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This article explores the last instance of mass public oath-taking in England, the tendering of the oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration in the aftermath of the Jacobite Atterbury Plot of 1722. The records of this exercise, surviving in local record offices, have been little examined by historians. The returns are, however, unusual not only in the level of detail they occasionally provide concerning subscribers (place of abode, occupation, and social status) but also in the consistently high numbers of women who can be found taking the oaths. Prior to 1723, the appearance of female subscribers on oath returns was exceptional and usually assumed to be accidental. As this article seeks to demonstrate, the targeting of women in 1723 was intentional and represented a recognition of women's economic and political influence in early Hanoverian England. Even so, the presence of women on these oath returns represented a breach in the normal exclusion of women from formal political participation. The article suggests that other means of presenting public loyalty, namely the loyal address, were subsequently preferred which both seemed more the product of popular enthusiasm rather than state direction and which could informally represent women without conferring a public political identity.

Corresponding author
Department of Humanities, University of Roehampton, Roehampton, sw15 5ph
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I would like to thank Simon Dixon, Mark Knights, John Spurr, seminar audiences in London, Liverpool, and York and the editor and reviewers for the Historical Journal for their comments on this article. I am grateful to both the British Academy and the Marc Fitch Fund for financial support for my research.

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1 For sceptical appraisals, see E. P. Thompson, Whigs and hunters: the origins of the Black Act (New York, NY, 1975), p. 201; D. W. Hayton, ‘Atterbury, Francis’, Oxford dictionary of national biography (ODNB). The most recent treatment of the plot views it as a serious Jacobite enterprise, Eveline Cruickshanks and Howard Erskine-Hill, The Atterbury Plot (Basingstoke, 2004).

2 Historical Manuscripts Commission (HMC) 14th report, Appendix ix (Onslow MSS), pp. 462–4.

3 HMC Portland, v, p. 638, vii, pp. 364, 366; True Briton, 27 Sept. 1723; True Briton, 3 Jan. 1723; Remarks and collections of Thomas Hearne, viii (Oxford Historical Society, vol. l, Oxford, 1907), pp. 122–3.

4 Thompson, Whigs and hunters, pp. 199–200.

5 P. Langford, Public life and the propertied Englishman, 1689–1798 (Oxford, 1991), pp. 98–114 at p. 104.

6 M. Knights, Representation and misrepresentation in later Stuart Britain: partisanship and political culture (Oxford, 2005), pp. 159–60.

7 Hannah Smith, Georgian monarchy politics and culture, 1714–1760 (Cambridge, 2006), pp. 154–6.

8 Simon Dixon and the Friends of Devon Archives, ‘Devon and Exeter oath rolls, 1723’, (modified 19 Jan. 2013); E. Vallance, Revolutionary England and the national covenant: state oaths, Protestantism and the political nation, 1553–1682 (Woodbridge, 2005); David Martin Jones, Conscience and allegiance in seventeenth-century England: the political significance of oaths and engagements (Woodbridge, 1999); Conal Condren, Argument and authority in early modern England: the presupposition of oaths and offices (Cambridge, 2006); Jonathan Gray, Oaths and the English Reformation (Cambridge, 2011); Carlo Taviani, ‘Peace and revolt: oath-taking rituals in early sixteenth-century Italy’, in Samuel Cohn Jr, Marcello Fantoni, Franco Franceschi, and Fabrizio Ricciardelli, eds., Late medieval and early modern ritual: studies in Italian urban culture (Turnhout, 2013), pp. 119–36.

9 On the role of these devices in military mobilization, see M. J. Braddick, ‘History, liberty, reformation and the cause: parliamentarian military and ideological escalation in 1643’, in M. J. Braddick and D. L. Smith, eds., The experience of revolution in Stuart Britain and Ireland (Cambridge, 2011), ch. 6, and see also John Walter's forthcoming monograph on the Protestation of 1641/2.

