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Beggar's Badge, 1700s
This pewter beggar's badge is from the parish of Dysart in Fife. In medieval and early modern times, beggars were generally valued and respected for the news they carried and their skills. This changed with industrialisation when the numbers begging rapidly increased and it had to be controlled.
Summerlee Museum: Exhibition Hall
The Poor Laws of 1575 and their subsequent practice made it necessary for shelter for the poor to be provided at public expense. Poorhouses were established in the 18th and 19th centuries and parishes often administered poor relief. Unlike England inmates of Scottish poorhouses were not forced to work but some were given permission to beg within the parish or burgh. In this controlled system the beggar's badge was a method of ensuring that the holder was a bona-fide beggar licensed by the authorities. 1700s