Bridget Hodgson's Clients

The surest way to connect Bridget to her clients is by searching surviving baptismal records (such as the one to the right) for her godchildren. Such a search reveals records for Bridget Ascough, Bridget Wilberfoss, and Bridget Swaine. In addition we know from court depositions that she served Mary and George Ramsden. While we should be careful about drawing conclusions from so small a group, it does offer at least a glimpse into Bridget’s practice. Two of these families, the Swaines and the Ramsdens were quite well off. Francis Swaine, father of Bridget, was a lawyer, and probably even wealthier than Bridget, for his home was taxed at nine hearths. George Ramsden was the son of an alderman, and his home was taxed at seven hearths. While these men were not so well off as Robert Waller, it placed them securely among the city’s wealthier residents.

Intriguingly, Bridget did not limit her practice to families such as the Ramsdens and Wallers. In 1666, Bridget delivered the daughter of James Wilberfoss, a butcher from the parish of Holy Trinity, King’s Court. While Wilberfoss was hardly poor, his three hearths were exactly the average for his parish. Moreover, he was unable to sign his will – indicating limited literacy – and left only a single shilling (1/20th of a pound) to each of his daughters, including Bridget. In 1672, Bridget delivered the daughter of Marmaduke Ascough, a barber from St. Michael le Belfrey, which lay just north of St. Helen, Stonegate. Ascough was assessed at just two hearths. In addition to demonstrating that Bridget’s practice spanned the social spectrum, this evidence tells us that, like many midwives in London, Bridget’s work took her across parish boundaries and throughout the city. While the Swaines, Wilberfosses, and Ascoughs lived in parishes adjacent to St. Helen’s, Mary and George Ramsden lived across the Ouse River, in St. Mary Bishophill, Senior, nearly as far as one could get from St. Helen’s without leaving the city.