Relative pronoun which
By the middle of the fifteenth century, the spread of the relative pronoun which had been nearly completed in all the four regions examined here, and between 1440 and 1560 little happens anywhere except in London. As shown by Figure 8.6, which is practically the only form used at Court throughout the period. The use of the incoming form steadily increases in the North and, after some minor fluctuation, also in East Anglia.
Throughout the latter half of the fifteenth century, London stands out from the rest. It is the London wool-merchant community in our data, the Celys in particular, which prefers the use of the longer form. But by the time we get to the middle of the sixteenth century, 1520-59, the usage of the section of the merchant community we have access to is substantially altered and now in full agreement with the majority pattern. Only a few individual exceptions persist, including Sabine Johnson, the merchant's wife, who despite her frequent contacts with London continues to prefer the which in the 1540s.