Richard Head, English Rogue (1665)

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We have three paginations and a continuous but slightly erratic chapter segmentation. I offer a pdf file at the end, you need however the anglistik Oldenburg login to access it. Get a pdf from eebo (use marked list to do that), if you have lost the password.



The protagonist is not named, the author does not want the protagonist to recognize himself. The story is a collection of narrations told by rouges. Any resemblance to other rouge storys are possible but not on purpose. But the story is not like a greek myth - it is based on facts rather than myths.

Chap. I

THe protagonists grandfather was a farmer who decided that his eldest son (protagonists father) should learn so long, till he could read any printed or written hand. But he plunged himself over head and heals in all manners of sensuality and at last was expelled from college and was forced to return to his father. After no long time a gentle (and wealthy) woman fell in love with him and got married. After her portion was spended the protagonists father had to work. The Protagonist about his life: "It was always my disposition rather to die by the hand of a common Executioner, than want my revenge, though ever so slightly grounded. ... Had I then died, no other guilt could have rendred me culpable before Gods Tribunal, but what was derivative before Adam."

Chap. II

At the age of about five he lured one of his father’s turkeys in a trap and beat him to death because the turkey did not like his red coat. His mother was not troubled by this because she loved him so much. He and his mother leaved Ireland because it was not save anymore, his father was left behind. His mother took care of them by using her eloquent tongue and brains. He was ashamed to go to school because he was not able to read until the age of ten and the quickly became a bookworm. For his small faults he was whipped with the rod, he was careful that his thefts and rougeries were not discovered. He was send to a boarding school and kept low on food to improve his wits. He stole money from his master but finally was discovered to be the thief and was punished hard by his master (whipped with a Cat of Nine-tails and the wounds washed with vinegar or water and salt). The master told his mother about his faults, but the master know only a tenth of those childish rougeries - finally he run away.

Chap. III

He lived on blackberries and nuts sleeping under the Canopy of Heaven; he was sad to leave his heartbroken mother. He found a sleeping place in a barn, but was scared to be awaken by strange creatures. it turned out that these creatures were gypsies; they offered him to accompany them but he did not trust them longer than that night.

Chap. IV

Chap. V

Chap. VI

Chap. VII

Chap. VIII

Chap. IX

Chap. X

Chap. XI

Chap. XII p.100

The protagonist goes to London, where he meets an acquaintance, who tells him the story of how he mistook his mistress’s laughter for signs of affection. He explains his love to her in a letter. She answers this letter with a note that she would leave her bed chamber open for him, so he could come to her. However, at night he accidentally tries to get into his master’s bed. After a short chase he is caught and whipped by his master, who then sends him to bed again. The man takes some bed sheets, ties them together and climbs out of the window to escape. As one of the knots slipped open, he fell down and felt like he had broken every bone. He finds a cobbler’s stall that had shortly been broken open, where he lies down to sleep. When the cobbler returns the next morning, he thinks that the man broke open his stall and therefore beats him up. Finally, the man gets the opportunity to explain, the cobbler feels pity and apologizes. They part.

At this point, the story returns to the protagonist and the other man still sitting in an ale house. They agree to change clothes, for some reason. Some people arrive who recognize the clothes the protagonist had stolen before. But as it is the other young man who wears these clothes, they arrest him instead.

Having no money, he hungers for some time, loosing weight so that he appears “like a walking skeleton” (p. 107). He goes to an inn, where he orders drink and food. As he wants to go to his chamber, the landlady asks for payment in advance, which he cannot offer. She refuses to bargain, so he tries to escape, but is caught, beaten up and his clothes are taken as payment. The next day he steals some bread from a baker. Later he goes to a restaurant, where he takes some food and ale right of the table of two gentlemen, but leaves before they act.

Chap. XI p.2-1

He meets a man who offers him good work on a merchant‘s ship and afterwards on the merchant’s plantation in Virginia. He is also offered food and lodging for the two days he has to wait until the ship arrives. But he knows that this is how galley slaves are taken. When he is taken from the lodging to the ship he manages to overturn the rowboat in which he was taken. He escapes and eventually ends up in the company and bed of a woman who felt sorry at the miserable sight of him.

Chap. XII [2] p.2-8

He turns to stealing as his new profession and steals a good cloak. Afterwards he gambles with some ordinary people and wins some good money. He then writes a letter to his former master that he regrets running away from him and begs his forgiveness. His master accepts this apology and lets him return into his service.

