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The Material Culture of the Tradesmen of Newcastle upon Tyne 1545-1642

The Durham Probate Record Evidence

Gwendolynn Heley
Publication Year:
216pp. Illustrated throughout with maps, plans, drawings, figures, tables and photographs including 1 colour fold-out map
ISBN 10:
BAR number:


This book 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 book has three major themes; people, property and objects, and covers five subject areas: firstly, a background discussion of the limitations inherent in working with probate records in material culture studies, and an explanation of the methodology employed; 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.