By Tobias B. Hug
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Additional info for Impostures in Early Modern England: Representations and Perceptions of Fraudulent Identities
A comprehensive bigamist-imposture would involve a change of identity, when one spouse leaves home, moves to a new area, takes on another name, and remarries, pretending to be single or widowed. 43 As will be shown, the paradigm above is seldom found. e. their marital status and personal circumstances such as wealth, while not assuming a wholly new identity. 44 The Church of England did not permit remarriage after divorce. Only judicial separation was possible, and even that was hard to obtain.
9 The false beggar was a central motif of many illustrations from the late Middle Ages throughout the early modern period reflecting both fear and fascination. Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools (Narrenschiff) and the Liber Vagatorum, published in 1494 and 1510, respectively, are probably the most influential early examples. One part of the Liber Vagatorum is mainly concerned with the unmasking of the counterfeit beggar. 10 A few years later in 1566, Thomas Harman’s Caveat for Common Cursitors was published with great success.
Saying his Arm (which had a Bandage round it) was lately broke; but the Person he apply’d to being Mr. Wentworth the Surgeon, he, upon Observation, believed the fellow to be an Impostor, and insisted on seing his Arm, and accordingly so he proved; on which he was . . committed . . 24 And only a few weeks later, the newspaper offered a similar account of three men, ‘who pretended themselves Sailors, the one as dumb, another as having lost the Use of his Hand, and the third as lame in his Foot’ and begged for relief from churchwardens, with a pass ‘sign’d with the Names of Sir Harry Hicks and the present Lord-mayor of London’, with which they had ‘obtained Charity from several parishes in London’.