10 For the 1696 Association, see David Cressy, ‘Binding the nation: the Bonds of Association, 1584 and 1696’, in Delloyd J. Guth and John M. McKenna, eds., Tudor rule and revolution: essays for G. R. Elton from his American friends (Cambridge, 1982), pp. 217–34; Steven Pincus, 1688: the first modern revolution (New Haven, CT, 2009), ch. 14. For the earlier oaths to William and Mary and the ensuing ‘Allegiance Controversy’, see Goldie Mark, ‘The revolution of 1689 and the structure of political argument’, Bulletin of Research in the Humanities, 83 (1980), pp. 473564 .

11 The full title of the Catholic Taxation Act was ‘An Act for granting an aid to his majesty by levying a tax upon papists’, 9 Geo. 1, c. 18.

12 Philip Laundy, ‘Onslow, Arthur (1691–1768)’, ODNB.

13 The history and proceedings of the House of Commons, vi: 1714–1727 (London, 1742), p. 310. For the response of English Catholics to these demands, see Gabriel Glickman, The English Catholic community, 1688–1745: politics, culture and ideology (Woodbridge, 2009), ch. 4, pp. 147–9.

14 Cruickshanks Eveline, ‘Walpole's tax on Catholics’, Recusant History, 28 (2006), pp. 95102 at pp. 96–8.

15 History and proceedings, p. 315.

16 The parliamentary diary of Sir Edward Knatchbull (1722–1730), ed. A. N. Newman (Camden, third series, vol. xciv, London, 1963), p. 23.

17 National Records of Scotland, E379/7, Oaths and Declarations, George I; New York Historical Society, New York City Oaths Collection, 1715–1813. For English oath rolls, see the electronic finding list available here: (created June 2014).

18, for the text of the Oaths Act. The full title of the act was ‘An Act to oblige all persons, being papists, in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, and all persons in Great Britain, refusing or neglecting to take the oaths appointed for the security of his majesty's person and government, by several acts herein mentioned, to register their names and real estates’, 9 Geo. 1 c. 24.

19 Simon Dixon, ‘Occupation, literacy, and gender in eighteenth-century Exeter: an analysis of the 1723 oath rolls’, unpublished paper, p. 3. I am grateful to Dr Dixon for sharing this research with me.

20 For examples detailing these subscription costs, see the return for Lydd, Kent, Kent History and Library Centre, Ly/6/4/6/6; Cheshire oath return, Cheshire Archives and Local Studies (CALS), QDR 3, p. 13.

21 Rachel Weil, ‘National security and secularisation in the English revolution of 1688’, in W. F. Sullivan, R. A. Yelle, and M. Taussig-Rubbo, eds., After secular law (Stanford, CA, 2011), pp. 80–101; Rachel Weil, A plague of informers: conspiracy and trust in William III's England (New Haven, CT, 2013). For the earlier oaths legislation:

22 An exception is the returns made in special sessions of the Court of Exchequer, The National Archives (TNA), E 169/4–28.

23 For these figures, taken from contemporary press reports, see Cressy, ‘Binding the nation’, p. 231.

24 For the distances travelled, see, for contemporary mentions see HMC Portland, vii, p. 364, quoted in Thompson, Whigs and hunters, p. 199, but the wrong volume cited.

25 CALS, QDR3; London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), CLA/047/LR/02/04/028.

26 Analysis based on the York return, York City Archives (YCA), quarter sessions minute book, F12, fos. 140v–149r.

27 Weekly Journal or Saturday's Post, 16 Nov. 1723.

28 Based on a calculation of total signatures on lists identified (c. 150,000) plus possible returns for eleven missing counties as well as boroughs and corporations.

29 See TNA, E 369/125, fos. 138–46.

30 LMA, CLA/047/LR/02/04/028.

31 LMA, CLA/047/LR/02/01/016 (old document reference MISC MSS/16/13).

32 For the Westminster returns, see LMA, WR/R/O/014. My thanks to Louise Falcini for this reference.

33 For example, Wiltshire and Swindon Archives, 628/36/1, deeds of Rose Inn, Salisbury, and other properties including certificate of 1723 oath of allegiance; Leicestershire and Rutland Record Office (RO), DE730/8 Barker MSS, certificate in amongst papers on rent and land values.

