Payments to a serving maid

Reference: NLW MS 12450E

There is very little information available about the dress of women from the lower levels of society during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This manuscript sheds some light on the subject.

 

NLW MS 12450E is a list of payments by Ieuan ap Rees ap David of Wigfair, Denbighshire, to his maid 'Elin vawr'. Many of the payments were made not in cash but in goods such as clothing or material for making clothes. The prices paid by Ieuan for the clothing and materials are noted on the list. The most comprehensive list is in Welsh, but some of the items on this list are also on a shorter list in English.

According to a note at the beginning of the list it is a copy of the original list that was made because of a court case where Ieuan ap Rees ap David was the defendant and Elin and George Gruff[ydd] ap D[avid] ap M[ered]edd were the plaintiffs. It appears, therefore, that the lists were copied after Elin had departed from her position and married.

Ieuan ap Rees ap David was a member of the Lloyd family of gentry and his son, John Lloyd, was the recorder of Denbigh. Ieuan died sometime between 1600-1610.

Because of the number of items of clothing on the list it is likely that it was produced over a number of years. It appears that Ieuan was a fairly generous employer - some items were made from his own cloth and no charge was made for these. It is interesting to note the prices of various items, e.g. 3d for a pair of gloves and 8 shillings for a felt hat from Chester. Aprons and smocks were usually made from linen but jerkins and petticoats were made from cloth or flannel. As well as the utilitarian items such as smocks and petticoats, Elin was also provided with more ornamental items such as collars and a ribbon to tie back her hair.

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