Outlaws and Highwaymen

Passages from The Jesuit’s Memorial, by Robert Parsons
R[obert] P[arsons], The Jesuit’s Memorial for the Intended Reformation of England, Under their First Popish Prince, intr. Edward Gee, (London, 1690), pp. 210–11, 253.


[Multitude of Thieves in England.]

One thing also in particular, for very honour of our Realm, and saving the Lives and Souls of infinite Men, is greatly wished might be recommended to his Majesty,1 and effectually redressed, which is the multitude of Thieves that rob and steal upon the High-ways in England, more than likely in any other Country of the World; they being also sometimes of no base Condition, or Quality, that do it; but rather Gentlemen, or wealthy Men’s Sons, moved thereunto not so much of poverty and necessity, as of light estimation of the fault, and hope of Pardon from the Prince; whereby it cometh to pass, that albeit the English Nation, as by experience is found, be not so inclined to steal in secret as some other Nations are, and that more are put to Death in England, for punishment of that Fact, than in many other Nations together; yet is this enormity of robbing upon the High-ways much more frequent and notorious in England, than any where else in Christendom; which is a great infamy to our Government, and hurt to the Commonwealth.

For remedy, though divers means may be suggested, whereof I shall have occasion to speak in the two Chapters following; yet one principle is thought to be, if it were once known, that the Prince would hardly or never dispense or give pardon in that offence, but upon great, rare and extraordinary occasion; For albeit many obtain not this pardon, yet the very hope thereof encourageth others to attempt the Fact.

* * *

... surely it is great pity to see so many consumed by Gallowses in England, more perhaps than in half Christendom besides.

Robert Parsons

Textual Note

In the original, ‘Multitude of Thieves in England’ is a marginal note


Notes and page design © Gillian Spraggs 2001, 2007
Text added to site on 20 September 2001 | Page last modified on 28 August 2007

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