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

Announcement: Andrew Yarranton England’s Improvement 1677

In England’s Improvement by Sea and Land to outdo the Dutch without fighting Andrew Yarranton wrote “We are almost as Beggars-bush, and we cannot tell how to help our selves”. The work was one of the first promoting inland navigation on rivers & canals, amongst other modern economic ideas (including the establishment of a national land registry). It was influential because it gave the economic arguments for such projects rather than the technical aspects of their construction.
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Posted: March 30th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Sticky: Erasmus as a source for ‘Cast our Caps’

In the play ‘The Beggars Bush’ the election of Clause as the King of the Beggars in Act II Scene 1 is celebrated with a song sung by “orator” Higgen. The song was reproduced as a seperate text in many collections of songs. It is generally ascribed to John Fletcher. Much of the beggars material in ‘The Beggars Bush’ was taken from the rogue literature of the late sixteenth and early seventeeth century. However, the source for the song is a much earlier and more respectable text – The Colloquies’ of Desiderius Erasmus, the “Prince of Christian Humanists”

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Posted: December 28th, 2014 | Filed under: Writers, The Play | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Sticky: Records of Huntingdonshire

My thanks are due to Philip Saunders for many things in my researches into Beggars Bush.

His article Beggar’s Bush to King’s Bush, Records of Huntingdonshire, Vol.3 No.2, (1993) p.13-15, first alerted me to the role of Saxton’s Five Counties Map. He then helped as Principal Archivist at Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies Service. I am now grateful to him for resurrecting Records of Huntingdonshire, Journal of the Huntingdonshire Local History Society, and for publishing my article Beggar’s Bush Revisited in Vol.4 No.3 p.32-37. This updates his original article with some of the material from this website on maps, anthologies and John Taylor.

Philip Saunders has also found another map of Beggars Bush for the cover – William Kip’s 1607 version of Saxton’s map, which transforms Saxton’s single tree to a whole forest around Beggesbush. This is likely to be artistic licence rather than any resurvey.

Neil Howlett, Beggar’s Bush Revisited in Vol.4 No.3 (2014) p.32-37

Copies are available from Philip Saunders, 21 Crowlands, Cottenham, Cambridge CB24 8TE


Posted: February 23rd, 2014 | Filed under: Places, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Feeling ever so slightly proud of myself

When I was at school it was one of my ambitions (along with playing full-back for England and bass with Miles Davis or the Allman Brothers Band) to know more about something than single subject than anyone else in the world. My other ambitions not having been achieved I may now know more about Beggars Bush than any other living person, though I don’t think it makes me a better person.

However, I do feel a sense of achievement in having an refereed article published in the journal of the Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland. That can now be cited as Howlett, N, ‘The place-name Beggars Bush‘, Nomina, 34 (2011) p.133.

I would like to thanks the editor, Maggie Scott, and the anonymous referee for their help in putting into coherent simple form my findings about the use of the place-name and its meaning. I have tried to acknowledge in the article and on this website the many other people who have helped me over the many years I have wrestled with this subject. Thank you again all of you.

For new readers please see About and How to Use this website. Please contribute and correct where your knowledge is greater than mine.

For those readers not members of the Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland you can join .

I am also awaiting publication of an article in The Annals of Huntingdonshire which concentrates on the place-name at Godminster, and the influence of Christopher Saxton’s maps in the distribution of the name.

Posted: November 9th, 2013 | Filed under: Uncategorized | | 1 Comment »

Beggars Bush Gorton, Manchester 1869

W.C. Hazlitt, English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases (London, 1869, p.82) gives:

Beggar’s bush, Briton’s row:
Fox Fold, Garton Ho.

G. L. Apperson, English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases: A Historical Dictionary (London, 1929, p.89) gives a variant Fox Row.

This seems to record a colloquial derogatory reference to a Briton’s Row in Gorton, Manchester, which would fit the derogatory use. However, it appears to be an error. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: August 8th, 2012 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Sara M Hardwich Plutus Adonis A Mythical Hero 1884

“Beggar’s Bush is no place for a woman, much less a lady.”

“Old Badmin is a decently dressed rogue, and does the devil’s work in our village so cleverly, it takes two honest men to lay hold of him in the act and deed of villainy. Card sharper, poacher, retailer of rum and gin without a licence, and many a sober man’s sober son has he ruined and sent across seas, having picked his bones and used him for a cat’s paw. All last winter his small farm, Beggar’s Bush, was a rendezvous for the scum of the parish, to-night is this, year’s inauguration ; a first and last carousel.”

“Amongst those turf bogs no man of your father’s weight could find a footing. They skirt Beggar’s Bush ; there, yonder, is the farm, more than one path leads from it to St. Cuthbert’s. None but fools or madmen would try the moors to-night, even with an experienced guide. A slip into these treacherous dykes, and the strongest traveller fares the worst; his frantic, efforts do but engulf him the more surely.”

“Beggar’s Bush deserted, got a tenant after some time, a quiet, sober man, seemingly intent upon digging and drying, and re-claiming the land by a system of drainage. The farm was his own, he said, and had been let to a very bad tenant by his agents, determining him to see after the property himself.”

I hesitate to include this tedious execrable novel in the list of literary references – I do so for completeness, not as an encouragement to read it.

The usage of Beggars Bush is characteristic of the imagination expended by the author. As well as a bad man called Badmin, the book includes Constable Duffer and a villain called Marmaduke Chatterson. He, inexplicably, is also the husband of the heroine’s nursemaid Prudence, before his supposed death on the Lusitania, reappearance, further disappearance mysteriously connected with the heroine’s father drowning in a bog and deathbed repentance in a workhouse. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: June 26th, 2012 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: | No Comments »

John Clavell A Lost Prologue to The Beggars Bush ?1637

A Begger haunts, where he good Dole receives

The Nigard stoppes, for he, his prayers, deceaves,

Your Liberall Charrity from open Palmes

Makes us this confident to Aske your Almes

The Beggers have their Motives: Soe have wee

They crye their loss of Limbes, Age, Insanitiee

Theise our Infant days w’yee, yet: our Playes

(Though wee act none but such as got the Bayes)

Are Old: our habites too are meane: the same

Our action maimed, decrepit, feeble, Lame,

All movers of compassion: Let that fall

(as usuill) & your Charity mends all

For as A generall Rule wee ever make it

Not what? Or how we Act? But how you take it.

This prologue to Fletcher & Massinger’s play The Beggars Bush (1622) survives in one manuscript copy in the notebook of John Clavell, with notes, copy letters, epigrams and remedies.  They were probably written by Clavell in 1637 when he was in Ireland. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: May 24th, 2012 | Filed under: Writers, Speculations, The Play | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Rainsford St Theatre Dublin The Royal Merchant or Beggars Bush 1734

In her memoir and history A Narrative of a Residence in Ireland 1814 to 1815 (Henry Colburn, London, 1817, p.68) the writer Anne Plumptre recorded the following incident in Dublin, which seems to have taken place in 1734.

In response to an extravagant production of Henry VIII at the new Aungier Street theatre the rival Rainsford Street theatre put on a play she describes as The Royal Merchant or Beggars Bush “in which a mock pageant of the coronation of King Clause threw such complete ridicule on the serious one in Henry the Eighth that the latter ceased to attract. Thus the keen edge of the satire being blunted, King Clause also speedily sank into oblivion.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: April 21st, 2012 | Filed under: The Play | Tags: , , | No Comments »

W. T. Moncrieff Gipsy Jack, or, The Napoleon of humble life c.1834

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Posted: April 20th, 2012 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Margam, Glamorgan Beggars Bush 1799

Thanks to Sylvia Robbins for drawing my attention to the very clear place name on the Yates map of Glamorgan (1799). The 1885 OS Survey which shows it at the junction of what are now the B4238 Water Street and A48 roads, east of the M4 to the south of Margam Country Park. It is shown directly above the word Smithy, by some buildings the western side of the B4238 road. It is not shown on the 1877 1:2,500 map. The name is still in use and shown on modern maps. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: April 17th, 2012 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , | 1 Comment »