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Accounting for OneselfWorth, Status, and the Social Order in Early Modern England$
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Alexandra Shepard

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199600793

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199600793.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 March 2021

Quantifying Status

Quantifying Status

(p.82) 3 Quantifying Status
Accounting for Oneself

Alexandra Shepard

Oxford University Press

The chapter begins by testing the veracity of witnesses’ estimates of the cash value of their goods through various methods, which suggest that their appraisals were reasonably reliable reflections of the extent of their moveable property. Considerations of accuracy are not, however, limited to a discussion of the precision of witnesses’ accounts, which assumes an anachronistic distinction between quantitative and qualitative measures. The bulk of this chapter focuses on the ways in which the sums commonly cited by witnesses held wider cultural resonances. The monetary values declared by witnesses were at the heart of a qualitative frame of reference for the quantification of status, involving highly sophisticated forms of numeracy in relation to thresholds for office-holding, legal rights, and privileges; fiscal liability; sumptuary entitlement (in terms of the clothes people were permitted to wear); and the imposition of fines and penalties.

Keywords:   numeracy, social status, taxation, office-holding, witness statements

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