The letters in The Worlds of the Jeake Family of Rye create a narrative across more than a century and through three generations of the Jeake family. With Samuel Jeake junior and his wife Elizabeth at its centre, this collection also touches on the lives of their parents and their children. It begins with a letter written in 1640 about the death of Samuel senior's mother, Anne, and ends with the death of Samuel and Elizabeth's last surviving child in Jamaica in 1773.
Samuel Jeake is well known to early modern historians through his published diary. The letters extend our understanding of his life, business dealings and his key relationships - those with his wife, Elizabeth, and his father, also Samuel. Other correspondents include Samuel's business contacts and his extended family. This collection of letters reveals the import role kinship connections played in the management of business and to the family's survival during the religious and political upheavals at the end of the 17th century. They give detailed insights into the Jeakes' domestic life and a rare glimpse into the life and work of a middling-sort woman. Elizabeth Jeake made a significant contribution to the marital economy. The Worlds of the Jeake Family of Rye also tells the story of Samuel's troublesome brother-in-law, Nathaniel Hartshorne, who became involved in the political machinations surrounding the Exclusion Crisis and narrowly avoided execution after a short and disastrous career as a government informer.
This collection of around 300 letters is accompanied by comprehensive introductions to each chapter which put the correspondence in context and complete the narrative.