A dexterous sheep-stealer

All kinds of stories are told about the background from which various court jesters emerged, and some may even be true. 

Or we know at least that the jester was for real but we can’t be sure about the recruitment trajectory.  This is one of the more original examples I’ve come across, but I’d hesitate to bet on its veracity, even though Archy himself was a historical figure. 

Archie Armstrong … after having long distinguished himself as a most dexterous sheep-stealer, and when Eskdale at last became too hot for him, on account of his nefarious practices, he had the honour of being appointed jester to James I. of England, which office he held for several years.

See other examples of the career path leading to jesterdom, such as Claus Narr in Germany, or Richard Tarlton, the comic actor and sometime jester to Elizabeth I.  

Source: The Book of Scottish Anecdote: Humorous, Social, Legendary and Historical, ed. by Alexander Hislop, 8th edn (Glasgow: Morison, n.d. [19th C.?]), pp. 61-62

Image credit: old photo found online, no source given. 


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