Women’s Public Lives: Navigating the East India Company, Parliament and Courts in Early Modern England

Aske Laursen Brock, Misha Ewen

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Abstract

This article traces the strategies that women deployed, and the resources upon which they drew, in order to challenge the East India Company (EIC) and ultimately lay claim to property that they believed was rightfully theirs. It focuses on three women, Elizabeth Dale, Rebecka Duteil and Mary Goodal, who navigated the EIC, parliament and the courts in seventeenth-century London to try to secure their inheritance from husbands and siblings. It offers a fresh perspective on early modern women's public lives by focusing on a wide array of agentic strategies that women employed in their encounters with various institutions. Using a range of sources, including company records, petitions, court depositions and wills, it argues that exploring women's interactions with the EIC, especially in their role as adversaries, enriches understandings of women's agency in early modern England. This article suggests that such a lens can further nuance how we understand the inherent tensions of early modern women's public lives: as inflected by global as well as local contexts and shaped by conflict as well as collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGender & History
Volume33
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)3-23
Number of pages21
ISSN0953-5233
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Early modern
  • Institutions
  • East India Company

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