The treatment of vagabonds in Tudor times

Vagrants and vagabonds were treated harshly in Tudor times. Laws were passed to punish vagrants in various ways. At first beggars and vagrants were all treated the same. However, over time different methods were used for those who were genuinely poor due to age, illness or disability, and those who were able-bodied but refused to work.

YearPunishment
1495Vagrants were put into the stocks for three days. After that they were sent back to the parish of their birth.
1531Vagrants were whipped and sent back to the parish of their birth. Repeat offenders were punished more harshly.
1547Vagrants caught begging were branded with a V on their forehead and enslaved for two years. Repeat offenders would be executed. This law was repealed after three years.
1601The Elizabethan Poor Law - local taxes were put in place to provide money to support the poor in the area and to provide work for them. However, those who refused work were whipped and sent to a house of correction. Beggars were whipped until their back bled, and were then sent back to their place of birth.