©National Archives

Inventory of a 17th Century gentleman, October 1654 The poet John Milton was fond of lending money to his neighbours at interest. He was even fonder of taking them to court to recover the debt. His victims in this Chancery case were the widow and son of Sir John Cope, who died in 1654.

The figures make grim reading for the Copes and their creditor. Their assets including beds, implements, horses, sheep, napkins, 'other thinges not particularly sett downe' 10, chamber pots, tapestries, beer and cheese amount to 2932-14s-5d and one farthing. Their debts come to the considerable sum of 16,220-15s.