The Way how to reform wandring
Beggers, Theeves, high-way
Robbers and Pick-pockets.
An Abstract of his Discoverie:
Wherein is shewed,
That Sodomes Sin of Idlenesse is the
Poverty and Misery of this Kingdome.
By some Well-wishers to the honour of God, and the
publike good both of rich and poore.
Printed for the good of the Poore.
The Recantation aud Conversion of Mr Stanley, somtimes an Inns of Court Gentleman, afterwards by lewd company became a high-way Robber in Queen Elizabeths reign, having his life pardoned, hee loaths his wicked course of life, and writes to King James shewing a meanes and remedy, how the poore of this Kingdom may be greatly relieved by the means of work-houses, in all Cities, Market-townes, and all able parishes in the Kingdome, and how by this meanes wandring begging, idlenesse, and an untimely shamefull end will bee much prevented amongst manie. Idlenesse and prodigality being the grand causes.
Prov. 1. 5. A wise man will heare and increase learning, and a man of understanding shall attaine unto wise councells.
Prov. 1. 10. My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
Prov. 18. 13. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but who so confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
Prov. 29. 7. The righteous considereth the cause of the poor, but the wicked regardeth it not.
That is, the Righteous will seek to releeve their soules with heavenly comforts, as well as their bodies with earthly.
He that hath mercie on the poore, happie is he: Prov. 14. 21.
[Picture of man standing on one leg]
Cripple, do not counterfeit, (as some do) but do some easie work for the good of the Common-wealth.
He that hath pitie on the poore lendeth to the Lord, and that which he hath given, will he pay him again: Prov. 19. 17.
The sluggard will not plow (nor work) by reason of cold, therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing: Prov. 20. 4.
Master Stanly a Gentleman of the Innes of Court, a great high-way robber, in Queen Elizabeths Reign, being taken and having made manie friends to the Queen for his life, the Queen pardoned him, it pleased God to reforme his life, that he writ a booke, and dedicated to King James. wherein he revealed abundance of wickednesse in this Kingdome, which is a great impoverishing to the Common-wealth.
The grand wickednesse of this Kingdome, which makes the King-[catchword: dome]
dome not onely poore but also verie wicked, he sheweth to be three sorts, viz.
1 All sorts of roaguish wandring Vagrants.
2 All sorts of theeves, high-way robbers, pick-pockets, and such like.
3 All such houses as maintaine bawderie, and such like idlenesse, which doth not only wast mens estates, over-throw mens bodies by the French Pox, but also dangers their soules; now to reforme these three grand sins of this Kingdome, he saith will be very easie if his Majestie will ordaine houses of correction, or work-houses in everie County, both in Cities and Market-townes, and so in these words following, he writes to the King,
The Common-wealth of England shall save as much yearly, as your Majesties Subsidies amount unto, by providing work-houses, and houses of correction in everie Countie according to the intent of the Statute, besides the quietnesse and safetie it will bring to every County, where such houses shall be erected and provided.
For I do account there are about 9725. parishes in England, and if there were but two Vagrant persons, or idlers, or drunkards, or other dissolute people, which do not labour for their living, in every parish of the Kingdome, the number were 19450. such idle persons; Now if we esteem the diet and maintenance of these numerous idle, theevish drunken persons to be at 3.d. a day a piece, which these idle persons spend in the Common-wealth, and get nothing, it amounteth to 243.l. 2.s. 6.d. everie day, and by the weeke it comes to 1701.l. 17.s. 6.d. and by the yeare it amounteth to 88740.l. 12.s. 6.d. this great sum of money is spent idly, besides the great sums of money the Vagrants, and Idlers get by begging, stealing and other misdemeanours, and the Common-wealth loseth that now, which might bee well saved by their labours, if they were set to work, but it is thought by some honourable, grave, and wise Councellours of State, that there are not so few as 80000. idle Vagrants in this Land, that prey upon the Common-wealth, which losse being estimated and valued, would amount to a very great sum, which reckoned comes to 1000.l. a day, which by the yeare amounts to three hundred threescore and five thousand pounds, and there is left no way to reforme them, but by setting them or the greatest number of them to worke, in all Market-townes, in houses of Instruction or Correction, and those [catchword: that]
that will not worke in neither of these houses but are resolved to live a refractorie life, they may be sent either to sea (to rid the land of them) or sold to the English Plantations, to see whether God will turne their hearts and amend their lives, that they may not come to a shamefull end, but rather hope they may return to their Countrey againe with joy.
Another great singular profit the erection of these houses would bring to your Majesties poore Subjects of this Realm, that if anie honest poore man or woman had businesse to travell from anie remote place of your Diminions, to your Majestie House and Court, or any of your Majesties Courts of Westminster, or upon their urgent occasions and wanting meanes to beare their charges in their journey, they may for their better reliefe and comfort, repaire everie dayes journey to one of the work-houses, and there be honestly lodged, and staying there two or three daies, they may earne money by their worke, to carrie them to another work-house, and so forwards to the place whereunto they would repaire, without being distressed, or wanting reliefe, or troubling the Constables with Passes, and not to give themselves to begging or stealing as thousands doe in this Land, pretending distresses in their journey, wheras in truth they are verie idle Vagrants, and counterfeit begging maunding souldiers.
