Edmund Spenser and Chancery in 1597

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This short essay examines a series of documents relating to a case in Chancery that involved the poet, Edmund Spenser (1554?-99). Spenser's second wife, Elizabeth Boyle, had inherited £100 from her late father, Stephen Boyle, which was entrusted to two local men, Thomas Emelye and John Mathew, and the newly married couple took part in proceedings designed to recover the money. We do not know the outcome of the case, but it does tell us a number of things about land and money disputes in early modern England, showing how localised disputes generally were; how litigious families could be when money was involved; how little wealth was preserved as ready cash; and how closely involved Edmund Spenser was in Northamptonshire society, which was probably where his family lived.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5235/175214812800745645

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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  • Law and Humanities is a peer-reviewed journal, providing a for for scholarly discourse within the arts and humanities around the subject of law. For this purpose, the arts and humanities disciplines are taken to include literature, history (including history of art), philosophy, theology, classics and the whole spectrum of performance and representational arts. The remit of the journal does not extend to consideration of the laws that regulate practical aspects of the arts and humanities (such as the law of intellectual property). Law and Humanities is principally concerned to engage with those aspects of human experience which are not empirically quantifiable or scientifically predictable.
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