bellman and billman

I saw this picture in a copy of

 

“Vagabondiana”

OR,
ANECDOTES OF

ITINERANT TRADERS
THROUGH THE STREETS OF
LONDON,
IN ANCIENT AND MODERN TIMES.

VOLUME II.

BY
JOHN THOMAS SMITH.

London:
J. B. NICHOLS AND SON.

1839.

 

The bellman/billman (the bill being the long hooked stick used to pull down thatch in the event of a fire) pictured is a copy that Smith made of an earlier medieval print. ¬†According to the book (which itself quotes ‘honest John Stowe”s History of London), men and women with this role were wearing a rudimentary uniform as early as the 1600s, “every one had a strawne hat, with a badge painted.”