Cathryn Spence


MA (Guelph), Ph. D (Edinburgh)

Cathryn's research examines the economic and social history of women in early modern Scotland. Her research interests include urban and economic history, and the impact of gender and socioeconomic status when navigating economic relationships in early modern Western Europe. She is the author of Women, Credit, and Debt in Early Modern Scottish Towns (Gender and History series, Manchester University Press, 2016) and co-editor of the Edinburgh Housemaills Taxation Book, 1634-6 (Boydell, 2014). She has also written several chapters and articles that explore the intersecting topics of Scottish women, credit and debt, and work.

Cathryn teaches courses on: world history to 1900, medieval and early modern Britain and Europe, women and sexuality, and death. She holds a PhD in History from the University of Edinburgh and an MA in History from the University of Guelph. Prior to taking up her position at VIU she held teaching positions at the universities of Dalhousie, Keele, and New Brunswick (Saint John), as well as a two-year SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Guelph.



Spence, C. (2016) Women, Credit and Debt in Early Modern Scottish Towns.(Manchester University Press, Gender and History series). [Winner of the Women's History Network (UK) Book Prize for 2017. The prize is awarded to the best first monograph in women's and gender history published in the preceding year.]

Spence C., and Allen, A. (eds) (2014) Edinburgh Housemaills Taxation Book, 1634-6, (Boydell & Brewer for the Scottish History Society).


  • Spence, C., (2017) ‘Gender and Credit in Early Modern European Towns’, in D. Simonton et al. (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Gender and the Urban Experience, (Routledge).
  • Spence, C. (2015) ‘Fatherless Daughters and Debt Repayment Agreements in Early Modern Scotland’, in E. Ewan and J. Nugent (eds) Childhood and Youth in Pre-modern Scotland, St Andrews Studies in Scottish History, (Boydell & Brewer), pp. 32-46.
  • Spence, C. (2013) ‘“For his interest”?: Women and coverture in early modern Scotland’, in C. Beattie and M. F. Stevens (eds) Married Women and the Law in Premodern Northwest Europe, 1200-1800, (Boydell & Brewer), pp. 173-90.
  • Spence, C. (2011) ‘‘You've got “maill”’: Women as Rentiers of Property in Seventeenth-Century Edinburgh’, Colloquia: Journal of Central European History, vol. 18, pp. 68-80.
  • Spence, C. (2008) ‘Women and Business in Sixteenth-Century Edinburgh: Evidence from their testaments’, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, vol. 28:1, pp. 1-19.

Blog Posts

Spence, C. (2015) ‘Taxing History: Space, Place, and Gender in Early Modern Edinburgh’, Gender and Work in Early Modern Europe, 2 Feb 2014.

Spence, C. (2014) ‘What the ell?’, History Links Dornoch, 19 May 2014.

Spence, C. (2011) ‘Women’s History Month: Women, Credit and Debt in Early Modern Edinburgh’, Women’s History Network Blog, 27 March 2011.

Book Reviews

English Historical Review (forthcoming); Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal (forthcoming, vol. 9:2, Spring 2015); Scottish Studies Newsletter (No. 44); Journal of British Studies (vols 53:1,52:4); International Review of Scottish Studies (vol. 38); Women’s History Review (vol. 22:3); Economic History Review (vol. 65:2).