Search the Women in Scottish History Database

1530 - 1530
restrictions on servant women and nurses living on their own in Edinburgh

Women living by themselves were regarded with suspicion by the town authorities. The reasons for this were a mixture of moral and economic concerns. The town preferred everyone to live in a household, even if that household was a brothel. Regulations against single women living on their own apparently became more even numerous after the Reformation, although this increase may be due to the lack of earlier surviving records

The Scots version follows the translation.


26 April 1530

Item, that because there is no servant woman or nurse [wet-nurse] that earns in a good man's house through her service 5 or 6 marks [about 4 pounds} but that she will take a house of her own and be a brewster or huckster [petty retailer], wherethrough the neighbours of the town are heavily hurt, and the meat and drink raised higher [in price] through the buying of the same at the second or third hand, that therefore no servant woman pass from her service and take a house, unless she be married, or pass to the brothel, unless she have license of the provost for good reasonable causes, under the pain of banishing. and that no man lease houses to such persons under the pain of 40 shillings, to be applied to the work of the roads.

Item, that because thar is no seruand woman or nurys that gettis in ane gud manis hous throw hir seruice v or vj merkis bot scho will tak ane hous of hir awin and be ane broustar or hukstar, quharthro the nychtbouris of the toune ar hevelie hurt, and the meit and drink rasit darer throw the bying of the samyn at the secund or thrid hand, that tharfor na seruand woman pas fra hir seruice and tak ane hous without scho be mariit, or pas to the bordall except scho haif licence of the prouest for gud rationabill causis, vnde the pane of bannasing, and that na man set sick like personis howis vnder the pain of xl.s, to be aplliet to the cassa.




Extracts from the Records of the Royal Burgh of Edinburgh A.D. 1528-1577 ed. J.D. Marwick (Edinburgh: Scottish Burgh Records Society, 1871), p.27 Translation E. Ewan

Tags: law wet-nurses