Monday, 19 October 2009


An Act for the Punishments of ‘Randy Beggars, Thiggars and
Egyptian Sorners’ was passed in 1698 which permitted beggars,
vagabonds or vagrants after conviction to be whipped,
then burned through the ear-lobe with a needle or a hot
iron about one inch in diameter and sent to another county.
Magistrates began sentencing those convicted to be
transported to the West Indies.Their numbers increased
during the ‘seven ill years’ of 1695-1701. The harvests
were ruined by poor weather and food prices rose
causing a parallelrise in poverty, begging and thieving.

Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun reckoned that there were ‘around
100,000-200,000’ vagrants in Scotland; he advocated making
them free slave labour and seized on transportation as a
means of disposing them. He decided to make an example of
the worst elements of them, called ']ockies’, and he
persuaded the Government to present 300-400 men to the
state of Venice to serve in their galleys against the
‘common enemies of Christendom’ - the Moors. Fifteen
hundred Scots soldiers, taken as prisoners at the
Battle of Worcester ln 1687, were transported to Guinea
to work in the gold mines.

Thirty- two women convicted of a variety of crimes at the
Magistrates Court in Edinburgh in March 1695, chose banishment
without trial to the plantations in America rather than be
put in prison. In ]une of the same year, ]anet Cook of Leith
also agreed to This punishment and promised never to return
under penalty of death. In January 1696, Elizabeth
Waterstone was also banished, without trial but with her
own consent, to the plantations.

This situation occurred on a number of occasions over a wide
period of time. A horse—stealer, Robert Alexander in 1698, and
William Baillie, a gipsy, in 1699, received a stay of execution and
Were put ‘under pain of death’ should they attempt to return.

Four boys, notorious thieves, and eight women who were
that and worse, were called before the magistrates of
Edinburgh, and ‘interrogat whether or not they would
consent freely to their own banishment furth this kingdom,
and go to his majesty’s plantations in America...’

Extract from:Domestic Annals of Scotland, (first edition)
by Robert Chambers, 1874.The entire book is being
digitised (over the coming winter)
for the benefit of our members.We have approx
200, 19th Century(Scottish)Historical books ,100 of
which ,have already been digitised.

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