Susanna Kidley-Warren (1642 – 1684)

Susanna Kidley-Warren was a seamstress working on Cheapside in the City of London between 1655 and 1684.

She was baptised in Little Birch in Herefordshire on 2 November 1642.[1] The daughter of John Kidley, a gentleman, and his wife Bridget, Susanna Kidley was bound to Edward Moodey, a milliner from St Martin’s Le Grand through the Merchant-Taylors’ Company on 3 October 1655.[2] Kidley was admitted free of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in 1663 and thereafter bound two female apprentices in 1664 and 1668, when her occupation was confirmed as a seamstress on Cheapside.[3]

Susanna Kidley married Samuel Warren, a Citizen and Skinner, in May 1673.[4] Evidence of her work in this period does not appear in the Merchant Taylors’ Company records because her apprentices were bound in her husband’s name through the Skinners’ Company. Consequently, in 1679, Samuel Warren was recorded as master to an apprentice named Elizabeth Lawrence.[5] When Samuel Warren died in 1680, leaving Susanna Warren pregnant with two young children, she reverted back to her association with the Merchant Taylors’ Company, binding Susanna Jackson apprentice in 1682. Susanna Warren was again described as a ‘Cheapside Sempstris’ at this time.[6]

Susanna and Samuel Warren’s wills further illuminate their socio-economic networks. Both wills mention a brother-in-law named John Adams who was entrusted by Susanna Warren to care for Elizabeth Warren, her only surviving child.[7] Adams was a ‘Cheapesyde Milliner’, and was the master of Susanna Kidley-Warren’s sister Dorothy, whom he had bound apprentice through the Merchant Taylors’ Company in 1661.[8] 

A probate inventory for Samuel Warren from the Court of Orphans lists the ‘Goods in the Shopp’, valued at £76 18 shillings:

Item 6 Lac’d Cravatts 30 Plaine 11 boyes Lac’d Cravatts 5 Payre of Lac’d Ruffells 130 ells of Holland Some Remnants of Lace Some Colbertine Lace hollond Shirts Sleeves and other Course Shirts bands Sockes Child bed Lynnen Quilted Capps Presses Compter & other ware.[9]

Figure 1
London Metropolitan Archives, City of London CLA/002/02/01/1834 from the Court of Orphans, City of London collection.

The shirts, lace ruffles, quilted caps, and child bed linen sold by Susanna Warren and her apprentices indicate that the shop provided clothing for men, women, and children.[10] Though her work was not always fully credited, livery company records nevertheless reveal Susanna Kidley-Warren’s continued agency in business as a single, married, and widowed woman. Furthermore, she was able to train several young women in the art of a seamstress and worked in a prominent location in the City of London.


Footnotes

[1] ‘Susanna Kydley, 2 November 1642’: Ancestry.com. England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.

[2] Guildhall Library (GL) Ms 34038/14, Merchant Taylors’ Company Apprentice Binding Book, 1654-1658/9, f. 105.

[3] GL Ms 34038/15, Merchant Taylors’ Company Apprentice Binding Book, 1658/9-1669, ff. 254 & 393.

[4] G. J. Armytage (ed.), Allegations for Marriage Licences issued by the Vicar-General of the Archbishop of Canterbury, 1669-1679 (London, 1892), p. 92.

[5] GL Ms 30719/2, Skinners’ Company Presentment Book 1603-1694, f. 286r.

[6] GL Ms 34038/17 Merchant Taylors’ Company Apprentice Binding Book, 1680-1696, f. 50.

[7] TNA PROB 11/364/540 Will of Samuel Warren, Skinner of Saint Matthew Friday Street, City of London, 10 December 1680; TNA PROB 11/377/381 Will of Susanna Warren, Widow of Saint Vedast, City of London, 13 October 1684.

[8] GL Ms 34038/15, Merchant Taylors’ Company Apprentice Binding Book, 1658/9-1669, f. 104.

[9] LMA CLA/002/02/01/1834, Court of Orphans, City of London Probate Inventory, Samuel Warren, 1680.

[10] For more on child bed linen, see P. Clabburn, ‘My small Child bed Linning’ Costume 13:1 (1979), pp. 38-40.

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