Distribution map Comments







NB The data here relate to women's involvement in statutes to 1660 inclusive.

[1] Amongst the female conusees were several high-status women. Elizabeth, dowager Countess of Shrewsbury, for example, was involved in two statutes in 1593 and 1605, the earlier concerning £6000 [NA CA3373, f4v, and 3380, p12]. Appearing only once, Lady Arabella Stuart was another conusee in 1608 for £1500 [NA CA3384, f4]. In a statute concerning £700, Frances, Lady Grey of Ruthin, stood as conusee in 1660 [NA CA3433, p4]. In her widowhood, Lady Frances Pierrepont acted as conusee in three statutes, in 1616-18, for amounts of £4000, £400, and £200 [NA CA3391, p12, and 3392, pp9-10]. The arrangement for Levine de Vries of Dordrecht, required a complicated gloss about the defeazance for the £2400 in 1622 [NA CA3396, p13]:

And memorandum thatt Mr Edmond Clay of London came to Nott aboute the acknowledgment of this Statute by Sir Edward Villers his appoyntment and there was an agreament made betweene Sir Wm Villers and the saied Mr Clay upon the Deliuerie of the Statute in these wordes./ Memorandum whereas Sir Wm Villiers by the name of Sir Wm Villiers of Brokesby in the county of Leic: Barronett hathe the Eleaventh Day of Marche 19o Jacobi acknowledged a Statute of twoe Thowsand and fower hundrethe powndes to one Levine De Vries {De} vidua de Dordreighte in province De hollande before the maior of Nottingham the saied some to be paied the xth of Marche next followinge the trewe intent and meaninge of the saied Sir Wm Villiers ys the saied Statute shalbe lefte in trust in the handes of Sir Edward Villiers knighte brother to the saied Sir William until a Defeazance be sealed and Deliuered by and betweene the saied Sir Wm Villiers and the saied Conusee. In wittnes whereof the parties present att the acknowledgment of the saied Statute haue sett theire handes Wm Pecke Edmond {torn [Clay]} Robert Greaves and one {torn} and {torn}

[2] For the most part, but not exclusively, the amounts involved in the statutes of non-elite women, as femmes soles, did not attain such significant levels. A few exceptions occurred: Elizabeth Allton, widow, of Nottingham, as conusee for £1000 in 1630 [NA CA 3404, p13]; Frideswide Smith, widow, of Withybrook, as conusee for £1600 [CA3410, p10; 1636] and Elizabeth Thornhagh, widow, of Nottingham, as conusee for £2000 [CA3426, p13; 1651]. Another widow who was engaged as conusee for larger amounts was Milicent Nix, of Nottingham [see below].
Overall, however, femmes soles, and women altogether, participated in only a very minor way in the registration of statutes. The statutes involving all femmes soles, elite and non-elite, did not exceed 5% of all statutes. Excluding the elite women, the proportion decreases to 3.5%. Four widows occurred as conusor, usually for obligations inherited from their late husbands, it seems. Their geographical distribution was fairly wide: Duffield (Derbys.), Barlborough (Derbys.), Brooksby (Leics.), and Boston (Lincs.). Widows as conusees were more concentrated in their geographical distribution, with almost 40% of their statutes relating to widows in the borough of Nottingham. Only seven of the statutes involved spinsters as conusees.
It is a fair supposition that these widows as conusees were lending money as creditors at the current rate (10% before 1624 and 8% thereafter). In particualr, Milicent Nix, widow of the mayor, alderman and burgess, was involved in four statutes, in 1650-2, for amounts of £1000, £50, £600, and £400 [NA CA3425, pp 13, 21, 23; 3426, p15]. Other indications of the motivation of these female conusees occurs when the Clerk of the Statutes recorded his understanding of the defeazance. When a yeoman of Keyworth (Notts.) entered into a statute with the widow Catherine Fillingham, of Normanton on Soar (Notts.) in £240, the Clerk noted:

Defeasanced for payment of 12li 25th sept' 1617 & 122li 25th sept' 1618 att the obligees howse one Mr Fillingham of Brostowe had ytt away with him [NA CA3391, p14]

In her involvement as conusee in a statute in £50 with another yeoman of Keyworth, the widow Ursula Chamberlayne, also of that parish, had the purpose of establishing an annuity for her income:

Defeazanced pro solucione xxvli on the feast of the Annunciacion of our lady in Anno 1645 and 40s per Annum Medio tempore att her howse in Keyworthe the same feast Day [NA CA3411, p19]

The amounts for which femmes soles acted as conusees were not dissimilar from those involving male conusees, although at a slightly lower level: mean of £397 (standard deviation 417.38) and median £240 (compare the median of £200 for male conusees before 1642 at £200).
A very small number of other women were involved in statutes, but in association with one or more men, so that they were to some extent couvertes.