chapter  I
Pages 18

BEGGING and vagabondage in England did not begin in the sixteenth century. Doubtless there were rogues in every age, and there are records which indicate that in the fourteenth century especially they formed a numerous and ingenious class. M. Jusserand's English Wayfaring Life gives an excellent account of them and of the tricks by which they gained their dishonest living. Nevertheless there is abundant evidence that in the sixteenth century the numbers of rogues and vagabonds were larger in proportion to the population than they have ever been before or since, and the history of the times shows why this should be true. It will add meaning to our study of their customs to consider first the historical facts which explain the existence of the rogues themselves.