The 23 Types of Vagabonds

For a while I thought this post would have a good Aesopian moral about how we can’t assume things chronologically far removed from us are also emotionally far removed. But even I didn’t want to read it.  So now you get to enjoy this, reposted from the delightful blog Lists of Note. Today’s post is dedicated to Skink, whose vagabondage exceeds even this thorough list.

The 23 Types of Vagabonds

In 1566, Thomas Harman published A Caveat or Warning for Common Cursitors, vulgarly called vagabonds, a book that aimed to shine a light on what he believed to be the devious rogues of society. As well as retelling stories of thievery, detailing the techniques of such criminals, and providing a dictionary of rogues’ secret language (“Thieves’ Cant”), each of the book’s first 23 chapters were named after a different class of vagabond, as identified by Harman. 

Those chapter titles soon became the following popular list, as described in William Harrison’s Description Of England 11 years later. 

(Source: The Description Of England.)


The several disorders and degrees amongst our idle vagabonds:

1. Rufflers (thieving beggars, apprentice uprightment)
2. Uprightmen (leaders of robber bands)
3. Hookers or anglers (thieves who steal through windows with hooks)
4. Rogues (rank-and-file vagabonds)
5. Wild rogues (those born of rogues)
6. Priggers of prancers (horse thieves)
7. Palliards (male and female beggars, traveling in pairs)
8. Fraters (sham proctors, pretending to beg for hospitals, etc.)
9. Abrams (feined lunatics)
10. Fresh-water mariners or whipjacks (beggars pretending shipwreck)
11. Dummerers (sham deaf-mutes)
12. Drunken tinkers (thieves using the trade as a cover)
13. Swadders or peddlers (thieves pretending to be peddlers)
14. Jarkmen (forgers of licenses) or patricoes (hedge priests) 

Of Womenkind:

1. Demanders for glimmer or fire (female beggars pretending loss of fire)
2. Bawdy baskets (female peddlars)
3. Morts (prostitutes and thieves)
4. Autem morts (married harlots)
5. Walking morts (unmarried harlots)
6. Doxies (prostitutes who begin with uprightmen)
7. Dells (young girls, incipient doxies)
8. Kinchin morts (female beggar children)
9. Kinchin coes (male beggar children)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s