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

Philip Henslowe c.1555-1616

Philip Henslowe provides a link between the area of a cluster of early Beggars Bush place names in Sussex and many of the early authors who used Beggars Bush in their works. He is best known for his “Diary”, which is the main primary source for the day to day workings of Elizabethan theatre. He was an entrepreneur with wide business and family links in London and Sussex. I cannot show that he ever used the phrase, but he must have been aware of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: June 27th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, Speculations, The Play | 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 »

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 »

Brian Twyne A Student’s Correspondence 1609

“Dr. Kinge deane of Christchurch, turned away one morninge fiue bakers and so many brewers of townesmen belongings to yt colledge, and hath priuiledged others and tuke them in their place, which if euery colledge should doe as I thinke we must, we should quickly bringe them to beggars bush.”


The correspondence between Brian Twyne while the latter was at Corpus Christi, Oxford from 1601 to 1612 and his father, Dr Thomas Twyne, a prosperous physician living in Lewes, Sussex, echoes the dialogue between students and parents through the ages. Much of it concerns Brian Twyne’s lack of funds and advancement, and his father’s unwillingness or inability to assist him. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: March 16th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | 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 »

James Mabbe The Rogue by Mateo Aleman 1623

” . . . almost brought to beggars bush . . .”


The usage is consistent with the literary use. We know the phrase was in use in Oxford before 1623 from the Twyne Correspondence. It seems likely to have to originated with Mabbe, who was a faithful but not literal translator. The phrase does not appear in an edition of 1706 described as being newly “done into English”. In Mabbe’s translation of La Celestina (as The Spanish Bawd) by Fernando de Rojas he uses the similar phrase, “She was as well known to them all, as the begger knows his dish”.
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Posted: March 1st, 2011 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »