'I think myself honestly decked': attitudes to the clothing of the rural poor in seventeenth-century England

Tankard, Danae (2015) 'I think myself honestly decked': attitudes to the clothing of the rural poor in seventeenth-century England. Rural History, 26 (1). pp. 17-33. ISSN 0956-7933

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Abstract

This article explores attitudes to the clothing of the rural poor in seventeenth-century England. It begins with an analysis of the representation of rural clothing in country-themed ballads, showing how 'homely' country clothing was used to construct an image of a contented and industrious rural population. It then considers how such popular literary representations influenced the way that diarists Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn recorded their encounters with the rural poor. The final part of the article looks at attitudes of the rural poor to their own clothing, drawing on evidence from a range of documentary sources as well as in the autobiographical writings of Edward Barlow. In contrast to the stereotypical depiction of the rural poor recorded by ballad writers and elite observers, the article will show that for the actual poor clothing could serve both as an expression of the 'self' and as a potent marker of social differences and moral and material inferiority.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Departments > History
Depositing User: Danae Tankard
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2018 10:20
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2018 10:20
URI: http://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/3579

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