The gender of debt and credit: Widows and household debt repayments in early modern England

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: History


This PhD will investigate women's handling of household debts in England from 1568 to 1740 as they navigated the challenges of widowhood, inheritance, and, in many cases, the independent management of the household economy. At the core of this research will be the detailed analysis of 200 pairs of probate accounts belonging to widows and their late husbands in east Kent. These documents contain itemised lists of a person's unpaid debts at the time of their death. By comparing the accounts of married men and their widows it is possible to determine how women used their time and resources during their final years to work towards settling their husband's debts. With many debts still outstanding when one or both spouses
died, obligations of repayment could remain in the family for more than one generation. Inferences will be made about different gendered approaches to the handling of debt and credit, and the long-term effect of debt obligations on the household's surviving members. Additionally, the study proposes a collaboration with the Kent History and Library Centre (KHLC) to produce user-interactive digital editions of selected probate materials for use by researchers and the public.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1944727 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2022 Joshua David Monk