"We have the evidence of wage control legislation in the mid 14th century as proof that a significant number of people received wages for their labour by that time (Quigley, 1996).Victor Quirk, "Lessons from the English Poor Laws" (pdf), konferenspapper 2006, s 4
Unemployment became endemic by the early 16th century as the rural labour force was rationalised by commercial methods of agricultural production, private and public armies were disbanded, and population growth resumed following the plagues and wars of the 14th Century (S&B Webb,1927:42-43). A growing army of landless peasants wandered from district to district begging for food and work (Leonard, 1965:15-17). As the feudal estates withered away, unemployed destitution became the alternate to waged employment instead of feudal servitude. Those without work begged or stole or starved (Leonard, 1965:225). While property owners could employ labourers for crusts of bread, the desperation of the poor also made them a social menace. Robbery was punishable by death, so victims were routinely killed to prevent their bearing witness to the crime. With violent attack an ever present consequence of refusing a plea for alms, confrontation by a beggar was fearful in itself. Even when violence was unlikely, with plagues a constant fear, the unsanitary and diseased condition of the poor terrified those forced into contact with them on a regular basis (Garratty, 1979:23)."
John Locke var engagerad i frågan, visar Quirk:
"[Locke] advocated the whipping of any poor person who ‘refused to work’ and the incarceration of beggars in contracted workhouses (beggars under 14 to be ‘soundly whipped’). Children aged 3 to 14 would be made to work for their food and shelter in factory-like ‘working schools’, and large landholders would be obliged to indenture those over the age of 14 as apprentices until they turned 23. Employers were to be obliged to employ the poor at a discount wage (Eden, 1966: 245; S&B Webb, 1927a:109-110)."