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Evaluating worth and status in early modern England

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Natalia Mora-Sitja.

Witnesses appearing in the church courts in England between the mid-sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries were commonly asked for an estimate of their material worth taking into account all outstanding debts as an indication of their creditworthiness. The majority responded with a monetary estimate of the value of their goods, routinely expressed in round numbers. This paper will explore the qualitative significance of the most commonly cited monetary markers (such as forty shillings) which suggest the operation of a series of credit thresholds that denoted not only creditworthiness but also social status. The analysis will be based on a dataset of several thousand witness responses that was compiled with the aid of a research grant from the ESRC .

This talk is part of the Economic and Social History Seminars series.

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