This chapter outlines the debate about Chancery and makes some remarks about how people might understand the ‘agency’ of a female litigant. It explores the nature of the surviving evidence – predominantly Chancery bills written from the perspective of the petitioner – and suggest that attention to the type of writ being sought is one way of distinguishing between female litigants to Chancery and revealing of why women approached this court and their interactions with the law more generally. The court emerged over the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as a place where plaintiffs could initiate procedure by complaint rather than a writ as in a common law court, and that complaint could be made orally but increasingly it was made in written form, a bill. Elizabeth Thornton’s bill is particularly interesting in that one of her reasons for wanting the case moved to Chancery was that ‘she cannot come answer without her husband’ in Coventry’s court.
|Title of host publication||Litigating Women|
|Subtitle of host publication||Gender and Justice in Europe c.1200-c.1750|
|Editors||Teresa Phipps, Deborah Youngs|
|Place of Publication||London|
|Number of pages||17|
|ISBN (Print)||9780367230302, 9780367230289|
|Publication status||Published - 31 Dec 2021|