H. D. (Henry Duff) Traill.

Social England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) online

. (page 32 of 68)
Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 32 of 68)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

pension of four hundred pounds a
year as painter to their majesties."
His works are dignified, courtly,
generally sombre in colour, and
rather lacking in animation. A
very beautiful example is a por-
trait of Sir Thomas Gresham in
the National Portrait Gallery.
This must have been one of the
last works he executed in England,
for on Queen Mary's death he
quitted England, and having
given offence at the Court of
Madrid, he retired to Flanders,
where he found a munificent
patron in the Duke of Alva.
When and where he was knighted
is unknown.

The survivors of the artists
who flourished under Henry VIII.
of course continued their work
under his son and elder daughter,
and as they dropped off were replaced by younger men.
Various Williams and Hanses and Johns are thus met with,


(By permission, frniti tli<' University
<;nlli:ries, V.ffonl.)


'/'///<: XE}\' FORCES.

most of them apparently of foreign origin, though Nicholas
Sergeant, painter to Queen Mary, may possibly have been

an Englishman.

The second Tudor
king added a double
sovereign to the gold
c o i n a g c, a h a 1 f-
sovereign, a Georgi ;
noble, with a St.
George on horseback
attacking the dragon,
and a crown and
half-crown. These
last derived their

names from the crowns with which they were figured, and
from the absence of the head which usually wore it. Similar
coins in silver were also issued by Edward, which, however,
bear his effigy.

As the second Tudor prince added a double sovereign
to the coinage, so the third added a treble sovereign,, and
also a sixpence and a threepence. The older coins were



also issued, though the noble seems to have been falling
into disuse. Under his sister and successor there were
no novelties, unless certain two-penny pieces may be so




Jll - __

i *1

Queen Mary's
most remark-
able coins are
those issued
after h e r
in a r r i a g e
with Philip,
with profile
busts of the
k i n g a n d
queen face to

face, which excited some amusement, and the peculiar ap-
pearance of which is hit off in the description of the pair
of lovers in Butler's " Hudi-
bras " :-

" Still amorous and fond and


Like Philip and Mary on ft

Unfortunately, the artistic
history of the coinage during



the Tudor period is of less
importance than that dis-
creditable story of the successive debasements of its value
which so greatly intensified the natural disturbances of the
economic situation caused by the influx of precious metals from
the New World and by the political changes of the period (pp.

166, 349). It
may be said,
however, that
slight a t -
tempts at re-
f o r m w ere
made both at
the beginning
and at the
end of the
o f


r e g n
Edward VL

346 '/'///<; NEW FORCE*.


w. J. THE reitm of Henry VIII. lias been characterised as

CORBETT. ... , . ,

The Rural forming tiic climax in the development ot the movement

unrest. |;, r converting arable to pasture, which we have been following
so long; and probably at no time during the 150 years in
which the change was being effected was the mania lor sheep
quite so great as just after the dissolution of the monasteries
and in the years preceding the king's death. It cannot,
however, be said that in the reigns of his children the move-
ment at first showed much sign of abating. On the contrary,
all through the lives of Edward and Mary, and well on into
the reign of Elizabeth, we find the outcry against enclosing
as bitter as ever; and in fact it was hardly till the opening
of the seventeenth century that the over-production of sheep
and wool began to have its natural effect, and once more
made their value sink to little, if anything, above that of the
wheat which had so long been inferior to them as a com-
mercial investment.

TheUnem- j u the opening* 1 years of Edward's reign, therefore, there

was plenty of work for the Government to do in trying to

appease the rural discontent ; for the unemployed, who were
now without any monastic charities to aid them, were daily
becoming more wretched and more dependent on begging for
a livelihood. Nor did they suffer in silence, for many ot
them took to rioting and breaking down parks and fences,
while others tramped up to London to see whether any justice
Avas to be obtained. None, of course, was to be had,, and so
finally revolts were attempted. In the West the pretext was
more the religious grievances, but in the East, in Norfolk,
the outbreak under Kett w r as all through ostensibly conducted,
not so much against the Government, as against the land-
lords, and the chief demands that the people put forward
Avere connected Avith the use the gentlemen made of their
estates. Thus, for example, it was proposed that for the
future the gentlemen should have no rights at all in the
commons, and should be restricted in the amount of the fine
they should be entitled to take Avhen rcneAving their grants
to their tenants ; for it Avas only by demanding excessive
fines that they had in many instances been enabled to get
the land out of the hands of their reluctant tenants. Similarly




