Bad and Lewd Youths in Berwick-upon-Tweed


Medieval painting of children playing games in a street

From Children’s Games, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve ever grumbled about the ‘youth of today’, take heart from the fact that medieval kids were not dissimilar to their modern counterparts. The latest Flower of the Month from the Records of Early English Drama North East project shows that, in one North East town at least, children got up to great mischief and that parents were responsible for failing to discipline them.

The borough account book from Berwick-upon-Tweed records shenanigans in the streets in the early 1540s.

An undated order from 5 Edward VI (1541/42) records that children in the town are ‘suffered’ (allowed) ‘to run abroad and make cryings’ and cause mayhem in the streets, and that in the evenings sundry youths and others ‘make great revel and misrule’, and ‘play many bad and lewd parts’:

We fynde and presente a greate faulte that children are suffered to
Rune abroade & make crynges misrule in the strete in the eveninges yt
Is a thinge not comely nor lawfull in this place, It were good that
The parentes were generallye varned hereof that they may restrain
The same.

To find out more, head over to Records of Early English Drama North-East.

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