This chapter explores a broader set of changes that may have reshaped articulations of ‘worth’ and social identity from the later seventeenth century. Questions about witnesses’ worth diminished rapidly from this point, and the character of witnesses’ answers shifted as increasing proportions either chose not to respond at all or responded evasively—thereby deploying strategies that had once been the preserve of the gentry. The changing practices of self-evaluation in court are linked to the impact of civil war, to fiscal policy, to wider transitions in the culture of consumption, to the shifting bases of credit relations, to emergent concepts of privacy, and to the growing variation in forms of property. Goods became less primarily associated with savings and investment, and more bound up with processes of display. Knowledge of people’s ‘worth’ thereby became more partial and more dependent on assessments of the flow rather than stock of resources.
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