the rebels demanded that all bondmen should be emancipated,
and one of the great features of the rebellion was the
capturing of all the gentlemen that could be laid hold of,
and their trial and sentence at the so-called Oak of
Reformation for the wrongs they had done to their villagers.
This was the greatest effort to protest against enclosing that
the people ever made, but, like the royal legislation, it came
to nothing; for the Government, though sympathising, were
bound to put it down, the landowners, when the matter came


to blows, having the law entirely on their side. Somerset
did what he could by pardoning many of the ringleaders, and
at a later time the Government itself passed another Act
for enforcing the pulling down of enclosures ; but the larger
fines it imposed (five shillings an acre per annum for non-
compliance) hardly acted as a greater deterrent than its

Outside the history of the enclosing at this time there The state
is very little that calls for attention. The cultivation of culture
hemp and flax, and the development of the hop industry
which was just beginning, may be noticed ; but in most
districts which were untouched by sheep-farming, no changes




ill all seem to have been introduced, ; ,iid they remained exactly
as they were, with their system of cultivation in large open
tidds, for almost another two centuries, when a new wave
of enclosing finally swept the old method entirely away.

J, E.

The Eco-

The Spend-
thrift Gov-

Ix the reigns of Edward VI. and Mary the condition of the
English people was wretched in the extreme. The causes of this
great misery have been partly indicated in previous sections.
The Reformation movement, and the subsequent reaction from it,
had produced much disorder, with rioting and rebellion almost
amounting to civil Avar. The dissolution of the monasteries is
said to have involved a transfer of one-third of the national
wealth. Such a transfer could scarcely fail to be at least
temporarily disastrous. It involved extensive changes in the
character of the demand for labour, and thus reduced to the
ranks of the unskilled those whose skill was no longer in


demand, even if it did not compel them to swell the numbers of
the unemployed. Many of those unemployed naturally became
vagrants ; and the transition of a large proportion of these to
the criminal class was so natural as to be almost inevitable.
The Agrarian Revolution, and the extensive enclosure of the
common lands, which were contemporaneous with the religious
changes, greatly aggravated these evils. Only a few shep-
herds were now needed on land which had formerly em-
ployed many agriculturists, and the loss of common rights
removed what would have been a check on vagrancy, by
destrovinsr one of the forces that tended to keep men in their

i/ O

own localities.

The incompetency and extravagance of the Government
the national misery. The expenses of Henry's
Court were four times as great in the last six months of his reign
as they had been at the beginning. This was no doubt largely
due to the rise in pi-ices ; but we shall see that this rise was
caused, in no small measure, by the policy of the Government.
The royal debt was also a heavy burden, the rate of interest
charged by the Flemish Jews being seldom less than twelve per
cent. The death of Henry only increased the number of those
whose extravagance had to be paid for by the nation. The
leading members of Edward VI. 's Council, though differing on




many points, agreed in regarding their trust as an opportunity
for enriching themselves. Their conduct was even more in-
excusable than that of Henry himself, for they could see, on
every side, the terrible results of the rapacity and extravagance
of the late king's Government.

The chief cause, however, of the depression of trade and ^he De-


industry during the reigns of Edward YI. and Mary was probably of the
the continued debasement of the currency (pp. 171, 345). Currency -
Henry VIII. no doubt issued more base money than his suc-
cessors, but Henry's debasements were mostly in the latter
years of his reign, and did not produce their full consequences
till it was almost ended. Edward's Council Avas equally greedy
and unscrupulous. Its members talked of' reforming the
currency, but their acts belied their words. They issued even
baser coins than those of the previous reign.

