Anent the poore

Charles R[ex], right trustie and right welbeloved cosens and counsellouris, right reverend and reverend fatheris in God etc. Althoght thair be mony goode lawis maid for intertenyment of the poore in that oure kingdome, yitt we understand that thair is no satled course taken for the same bot thay still go in begging throw the cuntrey and in burrough townes upoun the streettis, so as oure subjectis cannot passe in oure heigh wayes for thair importunitie and pitiefull crying, whereas other weele reformed kingdomes tak suche ordour with thair poore as thay go not in publict begging as youris do, to the grite scandall and shame of your natioun and to the dishonour of God in suffering all sorts of vices, athisme and impietie to reigne amongis thame without correctioun or discipline because thay duell in no certane place whair the magistrattis, ather civile or ecclesiasticall, might tak ordour with thame, whiche wer aneugh althoght thair wer not anie other crying sinne in that land to bring the fearfull judgementis of God upoun it. And seing we intend (God willing) to come into that kingdome shortlie for ressaveing of oure crowne (at whiche tyme it wer unseamlie that ather we or suche strangearis as sall accompanie ws sould sie suche uncheritable carelesnes and misregaird of the poore as thay sould be suffered to go abroade in suche pitiefull necessitie for want of competent meanis to intertenye thame in houses), it is thairfore oure pleasure and we require you with all convenient diligence to ordeyne by act of conventioun a proclamatioun to be publist in the most eminent placeis of that oure kingdome commanding all archibishoppis, bishoppis, ministeris, schireffis, justiceis of the peace and magistrattis of burrowis to putt the formar actis of parliament in executioun concerning the intertenyment of the poore within thair awne parocheis and the punishment of strong and idle vagaboundis; and that oure counsell call before thame suche personis as salbe fund ather remisse in putting of the afoirsaid actis in executioun or to dissobey suche ordouris as salbe prescryved unto thame for intertenyment of thair poore. And becaus thair be some thingis in the said former actis whiche, seeming to be obscurelie sett downe, haif not bene dewlie putt in executioun, thairfore, be act of conventioun, you sall cleare the saidis obscurities, as namelie whairas be the former actis all beggaris ar ordanit to repair to thair awne parocheis thair to be intertenyed, yit thair be mony who haif ever bene beggaris from thair youth and being begottin in begging never had ony residence at all and so haif no paroche to resort unto. For remedie whairof, you sall ordaine the names of all who haif no certane place nor paroche to be taikin up and thameselffis divydit amongis the parocheis in the kingdome to be intertenyed by thame pro rata as if thay had bene borne thairin. And to the effect that thair names may the better and more easilie be taikin up, lett all suche poore as have not certane parocheis be wairned publictlie be opin proclamatioun at all the mercatt croceis in the kingdome to compeir within the heid burgh of that schirefdome whairin thay salbe at the tyme of the proclamatioun upoun ane certane day befoir the justiceis of the peace of that shyre, whome you sall ordaine to convene at that day, and gif thame power to divide amongst the parocheis of thair shyre to be intertenyed in those parocheis whair they salbe placed, as if they had bene borne thairin, those begging straingearis who sall compeir befoir thame the day appoyntit, geving thair oathe that thay do knawe no certane paroche whairunto they can resort; with power alsua and commandement to the saidis justiceis to go with the said poore to the particular paroche kirkis of the parocheis whairunto they salbe appoyntit, and to see provisioun maid for thame among the native and kyndlie parrochynnaris, for seing the saidis begging strangearis ar a burdene to the whole kingdome, it wer better and muche easier for eache shyre and eache paroche to haif thair awne just pairt of that nomber to interteny in houses than to interteny thame going yeirlie as vagaboundis. Secondlie, whereas by the former actis eache paroche is ordanit to interteny thair awne poore, whairby cleirly it is to be understand that eache paroche sall interteny thair awne poore in houses within thair paroche and not suffer thame go abroade in begging, yitt mony parocheis do mak thair poore go in publict begging throw thair parocheis, commanding thame to keepe thameselffis within the same, whairupoun manie evillis doe follow, as namelie by that meane the poore ar held idle, whairas if thay wer held in houses thay might be exercised about some industrie for the help of thair intertenyment. Nixt, by that meane they ar manie tymes disapoyntit of thair intertenyment divers of the parrochynnaris, yea even of those who may best help bestowing ather litle or na almes at all, whairby the poore are compelled to brek lowse againe and go abroade in the cuntrey. For remedie whairof, lett it be ordanit be the said act of conventioun that the minister and elderis of eache paroche sall place thair poore in houses and according to thair nomber lett thame sett downe a stent upoun eache portioun of rent payed in the paroche and upoun eache fermer and housholder according to his worthe, whiche ather in victuall or money will extend to asmuche as will furnishe and advance the particular quantitie whiche salbe esteemed sufficient for intertenyment of eache persone to be delyvered weeklie to thame; with power also and commandement to the saidis justiceis of the peace to assist eache minister to sett downe the saidis stentis upoun the dewtie payed in eache paroche and upoun the induellaris thairof, and to command thair constables to poynd and distrenyie for the same incaise neid be. Thirdlie, whairas by former actis of parliament it is ordanit that all parocheis sall intertene thair awne poore, in the whiche act by all parocheis is not to be understoode onlie induellaris in the paroche, bot the rentis payed out of the paroche to the awneris thairof, whairsoever thay remayne, whither in burgh or abroad in the cuntrey, for otherwayes it sould fall out verie oftin that the burdene of the intertenyment of the poore sould ly upoun the poore labouraris of the ground in mony parocheis whairin nane are duelling bot poore labouraris and cottaris, thair maister to whome the rent of the paroche doeth belong being duelling abrode, yitt through not considderatioun heirof in mony parocheis the poore ar disapoyntit. For remedie whairof, you sall ordaine that the stent for intertenyment of the poore in each paroche salbe sett downe upoun the rent payed out of eache paroche whairsoever the maister thairof doeth duell and upoun the fermaris and otheris pro rata, and the constables be ordanit to haif power to distrenyie if neid be, alsweele the fermes of the heritouris for the portioun imposed upoun thame as the otheris induellaris for thair pairtis. And this recommending to your speciall care, we bid you all and everie one of you farewell. Gevin at Sarisburie, the 22 of October 1625.

  1. NAS, PC1/31, f.73r-74v. Back