Reworked Material: Discourses of Clothing Culture in Early Sixteenth-Century Greenwich
This essay explores representations and perceptions of clothing by townsfolk in the period c. 1500-1560. In the absence of other personal records, the main source of evidence is the last will and testament, which provides details about the lifestyle choices of ordinary individuals. The discourses of clothing bequests in testamentary evidence are enmeshed in a broader discourse of testamentary provision. Each testament is unique, using particular, individualised, styles of description. These indicate personal preferences, and allegiances, both of which may draw on family tradition, custom and legal requirements for their construction. The purpose of this essay is to show how consideration of the descriptive details of clothing bequests may provide access to perceptions of clothing as gifts; and how the specific context of an individual last will and testament may be important for interpreting the meanings of these clothing bequests, for both testators and beneficiaries.