Judith Spicksley

Dr Judith M Spicksley

Lecturer at the Wilberforce Institute for the Emancipation of Slavery


01482 305188

Judith Spicksley began her research career in early modern British economic and social history, but moved to concentrate on the history of slavery 10 years ago.

She taught the economic history of Britain and Europe at the University of York for seven years and has been a member of the Economic History Society for 20 years.

Judith's main focus of research is on enslavement for debt, and she takes a keen interest in how ideas about indebtedness have impacted on legal and illegal forms of enslavement across time.


Research Interests

  • Debt slavery

  • Women and credit in early modern England

  • Early modern social, medical and women's history

Research groups


Spicksley J, ‘Contested enslavement: the Portuguese in Angola and the problem of debt, c. 1600-1800’, Itinerario, 39, Special Issue 02, pp 247-275 (2015)

Spicksley J, ‘Women, ‘usury’ and credit in early modern England: the case of the maiden investor’, Gender and History, 27, 2, pp 263-292 (2015)

Spicksley J, ‘The decline of slavery for debt in Western Europe in the medieval period’, in Simonetta Cavaciocchi (ed), Schiavitù e Servaggio nell’Economia Europea Secc. XI-XVIII (Serfdom and Slavery in the European Economy 11th - 18th Centuries), Atti della Settimana di Studi 45, pp 465-486, Florence: Firenze University Press (2014)

Spicksley J, ‘Pawns on the Gold Coast: the rise of Asante and shifts in security for debt, 1680-1750’, Journal of African History, 54, 2, pp 147-175 (2013)

Spicksley J (ed), The Business and Household Accounts of Joyce Jeffreys, Spinster of Hereford, 1638-1648, British Academy, Records of Social and Economic History Series, 41, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2012)

Full list


Research PhDs

Judith welcomes applications from students interested in historical forms of enslavement, and in all forms of debt-related bondage in the early modern period.

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • PhD, The early modern demographic dynamic: celibates and celibacy in 17th century England (with full Economic and Social Research Council funding for fees and maintenance), University of Hull (2001)

  • MA Historical Research, dissertation entitled: Economic growth and material culture in Tawney’s Century: the case of Barton upon Humber (with full Economic and Social Research Council funding for fees and maintenance), Distinction, University of Hull (1998)

  • BA Hons Economic and Social History, First Class, University of Hull (1996)

Awards and accolades

  • Leverhulme Research Fellowship, ‘Redrawing slavery: debt, law, and the market in the process of enslavement’, value £48,548 (1 January to 31 December 2018)

  • Nuffield New Career Development Fellowship, ‘Debt, poverty and slavery in historical perspective’, value £146,416 (March 2007 - February 2010)

  • ESRC Research Fellowship, ‘Money-lending by Single Women in 17th Century England: Nature, Extent and Effect', value £84,010, graded 'outstanding' (2001-2004)