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Early Modern English Manuscripts


Release of a Widow’s Annuity

Elizabeth Sands, widow, to Robert Masters. Release. Hornchurch, Essex: 10 July 1649. English. Brown ink on parchment.
170 X 345 mm. One seal, damaged.

Elizabeth Sands, a widow, and cousin and heir of the late Robert Wilcocks, releases her annuity (or rent) of £5 from her property at Image of a widow's release of an annuityHornchurch to Robert Masters. Annuities or annual rents like this one were frequently given to women for their maintenance and often were part of a marriage settlement. It appears that Elizabeth inherited this annuity.

Although quite a few female signatories were sufficiently literate to sign their own documents, Elizabeth has instead made her “mark” – in this case, a circle.  These marks were often in the form of crosses or exes, but all manner of other squiggles were also employed.

This is one of several related documents featuring Robert Masters.