Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/452

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A HISTORY OF SURREY A cause of perpetual anxiety was found in the vagabonds. The Surrey heaths and the great extent of woodland on the borders of Surrey and Sussex seem to have harboured a disorderly population. The local name for them in Surrey was 'heathers,' that is men of the heaths. It is still a Surrey surname. 'A great stoare of stout vagabonds and mays- terlesse men able enough for anie laboure which do great hurte in the country by their idle and naughtie life,' is the official description of them in 1585.* They were then ordered to be pressed as soldiers for the Low Countries, and this expedient for getting rid of them was tried more than once. There is also an undated scheme among the Loseley papers 'touchinge wandringe rooges, masteries men and bastardes,' sug- gesting punishment for immorality among them, but adding a somewhat inconsistent prohibition of the marriage of 'any roge' without leave of the nearest justice, and fines upon those who gave them lodgings the fines to be devoted to the poor of the parish. In the latter part of Elizabeth's reign, in 1595, the drastic measure was adopted of the appointment of a provost marshal to execute such persons if assembled in riotous sort by martial law. He was empowered to arrest vagabonds on the highway, to bring them before the justices, and if they were found to be 'notoriously culpable in the unlawful manner of life' to hang them without further trial. 8 This was to be done in other coun- ties round London as well as in Surrey. Such martial law had been executed before, in 1589, when George More, a gentleman of a position to be sheriff and deputy lieutenant, had begged to be excused from the office of provost marshal, and the choice of a fit person had been recom- mended who should perform his duty mostly on the high roads near South wark, Lambeth, Croydon and Kingston, 'where vagarant persons and masteries men do moste resorte.' 3 The task of maintaining truth, supposed to be incumbent upon all Governments then, had to be performed in Surrey at the expense of Protestant sects and Romish recusants. The first act of authority of this kind under Elizabeth is against some obscure sectaries. On September 19, 1560, More received a warrant from the Council for the arrest of David Orch and other leaders of the sectaries, who proposed to meet at the fair on St. Catherine's Hill on October 2* Though the days of the pilgrimage were over, yet this spot where the Pilgrims' Way crossed the road through Guildford to Portsmouth was a natural meeting place where much besides merchandise would be exchanged. It is significant that as usual opinion was expected to show itself in the tracks of com- merce. David Orch's opinions and fate are matters of conjecture. But on May 28, 1561, Thomas Chancellor of Wonersh, clothier, and Robert Stert of Dunsfold, clerk, made depositions before More of their know- ledge of certain sectaries, ' thayer doctrines, practises and divylish devyces.' 6 Some years later, in 1580, the 'Family of Love,' whose 1 Council to Lord Howard ; copy at Loseley, xii. 61.

  • Rymer, Fcedera, xvi. 279. s Loseley MSS. March 24, 1589-90, i. 30.

4 Ibid. September 19, 1560. 6 Ibid. May 28, 1561. 382