Beggars Bush: A Perambulation through the Disciplines of History, Geography, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Natural History, Botany, Biography & Beggary

Dublin, Donnybrook – False Trails Beggars

The usual explanation of the place name Beggars Bush is that it was a haunt of highwaymen or beggars. However, the record of Beggars boush in 1573 undermines these later explanations at Dublin, Donnybrook. Many historical works on Dublin give this. I believe they are examples of the tendency to adopt restrospective romantic explanations. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 30th, 2011 | Filed under: Places, Speculations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Dublin, Donnybrook – False Trails Prints

There are four early prints purporting to show Beggars Bush at Donnybrook. It is difficult to identify these with any recorded features or with each other. It seems that the two later prints take liberties with the features to present an artistic scene. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 30th, 2011 | Filed under: Places, Speculations | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »


Dublin, Donnybrook – False Trails Lazars Hill

In 1573 “the Old Shore” of South Dublin continued to Townsend Street, then called Lazey or Lazar’s Hill (also Louseyhill, Louzy Hill and Lowsyhill) from the leper hospital. This is too far away to have any direct connection with Beggars Bush at Donnybrook.
I have encountered an article by Sean Donnelly which speculates that connects the two sites in Dublin through Poor Robin’s An Almanack of the old and new fashion (1694) which says “Since the King of the Beggars was married to the Queen of the Sluts at Lowzy-Hill near Beggars-Bush, being most splendidly attended by a ragged Regiment of Mumpers.” I do not believe this has anything to do with Dublin. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 30th, 2011 | Filed under: Places, Writers | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Anon The Oath at Beggars Bush c.1615

The Oath at Beggars Bush or to Make a Man a Fool is an unpublished manuscript poem collected in Wales. The poem contains advice to a countryman travelling to London. The phrase does not appear in the text. The usage in the title is mocking – the advice in the verse would lead the reader to look foolish and lose all credit. It is in keeping with other works which treated country people visiting London as foolish; “coneys”, “gulls” or “clowns”.
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Posted: March 28th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , | No Comments »


John Day The Parliament of Bees c.1634

John Day uses the phrase Beggars Bush in the common literary usage twice in publications which cannot be precisely dated. Day was a jobbing playwright, working for Philip Henslowe and others. The old DNB described him as “one of the most neglected playwrights of the Elizabethan period: a distinction which is, for the most part, justified”. Ben Jonson described him as a “rogue” and he probably killed the playwright Henry Porter with a rapier. However, we may have sympathy with his own description of himself that in the end “notwithstanding . . . Industry . . . he was forct to take a napp at Beggars Bushe”.
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Posted: March 27th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »


Henry Porter The Two Angry Women of Abington 1598

Henry Porter’s use of the literary phrase Beggars Bush is consistent with other early literary examples. It occurs in a play, now, like the author, largely forgotten. Like most other early writers he makes use of the vernacular, especially proverbs. There is some evidence linking Porter and his play to an area where there are early examples of the place name. His life and death link him to other writers who used the phrase, one of whom probably killed him.
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Posted: March 27th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Christopher Saxton’s Five Counties Map 1576

Saxton’s county maps were the first national cartographic survey of England. They, and later maps based on them, were very important for the preservation and distribution of the place name & literary phrase Beggars Bush. They may have contributed to the mistaken connection of beggars with the site at Godmanchester near Huntingdon.

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Posted: March 20th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


John Taylor The Praise, Antiquity and Commodity of Beggary, Beggars & begging, etc. 1621

“I have here made bold to present to your illiterate protection, a beggarly Pamphlet of my threed-bare invention . . . I thought to have dedicated it to Beggars Bush, neere Andever, or to his Hawthorne brother within a mile of Huntingdon; but I considered at last, that the laps of your long Coate could shelter me as well [o]r better than any beggarly Thorne-bush.”

The Fool

Taylor’s mock dedication from the introduction to his pamphlet was directed towards Archy Armstrong, King James’s Fool, and refers to his coat of motley, the symbol of the Fool. Taylor despised Armstrong, who was renowned for his illiteracy and venality. He refers elsewhere to Armstrong’s “nimble tongue, to make other mens money runne into your purse” and called him “the bright eye-dazeling mirrour of mirth, adelantado of alacrity, the pump of pastime, spout of sport and Regent of ridiculous Confabulations”.
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Posted: March 19th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, The Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Sticky: Dublin, Donnybrook Beggars boush 1573

Current location and earliest record

The name is now used for the area around the redundant Beggars Bush barracks, in use from 1827 for training and as the final station before embarkation for troops going to the Crimea, Flanders and the Empire. In 1929 the barracks area was taken over for housing and the headquarters of the Geological Survey of Ireland, the National Print Museum and Labour Court. There is also modern pub called Ryan’s Beggars Bush.

The earliest record of the name in Dublin is 1573 “at the wood called Beggars boush by Bagotrath” in Fiant 2341 in the Calendar of Fiants of reign of Henry VIII 1510-47 through to Queen Elizabeth 1558-1603. The Irish form Tor an Bhacaigh would have followed the English/Anglicised form Beggars Bush.
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Posted: March 13th, 2011 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Warminster, Wiltshire Beggars Bush 1581

EPNS Wiltshire gives this name from papers of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. It also says these included Coldharbour, as Coleharborow, aka Gooseland 1609, which is recorded as La Goslonde as early as 1292,. The name does not appear on any later maps or records. The editors of EPNS describe it as a term of contempt.

The archivist at Corpus Christi College has been unable to trace any relevant papers. The phrase Beggars Bush was certainly known at Corpus Christi by 1609 as it is used in a letter dated 22nd October 1609 from Brian Twyne, a student there.
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Posted: March 13th, 2011 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »