1st Edition

Family Life in the Seventeenth Century The Verneys of Claydon House

By Miriam Slater Copyright 1984

    The great issues and conflicts of the early seventeenth century were played out not only on the stages of the Court and Parliament, and, latterly, on the battlefield, but within the confines of the family. Originally published in 1984, in this pioneering study of the Verney family, based on more than 10,000 family letters and papers, Professor Miriam Slater shows how a family of country gentry lived and behaved in a time of political and social crisis. Most of their energies were directed within the family, their concerns with marriage and children, with relationships between members of the Verney clan, with managing their estates and property. They emerge as real people with passions and hatreds, made to live their lives by correspondence when the head of the family was forced to live abroad as an exile and casualty of the political tumults. But their misfortunes have created a unique archive which allows the author to delve deep into the very heart of their personal lives, and to create an extraordinary collective portrait of a family in times of troubles.

    Professor Slater describes and analyses the way in which Verney family members actually treated each other, and gives an account of their ideas – on marriage, from both the male and female points of view; on the roles of children and parents; on the relationships among adult siblings; on the place of servants within the family. She offers a detailed and systematic examination of family psychological dynamics, and the values, attitudes and goals which affected individual behaviour. She also moves beyond individual idiosyncrasies by linking the nature of personal interaction within the family to the wider social structures of the society, including laws of inheritance, patriarchal control, the different treatment of men and women, and financial arrangements and family strategies.

    Acknowledgements.  Introduction: The Verney Family Correspondence.  1. A History of the Family in the Seventeenth Century  2. Family Relationships  3. Marriage: The Male Perspective  4. Marriage: The Female Perspective  5. Children, Servants and Parents  6. Conclusion.  Bibliography.  Table: The Verney Family Genealogy.  Index.


    Miriam Slater