Bawdy Men and Better

  • Jerome Friedman


The English revolution stimulated an extensive volume of pamphlet literature extolling the popular Robin Hood-like virtues of royalist antirevolutionary heroes.1 Indeed, it is possible that the popular hero as a man of the people truly came into his own during these complex times when identification with the dead Charles I or the future Charles II was impossible. For one thing, these publications appeared only after Charles I was executed. Also, they rejected the possibility of using Oliver Cromwell as a popular hero in place of the king. Despite his authority and military ability, Cromwell did not capture the attention of the pamphlet press. Perhaps he was too much identified with Charles I’s execution or with the subsequent failure of his governmental experiments or was too embroiled in the mire of day-to-day governance involving policies ordinary Englishmen disliked. James Hind, on the other hand, was another story altogether.


Silver Plate Political Prisoner Social Type Confidence Operator Governmental Experiment 
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  1. 1.
    Concerning bandits as popular heroes, see: Eric J. Hobsbawm, Bandits (New York: Pantheon Books, 1981); Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1971); Maurice Keen, Outlaws of Medieval Legend (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961); Frank W. Chandler, The Literature of Roguery, 2 vols. (London: Houghton Mifflin, 1907, 1981); W. H. Bonner, Pirate Laureate: the Life and Legends of Captain Kidd (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1947).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A complete listing of newsbooks about James Hind can be found in G. J. Gray, A General Index to Hazlitt’s Handbook (London: B. Quaritch, 1893).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    J. A. Sharp, “Last Dying Speeches: Religion, Ideology and Public Execution in Seventeenth-Century England,” Past and Present, no. 107 (May 1985): 144–67.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Highwaymen were of great interest to contemporaries. Two early works describing crime and evildoing in early modern England are Thomas Dekker’s The Belman of London: Bringing to Light the Most Notorious Villainies That Are Now Practiced in the Kingdom (London, 1608), and Thomas Harmon’s Fraternity of Vagabond (London, 1575). See also Captain Alexander Smith, A Complete History of the Lives and Robberies of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads, Shopslifts and Cheats of Both Sexes, 5th ed., ed. Arthur L. Haywood (New York: Brentano, 1926); Charles Johnson, A General History of the Lives and Adventures of the Most Famous Highwaymen, Murderers, Street-Robbers and Et Cetera (London, 1734); Related to these, see A. L. Beier, “Vagrants and the Social Order in Elizabethan England,” Past and Present, no. 64, (August 1974): 3–29; F. Aydelotte, Elizabethan Rogues and Vagabonds (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913; reprinted London: F. Cass, 1967); Max Beloff, Public Order and Popular Disturbances, 1660–1714 (London: F. Cass, 1963); Jean Jules Jusserand, English Wayfaring Life in the Middle Ages, trans. Lucy Toulmin Smith, 4th ed. (London: Benn, 1950). Concerning crime in early modern England, the following should prove helpful: J. S. Cockburn, Crime in England, 1500–1800 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977); John L. McMullan, The Canting Crew: London’s Criminal Underworld 1550–1700 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1984); Gamini Salgado, The Elizabethan Underworld (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1977); John A. Sharpe, Crime in Early Modern England 1550–1750 (New York: Longman, 1984); Michael R. Weiser, Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Europe (Atlantic Heights, NJ: Humanities Press, 1979); L. O. Pike, A History of Crime in England, 2 vols. (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1873–76), vol. 2.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    C. H. Firth, Cromwell’s Army: A History of the English Soldier During the Civil Wars, the Commonwealth and the Protectorate, 4th ed. (London: Methuen, 1962); L. F. Solt, Saints in Arms, Puritanism and Democracy in Cromwell’s Army (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1959); Bernard Capp, Cromwell’s Navy: The Fleet and the English Revolution 1648–1660 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989); M. A. Kishlansky, The Rise of the New Model Army (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    There is a long literary tradition of male cross-dressing. See Winfried Schleiner, “Male Cross-Dressing and Transvestism in Renaissance Romances,” Sixteenth Century Journal 19, no. 4 (Winter 1988): 605–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Jerome Friedman 1993

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  • Jerome Friedman

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