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Women, ‘usury’ and credit in early modern England: the case of the maiden investor

Spicksley, Judith M.



© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. In the transition from medieval notions of usury to modern notions of interest, single women appear to have enjoyed a special role.While probate documents confirm that an increasing number were engaged in interest-bearing lending over the course of the seventeenth century, there is virtually no critique of such activity, despite the fact that antipathy towards lending for profit remained. That their lending activities were favourably received is here explained by reference to social and economic constructions of single women that rendered such activities acceptable; by the equitable actions of single female lenders in practice; and by the economic value such lending offered to their broader communities. The article concludes by revealing single women at the allegorical heart of new attitudes to credit that were developing from the later seventeenth century.


Spicksley, J. M. (2015). Women, ‘usury’ and credit in early modern England: the case of the maiden investor. Gender and history, 27(2), 263-292.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2015
Online Publication Date Jul 15, 2015
Publication Date 2015-08
Deposit Date Mar 5, 2020
Journal Gender and History
Print ISSN 0953-5233
Electronic ISSN 1468-0424
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 2
Pages 263-292
Public URL
Publisher URL