Vagabondage was an important new crime in the 1500s - that of being homeless, poor and unemployed.
Who were vagabonds?
There were 4 different types of vagabonds.
❖Vagabonds were beggars, tramps and vagrants who wandered the country without a settled job.
Some vagabonds were soldiers who had been demobilised.
Most were poor and unemployed people moving to a new town or village looking for work.
Some vagabonds exhibited criminal behaviour, but not all.
Why were people worried about vagabonds?
There were several reasons why people worried about vagabonds:
During the 1500s, concern over vagabonds increased.
Most people did not object to helping the genuine poor, such as those who could not work because they were old or sick.
However, people felt that idleness, or laziness, was wrong. Puritan religion taught that everyone should work hard to avoid acts of sin.
❖Vagabonds were blamed for many crimes such as thefts, assaults and murders.
Many people were worried about the cost. Each village and town raised poor-rates to help the genuine poor of their own parish. Local people did not want to spend their money supporting the poor or idle from another parish.
Pamphlets and books warned about the dangers of vagabonds. These were widely read and as popular as detective novels are today.
❖Vagabonds travelled from area to area, but people were naturally suspicious of strangers to their parish (local area).