Bad and Dubious Debts

Frequently inventories, particularly those of merchants, have lists of those owing money to the deceased.  These are sometimes divided into ‘sperate’ and ‘desperate’ debts.  Prior to transcribing these inventories I had never come across the word ‘sperate’, but once seen it is clearly the opposite of ‘desperate’, so I have a new word that means ‘hopeful’, which must be a welcome addition to a vocabulary.

But today I am transcribing an inventory, and had to smile, for in among the ‘Bad and Dubious Debts’ is one of 1 shilling and 8 pence owed to the grocer by

“Woman in a Green Gown”

I can see why the executors might conceive this to be a desperate bill.  I wonder if the grocer himself extended this credit, or was it an underling, completely overcome by the elegance of the lady in the green gown, who later repented his action.

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