The first social and cultural history of vagrancy between 1650 and 1750, this book combines sources from across England and the Atlantic world to describe the shifting and desperate experiences of the very poorest and most marginalized of people in early modernity; the outcasts, the wandering destitute, the disabled veteran, the aged labourer, the solitary pregnant woman on the road and those referred to as vagabonds and beggars are all explored in this comprehensive account of the subject. Using a rich array of archival and literary sources, Vagrancy in English Culture and Society, 1650-1750 offers a history not only of the experiences of vagrants themselves, but also of how the settled 'better sort' perceived vagrancy, how it was culturally represented in both popular and elite literature as a shadowy underworld of dissembling rogues, gypsies, and pedlars, and how these representations powerfully affected the lives of vagrants themselves.
Hitchcock's is an important study for all scholars and students interested in the social and cultural history of early modern England.
About the Author
David Hitchcock is Lecturer in History at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones
1. The Assumption of Idleness: Definitions of and Responses to Vagrancy in England
2. 'Rogue Ballads' and Popular Perceptions of Vagrancy
3. 'Rogue's Redemption': Vagrancy, Marginalisation and Escape in English Literature
4. The Hidden Histories of the Mobile Poor: Casual Relief and Roadside Subsistence
5. Masterless Women: Domestic Service and Female Subsistence Mobility
Conclusions: The Pillory and the Whipping Post