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Women, Work and Wages in England, 1600-1850

Women, Work and Wages in England, 1600-1850

Penelope Lane
Neil Raven
K.D.M. Snell
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 252
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  • Book Info
    Women, Work and Wages in England, 1600-1850
    Book Description:

    Women's work is recognised as fundamental to the industrialization of Britain in many fields. How it was rewarded is the subject of these studies, ranging over time, region, and occupation. Topics discussed here include children under the parish apprenticeship system, women's work for poor law authorities and how it was taken into account by welfare systems, the changing nature of women's work, remuneration and technology in British agriculture, questions of customary norms governing pay, female employment in many hitherto neglected urban industries, and women and the East India Company. The issues of gendered wages and customary earnings, family economies, regional and rural-urban contrasts, the impact of technological change, and the links between female work and formal welfare systems, are raised throughout. Contributors STEVE HINDLE, JANE HUMPHRIES, STEVEN KING, PENELOPE LANE, NEIL RAVEN, MICHAEL ROBERTS, PAMELA SHARPE, K.D.M. SNELL, NICOLA VERDON, SAMANTHA WILLIAMS.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-246-7
    Subjects: Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Notes on contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Women’s history has been one of the growth areas of historical enquiry over the past three decades. Inspired by the women’s movement, as well as by interest in the history of the family, historical demography and community history, the subject has come a long way from the writings of earlier scholars such as Alice Clark and Ivy Pinchbeck.¹ It has diversified rapidly, incorporating all academic disciplines, building up much more complex theoretical perspectives, becoming highly int ernational and comparative in scope, and starting to bring nuanced and discerning knowledge at the local or regional level. Its relevance to countless other fields...

  7. 1 ‘Waste’ children? Pauper apprenticeship under the Elizabethan poor laws, c. 1598–1697
    (pp. 15-46)

    Historians have regarded the provision of employment for the labouring poor as the ‘least practical’ of the clauses of the Elizabethan poor laws of 1598 and 1601. Work for the underemployed, it has been argued, proved to be a weaker pillar of policy than either doles for the deserving or whipstocks for the wandering.¹ Despite the implicit recognition in the statutes that the ablebodied poor constituted a ‘pool of badly-managed labour’, parochial work schemes appear to have been successful only intermittently, if at all.² The fate of the other employment provision of the welfare regime – the enforcement of pauper apprenticeship...

  8. 2 Gender at sea: Women and the East India Company in seventeenth-century London
    (pp. 47-67)

    Journalistic comment on the recent anti-globalization protests make the assumption that multinational trade, where companies take on some of the functions of nations, is a modern phenomenon. Yet the East India Companies of the various states of the seventeenth century present some similar circumstances, and the English East India Company has recently celebrated its 400th anniversary. As the major historian of the English East India Company, Chaudhuri, put it: ‘In many ways, the East India Company was the direct ancestor of the modern giant business firm, handling a multitude of trading products and operating in an international setting.’¹ The East...

  9. 3 Sickles and scythes revisited: Harvest work, wages and symbolic meanings
    (pp. 68-101)

    My original ‘Sickles and scythes’ article was a response to the work of Eve Hostettler, who had had the good idea of using visual representations of harvest work in her discussion of the nineteenth-century sexual division of labour.¹ I took that story back before 1800, and tried to use evidence of harvest scenes to chart the use of hand tools by men and women across a long period of time. My approach had several origins: some impatience with the imperialistic claims of nineteenth-century social historians; an early modernist’s commitment to demonstrating the fluidity and fertility of ‘preindustrial’ developments; a descendant...

  10. 4 A customary or market wage? Women and work in the East Midlands, c. 1700–1840
    (pp. 102-118)

    Women’s historians of the medieval through to the modern period have observed the sizeable difference between the money wages received by women and men, which could range from as little as one-third to one-half. This discrepancy, some of them have concluded, indicates that women’s wages were the product of custom and not equality in the labour market. Furthermore, some historians see such disparity as arising from women’s position in the family, which places them as dependent rather than as fully independent economic agents.¹ The role of custom in determining wage levels is difficult to ascertain with any precision, given that...

  11. 5 ‘Meer pennies for my baskitt will be enough’: Women, work and welfare, 1770–1830
    (pp. 119-140)

    The Introduction to this volume has shown that the issues of women’s labour force participation and remuneration are the subject of much debate. In terms of formal female labour force participation, some historians have suggested that opportunities for women workers were undermined by the revamping of the economic infrastructure taking place during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Even in proto-industrial areas, where it has long been accepted that there was a premium on the family labour force, technological redundancy hit women first and hardest.² In agricultural regions of the Southeast and South midlands, Keith Snell argues persuasively that there...

  12. 6 Caring for the sick poor: Poor law nurses in Bedfordshire, c. 1770–1834
    (pp. 141-169)

    For many of the poor, in the rural south and east of England in particular, provision of poor relief under the old poor law was generous and widely encompassing.² The keystone of the poor law was the provision of weekly or monthly pensions to the aged, unmarried mothers, widows, the sick, the disabled and the orphaned. Allowances were available to those with large families or whose wages were too low for subsistence. Occasional sums of cash and gifts in kind, such as fuel, bedding, clothing, food and alcoholic beverages, and rent or lodging payments, were given to a wide variety...

  13. 7 A ‘humbler, industrious class of female’: Women’s employment and industry in the small towns of southern England, c. 1790–1840
    (pp. 170-189)

    A survey of recent research confirms that comparatively few studies have been undertaken into the urban economies of southern England’s towns during the Industrial Revolution.¹ Indeed, it is now widely assumed that by the late eighteenth century this region consisted of little more than slow-growing market towns. Some of these towns had once possessed manufactories, as the observations of early eighteenth-century commentators such as Daniel Defoe testify. However, their association with industry is generally considered to have come to an end by the start of the Industrial Revolution. By this time, according to Clark, their old industrial specialities were ‘draining...

  14. 8 A diminishing force? Reassessing the employment of female day labourers in English agriculture, c. 1790–1850
    (pp. 190-211)

    The years between the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars and the onset of mid-Victorian prosperity were ones of fluctuating fortunes for the agricultural labour force in England. Wartime contingency gave way after 1815 to increasing casualisation and immiseration for large sections of the rural workforce. A surfeit of labour following demobilisation encouraged farmers to dismiss their annually hired servants and look to the benefits of enlargement, enclosure and arable production. These shifts were regionally distinct, being felt most severely by labourers in the southern English counties. The consequences of such changes also had specific ramifications for rural female labourers, although...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 212-232)
  16. Index
    (pp. 233-239)