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Beggars and Vagrants

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HIST 3130
Ashley Mathisen

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Beggars and Vagrants .vagrants explain all criminal behaviour, umbrella term for people who are doing inappropriate behaviour .organized charity moving along from 1740s, central government policies against vagrancyin 1740s- 1790s. crackdown on beggars in 1780s-90s because of Gordon riots which led to crackdown on crime in general. A more negative view of beggars and vagrants by the 19 century especially from the 1780s. Begging in the Early Modern Era (1500-1700) .giving alms to beggars was traditionally seen as a Christian duty. Giving to a beggar created a culture of obligation in which both giver and receiver gained. This was shaken by the reformation but the basic principles remained in tact. In general it was vagrancy, rather than begging that provoked the greatest anxiety (tied to belief in the integrity of the family and the importance of a partirach based social order,) however the idea emerged that beggars and vagrancy were incompatible with the modern civilized state and needed to be cracked down. Vagrants usually stole food from carts and beggars begged for money to buy some, this gave some sympathy compared to others such as pick pockets. People in early modern era were concerned with beggars and vagrants who abandoned their family as then the parish would have to care for their children. Begging in the 18 century .with the 1740s and 1750s, charity shifted from being church based to being funded by private philanthropy or through the state. Rise of organized philanthropic solutions to begging (the foundling, the marine society, the “Friendly societies”). By 1803 there were over 9,000 friendly socieities in England with over 700k members. Levels of response to beggary 1. Variety of specialized institutions for the poor in larger cities. 2. Begins and vagabondage were punishable offences. 3. Parishes were understood to have some responsibility for the poor. Parish system became overencumbered with beggars and vagrants in some areas such as London, friendly socieities had the same problem. However these were th the main sources of help for these people throughout the 18 century. .decline in encouragement of beggary by the mid-18 century (shift away from the notion of informal giving as a fundamental Christian responsibility). Rise of the modern idea of charity (shift from th indiscriminate to organized charity). From the mid-18 century the beggar is increasingly cast as an ‘other’. This was a consequence of the distinction increasingly made between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ beggars. People were encouraged to give to charity instead of giving to beggars, some beggars still got a lot of sympathy as deserving beggars got an increased number of donations while undeserving decreased. Underserving meant if you could work you were undeserving, deserving included the old, children and the sick. .Beggars were always associated with vagrancy, disorder and criminal activity (people who were labelled a beggar or vagrant would be on a downward spiral into crime). Vagrants were whipped branded and burned on their right ear during 1485-1603. A negative view of beggars also developed out of the poor law in particular the act of settlement (1662), but attitudes to beggary were also impacted by industrialization, immigration and demobilization. At least 28 statutes were passed addressing vagrancy th over the 18 century: these were known as vagrancy laws. After every major war there was an increase in vagrancy after the soldiers were demobilized which led to a panic. Policing of vagrants and beggars were usually done by constables and nightwatchmen, there was a small reward for turning in someone who was a vagrant or beggar but since people were relatively sympathetic to them this didn’t do much, the public was also usually opposed to culling beggars from some areas of the city. Vagrancy laws enforced from the 1780s onwards during the crackdown, however there was at least some crackdown before that. Vagrancy act (1714): vagrants could be e
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