Edward's coins were debased in two ways : namely, in quantity in Weight,
and in quality. Henry had issued silver pennies weighing only
ten grains (troy). Edward's advisers reduced their pennies by
two grains more. This debasement was, no doubt, only in
accordance with earlier precedents. The pennies of 1346 weighed
twenty grains ; those of 1351 and 1464 Aveighed eighteen and
tAvelve grains respectively. But these earlier debasements took
place in ages Avhen there was a general dowmvard tendency
of prices. They exercised a steadying effect, and Avere even,
in some respects, beneficial, tending to mitigate the hardships
produced by falling prices. On the other hand, the Tudor
debasements came in a period of rising prices, and they
aggravated all the evils of such a period.

But the diminished Aveight of the Tudor coins Avas a less in Purity,
serious matter than their diminished purity. At the accession
of Henry Till, the alloy amounted to only three-fortieths of the
silver. Henry had gradually increased the proportion of alloy till
it amounted in some cases to tAvo-thirds of the coin. Under
Edward VI. (1551) coins Avere issued of Avhich three-fourths con-
sisted of alloy.

These successive debasements naturally threAv prices and The Effect. '
Avages into confusion. It was not only that the purchasing
poAver of the coins was diminished. No one knew how far
the rapacious dishonesty of the Council might carry them, or
what the intrinsic value of the next coins would be. The better





coins were, to a great extent, driven out of circulation. They
were melted down, or exported, or hoarded, and there was the
widest diversity in the weight and quality of those actually in


T he evil w a s
further aggravated 1 >y
the temptations which
a debased currency
ottered to false coiners.
A large profit could
nowbemade by issuing
coins which, both in
weight and purity,
came up to the Govern-
ment standard. There were naturally plenty of persons ready
to take advantage of this opportunity. The Controller of the
Mint at Bristol set the example, buying up church plate,
melting it down, and throwing the metal contained in it upon
the country in the shape of bad shillings. Others followed
the example ; and soon mints were set up in France, Flanders,
and other parts of Europe to supply the English market with
base coins. These, of course, helped to push prices still
higher, and to swell the general misery.

The Government had temporarily gained by issuing debased

coins. But, in

the long run,
its financial dif-
ficulties were
c o nsiderably
aggravated by
the fact that it
now had to pay
more highly for
everything that
it needed. It
had rewarded

the services of its adherents by allowing them to reap the profits
of successive coinages. In this way alone 150,000 worth of base
silver moiie}- was brought into circulation (1549). It seemed a
cheap way of discharging obligations, but the consequent rise and




disorganisation of prices struck a heavy blow at the growth of
English manufactures, and added greatly to the number of the
unemployed. Edward's Government was driven almost to
despair by the necessity of paying, in sterling silver, fourteen or
fifteen per cent, interest on its debts to foreign creditors, with an
additional twelve per cent, on the exchange, and it can scarcely
have failed to see the connection between its own currency policy
and its financial embarrassments. By constant robbery, especially
of the property of churches and guilds, it managed to pay its
way; but by the close of the reign there was little more to be
obtained by such means, even if the next sovereign had been
willing to profit by plundering ecclesiastical bodies.

The reisrn of Mary (1553-1558) contains little of importance Trade and

r , . i Industry

in industrial history. It gives us five years of continued national under

misery, though it is difficult to say whether the misery was Mary -
increasing Mary's crimes were in the regions of foreign and
ecclesiastical policy. In industrial matters, the worst charge that
can be brought against her is that of impotence and inaction in
a grave political crisis. She committed no such acts of spoliation
and shortsighted greed as her immediate predecessors, and the
currency in particular she left almost as she found it. But, on
the other hand, Mary made no serious or sustained effort to
relieve the ills from which the country was suffering. Like most
other sovereigns, she began her reign with good intentions.
The expenses ot the household were to be reduced. The corrup-
tion of officials was to be suppressed. Order, economy, and
justice were to be introduced into the Administration. The task,
however, was one which would have required the undivided
energies of an able statesman, and was altogether beyond the
powers of a woman whose chief anxiety was for the supremacy of
her own theological and ecclesiastical views, To her passion for
orthodoxy Mary soon added a passion for Philip of Spain which
involved her in uncongenial lavishness and ultimately in a war
with France. The naval and military forces had been allowed in
the previous reign to fall into a state of inefficiency, from which
Mary had done little to raise them. The Avar was at once
unsuccessful and expensive. The Queen's financial advisers
invented a new device for obtaining money, which was destined
to have an important influence on our later history. At their
instigation, Mary levied, without the consent of Parliament, a



