1547 – the new reign of the boy-King Edward VI was marked with a draconian approach to controlling the kingdom’s poor. Penalties for the purported ‘work-shy’ such as whipping and leg irons were nothing out of the ordinary, but the new law extended this to branding with the letter V (for vagrant) and being made a parish slave for two years. Recalcitrant vagrants faced lifetime slavery or hanging. Children could be seized without their parents’ consent or knowledge. Those charged with enforcing the law faced severe penalties if they failed to mete out these punishments. Hard and dangerous times indeed.
Post expires at 10:31am on Tuesday 10 July 2018