Tricksters, Lords and Servants: Begging, Friendship and Masculinity in Eighteenth-Century England

  • Tim Hitchcock


In Bampfylda-Moore Carew’s autobiography, The Life and Adventures of…the Noted Devonshire Stroller and Dog-Stealer, first published in 1745, he recounts a tale as old (and probably as spurious) as the genre of rogue literature itself.1 He tells how in the town of Maiden-Bradley on the road south of Frome in Wiltshire, he came across a fellow mendicant pretending, like Bampfylda himself, to be a shipwrecked sailor begging his way homeward, ‘in a Habit as forlorn as his own, a begging for God’s Sake, just like himself’. They address each other in canting language, asking about the best places to doss and whether Bampfylda would ‘brush into the Boozing-Ken and be his Thrums, that is go into the Alehouse and spend his Threepence with him’. They retire to the pub and in casual friendship, compare notes on the generosity of the gentlemen of the neighbourhood, determining to go out begging as a team. Eventually they come to the home of a Lord Weymouth and approach the kitchen door. Telling their stories, they are frightened by the cook with accounts of the horse whipping and spells in Bridewell meted out to false beggars by the master of the house. Undaunted Bampfylda presses his case and convinces the cook of his sincerity, receiving ‘the best part of a shoulder of mutton, half a fine wheaten loaf, and a shilling’.


Eighteenth Century Male Friendship Masculine Identity Street Corner Casual Charity 
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© Tim Hitchcock 2005

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  • Tim Hitchcock

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