An armenjager is a poor hunter, an official charged with driving away beggars.
By the end of the 1600s, poor economic conditions caused many people to turn to begging. Churches and towns provided for their own people, but strangers had no choice but to beg. To prevent these strangers from taking charity that could be used by the towns’ own folks, some towns hired an armenjager to get rid of them. They were usually put across the border of the municipality or province to make them somebody else’s problem.
An instruction for poor hunters in Dalfsen, Overijssel from 1700 shows that they should make daily rounds. If they found a beggar that was not from Dalfsen, they had to disarm him, take any money he made begging, and drive him away.1
- “Instructie voor twee angestelte arme jagers,” transcription, PDF, Mijn Stad Mijn Dorp (https://stichting-ijsselacademie.mijnstadmijndorp.nl/verhalen/armenjagers-in-de-18e-eeuw-in-het-bijzonder-het-overijsselse-geslacht-magre : accessed 15 January 2018).