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Introduction

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Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)

Abstract

In August 1694 Christain Penny, a widow ‘late of London’ who lived in the Old Exchange, was arraigned and tried at the Old Bailey for clipping coins along with her lodger, William Ayliffe. Christain was acquitted since ‘nothing was found in her chamber’ and because, although she let two rooms to Ayliffe, ‘what he did there, she knew not’. Christain was aided in her defence by a group of unnamed neighbours, who ‘justified her reputation’ by stating that she had three children and that she ‘workt hard for her living by fetching drink from the brewhouse’.2 Based on the brief report of her trial, Christain Penny was a hardworking mother, employee and landlady, as well as a resident of good standing in her neighbourhood community, and her unexceptional life flickers into view solely because of the misbehaviour of her lodger. Over the past 30 years the scholarship on women in early modern England has grown substantially, but far more attention has been paid to scolds and witches than to honest women such as Christain Penny.3 Like the people of early modern England, historians of women have been ‘eagle-eyed in espying their faults, but dark sighted owles, in perceiving their virtues’.4

Keywords

Sexual Behaviour Seventeenth Century Social Rank Female Behaviour Occupational Identity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    On women as scolds and witches, see P. Rushton, ‘Women, witchcraft and slander in early modern England: cases from the church courts of Durham, 1560–1675’, Northern History, 18 (1982), pp. 116–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  6. 8.
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  7. 10.
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    A. Kugler, ‘Constructing wifely identity: prescription and practice in the life of Lady Sarah Cowper’, Journal of British Studies, 40:3 (2001), pp. 291–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    B. Capp, ‘Playgoers, players and cross-dressing in early modem London: the Bridewell evidence’, The Seventeenth Century, 18:2 (2003), pp. 159–71Google Scholar
  13. 37.
    M. Ingram, ‘Ridings, rough music and mocking rhymes in early modern England’ in B. Reay (ed.), Popular culture in seventeenth-century England (London, 1985), pp. 166–97; S. D. Amussen, “The gendering of popular culture in early modern England’ in T. Harris (ed.), Popular culture in England, c. 1500–1850 (Basingstoke, 1995), pp. 48–68; M. R. Somerville, Sex and subjection: attitudes to women in early-modern society (London, 1995); Fletcher, Gender, sex and subordination, pp. 3–29; P. Lake with M. Questier, The antichrist’s lewd hat: Protestants, papists and players in post-Reformation England (London, 2002), pp. 54–70; T. Reinke-Williams, ‘Misogyny, jest-books and male youth culture in seventeenth-century England’, Gender and History, 21:2 (2009), pp. 324–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    J. A. Sharpe, ‘Plebeian maniage in Stuart England: some evidence from popular literature’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 36 (1986), pp. 69–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    R. B. Shoemaker, ‘The Old Bailey Proceedings and the representation of crime and criminal justice in eighteenth-century London’, Journal of British Studies, 47:3 (2008), pp. 559–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Tim Reinke-Williams 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social SciencesUniversity of NorthamptonUK

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