1535: 27 Henry 8 c.25: Punishing Sturdy Vagabonds and Beggars.

1535: 27 Henry 8 c.25: An Act for Punishment of sturdy Vagabonds and Beggars.

All Governors of Shires, Cities, Towns, Hundreds, Hamlets and Parishes, shall find and keep every aged, poor and impotent Person, which was born or dwelt three Years within the same Limit, by way of voluntary and charitable Alms in every of the same Cities and Parishes, &c. with such convenient Alms as shall be thought meet by their Discretion, so as none of them shall be compelled to go openly in begging. And also shall compel every sturdy Vagabond to be kept in continual Labour. (2) Children under fourteen Years of Age, and above five, that live in Idleness, and be taken begging, may be put to Service by the Governors of Cities, Towns, &c. to Husbandry, or other Crafts or Labours. (3) A valiant Beggar, or sturdy Vagabond, shall at the first Time be whipped, and sent to the Place where he was born or last dwelled by the Space of three Years, there to get his Living; and if he continue his roguish Life, he shall have the upper Part of the Gristle of his Right Ear cut off; and if after that he be taken wandering in Idleness, or doth not apply to his Labour, or is not in Service with any Master, he shall be adjudged and executed as a Felon. (4) No Person shall make any open or common Dole, nor shall give any Money in Alms, but to the common Boxes, and common Gatherings in every Parish, upon Pain to forfeit ten times so much as shall be given. (5) There shall be no playing at unlawful Games.

Source: Ruffhead, Statutes at Large, vol. 2.

Archive: UK Parliament Archives.

Further reading: Wikipedia; Caroline Angus Baker.