Chap. XIII

Having returned into his master’s service he decides to make the world believe he had really changed, but secretly plans “to build [his] future estate upon the ruine of other men” (p. 12). He turns to religion, which is in his opinion the best way to gain his mistress’s favour and confidence and succeeds therein. She gives him many signs of her desire and devotion and one days tells her husband that she would like to visit a friend and that their servant (she calls him Thomas) was to accompany her. While crossing a lake with a rowboat, she explains her love to him more openly than ever before. He first resists politely, but then lets events take their course. At night, she slips out of her bed and into his.

The same night, her husband is woken up by the noises she made when returning to her own bed. He mistakes these noises and the apparition of spirit in white sheets as the presence of a ghost in his chamber. Therefore he decides to sleep in his wife’s chamber from then on.

A couple of nights pass, when the cat of the house gets stuck with her tail on a hook in the cellar and therefore makes horrible noise. The master takes this as a proof for his first encounter, but then is shown the true source of this moaning spirit. He is so relieved that from the next night on, he slept in his own chamber again, wherefore the mistress and the protagonist could continue their nightly affair.

Chap. XIV

Chap. XV

Chap. XVI

Chap. XVII


Chap. XIX

Chap. XX

Chap. XXI

Chap. XXII


Chap. XXIV

The protagonist arrives in Ireland, near Dublin, having a new name. He’s got no possessions for the ship bringing those sunk. Difficulties to understand the Irish and their habits occur.

He takes a “coach” to Dublin which he describes as a place filled with mischief.

He finds a place to stay, has his hair cut off and gets a wig to be able to stay incognito. He’s got problems to got used to his new self.

When his Landlady demands payment, which he can’t give her, he tries to flatter her. This doesn’t help much and, partly by good luck, he finds her in bed with another man one day. In order to stay silent about this incidence he receives ten pounds.

Chap. XXV

He loses this money as soon as he received it, by gaming, and soon has to live from water and little food only. At the same time he tries hard to pretend to be living and eating as good as he used to. His stomach begins to act up, he can’t sleep, loses weight and looks like a “walking skeleton”.

Chap. XXVI

He happens to end up at a house where he meets “Mr.Doctor” who has a look at him and where an old lady takes care of him and offers him food which his body can’t hold onto for too long. Eventually though, he begins to get better for the lady feels sorry for his misery and makes sure he gets back to his former state. As payment though, he has to sleep with her.


Being weary of the city he travels to the country. At a small river he meets a young woman who speaks Irish and whom he can’t understand yet she seems to want to lie with him. But at the last moment she cries out and he can hardly escape as he has to fight / is being chased by a couple of “fellows”. That night he sleepy in an Inn where he’s being treated badly as well. He gets horrible food and drinks which he only pretends to consume and he has to sleep near the animals. Tired of the bad treatment of the English by Irish country people he travels back to Dublin.

Chap. XXVI p.2-83

Chap. XXVII p.2-87

Chap. XXVIII p.2-94

Chapter XXVIII:

The rogue wants to rob a farmer’s house but falls in love with the farmer’s daughter. He meets her outside the farmer’s house. She tells her parents that he is a gentleman who doesn’t know the way and that he wants to stay for the night. With this excuse he gets into the farmer’s house. The next morning he seems to be ill and due to this illness he has an excuse to stay. During his stay of at least two weeks the rogue is visited by a few doctors. However, they cannot cure his disease. Meanwhile, the farmer’s daughter spends every evening at the visitor’s bedside. Being recovered, the rogue wants to compensate the farmer’s expenses by marrying his daughter. Still, he wants to know where the farmer keeps his money. The daughter tells him that her father doesn’t have any money in the house. Consequently, the rogue doesn’t want to stay any longer. He leaves and sends the daughter money and an accompanying letter which he explains his departure. He declares that he has taught her everything a woman should know - that he has enriched her mind.

Chap. XXIX p.2-102

Chapter XXIX page 79-83 summary:

The same night the man hears that his Landlady is very sick and that she wants to see him. But when he reaches her place she has already died. He takes her hand and finds ten pieces of gold in it and puts them secretly into his pocket. He stayes another two or three days in her house and returns to his new friend who tries to persuade him to commit another crime with him. The man refuses and they part in anger.His friend is caught and is sentenced to death. He visits him in prison and they have a discussion about God. A couple of days later he watches his friends execution. (Manuela Leidel)

Chapter XXIX page 102-105 Summary:

After leaving the country girl he stops an an Inn.In the evening he continues his trip and meets an armed gentleman along the way.They get into a fight and kill eachothers horses. He manages to get on top of the other man an wants to steal his money. He finds no gold underneath the clothes but breasts. The gentleman is a woman. A robber woman. She takes him to her place and they become friends. (Manuela Leidel)

Chapter XXIX:

After leaving the farmer’s house he meets a man whom he wants to rob. In the course of the undertaking, the rogue gets shot in the leg and the victim’s horse gets killed. While searching the man, the rogue discovers him to be a woman. In the end she takes him to her place and they become friends.