34 LMA, CLA/047/LR/02/04/059, papists registering their estates (old document reference MISC MSS/63/16).

35 LMA, CLA/047/LR/02/04/059, membrane 35.

36 See TNA E 169/15 where two signatures ‘Anne Pryse’ and ‘Jane Hart’ are amended to ‘Anne Draper’ and ‘Jane Dent’ in the hand of the scribe, and E 169/16 where ‘Dorothea Hyde’ is also recorded as ‘alias Tornay, Widdow’.

37 On this drive in early modern legislation, see E. Higgs, Identifying the English: a history of personal identification 1500 to the present (London, 2011), pp. 94–5.

38 Erickson Amy, ‘Married women's occupations in eighteenth-century London’, Continuity & Change, 23 (2008), pp. 267307 ; idem, Eleanor Mosley and other milliners in the City of London companies, 1700–1750’, History Workshop Journal, 71 (2011), pp. 147–72; idem, Mistresses and marriage or a short history of the Mrs’, History Workshop Journal, 78 (2014), pp. 3957 . For the shifting meanings of ‘spinster’, see J. M. Spicksley, ‘A dynamic model of social relations: celibacy, credit and the identity of the “spinster” in seventeenth-century England’, in Henry French and Jonathan Barry, eds., Identity and agency in England, 1500–1800 (Basingstoke, 2004), pp. 106–46.

39 I have identified 771 women on the Cheshire return (QDR 3) for whom no marital status was given. The total number of subscribers has been estimated as 10,500 with approximately one fifth of these being women (2,100). (Estimates provided by Caroline Picco, archivist, Cheshire Archives and Local Studies.)

40 For Baker, see YCA, F12, fo. 148v; for _ayley, YCA, F12, fo. 147v.

41 Brian Jones's 1998 transcription, held at York City Archives, identified Baker as ‘Eliz’ but my own transcription had the forename as ‘Clir’, perhaps an abbreviation of ‘Clifford’.

42 Admissions to the freedom of York: Temp. George I (1714–1727)', in Register of the freemen of the city of York, ii: 1559–1759, ed. Francis Collins (Durham, 1900), pp. 211–28, Some of the same women may also be present on the 1723 oath return – see Jane Stephenson, merchant and daughter of William Stephenson, merchant. Her father appears on the return on fo. 147r with his wife, while a Jane Stephenson ‘widdow’ appears on fo. 141r. Another female merchant, Anna Marshall, likewise may be the same ‘Ann Marshall, Spin’ who appears on fo. 145r.

43 See Quinn J. F., ‘York elections in the age of Walpole’, Northern History, 22 (1986), pp. 175–97, for details of York's franchise in this period.

44 For the example of an ‘unidentified’ woman who may have paid for a certificate, see ‘Deborah Downes de Larton’ who subscribed the oaths at Malpass, Cheshire, on 28 Aug. 1723, CALS, QDR 3, p. 35.

45 R. D. Cornwall, ‘Welton, Richard’, ODNB: Daily Journal, 21 Dec. 1723; Daily Journal, 24 Dec. 1723; Daily Journal, 26 Dec. 1723; TNA SP 35/46 fos. 53–5; SP 35/47 fo. 5. For Brett, Bodleian Library (Bodl), MS Eng. Th. C. 28 fos. 257–8, Gilbert to Brett, 5 Mar. 1723; Bodl MS Eng. Th. C. 41 fos. 28v–28r, Brett to Gilbert, 16 Feb. 1724.

46 L. B. Smith, ‘North, William’, ODNB.

47 British Journal, 30 Nov. 1723.

48 TNA, E 169/19.

49 Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 30 Nov. 1723; Weekly Journal or Saturday's Post, 30 Nov. 1723.

