Grass Green Stockings
- The Business and Household Accounts of Joyce Jeffreys, Spinster of Hereford, 1638-48 edited by Judith Spicksley
Oxford, 413 pp, £90.00, March 2012, ISBN 978 0 19 726432 4
In June 1646, Joyce Jeffreys lost her spectacles. When a servant found them, Jeffreys tipped her sixpence, and then the elderly gentlewoman, following her habit, entered the expense into her account book. Between 1638 and 1648, Jeffreys kept a record of all her receipts and expenditures, noting them in a neat, regular hand. While we know little of her early life – when she was born, for example, or why she never married – we know a great deal about her business dealings, friendships and pastimes during her later years. Jeffreys never learned the double-entry bookkeeping practised by merchants, and her methods were so idiosyncratic it’s impossible to tell how much she was worth at any given moment. But the figures she recorded add up to a valuable sum: the portrait of a spinster at a time when unmarried women were socially invisible.