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.