52 For example, notice of Westminster and Middlesex sessions, Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 27 July 1723; Surrey, Daily Journal, 20 Aug. 1723; City of London, Daily Courant, 18 Sept. 1723; Kent, Daily Courant, 9 Nov. 1723.

53 Daily Journal, 15 Oct. 1723, and see also Daily Journal, 26 Oct. 1723.

54 Surrey History Centre, QS2/6/1723/Mic/41, ‘Letter to the Clerk, introducing the bearer George Cottrele a blind person, and requesting the Clerk's assistance while George Cottrele took the oath of loyalty.’

55 Daily Journal, 15 Oct. 1723; London Journal, 26 Oct. 1723; British Journal, 28 Dec. 1723.

56 For Walpole, Evening Post, 14–17 Dec. 1723. For the subscription of other ‘persons of distinction’, Weekly Journal or Saturday's Post, 29 June 1723; for the social range of subscribers, Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 26 Oct. 1723.

57 Although not all observers were convinced by these reports, see the undated letter of the non-juror William Law to his brother George Law, British Library Add MS 34486 B 28.

58 See for example the address to George I issued from Convocation in Oct. 1722, London Gazette, 30 Oct – 3 Nov. 1722.

59 For work on loyal addressing, see Karin Bowie, Scottish public opinion and the Anglo-Scottish union, 1699–1707 (London, 2007); Knights, Representation and misrepresentation, ch. 3; idem, ‘Participation and representation before democracy: petitions and addresses in pre-modern Britain’, in Ian Shapiro, Susan C. Stokes, Elizabeth Jean Wood, and Alexander S. Kirshner, eds., Political representation (Cambridge, 2009), pp. 35–57.

60 Knights, Representation and misrepresentation, p. 118.

61 See for example the humble addresses of Protestant dissenting ministers of London and Bristol, London Gazette, 20–4 Nov. 1722.

62 London Gazette, 24–7 Nov. 1722, ‘Humble address of the High Steward, under Steward, Justice of the Peace, High Bailiff, Coroner and other Gentlemen, Freeholders, Tenants and Inhabitants of His Majesty's Liberty of Havering at Bower in the County of Essex.’

63 London Gazette, 31 Dec. – 4 Jan. 1723/4.

64 Joseph Addison, The Freeholder, ed. James Leheny (Oxford, 1979), p. 205.

65 Walter J., ‘The English people and the English Revolution revisited’, History Workshop Journal, 61 (2006), pp. 171–82 at p. 179; Vallance, Revolutionary England, p. 110.

66 Patricia Crawford and Sara Mendelson, Women in early modern England, 1550–1720 (Oxford, 1998), p. 399.

67 Ann Hughes, ‘Gender and politics in Leveller literature’, in Susan Amussen and Mark Kishlansky, eds., Political culture and cultural politics in England: essays presented to David Underdown (Manchester, 1995), pp. 162–88; Ann Marie McEntee, ‘“The [un]civill-sisterhood of oranges and lemons”: female petitioners and demonstrators, 1642–1653’, Prose Studies, 14 (1991), pp. 92–111; Patricia Higgins, ‘The reactions of women with special reference to women petitioners’, in B. L. Manning, ed., Politics, religion and the English Civil War (London, 1973), pp. 179–222.

68 Loft Philip, ‘Involving the public: parliament, petitioning, and the language of interest, 1688–1720’, Journal of British Studies, 55 (2016), pp. 123 .

69 Achinstein Sharon, ‘Women on top in the pamphlet literature of the English Revolution’, Women's Studies, 24 (1994), pp. 131–63.

71 YCA, F12, fos. 145r–146r (21 Nov.); fos. 147v–148v (19 Dec.). Simon Dixon's work on the Devon and Exeter returns similarly found that more women took the oaths in the later sessions

72 Cassandra Brydges (1670–1735), first duchess of Chandos life and letters, ed. Rosemary O'Day (Woodbridge, 2007), p. 56.

