The Economic History Society Conference, 2016

Ec Hist Soc confBetter late than never, here are my thoughts on the 2016 Economic History Society conference held at Robinson College Cambridge on the weekend of 1-3 April 2016. This was the best attended of the Society’s conferences to date with over 300 delegates, nearly 50 New Researchers papers and over 100 Academic papers. There was an abundance of riches for scholars of the eighteenth-century. And the nine academic sessions and six new researcher sessions dedicated to financial history in some form this year attest to the continuing and welcome interest in the field in the wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

The EHS always begins on the Friday afternoon with the New Researchers sessions. For the past three years I have been Chair of the NR Prize Committee. This has been a welcome task because it has reminded me of the generosity of academics who give up their time to observe the sessions and read and comment on the written papers and who also eschew the bar, for a while at least, to attend late night discussions to decide the prize winners. Continue reading

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Breaking up and making up: another early modern courtship


Silver-cased watch, London 1640-50, BM Collection

Another courtship story from the Jeake family archive….

Richard Hartshorne and Barbara Harding were the parents of Samuel Jeake’s wife, Elizabeth. Richard was desperate to marry Barbara. And, as a couple in their middle age with no parents to interfere, their courtship should have been straightforward. It was anything but. They fell in love, they determined to marry and then they fought.

Although we have only Richard’s letters, we can deduce that the argument was over a love token, a watch given by Barbara and supposed to be kept secret. But the secret had been revealed and some were gossiping. Richard reassured: Continue reading

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The Reluctant Bride: an early modern courtship

Eloquence of Love 1

From Edward Phillips’, ‘The Misteries of Love and Eloquence’, 1658

When I embarked on my project to publish the Jeake family letters (read more about that here) I planned only to focus on those sent to and from Samuel, he of Astrological Diary fame, and his wife Elizabeth.[i] But correspondence preserved by Jeake’s father, also Samuel, and Elizabeth’s mother, Barbara Hartshorne, offered stories that were hard to resist. What follows is an account of Jeake senior’s courtship of Frances Hartridge. (The Barbara Hartshorne courtship will form the subject of a later blog.)

Samuel Jeake senior was a prominent man in Rye during the 1640s and 50s. A lawyer and one of the leaders of a congregation that broke away from the Church of England in the early 1640s, he was also a political activist whose sympathies were firmly with the Parliamentarian cause.[ii] He was not what we would consider ideal husband material. He confessed himself to be bookish, solitary, taciturn and laborious.[iii] Continue reading

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