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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

Jane Laughton: In Memoriam


We wanted to express our sadness at the death of Jane Laughton during the preparation of this volume. Jane died on 15 October 2017 of melanoma cancer. Her chapter for this collection was her final publication. Her husband, Tony, wrote to us about her unwavering enthusiasm for the project during her illness and that, ‘some ten days before her death I spent time with her on the subject [of her chapter] as her computer refused to obey her instructions! I went through much of the text with her and typed in some corrections for her.’ This is testament to her commitment and contribution to the study of later medieval urban history, and particularly the history of Chester, over many decades. Jane had already published on a number of aspects of seventeenth-century Cheshire before she received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1994 on the subject of the economy and society of later medieval Chester. She always had an interest in medieval Chester's women. In the 1990s she wrote on the city's alewives and women's experiences in court. Jane also wrote on Chester's physical fabric, its port and its surviving medieval buildings; she contributed three co-authored chapters to the Chester Rows Research Project publication. Later her interests expanded and, whilst working on the ESRC-funded project, ‘Urban Hierarchy and Functions in the East Midlands in the Late Middle Ages’ with Christopher Dyer, she was part of the team that made a number of important contributions to the study of urban hierarchies and patterns of trade in the English Midlands. She also published interdisciplinary pieces on medieval Northampton, Catesby in Northamptonshire and Meols in the Wirral (but historically in Cheshire). However, she never abandoned her interest in Chester. In 2003, Jane contributed to the Victoria County History of Cheshire with a chapter on the economy and society of the city of Chester. Indeed, it was her 2008 book, Life in a Late Medieval City, that really cemented her reputation as the leading scholar of medieval Chester and its records. This was a clear and lively exploration of the late medieval city, based primarily upon the evidence of its courts.