73 True Briton, 12 Aug. 1723.

74 Weekly Journal or Saturday's Post, 24 Aug. 1723.

75 Staffordshire RO, D (W) 1778/I/ii/580 A/1. I thank Rebecca Jackson, duty archivist at Staffs RO, for bringing this letter to my attention.

76 The duchess had already come to an arrangement protecting her jointure after the '15 rebellion, Stuart Handley, ‘Butler, James, 2nd duke of Ormond’, ODNB; London Journal, 14 Sept. 1723.

77 Brydges letters, pp. 161–2.

78 Suffolk RO, Bury St Edmunds Branch, HA 535/4/1, conveyance of a tenement under the settlement between Mary Godfrey of Bury, spinster and James Oakes of Norwich, chapman, includes Mary's subscription certificate to the 1723 oaths. For a similar certificate, see Gloucestershire Archives, D3365/13, deeds relating to a cottage called Badham, including oath of allegiance of one Eliz. Tanner.

79 Although the description of subscribers as gentlemen did not necessarily mean they were not involved in trade. Rowland Mosley and Metcalfe Ingram, who took the oaths on 5 Sept. 1723, were both described as ‘Gent’ (YCA, F12, fo. 140v) but Mosley was listed as an apothecary in the York freedom registers and Ingram as a dyer: ‘Admissions to the freedom of York: temp. William & Mary (1689–94)’, in Register of the freemen, ed. Collins, pp. 167–85

80 ‘The eighteenth century: topography and population’, in P. M. Tillott, ed., A history of the county of York: the city of York (London, 1961), pp. 207–15, For discussions of the percentage of subscribers as a proportion of the total population of Exeter, see Dixon, ‘Occupation, literacy, and gender’, p. 5.

81 Comparison of YCA, F12, fos. 140v–141r with names in Register of the freemen, ed. Collins,

82 Quinn, ‘York elections’, p. 186, for estimated numbers at the election.

83 Daily Journal, 7 Dec. 1723; Universal Journal, 11 Dec. 1723; Universal Journal, 18 Dec. 1723.

84 Amy Erickson, Women and property in early modern England (London, 1993), esp. pp. 156–8.

85 On the idea of ‘feme covert’ and oath-taking, see Brydges letters, p. 55.

86 True Briton, 4 Nov. 1723; Pasquin, 23 Aug. 1723.

87 YCA, F12, fo. 142v (Thomas), fo. 147v (Dorothy).

88 YCA, F12, fo. 143v (Samuel), fo. 148r (Faith).

89 The parish registers of All Saints’ Church, Pavement in the city of York, ed. T. M. Fisher (2 vols., Wakefield, 1936), ii, pp. 168, 177, 194; for the possible burial of Rebeckha's uncle John on 9 Sept. 1704 and for her father's death in the city gaol, see Borthwick Institute for Archives: University of York, PR Y/J 3 (burial register for York, St John Ousebridge, 1678–1821). I thank Nathan Williams, archive assistant, for the Borthwick Institute references. For George, John, and James Blackbeard's status as freemen, see ‘Admissions to the freedom of York: temp. William & Mary (1689–94)’, in Register of the freemen, ed. Collins, pp. 167–85, James Blackbeard is listed as ‘clerici’ in the registers. A James Blackbeard, rector, is recorded as dying in 1698 on a memorial in Sutton upon Derwent church, A. P. Baggs, G. H. R. Kent, and J. D. Purdy, ‘Sutton upon Derwent’, in K. J. Allison, ed., A history of the county of York East Riding, iii: Ouse and Derwent Wapentake, and part of Harthill Wapentake (London, 1976), pp. 173–9,–179, and George Blackbeard's place of residence was recorded as Sutton upon Derwent when he married Susanna in Apr. 1698, Index to the archbishop of York's marriage bonds & allegations 1690–1714, comp. P. W. G. Chilman (Borthwick Lists and Indexes, 29, York, 2001), p. 28.

