Representations and perceptions of fraudulent identities
Author: Tobias B. Hug

Impostors and impostures featured prominently in the political, social and religious life of early modern England. Who was likely to be perceived as impostor, and why? This book offers a full-scale analysis of this multifaceted phenomenon. Using approaches drawn from historical anthropology and micro-history, it investigates changes and continuities within the impostor phenomenon from 1500 to the late eighteenth century, exploring the variety of representations and perceptions of impostors, and their deeper meanings within the specific contexts of social, political, religious, institutional and cultural change. The book examines a wide range of sources, from judicial archives and other official records to chronicles, newspapers, ballads, pamphlets and autobiographical writings. Given that identity is never fixed, but involves a performative dimension, changing over time and space, it looks at the specific factors which constitute identity in a particular context, and asks why certain characteristics of an allegedly false identity were regarded as fake.

Tobias B. Hug

5287P IMPOSTURES MUP-PT/lb.qxd 1111 21 3 4 51 6 7 8 9 10 1 1112 3 411 5111 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 44211 14/10/09 15:12 Page 87 Chapter 5 . ‘The unfortunate whose kingdom is not of this world’1 – political impostures he theme of political imposture involves a wide spectrum of different aspects and ranges, from the famous story of Perkin Warbeck to intriguing adventures of spies and informers; even Cicero’s and Machiavelli’s advocacy of dissimulation, and politicians’ concealment of true interests, may fit into this context.2

in Impostures in early modern England
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Tobias B. Hug

5287P IMPOSTURES MUP-PT/lb.qxd 1111 21 3 4 51 6 7 8 9 10 1 1112 3 411 5111 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 44211 14/10/09 15:12 Page 1 Introduction . n May 1676, an unnamed man was tried for bigamy at the Old Bailey. He was indicted for four marriages, though ‘charged by common Fame with having Seventeen Wives’. For several years, he had ‘made it his business to ramble up and down most parts of England pretending himself a person of quality, and assuming the names of good families, and that he had a considerable Estate’. In fact he

in Impostures in early modern England
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Tobias B. Hug

5287P IMPOSTURES MUP-PT/lb.qxd 14/10/09 15:13 Page 204 Conclusion . he well-known impostors who had hitherto received scholarly attention form only the tip of the iceberg, and sampling a range of archival sources has brought to light a vast body of additional and significant material. By exploring the nature of imposture in many different contexts, this book has adopted a new approach to the study of individualism and self-fashioning, in the context of popular culture. Early modern English men and women regarded a wide range of activities as impostures. The

in Impostures in early modern England
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Tobias B. Hug

5287P IMPOSTURES MUP-PT/lb.qxd 14/10/09 15:12 Page 110 Chapter 6 . Ethnic impostors n 1703, a young man appeared in London, claiming to be a native of Formosa, and presented to the Royal Society an entire cultural and geographical description of a remote civilisation. How was it possible to succeed in pretending to be of a different ethnicity and engage members of the Society and the wider public for a considerable time? A category of ‘ethnic impostors’ might come as a surprise, for there was hardly a clear concept of ethnicity in the early modern period

in Impostures in early modern England
Tobias B. Hug

5287P IMPOSTURES MUP-PT/lb.qxd 14/10/09 15:12 Page 64 Chapter 4 . Prophets and visionaries, possessed and exorcists – all religious impostors? he occurrence of religious individuals who claimed spiritual power and thought themselves prophets, exorcists or healers is not a peculiarity of the early modern period, but rather a transhistorical and transcultural phenomenon.1 Plato, for instance, writes in the Republic of ‘[m]endicant priests and soothsayers’, and Origen in Contra Celsum of ‘sorcerers who profess to do wonderful miracles’.2 The Bible warns of

in Impostures in early modern England
Tobias B. Hug

5287P IMPOSTURES MUP-PT/lb.qxd 1111 21 3 4 51 6 7 8 9 10 1 1112 3 411 5111 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 44211 14/10/09 15:12 Page 155 Chapter 8 . The self-representation and self-perception of William Fuller (1670–1733) illiam Fuller was born in 1670 in Kent of Robert Fuller, a Protestant, and Catherine, a Catholic. He was brought up a Catholic, enjoyed a decent education, and at the age of sixteen was bound apprentice to a Protestant London skinner, but he left the Skinners’ Company soon after. Through a Catholic relative of his

in Impostures in early modern England
Tobias B. Hug

5287P IMPOSTURES MUP-PT/lb.qxd 14/10/09 15:12 Page 48 Chapter 3 . Quacks – all notorious medical impostors? ccording to contemporary accounts, quacks swarmed throughout the country.1 It is not surprising that itinerant practitioners selling herbal mixtures, quintessences, stones and amulets, merged in the mind of the authorities with vagrants, those, for instance, described in the Elizabethan Act of 1572 as ‘fayninge themselves to have knowledge in Phisnomye, Palmestrye, and other abused Scyences’, or the ‘Juglers, Pedlars, Tynkers and Petye Chapmen’.2 But

in Impostures in early modern England
Tobias B. Hug

5287P IMPOSTURES MUP-PT/lb.qxd 1111 21 3 4 51 6 7 8 9 10 1 1112 3 411 5111 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 44211 14/10/09 15:12 Page 17 Chapter 1 . Counterfeit beggars, bogus cunning folk and bigamists COUNTERFEIT BEGGARS hroughout the period considered here, wickedness can be seen as the core element in representations of imposture. While Natalie Davis regarded the beginning of the seventeenth century as a transitional period from the ‘prodigious to the heinous’,1 I suggest that the discourse of heinous deception should be located

in Impostures in early modern England
Tobias B. Hug

5287P IMPOSTURES MUP-PT/lb.qxd 14/10/09 15:12 Page 34 Chapter 2 . Tricksters and officialdom – bogus officials and forgers BOGUS OFFICIALS tate formation, and with it increased governance and litigation, is one of the key processes of the early modern period. Sixteenth-century England witnessed unprecedented administrative changes. The growth of central government aiming to exert its authority over the provinces led to fundamental changes within communities, but its relative success was due not only to pressure from central government but to local co

in Impostures in early modern England