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The material culture of the tradesmen of Newcastle upon Tyne 1545 -1642: The Durham probate record evidence

Heley, Gwendolynn (2007) The material culture of the tradesmen of Newcastle upon Tyne 1545 -1642: The Durham probate record evidence. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis examines the material culture of middling tradesmen living in Newcastle upon Tyne between 1545 and 1642. The analysis is based on wills and inventories selected from the Durham Probate Records pertaining to Newcastle residents. The thesis has three major themes; people, property and objects and covers five subject areas: these include, firstly, a background discussion of the limitations inherent in working with probate records in material culture studies, and an explanation of the methodology employed in the study; secondly, an analysis of inheritance practices and patterns concerning selected types of bequests, exploring issues such as primogeniture, gender and life-cycle factors; thirdly, a study of the built environment and social demography of the town, including occupational zones, based on descriptions of properties along streets and in specific locations recorded in the documents; fourthly, an extensive analysis of patterns of consumption, production and investment among tradesmen by way of categories of objects associated with the household, household production and objects relating to the practice of a trade; the final chapter explores the size of houses, the function of rooms and the nature of social relations within the home (evidenced by way of objects in named rooms).The thesis shows that probate records provide an unrivalled opportunity for pursuing material culture studies, despite the tremendous difficulties presented by these primary sources. The thesis argues that inheritance practices in northern England conform to a national pattern as early as the mid-16th century, and that although primogeniture is an important factor, the life-cycle stage which families had reached at the death of the head of the household are central to understanding the distribution of estates. The study shows that probate records can be used to recover aspects of the vanished built environment and social geography of pre-Civil-War Newcastle 一 a period of history suffering a paucity of sources, including the problem that very few standing structures from the epoch remain. The analysis also demonstrates marked change in the material culture of middling tradesmen in the early rather than the later decades of the 17"՝ century, and that the transition in material lives is closely linked to the exceptional industrial and commercial growth experienced in the region associated with the coal trade, that ensured Newcastle upon Tynе was among the most advanced regions in the country by the early 17th century.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2007
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:51

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