By Amy Louise Erickson
This ground-breaking booklet unearths the industrial truth of standard girls among the past due sixteenth and early 18th centuries. Drawing on little-known assets, Amy Louise Erickson reconstructs day by day lives, exhibiting how ladies owned, controlled and inherited estate on a scale formerly unrecognised. Her advanced and engaging learn, which
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Extra resources for Women and Property: In Early Modern England
Here Justices of the Peace (JPs) dealt with criminal charges and recognizances to keep the peace, but also with non-violent matters: local rates and national taxes, the poor law and vagrants, the maintenance and apprenticeship of bastards, roads, markets and trade, religious matters, and licences to keep alehouses and to build cottages, for example. The assizes usually dealt with criminal cases; they were held in county towns and followed a rather more limited perambulation than quarter sessions.
Generalization is important because the subject of women’s legal history has had so little attention that a broad outline of women’s property ownership in law and in practice is needed before the specific areas which require further research can be identified. To move beyond a history in which women can be relegated to an index entry because there are so few references, to a history whose analysis of the past is based upon an understanding of the gendered structure of society requires studies like this one to map the terrain.
The size and nature of bequests in wills may have been shaped by many factors— ‘convention, affection, guilt, need, duty’51—which are not recoverable in Law, society and documents 33 individual cases. Gifts made during the testator’s life are often unaccounted for. Nevertheless wills do reveal personal intentions, as opposed to the impersonal operation of law, at least suggesting what people wanted their daughters to inherit relative to their sons, what portion of the estate a man meant his widow to have, and who was to have responsibility in the positions of executor, guardian of minor children and overseer.