The Vagabond Book of Stirling
by Marie Brammeld.
62 pages, illustrated.
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The Vagabond Book of Stirling is a rogues’ gallery of sorts, a historical record of misdemeanours and punishments of all the ne’er-do-wells to be hauled before the town Baillies in Stirling’s Tolbooth. A selection of their stories are told here – fully indexed to help you find colourful long-lost relatives.
Crimes include general socially unacceptable behaviour such as breach of the peace, theft, and assault and battery. Loose morals feature heavily, and - as ever - women come off by far the worst
Punishment is swiftly administered – a miscreant could be apprehended by the Town Guard, thrown in the Tolbooth overnight, appear before a Baillie in the morning, and be whipped out of town by noon the next day.
The Vagabond Book provides a unique slice of Stirling’s social history, showing us what life was really like in the crowded vennels at the Top of the Town in the 18th century, and often hinting at what went on behind the doors of the more fashionable residences, too.
In addition, the human stories of the Vagabond Book are placed in their social and historical context, and so will prove of interest to both the casual reader and those looking for a local history book with a difference.
What the reviewers said
Occasionally I get some nice gems through the post, and the latest to add to the collection is Marie Brammeld's The Vagabond Book of Stirling. It's one of those nice books where you can just sit back, and take in some social history in a hugely enjoyable and well written manner; and it might even name one of your ancestors!
Chris Paton, Scottish GENES.
While we may not have any ancestors who appeared before the Stirling magistrates, this book gives us a fascinating insight into life in an 18th century Scottish town. Meat on the family history skeleton with relevance to the whole of Britain. A useful bibliography of books on the history of Stirling and on domestic life in Scotland is provided; the book is well indexed.
Stuart Laing, Federation of Family History Societies New Books Review.
The author took part in a family history course where she came into contact with the original Vagabond Book. Her edited version is a fascinating glimpse of a long-gone world. The original text is also well fleshed out with explanatory notes where necessary and interesting historical background. A generally light tone also works well.
Gregor White, Stirling Observer.
The author should be congratulated for bringing this hitherto obscure source to our attention, and for presenting it in such a readable form.