A New

duty upon cloths exported beyond the seas (155*7), and after-
wards an import duty on French wines. Our trade was so
depressed that these duties did not add much to the burdens
of the nation : but the fact that the Queen's promises of economy
ended in the imposing of fresh and hardly constitutional taxes
may illustrate her iricompetency for the task laid upon her. The
circumstances demanded peace, retrenchment, and reform. In
lieu of these she gave England religious persecution, foreign
war, and industrial inaction. The currency continued un-
reformed ; the treasury remained empty ; trade, agriculture,
and manufactures languished : and the problems of pauperism,
vagrancy, and the unemployed became increasingly urgent. It
will, therefore, be convenient at this point to sketch the growth
of the Tudor system of dealing with these difficulties.

w. A. s.

The Pro
blem of

SUCCESSIVE changes in industry and commerce have swept away
almost all traces of the economic system of which the old poor
law formed a part. That law is still, in many of its features, the
basis of the modern system of poor relief. But the forces which
shaped it have ceased to operate, and the point of view of the
men who framed it is strange to people living in the present
century. In this and a subsequent chapter we shall trace the
movement which culminated in the famous poor law of Elizabeth
and the broad outlines of the system then established. We
shall see what were the so-called rights of the poor which that
law secured, and how it was administered during an important
period of English economic history.

At the commencement of the sixteenth century the relief of
the poor was not recognised as a civil duty or as the business of
government. If the statutes of the realm and the by-laws of
municipalities had secured the object with which they were
framed, every man able and willing to work would have had his
place in society, though that place might not have been one he
would have chosen if left to himself, nor the wages equal to his
own estimate of his deserts. The " problem of poverty," there-
fore, was then essentially different from that of modern times.
The statesmen of that time had not to deal with a class of poor
whose ranks were constantly recruited by those who had fallen.
or who were too weak to rise in the struggle for existence.



Theoretically there was no place for such failures in the social
system, and if we may judge from the early statutes relating to
vagabonds and the poor, there was not much belief in the
existence of able-bodied men and women who were willing to
work but forced to beg. It was generally recognised, however,
that there were two large classes who might be the recipients of
charity. War, shipwreck, disease, and similar causes produced a
large crop of impotent poor, who in no circumstances could be
expected to work. There were besides, the sturdy beggars,
the vagabonds, the idle rogues of society. For the first class


(From a view taken in 17SO ; MS. Add. S9S6.)

sixteenth century opinion suggested Christian charity ; for the
second, repression.

The outlines of a system of poor relief had been sketched in
the reign of Richard II. in a series of statutes 1 dealing with
vagabonds, the impotent poor, and other subjects. We have
there the elements of local responsibility and settlement, some
attempt at maintenance, and punishment of able-bodied beggars
elements very conspicuous in the later statutes. At the end of
the fifteenth century the severe treatment which the vagabonds
received was not found to lead to satisfactory results. Henry VIL's

1 12 Richard II., cc. 3, 7, 8. 9 ; 15 Richard II., c. G, etc.



first Vagrant Act 1 complained of the " extreme rigour '' of the
earlier statutes, and the " great charges " of the " long-abiding "
of the vagabonds in the gaols, " whereby by likelehedc many of
theym should lose their lives." So, combining the principles of
economy and humanity, the penalty for begging was reduced to
three days and three nights in the stocks for the first ofFence, and
six days and six nights for the second. Eight years later 2 still
milder provisions were substituted one day and one night in the
stocks for the first offence, and three days and three nights for
the second, with a bread-and-water diet during the time of con-
finement. Clerks of the universities, soldiers, shipmen, and
travelling men were to be punished in the same way unless the}'
carried proper certificates. The impotent poor were to go to the
place of their birth, or where they had last resided for three
years, upon pain of being punished as vagabonds.
The Poor- Such was the state of the law at the accession of Henry \lll.

