One of the most important and valuable resources available to researchers of eighteenth-century social history are the lists of subscribers that were attached to a wide variety of publications. Yet, the study of this type of resource remains one of the areas most neglected by academics. These lists shed considerable light on the nature of those who subscribed to music, including their social status, place of employment, residence, and musical interests. They naturally also provide details as to the gender of individual subscribers.
As expected, subscribers to most musical publications were male, but the situation changed considerably as the century progressed, with more females subscribing to the latest works by the early nineteenth century. There was also a marked difference in the proportion of male and female subscribers between works issued in the capital cities of London and Edinburgh and those written for different genres. Female subscribers also appear on lists to works that they would not ordinarily be permitted to play. Ultimately, a broad analysis of a large number of subscription lists not only provides a greater insight into the social and economic changes that took place in Britain over the course of the eighteenth century, but also reveals the types of music that were favoured by the members of each gender.