Published September 16, 2015 | Version 1.2
Dataset Open

Vagrant Lives: 14,789 Vagrants Processed by Middlesex County, 1777-1786 (version 1.2)

  • 1. University of Hertfordshire
  • 2. University of Reading
  • 3. University of Sussex


This dataset should be used instead of the earlier version (

This updated dataset makes accessible the uniquely comprehensive records of vagrant removal from, through, and back to Middlesex, encompassing the details of some 14,789 men and women removed (either forcibly or voluntarily) as undesirables between 1777 and 1786. In includes people ejected from London as vagrants, and those sent back to London from counties beyond. Significant background material is available on the 'London Lives' website, which provides additional context for these records. The authors also recommend the following article:

    Tim Hitchcock, Adam Crymble, and Louise Falcini, ‘Loose, Idle and Disorderly: Vagrant Removal in Late Eighteenth-Century Middlesex’, _Social History_.

Each record includes details on the name of the vagrant, his or her parish of legal settlement, where they were picked up by the vagrant contractor, where they were dropped off, as well as the name of the magistrate who had proclaimed them a vagrant. Each entry is georeferenced, to make it possible to follow the journeys of thousands of failed migrants and temporary Londoners back to their place of origin in the late eighteenth century.

Each entry has 31 columns of data, all of which are described in the READ ME file.

The original records were created by Henry Adams, the vagrant contractor of Middlesex who had - as had his father before him - conveyed vagrants from Middlesex gaols to the edge of the county where they would be sent onwards towards their parish of legal settlement. His role also involved picking up vagrants on their way back to Middlesex, expelled from elsewhere, as well as those being shepherded through to counties beyond, as part of the national network of removal. Eight times per year at each session of the Middlesex Bench, Adams submitted lists of vagrants conveyed as proof of his having transported these individuals, after which he would be paid for his services. The dataset contains all 42 surviving lists out of a possible 65.The gaps in the records are unfortunately not evenly spaced throughout the year. We know more, for example, about removal in October than in May.

Spellings have been interpreted and standardized when possible. Georeferences have been added when they could be identified. This dataset was created for 21st century historians, and should not be construed as a true transcription of the original sources. Instead the goal was to use a limited vocabulary and to interpret the entries rather than recreate them verbatim. While this is undesirable for anyone interested in spelling variations of names and place names in the eighteenth century, it is the authors' hope that these interpretations will make it easier to conduct quantitative analysis and studies in historical geography.

This dataset has been published with additional contextual information in the Journal of Open Humanities Data. It can be found at the following location:

Crymble, A, Falcini, L and Hitchcock, T 2015 Vagrant Lives: 14,789 Vagrants Processed by the County of Middlesex, 1777–1786. Journal of Open Humanities Data 1: e1, DOI:



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