I will now divert my pen from speaking any further in these causes, for the reforming of this Kingdom in generall, and come neare to the famous City of London, with the two Counties of Middelsex and Surrey, being the Suburbs and Confines of the same, wherein are a number of the Kings Majesties Pallaces, Noblemens-houses, as also houses of men of worth, and Merchants houses are seated, in which Counties as also in other Counties of this Kingdome, a number of Gentlemen have left their dwellings in the Countrey, and repaire to the City of London, who thereby doe bereave the [catchword: poor]
poore of verie great reliefe, I would it were amended.
But for a good example to all Gentlemen in Citie and Countrey, I will embolden my selfe to speak of a godly and charitable Gentleman, one Mr Harman a Warwick-shire Gentleman, dwelling about Sutton-Colfill, who seeing his Parish to be pestred extreamly with sturdy Beggars, & wandring Rogues, did take order, that they should be all sent to his house, and presently he set them to work, to gather stones forth of his grounds, and gave them some small releefe in meat and drink, and a penny a day, and held them hard to work, (having lustie stout servants to see to them) and when hee had made an end of gathering his owne grounds, hee set them to work in his neighbours grounds, and paid them their wages; which thing, when all the rest of the wandring Beggars and Rogues understood, they durst not one of them come a begging in that Parish, for feare they should be made to work: And for the younger sort of the idle poore in his own Parish, this was such a discipline for them, that they did betake themselves to honest labour, aud so the old, aged, and true poore of his Parish were verie much the better releeved.
I would to God there were more such Harmans in England, but I feare there are either too few, or none at all, that do take the like care for the abandoning of idlenesse as he did.
The generall rule of all England is to whip and punish the wandring Beggars, and to brand them according to the forme of the new Statute, and so mark them with such a note of infamie, as they may be assured no man will set them on work, and so many Justices execute one branch of that good Statute (which is the point of Justice) but as for the point of Charitie they leave undone, which is to provide houses and convenient places to set the poore to work, which ought to be done in equitie and justice, as well as the other. [catchword: The]
The Poore may be whipped to death, and branded for Rogues, and so becomes Felons by the Law, and the next time hanged for vagrancie, (by an Act made in the dayes of Queen Elizabeth of famous memorie) before any private man will set them to work, or provide houses for labour, and stock and materialls for them. The Publike must joyne their shoulders to the work, else it will never be done.
The right end and intent of punishing of Rogues, is but the destruction of vices, and saving of men; but here is no care taken to releeve them. The Statute commands, that the Vagrants should repaire to the places where they were borne, or last dwelled: There are thousands of these people, that their place of birth is utterly unknowne, and they had never any abiding place in their lives, or ever retained in service; but were and are vagrants by descent.
To conclude, it is verie lamentable that poore Rogues and Beggars should be whipped, or branded according to Law, or otherwise punished, because they are begging, or idle, and do not work, when no place is provided for them to set them to work. I have heard the Rogues and Beggars curse the Magistrates unto their faces, for providing such a Law to whip and brand them, and not provide houses of labour for them; for surely many would go voluntarily to the work-houses to work, if such houses were provided for them: so that the penaltie which the Statute appoints were verie fit to be severely put in execution upon such persons that do releeve a Rogue, or other Vagabonds at their doores, that may go unto a work-house and will not, where hee may have reasonable and comfortable maintenance for his labour.
I make no doubt (most Gracious Soveraigne) but it is evident to all men, that Beggerie and Theeverie did never more abound within this your Realme of England, and the cause of this miserie is Idlenesse, and the only meanes to cure the same must be by his contrarie which is Labour; for tell the begging Souldier, and wandring and sturdy Beggar, that they are able to work for their living, and bid them go to work, they will presently answer you, they would work if they could get it. But if work-houses were set up in all able great parishes, it will take away all such defensorie and usuall answers, and then it will be tryed whether they will work or not.
Christian Reader: If this direction of Mr. Stanley's doth relish well with you, as a little meanes for the stirring up of the Committee of Aldermen and Common-Councell men of the Citie of London, who [catchword: do]
do withall earnestnesse endeavour to set up wayes and meanes to employ all the poore in and about the Citie of London, that so it may be a President to all the Kingdome: Wee say, if this paper doth relish well, then we shall endeavour to print the whole work of Mr. Stanley's, which will containe about three sheets of paper, which will discover much wickednesse, which being suppressed by godly Authoritie, will be great joy to godly people.
And whereas the Dutch men in the Low-Countries do much desire England to go on with the work of Charitie, in employing and releeving the poore, as they do theirs. Therefore it shall be our prayer that this good work may be countenanced by the Parliament, because it tends much to Reformation, which our happie and honourable Parliament doth much desire, and seek after.