By Alexandra Shepard
Accounting for Oneself is an important new learn of the social order in early smooth England, as considered and articulated from the ground up. attractive with how humans from around the social spectrum positioned themselves in the social order, it items jointly the language of self-description deployed by way of over 13,500 witnesses in English courts while answering questions designed to evaluate their creditworthiness. Spanning the interval among 1550 and 1728, and with a large geographical insurance, this learn explores how women and men accounted for his or her 'worth' and defined what they did for a dwelling at differing issues within the life-cycle. A corrective to top-down, male-centric debts of the social order penned by way of elite observers, the viewpoint from under testifies to an problematic hierarchy in line with refined types of social reckoning that have been articulated through the social scale. A tradition of appraisal used to be important to the aggressive tactics wherein humans judged their very own and others' social positions. for almost all it was once now not land that was once the yardstick of prestige yet portable property-the items and chattels in people's ownership starting from cattle to linens, instruments to buying and selling items, tables to tubs, outfits to cushions. Such goods have been repositories of wealth and the safety for the credits on which the majority of early sleek alternate depended.
Accounting for Oneself additionally sheds new gentle on women's dating to estate, on gendered divisions of labour, and on early glossy understandings of labor that have been associated as a lot to having as to getting a residing. The view from lower than was once no longer unchanging, yet bears witness to the profound effect of widening social inequality that unfolded a chasm among the center ranks and the labouring negative among the mid-sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries. therefore, not just used to be the social hierarchy distorted past reputation, from the later-seventeenth century there has been additionally a gentle but basic remodeling of the standards informing the calculus of esteem.
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Extra resources for Accounting for Oneself: Worth, Status, and the Social Order in Early Modern England
43 Even in London, however, interrogatories enquiring about worth diminished more quickly than the overall numbers of causes. This decline was a product of the reduced use of interrogatories in general and of the stipulation of other measures of wealth such as rents, and contributions to rates and taxes, as well as the relatively more frequent incidence of enquiries about how witnesses maintained themselves. The ‘worth’ of witnesses, estimated with reference to the net value of their moveable goods, was, therefore, deemed particularly significant to the process of evaluating witness credibility in the church courts from the later sixteenth century.
As Also, All the Names of Men and Women in Latin; with the Day of the Date, the Several Sums of Mondy, and the Additions of the Several Trades or Employments in their Proper Cases, as they Stand in Obligations (1664), 272–5. 46 The compilation of this data set was funded by a research grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (RES-000-23-1111) and completed with the assistance of Dr Judith Spicksley. A version of the data set, entitled ‘The “Worth” of Witnesses in the English Church Courts, 1550– 1728’, and details of the collection policy that determined its fields, are available from the UK Data Archive.
It is clear that labouring for a living carried negative connotations, necessitated by a lack of goods on which to live and entailing dependence on the patronage of others. In response, labouring people asserted creditworthiness on the basis of their industriousness, in terms that anticipated discourses of improvement that subsequently emerged in print during the commonwealth period. Notwithstanding the celebration of industriousness, labouring for a living was easily disputed as a source of self-sufficiency on account of its strong associations with service.
Accounting for Oneself: Worth, Status, and the Social Order in Early Modern England by Alexandra Shepard