Some news on a new research project of mine. The Marc Fitch Fund have generously awarded me some funding to help develop an electronic, publicly accessible finding list for the returns of the 1723 Oaths of Allegiance to George I.
These oaths were tendered in the wake of the Jacobite Atterbury Plot of 1722. Taken at Midsummer and Michaelmas quarter sessions, oath rolls survive for Devon, East Sussex (Petworth) Essex, Hampshire, London, Norfolk, Worcestershire and the city of York. Returns for Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire have already been published and transcribed.
There was nothing particularly new about the oaths themselves which were based on earlier tests devised under Queen Anne and William and Mary. However, as has been demonstrated by Simon Dixon and the Friends of Devon Archives in their excellent project on the Devon roll, the 1723 returns do have a number of interesting features which set them apart from previous national oaths of loyalty. First, large numbers of women subscribed these oaths (3 in 10 subscribers in Devon were female). Second, some returns, such as those for the cities of Exeter and York, contain considerable detail about the social, marital and economic status (occupation) of subscribers.
The oaths are obviously of value to social, economic and political historians of early modern England and I’ve written elsewhere about their potential value to family historians. However, unlike similar documents such as the 1641 Protestation or the 1696 Association oath rolls there is no equivalent published catalogue of these documents.
The aim of this project is to identify all the surviving English returns for this oath. I know that some family and local history societies have already become interested in the potential of these returns. I’m hoping to use that knowledge and interest to help develop the finding list. The first stage of this project will be to develop a dedicated website for the 1723 oaths which will link to a ‘work-in-progress’ version of the finding list that visitors will be able to comment upon if they have further information. Any useful information given about the oath returns will obviously be acknowledged in the final version of the electronic finding list.
So, watch this space and, in the meantime, do get in touch if you have further info on the 1723 oaths.