[Great Britain]: [c. 1770-1790]. Vellum binding with calligraphic signature in ink to front board. Ownership signature of the same Miss Vavasour to front pastedown in a late 18th century hand. Comprised of 83 handwritten pages in calligraphy, with writing almost exclusively confined to rectos of leaves. A fair copy rather than a practice notebook, the present was designed for ease of reference over time.
An aristocratic Roman Catholic family with Norman lineage, the Vavasours had the means to rigorously educate their daughters as well as their sons. Yorkshire records suggest that the compiler of the present mathematical manuscript was Jane Vavasour (1752-1824), who would have been in her late teens or early twenties at the time of its compilation. Unmarried and well-schooled, a woman of her stature might be encouraged to take arithmetical training seriously, given that she'd be expected to run a complex household one day for her husband or her father. To this end, she includes sections on pure mathematics such as division and reduction, as well as applied arithmetic on wine and time measurements. In this sense, Miss Vavasour's training both reflects Enlightenment ideals as well the practical facts in women's lives that required expanded education. Tapping into the organized structures recommended by the likes of John Locke for designing commonplace books as reference materials, Miss Vavasour organizes her mathematical book for ease of use. Each section has a beautifully rendered title page, with a definition of the function when relevant. For example, the opening section Division has beneath its title "Teacheth to reduce things from one denomination to another, as Pounds to Farthings." Carefully copied out, the sections include Division, Reduction, Troy Weight, Avoirdupois, Wine Measure, the Rule of Three, and Practice; and each contains applications to commodities such as textiles, grain, and sugar, to currency and investing concepts of interest and return.
An opportunity to consider how and why young women were being trained in mathematics during the Enlightenment, and the uses to which they put such training (in running households or educating their own children at home). In conversation with American women's mathematical manuscripts, it opens the door to comparative studies on class and education. This manuscript's provenance from a distinguished family further offers research opportunities for genealogical study and an exploration into the trajectory of its creator's life.
Yorkshire: Hazlewood, St. Leonards (Record Set of Non Conformist Burials, 1824). (Item #3522)