As we saw from an earlier blog, poverty was a problem in Salisbury in the late Elizabethan and early Stuart periods. Efforts were made to look after local poor but ‘strangers’ continued to be returned to their place of origin and Salisbury’s Register of these for the years 1598 – 1669 still survive. Thanks to the work of Paul Slack and the Wiltshire Records Society, we can see these for ourselves (and some are included below).
Three Puritan Councillors, John Ivie, Matthew Bee and Henry Sherfield, came up with a plan which built upon, but improved, the usual practices of the time.
‘A Declaration’ written by John Ivie in old age, about the plans he had for Salisbury
Ivie: “There should be provided a storehouse. . . stored with wholesome provision for the poor as this year they have had it, which is, as I will prove, £100 saved in £300. And we would make certain tokens with the city arms in them. The tokens should be from a farthing to sixpence, and this money should be current nowhere but at the storehouse where they should have such diet as is fit for them, both for victual of bread, butter, cheese, fish, candles, faggots, and coals, and some butchers appointed to take their money for flesh if need be.”
They also set up a workhouse and arranged apprentices for poor children. But those from elsewhere were sent away…..Here are some more extracts from the register of passports which tell us of some desperate lives and tell us a little about life at the time.
William Harford, wandering and begging, was spared punishment because of his sickness. Passport to Bishopston ; 2 days assigned. By order of the Lord Chief Justice he has taken with him his wife and one child under the age of 7.
Phyllis Cooke, wandering and begging, was spared punishment because of impotence. Passport to Fovante; 3 days assigned.
Margaret Edwardes, an idle wandering person and vagrant, cannot declare where she was born but says that she dwelt at Havant, Hants, for two years with William Edwardes her uncle. Passport to Havant; 4 days assigned.
Joan Shereman, wandering and begging, was punished. Passport to Fornissfell, Lancs., where she was born; 50 days assigned. ll May 1598. (Seven weeks to get home, on foot.)
Anne Hollowaye, begging, was punished. Passport to Fisherton Anger where she was born; this present day assigned for her passage. 26 May 1598 .
Robert Nelson was sent to this city from Hackney parish, Midx., with a passport made by the curate and constable there alleging that he was born in this city, but no mention is made in it that he was a rogue, vagrant, or begging or that he was punished according to the statute. Therefore Mr. Mayor and Mr. Bower, by a passport under their hands and seals, sent him back to Hackney again, since he dwelt there for 8 years past; 10 days assigned.
Joan Grobbyn is to be whipped openly since she was lately delivered in St. Edmund’s parish Salisbury of a third bastard child, begotten upon her as she aflirms and confesses by one Thomas Wyatt, late servant to John Vaucher of Salisbury. She says that one Battyn, a joiner, deceased, is father of the first child, a son yet living, and that she does not remember the father of the second child, a daughter, because he was a stranger to her. Also she says that she had no punishment for the same.
23 August 1599 Richard Markham, an idle wandering person, is given a passport to Oxford where he has friends by whom he hopes to be relieved; 4 days assigned. He exercises a kind of music on bells in churches.
24 March 1601 Ralph Johnson, a vagrant, was found with Joan Maddocke in a kind of lewd life, alleging her to be his wife, which on examination appears untrue. They lived in this kind of lewd life about one month and met together in Hertfordshire. Passport for him to Bristol and from there to the sea coast and so to return to Ireland to serve again under Sir Francis Shane, one of her Majesty’s captains there; 14 days assigned to Bristol.
17 July 1601 Thomas Williams, a vagrant, was punished. Passport to Landalo Garsanno, Mon., where his dwelling is; 8 days assigned. He offered brass rings coloured with quick silver.
8 April 1605 Dorothy Grene alias Percye, a wanderer, was punished. Passport to Manson, Dors., where she says she was born; 3 days assigned. First she was found lying at the Lamb and so sent away without punishment and shortly after she came again and was taken and so had her passport. She is not able to give account of her life.
24 August 1605 Amy Moore, wandering, was spared her punishment because she is with child and near her time of delivery. She confesses that William Hardinge, son of Eleanor Hardinge, widow, of Mountague, Som., is the father of her child. Assigned 3 days to go to Chesselbury, Som., where she says she was born and lives.
3 January 1606 One naming herself Elizabeth Sherwood, wife of George Sherwood of St. Philip’s parish, Bristoll, was found wandering and because she is with child her punishment was spared. Assigned 5 days to go to Bristoll. She stole venison from Mr. Sidenham’s house.
3 August 1608 Alice Ingram, wife of John Ingram of Lymington, Hants, was found wandering and affirming herself to have the plague, and she runs into divers houses to the great terror of many people. She was punished. Assigned 3 days to go to Lymington to her husband.
The following ‘occupations’ were recorded on passports, in addition to those mentioned above:
…using a kind of play upon bones and bells;
…going about with a kind of stuff called black lead;
…having bells for his legs and using a kind of dancing;
…using divers false sleights and shifts;
…wandering and travelling with small wares as a chapman.
atr. to Jacques Belange