Names, numbers and titles

I’ve been taking a look at the York city roll again with the aim of producing a breakdown of the proportion of married women, spinsters and widows who signed the list. Information on the occupation of married women’s husbands also offers some indication of the economic status of the women subscribing. Work of this kind has already been done by Simon Dixon in a paper on the Exeter rolls which he kindly shared with me. The detailed and already transcribed York list seemed to offer a good comparison.

As I’ve indicated in previous posts, a desire to protect property and/or the right to inherit/administer property could explain why widows and the wives of gentlemen appear on the lists. What did it mean, however, that the wife of Thomas Plaister, labourer, also signed the list 5th December 1723? (YCA F12, f 146v) Was her subscription the product of political pressure, spousal direction or personal conviction?

I’ll put up the statistical findings here in due course but looking at the roll again also prompted questions about identity. While most women on these lists are given some form of identity, whether as widow, spinster or wife, women do appear on roll without any additional description, such as Elizabeth Jeele who subscribed the York list on 24 September 1723 (YCA F12, f. 141v). Was the lack of a description of Elizabeth an indication of poverty or marginality in some way? If the former, how did she pay the subscription fee of 3d?

More intriguing still are two women (or, I should I say possible women) who appear on the list with seemingly male titles. On 19 December, one Cornelia _ayley[?] Esqr subscribed the York roll, while on 21 Dec an Eliz. Aldridge was listed as ‘Baker’. In the case of Aldridge, while Brian Jones’ transcription identified the forename as ‘Eliz’, my own transcription had the abbreviation as ‘Clir’, which might suggest a male forename instead (Clifford)? Both Jones and I transcribed ‘ayley’ as Cornelia, however, and reviewing the image again, this still looks the most plausible reading of that name. Have we or the scribe made a mistake, or was a women really being described
as an Esqr on one of these lists?

In other news, I will be speaking about the 1723 oaths on 12 March in Liverpool not 11 as indicated in an earlier post. I’ll try and record this talk as the podcast technology didn’t work for the IHR paper.

It also appears as if there may be a 1723 oath roll for New York held in the archives of the New York Historical Society.