (New Haven, Connecticut, 1980) 151–6; 22 Henry VIII, c. 12. It is interesting that no other remedial solutions appear to have been put forward by English Christian humanists, unlike the continent: cf., e.g., Davis, , ‘Poor relief, humanism, and heresy’.

74 27 Henry VIII, c. 25.

75 Parish accounts indicate that boxes for the poor were installed in at least some places and that sums were indeed given to them and distributed: e.g., Hertfordshire Record Office, D/P 12 18/1 (Baldock); Suffolk Record Office, Bury, EL 110/5/3; 2 Edward VI (Mildenhall), and Farmiloe, J. E. and Nixseaman, R., eds., Elizabethan churchwardens' accounts Bedfordshire Historical Records Society 33 (1953) xxx (Shillington, Bedfordshire). Sums distributed occasionally to the poor by several parishes around 1550 apparently came largely from the poor men's box (Lincolnshire Archives Office, Leverton parish, 7/1, fos 47r–49r; and Hertfordshire Record Office, D/P 18/1, in or after 1548).

76 27 Henry VIII, c. 25, heading 24, a proviso written on a separate schedule annexed to the original act.

77 1 Edward VI, c. 3, item 9.

78 Ibid., items 1 and 6; and Davies, , ‘Slavery and Protector Somerset’.

79 3 and 4 Edward VI, c. 16. It was the act of 1531 which was reinstated, not the more enlightened measure of 1536.

80 5 and 6 Edward VI, c. 2.

81 Hadleigh, Suffolk MSS, Box 4/1 (1558), Suffolk Record Office, Bury, FL 501/7/34 (Clare, late 1552); and Emmison, ‘Care of the poor in Elizabethan Essex’, 28 (Ingatestone, Stock, and Buttsbury, 1555). Most surviving collectors' accounts begin only in 1563.

82 1 Mary, st. 2, c. 13, and 2 and 3 Philip and Mary, c. 5.

83 5 Elizabeth I, c. 3.

84 The continuing importance of the parish community (commonly expressed before 1548 through local fraternities) throughout the pre-Reformation periods is emphasised by Barren, Caroline, ‘Parish raternities of medieval London’; see also Scarisbrick, , Reformation and the English people.

85 Wrigley and Schofield, Population history of England, Table A3.1.

86 Appelby, A. B., Famine in Tudor and Stuart England (Liverpool, 1978), ch. 8; and Slack, Paul, ‘Mortality crises and epidemic disease in England, 1485–1610’, in Webster, Charles, ed., Health, medicine and mortality in the sixteenth century (Cambridge, 1979) 959. For plague, see Slack, Paul, The impact of plague in Tudor and Stuart England (London, 1985) especially Part II.

87 Figures calculated from Wrigley and Schofield, Population history of England, Table A9.2.

88 Pound's introduction to Norwich census of the poor, and Slack, , ‘Poverty and social regulation’, 231–2. The suggested definition of the poor, below, is Pound's.

89 Examples appear in almost all churchwardens' and collectors' accounts: e.g., Hertfordshire Record Office, D/P 5/1, 7–9 (Ashwell); D/P 65 21/1 (Buntingford); and A 1578 and 1586 (Thundridge); Bedfordshire Record Office, P 10/25/1 (Northill); Lincolnshire Archives Office, Witham on the Hill parish, 7, fos 5r–9d; and Addlethorpe parish, 10, 1550s–1580s.

90 Macfarlane, Alan, Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England (London, 1970), ch. 12; and Thomas, Keith, Religion and the decline of magic (New York, 1971), chs. 1617.

91 Licenses to beg are, e.g., Hertfordshire Record Office, HAT/SR 2/79, 4/20, 7/156, 8/30; and Elizabethan churchwardens' accounts (of Bedfordshire), 7587.

92 McIntosh, M. K., The liberty of Havering-atte-Bower, 1500–1620 (in preparation), ch. 5.

93 This information was kindly provided to the author by Ian Archer, Junior Research Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge, stemming from his research on ‘Governors and governed in Elizabethan London’ for an Oxford University D.Phil, thesis.

94 Hadwin, , ‘Deflating philanthropy’, Table 2.

95 E.g., Suffolk Record Office, Bury, EL 159/77sol;29/1–5 (Walsham le Willows); and Hertfordshire Record Office, D/P 19/1/V, 2 (Great Berkhamstead). Some parishes continued to board such children locally until they were of age for service: Suffolk Record Office, Bury, EE 501 C141 B/1, fos 73v–74r (Sudbury), and Tem 123, fos 88, 97, and 136 (Wattisfield).

96 Hadleigh MSS, Box 4/1, 122 ff., and Box 21/27. For Linton, see Hampson, , Treatment of poverty in Cambridgeshire, 10.

97 Bedfordshire Record Office, P 5/12/1.

98 For legislation, see below. Aydelotte, F., Elizabethan rogues and vagabonds (Oxford, 1913); Furnivall, F. J. ed., The rogues and vagabonds of Shakespeare's youth, New Shakespeare Society, 6th ser. 7 (1880), and Judges, A. V. ed., The Elizabethan underworld (London, 1965).

99 For the three-year requirement, see note 50 above.

100 Suffolk Record Office, Bury, EE 501 C141 B/1, fo 112r, and cf. fo 120d.

101 Suffolk Record Office, Bury, C2/1, fos 3r–12r, passim.

102 Suffolk Record Office, Bury, FL 509/5/1, 1597.

103 Beier, Problem of poverty, 32.

104 E.g., Lincolnshire Archives Office, Leverton parish, 13/1, Bedfordshire Record Office, P 5/12/1 (Eaton Socon), P10/5/1 and P 10/12/1 (Northill), and P 44/5/2 (Shillington); Suffolk Record Office, Bury, FL 509/5/1, 1597 (Long Melford); and Hadleigh, Suffolk MSS, Box 21/7–29. Six pence remained the normal maximum payment per week through the first half of the seventeenth century (Wales, , ‘Poverty, poor relief and the life-cycle’, 354).

105 Lincolnshire Archives Office, Leverton parish, 13/1.

106 Bedfordshire Record Office, P 10/5/1, 19–20, and P 10/12/1, p. 13.

107 Hadleigh MSS, Box 4/1, 62–6. For below, see Hadleigh MSS, Box 21/7 and Box 4/1, 261.

108 Bedfordshire Record Office, P 44/5/2.

109 Lincolnshire Archives Office, Leverton parish, 13/1, 1565, and the General Books and Act Books of the Archdeaconry of Norwich, in the Norfolk Record Office, c. 1563–9 (information kindly provided to the author by Ralph Houlbrooke); for J.P.s, see Bedfordshire Record Office, P 10/12/1, 1590 (Northill); P 44/5/2, 1596 (Shillington); and Hertfordshire Record Office, HAT/SR 6/39. Cf. HAT/SR 3/148, a complaint by a Clothall widow to the J.P.s in 1594 that she and her children have not been relieved by their parish as the statute dictates.

110 14 Elizabeth I, c. 5, items 16–18.

111 Ibid., item 5.

112 18 Elizabeth I, c. 3, item 4.

113 Ibid., item 5.

114 35 Elizabeth I, c. 7. It was replaced once more by the measure of 1531 which specified only whipping.

115 Slack, , ‘Poverty and social regulation’, 224.

116 39–40 Elizabeth I, cc. 3–5, and 43 Elizabeth I, cc. 2–3.

* Department of History, University of Colorado, Boulder.

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Local responses to the poor in late medieval and Tudor England

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