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

Ben Jonson The Staple Of News 1625

“I will take home the Lady to my Charge,

And these her Servants, and leave you my Cloke,

To travel in to Beggers Bush!”

Ben Jonson stood at the centre of the theatrical and literary life early modern England. He was connected with many writers who used the phrase Beggars Bush. Beggars Bush is mentioned in his late play when the character Peni-Boy senior reveals himself to his errant son, Peni-Boy junior. The usage is characteristic of the literary use of the phrase by Jane Anger and others. Peni-Boy junior, expecting an inheritance will instead fall into penury through his own folly. It is a state of being, not a geographical location.

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Posted: April 9th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Adam Foulweather A wonderfull, strange and miraculous astrologicall prognostication 1591

A Wonderfull … Astrologicall Prognostication (1591) is a pamphlet by “Adam Fouleweather Student in Asse-tronomy” which has been attributed to Thomas Nashe (“unconvincingly” according to DNB). It was one of a trio of mock prognostications, the others by ‘Francis Fairweather’ and ‘Simon Smellknave’ do not survive. It ridicules the popular prognostications that were published with almanacs. It claimed it was “Discovering such wonders to happen this yeere, as neuer chaunced since Noes floud. Wherein if there be found one lye, the author will lose his credit for ever.”
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Posted: March 27th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Anon Newes from Jack Begger under the Bushe 1594

“Newes from Jack Begger under the Bushe, with the advise of Gregory Gaddesman his fellow begger touchinge the deare prizes of corne and hardnes of this present yere” is the title of a pamphlet entered in The Stationers’ Register for 28 December 28, 1594, licensed to R. Jones.
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Posted: March 26th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Martin Marprelate The Epistle 1588

“And as the matter is made knowne vnto my Lorde the preacher is sure to go by the worst and the recusant to carrie all the honestie: Yea the preacher shalbe a busie enuious fellow one that doth not obserue the booke and conforme himself according vnto order and perhaps go home by beggars bush for any benefice he hath to liue vpon. For it may be the Bb. will be so good vnto him as to depriue him for not subscribing.  As for the recusant, he is known to be a man that must have liberty of his conscience. Is this good dealing brethren.”

Text & Usage

The Epistle was a pamphlet of 54 pages published in October 1588 in response to A Defense of the Government established in the Church of England for Ecclesiastical Matters (1587) by Dr John Bridges. It was the first of a series of anonymous tracts supporting the presbyterian cause against Archbishop Whitgift’s attempts to impose uniformity of worship and promote the power of bishops over clergy. The Epistle stated it was “Printed overseas, in Europe, within two furlongs of a Bounsing Priest, at the cost and charges of M. Marprelate, Gentlemen”.
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Posted: March 13th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Robert Greene A Quip for an Upstart Courtier 1592

“These with Syrenlike allurement so entised these quaint squires, that they bestowed al their flowers vpon them for fauours, they themselues walking home by Beggar’s Bush for a penance.”


This is earliest mention of Beggar’s Bush recorded in the OED. It is characteristic of the literary usages. The phrase is clearly a literary one, involving the fall of the favoured through their own foolishness. Elsewhere in the same work Greene uses the term Weeping Cross in the same context, which was earlier used by William Bullein.
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Posted: March 12th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

William Bullein A Dialogue Against the Fever Pestilence 1564

“Fellowes are so braine sicke now adaies if thei haue but tenne shillynges, yea, though thei doe borowe it, will be twoo or three times a yere at Westminster haule ; let wife or children begge ; & in the ende thei go home many miles, by foolam crosse, by weepyng cross, by beggers Barne, and by knaues Acre, &c. This commeth of their lawing ; then thei crie, might doe ouer come right, would I had knowen as muche before, I am undone, &c. “


The text includes classical references, items from morality plays, and early usages of popular turns of phrase. The phrase”to go home by” is identical with early examples of the Beggars Bush phrase. The alternative places are all proverbial. This shows that the usage with Beggars Bush is only a variation of a proverbial phrase. The context is almost identical to the circumstances of the Plumpton Correspondence using the similar Beggar Staff.
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Posted: March 10th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »