About the project

The aim of this project, generously supported by the Marc Fitch Fund, is to attempt to identify all the surviving returns of the 1723 oaths to George I in England. I have not tried to identify any oath rolls which may survive for any other parts of the British Isles or its colonies, though I would welcome any information concerning such returns.

The oaths represent the last exercise in mass public oath-taking in early modern England and individual county returns can feature thousands of names (the Devon returns feature some 25000). However, unlike similar documents such as the Protestation of 1641 (in the House of Lords Record Office) or the Association of 1696 (in the National Archives), the returns for this oath were not collected centrally. Instead, oath rolls are most often found in quarter sessions records as the oaths were subscribed at special Midsummer and Michaelmas sessions in 1723.

These name-rich documents are of obvious value to family historians but they have some distinctive features which set them apart from other similar oath returns. First, about 3 in 10 of those subscribing the Devon returns were women and high numbers of female subscribers have also been noted in many other returns. Second, some returns also include details of place of residence, occupation and social status, and information on the marital status female subscribers.

The electronic finding list has been compiled with the help of local archivists but you can help too – a version of the electronic finding list has been published on the History Working Papers Project website, making it possible for readers to add comments with additional information. Or, if you prefer, you can contact me directly with information. Any assistance is greatly appreciated and will be credited on the finding list which is an ongoing work-in-progress that I will update on this website.

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