Chap. XXX, page 105-110

The man stays at the robber women`s house for a while and she tells him about her life. How she was raised, that her father was a sword cutler and that she was taught how to fight with a sword. She tells him that she got married to an Innkeeper at the age of fifteen and how her husband treated her badly. She descided to become a robber and took revenge by stealing her husbands money and leaving him. The man gets to know some of her robber friends and leaves after some days.

Chaper XXX:

The woman he has met tells him about her life. She is the daughter of a sword-cutler and has spent a lot of time in her father’s shop where she learnt how to handle a sword. At the age of 15 she married an inn-keeper, an insolent, imperious man who beat her. Since she didn’t have money she began to steal. She disguised herself by wearing men’s clothes. Finally, in order to take revenge, the woman robbed her husband and left. She gives the rogue the advice to treat women well because otherwise they will take revenge on him.

Chap. XXXI, 111-117

The man riding on his own again thinks a lot about the woman robber. He is impressed of the way she deceives her victims-she would put a cushion underneath her clothes, pretending to be pregnant. Men riding along would offer her a ride and when they reached a good place she would overwhelm them and take their possessions. The man reaches an Inn and gets the information that a wealthy unarmed gentleman left the Inn an hour ago. The man stays for one drink only and rides after the gentleman.He finally reaches him and tells him to hand him his money. The gentleman, to the robbers surprise, is well armed and fires a pistol at him and attacks him with a sword. The robber is injured and the gentleman, a robber himself, takes away his money and his horse.He had tricked the robber through the unsuspecting Innkeeper. The man takes the old horse from the gentleman-robber and rides to a town nearby.The people are very friendly and take care of him.The gentleman-robber is not found.

Chapter XXXI:

After leaving the woman he arrives at an inn where he wants to rest. However, the hastler keeps him from doing so by telling him about a rich man who has left a short while ago. The rogue is able to find the man but has to find out that the rich man is not an easy prey. He is able to fire at the rogue and escapes with the rogue’s money and the rogue’s horse. Left with his victim’s horse, the rogue is attacked by five or six rogues. He manages to escape and rests in an unknown place. Unfortunately, someone recognizes the rich man’s horse. One assumes that the rogue has murdered the rich gentleman and decides to hang him for the committed crime. However, the rogue is discharged when the rich gentleman appears.




Chap. XXXV




page 75 - 78 summary :

He walks down the street and notices a man with an interesting and very used wardrobe. He describes the man´s hat, doublet, cloak, breechea and skirts. He invites the man into an Ale-house an questions him about his stange outfit. He brings the man new clothes and walks with him in the streets.They see an easy to steal hogshead of wine. The man "hires" two or three more Rouges and they steal the hogshead at night.

page 94-102 summary:

He meets a young country girl while riding down a road and is amazed by her beauty. He stays the night at her family´s house and pretends that he is very sick the next day so that he can stay longer. After beeing sick for about two weeks he asks the girls parents to let him marry her. They accept. Her father catches them naked and wants them to marry quickly.The man leaves unknown and sends the girl twenty pieces of gold and a poem.


Chap. XL

Chap. XLI

Chap. XLII


Chap. XLIV

Chap. XLV

Chap. XLVI



Chap. XLIX

Chap. L

Chap. LI p.3-1

Chap. LII

Chap. LIII

Chap. LIV

Chap. LV

Chap. LVI

Chap. LVII


Chap. LIX

Chap. LX

Chap. LXI

Chap. LXII

Chap. XIII

Chap. LXIV

Chap. LXV

Chap. LXVI



Chap. LXIX

Chap. LXX

Chap. LXXI



Chap. XXIV

Chap. XXV

Chap. XXVI


  • [Richard Head] The English rogue described in the life of Meriton Latroon, a witty extravagant. London: Francis Kirkman, 1666. EEBO Anglistik Server Oldenburg
  • [A shortened chapbook version:] The life and death of the English rogue, or, His last legacy to the world. London, 1679. EEBO