Laws of During the first twenty-two years of his reign the Government
HenryVIII. , -, 1f ..-, , . .

contented itselt with suppressing mummers and gipsies, and

aiming indirectly at the diminution of poverty by regulating
industry, by sumptuary laws and similar means. 3 But in 1530-1
we have an elaborate Act of Parliament which, with a supple-
mentary Act passed in 1536, 4 sketched out so complete a system
of poor relief that some writers appear to think it unnecessary to
describe in detail the later legislation of the sixteenth century.
It is important to bear in mind the circumstances in Avhich the
Act of 1530-1 was passed, the objects with which it was framed,
and the class of people it was meant to reach. The evil which
alarmed the Government was the increase, not of impotent poor,
but of the class of vagabonds and idle rogues, whose " great and
excessyve nombres " came " by the 9ccasyon of ydlenes, mother
and rote of all vyces." They were the perpetrators of " contynuall
theftes, murders, and other haynous offences, which displeased
God, damaged the king's subjects, and disturbed the common
weal of the realm." The "goode lawes, streyte statutes and

1 11 Henry VII., c. 2. - 111 Henry VII.. c. 12.

3 E.g. 1 Henry VIII.. c. 14 : 3 Henry VIII., c. <J ; 4 Henry VIII., c. r> :
6 Henry VIII. , c. 3 : 7 Henry VIII., cc. 5, 6.

4 22 Henry VIII., c. 12, and 27 Henry VIII.. c. 25. The former Act was
continued by 23 Henry VIII., c. 6 ; 31 Henry VIII. . c. 7; 33 Henry VIII..
c. 17; 37 Henry VIII., c. 23. The latter was continued by 31 Henry VIII.. c. 7,
etc. For the history of 22 Henry VIII.. c. 12. in later reigns, ri<l<: infra



Hundred of Flaxwell, Lincolnshire.

Hundred of Edmonton, Middlesex.

ordenances" of the king and his progenitors, which had been
framed for the " most necessary and due retbrmacion " of this
class, had failed in their object. The clauses of the Act directing
the local authorities how to deal with the aged and impotent
poor were obviously drawn up to facilitate the detection of
vagabonds in order that they might receive the severe punish-
ment meted out to them in the statute. If this interpretation
of the statute be correct, we can more easily understand the
nature of the problem which the Government had to solve.
We may, of course, reject the explanation of the evil considered
satisfactory at the time viz , idleness and, burning with The En-
righteous indignation against the landowners of the period, closures -
denounce the Government for its cruel treatment of the
oppressed poor, driven from their homes by wrongful enclosures.
Modern opinion on the effect of the enclosures has, perhaps,
been unduly influenced by the account given in More's " Utopia,"

Hundred of Staplowe, Middlesex. Hundred of Walshcroft, Lincolnshire.

(British Museum.)


which was published in 1516. But that work, remarkable as li
is as a criticism of society at the period, is of no statistical value
or importance: and on a subject of this character vague
denunciation of enclosures, however eloquent and sympathetic,
cannot be accepted as evidence (cf. p. 159, note). It is, indeed,
probable that some of the sufferers by enclosures were, as an
Act ' of 1533-34 declares, " so discoraged with myserye and
povertie that they fall dayly to thefte, robbery, and other
inconvenience, or pitifully dye for hunger and colde." But even
assuming that enclosures caused widespread distress, it is difficult
to understand from the returns to the Inquisition of 151 7 2 how
they could have proceeded so far by that year as to justify the
sweeping statements in the " Utopia." It may fairly be argued that
the enclosures by stimulating industry, helped to remove the
poverty and vagabondage they are said to have caused. It is
probable that enclosure was frequently urged at this time, as in
the seventeenth century 3 , as an excuse for begging. A con-
causes of temporary document, 4 showing considerable insight, enumerates

Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 32 of 68)