90 Baptism records for Bawtry found via, England, select births and christenings, 1538–1975 (2014) (FHL Film Number: 1068315). Lennox's father Thomas is not listed on the return, though a Barnaby Bawtry, upholsterer, took the oaths on 11 Oct. 1723, YCA, F12, fo. 142v.

91 Hampshire RO, 97M81/III/3. I thank Pat Genge for alerting me to the Romsey return and for letting me have a copy of a transcription of it.

92 True Briton, 12 Aug. 1723; for this myth, Jenny March, The Penguin book of classical myths (London, 2009), p. 141.

93 True Briton, 12 Aug. 1723.

94 For the trial report, see Old Bailey Proceedings Online,, version 7.2 (Mar. 2015), 4 Dec. 1723, trial of John Lant, Richard Ayres, David Kite, John Ambler (t17231204–52); for further press reports, see London Journal, 27 July 1723; Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 27 July 1723. On bonfires as a trigger for mob activity, see Robert B. Shoemaker, The London mob: violence and disorder in eighteenth-century England (London, 2004), pp. 124–5; on contemporary legal advice against prosecuting women for riot, see Jennine Hurl-Eamon, Gender and petty violence in London, 1680–1720 (Columbus, OH, 2005), p. 109.

95 N. Rogers, Crowds, culture and politics in Georgian Britain (Oxford, 1998), pp. 225–6; and see also Hurl-Eamon, Gender and petty violence, pp. 115–16, for the ‘Mughouse’ riots.

96 London Gazette, 8–12 May 1722; London Gazette, 12–15 May 1722.

97 Hurl-Eamon, Gender and petty violence, p. 112; and see Rogers, Crowds, culture and politics, pp. 222–3.

99 East Sussex RO, WINCH MS 60, fos. 219–20.

100 For some examples, see LMA, WR/R/R/017, justices’ certificates of suspected papists who were summoned to appear to take the oaths and subscribe the declaration (1722), membrane 4, return of parish of St James, those summoned but failed to appear included ‘Anne Dalton of Rupert Street, Widdow’, ‘Mary Matthews of Portugal Street’, and ‘Mary the wife of Thomas Boweyer of Broad Street’; TNA KB 18/1/1–40, return of papists in Lancashire, includes the names of women as well as men and details the occupation or financial status of those listed. I thank Paul Carlyle for making me aware of this manuscript.

101 Chalus Elaine, ‘“Women are often very good scaffoldings”: women and politics in the age of Anne’, Parliamentary History, 28 (2009), pp. 150–65. Addison, Freeholder, pp. 88–9, satirizes the role of women as endorsers of male votes.

102 On Sacheverell's women supporters, see Nicholson Eirwen, ‘Sacheverell's harlots: non-resistance on paper and in practice’, Parliamentary History, 31 (2012), pp. 6979 .

103 British Journal, 10 Aug. 1723; Weekly Journal or Saturday's Post, 10 Aug. 1723.

104 Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 26 Oct. 1723.

105 (Marlborough), Evening Post, 3–6 Aug. 1723; Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 10 Aug. 1723; British Journal, 17 Aug. 1723; Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 17 Aug. 1723; (Princess of Wales), Evening Post, 1–3 Oct. 1723; Daily Journal, 4 Oct. 1723; British Journal, 5 Oct. 1723; Daily Post, 5 Oct. 1723; London Journal, 12 Oct. 1723.

106 Stephen Taylor, ‘Caroline, queen of Great Britain’, ODNB.

107 Brydges letters, p. 55. Only one contemporary work appeared to address the concerns of women subscribers directly, A compleat history of publick and solemn state oaths (London, 1724).

108 Phil Withington, The politics of the commonwealth: citizens and freemen in early modern England (Cambridge, 2005), p. 219 and ch. 7; and now see the important recent work of Shepard Alexandra: ‘Crediting women in the early modern English economy’, History Workshop Journal, 79 (2015), pp. 124 ; Accounting for oneself: worth, status and the social order in early modern England (Oxford, 2015).

