Sturdy Beggar by Jane Coombs
Long ago I studied Tudor Constitutional history and two phrases from the Elizabethan Poor Law stuck in my memory. Some years later “sturdy beggar” and “deserving poor” came to the surface and provided the basis for this song. Then, as now and back in the sixteenth century the undeserving poor were still slipping through the net. The words are mine but the tune was written by my late husband Chris who had pronounced my only previous song unsingable. Jane
Sturdy Beggar written by Jane Coombs/ tune Chris Coombs
He trudged about the countryside
Round the lanes of Lincolnshire
And he’d work just a little for a crust of bread
Or a quart or two of beer.
He’s a Sturdy Beggar Man they say
A vagabond and a thief
He’s a Sturdy Beggar Man
And he’ll get no poor relief.
He would always find a place to rest
If the night was wild and cold
He would knock at the door of the silent monks
And be welcomed to their fold.
Then bluff King Henry came to reign
Defender of the faith
The silent monks no shelter gave
For the King had sent them away.
No dread disease had stricken him
Not crippled from the war
He is just a harmless beggar man
And he’s not deserving poor.