Women, politics and the 1723 oaths of allegiance to George I

My article on the above is now available online on the Historical Journal website.

In other news, Dr Alex Craven is producing a transcription of the City of London returns which will be integrated into the London Metropolitan Archives’ catalogue, helping users research early eighteenth-century Londoners. In due course, we plan to hold a workshop showcasing the transcription and enriched catalogue, illustrated through an exploration of the biographies of a number of subscribers.

Walpole’s Tax on Catholics

I’ve written an article on the £100000 tax on Catholics in the September issue of BBC History Magazine. This was the measure that prompted the imposition of the oaths to George I in 1723. The effectiveness of the tax has been debated by historians but in this short piece I argue that it did reveal the capacity of the state to keep watch on its Roman Catholic subjects (whether rich or poor, male or female). You can download a copy of the article from the link below. I’m grateful to BBC History Magazine for permission to reproduce my essay.

BBC History Magazine Article

1723 oath rolls for Poole borough

The returns for Poole (ref. DC/PL/B/10/1/9-14) comprise five sheets of parchment, each one headed with the texts of the oaths in English followed by Latin preambles announcing the date and place of subscription (usually the Guildhall, Poole). The subscriptions start on 9th Sept 1723. The latest is possibly 24th December, though some of the preambles are very faded. The total number of signatures and marks on the roll is approx 354 of which 111 were identifiable as women (so just under a third). Besides one note identifying an individual as notary public there are no other descriptions by names. In a number of places, women’s subscriptions seemed to be bunched together so that on some lists they represent the majority signing.

1723 oath rolls for Wareham

I’ve now had a chance to look at the 1723 oath roll for Wareham borough (Dorset Record Office, D RWR X25). The roll, consisting of six sheets of parchment, begins with the text of the three oaths to George I. It’s then followed by the Latin preamble recording the date and location of the special sessions of the peace at which the individuals listed on the roll subscribed. Most of the sessions were held at the Antelope Inn, Wareham and they range in date from 7th October 1723 to Christmas Day of that same year. There are a combination of signatures and marks, and the names of both men and women visible. A very quick tally suggests approx 399 signatories with c.102 of those women. Four of the six signatories at the last session appear to be members of the same family (surname Clarke). I will be looking at the return for Poole next week. Thanks to Jo Hearton at Dorset Record Office for scanned images of this roll.