109 For a negative appraisal of the tax, see J. Anthony Williams, Catholic recusancy in Wiltshire, 1660–1791 (London, 1968), pp. 61–2. For different perspectives, see Cruickshanks and Erskine-Hill, Atterbury Plot, p. 167; Rowlands M., ‘Staffordshire papists and the levy of 1723’, Staffordshire Catholic History, 2 (1962), pp. 33–9 at p. 37.

110 K. Wilson, The sense of the people: politics, culture and imperialism in England, 1715–1785 (Cambridge, 2005), pp. 120–1.

111 John Jackson, The duty of subjects towards their governors set forth in a sermon preach'd…the first day of August, 1723 (London, 1723), p. 10.

112 G. Lamone, ed., Charges to the grand jury, 1689–1803 (Camden Fourth series, vol. 43, London, 1992), pp. 175–89, quotation at p. 179.

113 J. Wynne, The duty of studying to be quiet and to do our own business, explain'd and recommended in a sermon preach'd…Novemb. 17, 1723 (London, 1724).

114 C. Hill, ‘From oaths to interest’, in his Society and puritanism in pre-revolutionary England (London, 1964), pp. 328–61; for this reading in general and an important counter-argument, see Spurr J., ‘A profane history of oaths’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 11 (2001), pp. 3763 at pp. 39–41.

115 Spurr, ‘Profane history’, p. 60; idem, ‘“The strongest bond of conscience”: oaths and the limits of tolerance in early modern England’, in Harald E. Braun and Edward Vallance, eds., Contexts of conscience in early modern Europe, 1500–1700 (Basingstoke, 2004), pp. 151–65, at pp. 163–5, but see also Shapiro Barbara, ‘Oaths, credibility and the legal process in early modern England, part one’, Law and Humanities, 6 (2012), pp. 145–78; Shapiro Barbara, ‘Oaths, credibility and the legal process in early modern England, part two’, Law and Humanities, 7 (2013), pp. 1954 .

116 For numbers, see the table in Knights, Representation and misrepresentation, p. 117. A similar argument has recently been made in relation to the growth of loyalist voluntary associations in the eighteenth century, Frank O'Gorman, ‘Origins and trajectories of loyalism in England, 1580–1840', in Allan Blackstock and Frank O'Gorman, eds., Loyalism and the formation of the British world, 1775–1914 (Woodbridge, 2014), pp. 19–42.

117 For example A true catalogue ([London, 1659]), p. 5.

118 Walter, ‘English Revolution revisited’, p. 179.

119 Edward Vallance, ‘“From the hearts of the people”: loyalty, addresses and the public sphere in the Exclusion Crisis’, in T. Claydon and T. Corns, eds., Religion, culture and the national community in the 1670s (Cardiff, 2011), ch. 6.

120 Knights, ‘Participation and representation’, pp. 51–3.

121 Susan Zaeske, Signatures of citizenship: petitioning, anti-slavery and women's political identity (London, 2003); Clare Midgley, Women against slavery: the British campaigns, 1780–1870 (London, 1992), esp. pp. 62–70.

122 More might be gathered from case-studies of individuals cross-referencing returns with parochial and tax records. However, the nature of the returns, especially the lack of information in many cases about the residence of subscribers, makes uncovering more detail about individuals harder than with other oath-taking exercises, such as the Protestation of 1641/2 or 1696 Association, where returns were organized by parish or hundred. Name searchable commercial and open-access databases such as London Lives (, Ancestry (, and Findmypast ( (used here) can be employed to enrich the biographical information in these returns.

123 Knights, Representation and misrepresentation, p. 126.

* I would like to thank Simon Dixon, Mark Knights, John Spurr, seminar audiences in London, Liverpool, and York and the editor and reviewers for the Historical Journal for their comments on this article. I am grateful to both the British Academy and the Marc Fitch Fund for financial support for my research.

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