1) It shares the same origin as captive but by the early fourteenth century had come to mean a poor wretch, a person in a piteous condition (OED).

1590 one caytyfe of Brestwell buried, Thornhill

1607 John is a catiffe in bodye and meane of understandinge, Grassington

1675 Christian Atkinson hath nothinge to relieve hir child and hir selfe ... a pore catife ... withoute the charitable helpe of hir neighbouers, Gigglewick.

dates 1590 1607 1675

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