Women in Chancery: An analysis of Chancery as a court of redress for women in late 17th-century England

Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Hull and The National Archives.

The early-modern Court of Chancery has been hailed as a court of law unique in patriarchal England for its recognition of women’s legal rights. This thesis is based on detailed quantitative and qualitative research into women’s use of the Court of Chancery in the late 17th century, to assess if and how it served as a court of redress for women.

The thesis also contributes to the growing historiography using court records to understand and interpret the everyday lives of women in early-modern society. The research not only reveals the role of Chancery as a women’s court of redress, but adds to the discussion of the lives of women in the patriarchal society of 17th-century England. It may encourage more historians of early-modern society, culture, family and women to utilise the voluminous and under-utilised Chancery litigation records.

The research for this thesis was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme and The National Archives.