I am a pure and harmless maid/ And some are pleased to call me fair/ No ambush yet was ever laid/ To catch me but I broke the snare/ And some there be that term me coy/ 'Cause in my freedom's all my joy.  --Anon, from 17th Century Widow's song

 

Widows

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Other references to the Widow are also found in the 1600s:

Of these Dells some are termed Witae Dells, and those are such as are borne and begotten vnder a hedge, other are young wenches that either by death of parents, the villanie of Executors, or the crueltie of maisters & mistresses, fall into this infamous & damnable course of life. . .

Subtile queanes, they are hard-harted, light- fingerd, cunning in dissembling, & dangerous to be met.  They fear neither God nor good lawes, but onely are kept in aw by the Vpright-men, who often spoyle them of all they haue.
--Dekker's Belman of London 1608

The Widows serve a pivotal role in the functioning of the Clan.  And in days gone by have made crucial decisions involving the survival of the Clan.  They often met in the form of Widows Circles to discuss Clan business.

Romantic Artist's depiction of the Widow's Circle, where Clan matters were discussed.--ed

Along with Widows Circles there were smaller collectives described as Widows Sewing Circles formed by like minded women as protection.

The women would swear to anything to save each other from the authorities and collected a fund to serve as an allowance for fellow members who found themselves incarcerated.

Reference to its existence is found in the biography of Madge Diver.

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Created: May 9, 2001
Last modified: September 12, 2006