Outlaws and Highwaymen

Passage from Martin Markall, Beadle of Bridewell, by Samuel Rid
Samuel Rid, Martin Markall, Beadle of Bridewell, ed. A. V. Judges in The Elizabethan Underworld (London, George Routledge, 1930), pp. 415–416


He first gave terms to robbers by the highway, that such as rob on horseback were called high lawyers, and those who robbed on foot he called padders.1 The difference of these two sort of villains is this: The first sort are called gentlemen robbers, or thieves, and these ride on horses well appointed, and go in show like honest men. The other rob on foot, and have no other help but a pair of light heels and a thick wood. Concerning the first sort, that delight in the credit of a high lawyer, that with their swords freeboot abroad in the country like cavalieros on horseback, are commonly such men, that either are younger brethren who, being brought up in idleness and gaming, when their friends are dead, do fall to this kind of life to maintain the main chance;2 others, again, being left well by their friends, having no government of themselves, but banqueting with whores, and making late suppers, do greatly impoverish and beggar themselves; and when all is spent after this manner, and their money wasted like snow against the sun, they, for their ultimum refugium, are forced to undertake this wretched and abhorred profession, robbing honest poor men, and taking all their money from them, yea, and often more than is their own, to the utter undoing of the poor man, his wife and children for ever; 3 who, when they have it, waste it as vainly as they wickedly purchased it; and others, that, having been soldiers, when they come from the wars, either by breaking up of the camp, or by running away from their colours to see their friends, or what way soever, cannot betake themselves to any honest trade of life, but, loving to live in idleness, betake themselves to robbing and stealing, until they be taken and carried westward, there to make their rehearsal.4

Samuel Rid


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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