How did the Elizabethans respond to poverty



  • Help them, mske compans and jobs for them.
  • Domestic labour.
  • Place to go for help, give them work.
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  • Don't help them, put them in jail if nessary.
  • Public example.
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The Counterfeit Crank

They would bite od soap so that he frothed at the mouth and them wold pretend to have a fit. The idea was that people would feel sorry for him and give him money.

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The Bare-top Trickster

They were women who would trick men into following them ad prehaps buying them a meal by removing items of clothing. The man would then be beaten and robbed by the women's accomplices.

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The Clapper Dudgeon

They would cut himself and tie dirty bandages around the wound, people would feel sympathy and give him money.

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Tom O' Bedlam

He would pretend to be mad in order to get money. They might bark like a dog for hors, follow people around or stick a chicken's head in his ear. The money people gave him may have been out of sympathy or prehaps just to get rid of him.

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1495, 1531 and 1576

1495---Beggars were being punished in public and sent back home if they came from another area. 

1531---With a few exceptions, beggars publicity whipped. If they were caughted for a 2nd time, they would have a hole burned in thier ear. The 3rd time they would be hanged. The only way to avoid this, was you would have to have had a lisence.

1576---'Act for setting the poor on work', this placed the responsibilty for finding work fot the poor in the hands of the local authorties while the national policy still focused on punishment.

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  • Wear a bandage, this was for licenced beggards.
  • Houses of correction.
  • A Master Beggar oppointed.
  • Licenecd beggars.
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  • Separated the poor into 'idle poor and unfortunate poor'.
  • Taxed the rich to help the poor.
  • The idle poor were given work.
  • Unfortunate poor were given food and other forms of care.
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  • Hospitals to help the old and sick.
  • Houses of correction.
  • Educate some children.
  • Licenced beggars.
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The Helpless Poor

The sick and the old were provided with food to live on and placed in special homes where they could be cared for.

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The Able-Bodied Poor

Those who were considerd fit, includind children were expected to work. They were given food and drink as payment and in some cases some where to sleep.

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The Idle Poor

Those who were seen as lazt were whipped and then sent to a House of Correction to work. Those who went beyond begging into a life of crime might be dealt with even more harshly.

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The Poor Laws


  • Begging seemed to decrease.
  • Still maintained the clear threat of punishment.


  • Arguments over which area paupers belonged to.
  • It was inconsistantly used and many areas did not fufil the requirments.
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