Maiden, Wife, and Widow: The Female Lifecycle in London, 1580-1640


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation uses manuscript court testimonies to access the lives of middling and working women in early modern London. It addresses lifecycle issues including migration, work, courtship, marriage, and widowhood through a combination of rigorous quantitative methods (based on a database of 2,662 female witnesses) and vivid anecdotal material in the women's own words. It emphasizes the ways in which individual women used informal institutions like the neighborhood to make choices about life and work in a world where most formal authority was held by men.