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Marriage patterns and residential behaviour among Norwegian women in Amsterdam, 1621–1720



Using marriage banns registers from the Amsterdam City Archives, this study identifies the demographic and spatial behaviour of Norwegian female immigrants to Amsterdam, a city that witnessed rapid economic and population growth during the seventeenth century. The article approaches the topic by making: (1) an ethnic distinction between mixed Norwegian/non-Norwegian unions and homogeneous all-Norwegian unions, as well as (2) a distinction by husband's occupation in these unions, whether at sea or on land. Like all women in Amsterdam, Norwegian women experienced a general pressure in the marriage market around 1675, though a somewhat lower pressure for homogeneous unions with sailors. Occupation may explain the residential pattern, suggesting that work defined neighbourhoods more than ethnicity.


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1 A. Grosjean and S. Murdoch eds., Scottish communities abroad in the early modern period (Leiden/Boston, 2005); Sogner, S. and van Lottum, J., ‘An immigrant community? Norwegian sailors and their wives in 17th century Amsterdam’, The History of the Family 12, 3 (2007), 153–68; K. Sundsback, Life-experiences, social mobility and integration: the migration of Norwegian women to Amsterdam and Hoorn, 1600–1750 (Saarbrücken, 2012).

2 A. van der Woude, ‘Sex ratio and female labour participation in the Dutch republic’, in A. Fauve-Chamoux and S. Sogner eds., Socio-economic consequences of sex-ratios in historical perspective, 1500–1900 (Proceedings of Eleventh International Economic History Congress), (Milano, 1994), 65–78. This is somewhat later than for the rest of the Republic, where the stagnation started around 1650: see Faber, J. A., Roessingh, H. K., van Bath, B. H. Slicher, van der Woude, A. M. and van Xanten, H. J., ‘Population changes and economic developments in the Netherlands: a historical survey’, A. A. G. Bijdragen 12 (1965), 47113.

3 J. van Lottum, Across the North Sea: the impact of the Dutch Republic on international labour migration, c. 1550–1850 (Amsterdam, 2007).

4 H. Nusteling, Welvaart en werkgelegenheid in Amsterdam 1540–1860 (Amsterdam, 1985), 9–15; S. Hart, Geschrift en Getal: een keuze uit de demografisch-, economisch- en sociaal-historische studiën op grond van Amsterdamse en Zaanse archivalia, 1600–1800 (Dordrecht, 1976), 115.

5 E. Kuijpers, Migrantenstad: immigratie en sociale verhoudingen in 17e-eeuws Amsterdam (Hilversum, 2005).

6 Van der Woude, ‘Sex ratio’, 66–8. Age at marriage is based on marriage banns from 1625–1627 and 1676–1677.

7 S. Sogner, ‘Scandinavian women to Amsterdam in the Dutch Golden Age: migratory strategies’, in M. P. Arrizabalaga, D. Burgos-Vigna and M. Yusta eds., Femmes sans frontières: stratégies transnationales féminines face à la mondialisation, XVIIIe–XXIe siècles (Bern, 2011), 31–48.

8 Hart, Geschrift en Getal, 163–72.

9 Fauve-Chamoux, A., ‘Servants in preindustrial Europe: gender differences’, Historical Social Research 23, 1/2 (1998), 112–29.

10 van de Pol, L., ‘Vrouwencriminaliteit in Amsterdam in de tweede helft van de 17e eeuw’, Tijdschrift voor Criminologie 29, 5 (1987), 148–55; van de Pol, L. and Kuijpers, E., ‘Poor women's migration to the city: the attraction of Amsterdam health care and social assistance in early modern times’, Journal of Urban History 32, 1 (2005), 4460; Sundsback, Life-experiences.

11 Sundsback, Life-experiences, 18.

12 Ibid., 109, 159.

13 Van de Pol and Kuijpers, ‘Poor women's migration’.

14 Ibid., 48.

15 Ibid., 49.

16 For an extended review: see Lesger, C. and van Leeuwen, M. H. D., ‘Residential segregation from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century: evidence from the Netherlands’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 42, 3 (2012), 333–69.

17 Lesger and van Leeuwen, ‘Residential segregation’.

18 F. Barth, Ethnic groups and boundaries (Oslo, 1969); B. Anderson, Imagined communities (London, 1983); A. Smith, The ethnic origins of nations (Oxford, 1986); T. Hylland Eriksen, Små steder – store spørsmål (Oslo, 1993).

19 Moya, J. C., ‘Domestic service in a global perspective: gender, migration and ethnic niches’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 33, 4 (2007), 573.

20 Hart, Geschrift en Getal, esp. 115–81.

22 Using the maps Amstelodamum veteris et novissimæ urbis accuratissima delineatio from 1676–1726 by C. Mortier (1st and 3rd edns) and I. Covens and C. Mortier (4th edn).

23 See also Gong, J., ‘Clarifying the standard deviational ellipse’, Geographical Analysis 34, 2 (2002), 155–67.

24 Sundsback, Life-experiences.

25 Van der Woude, ‘Sex ratio’.

26 In the first decades of the seventeenth century, mean age at marriage was 24.5 years for women marrying in Amsterdam (native born and immigrant women included).

27 A. Fauve-Chamoux ed., Domestic service and the formation of European identity: understanding the globalization of domestic work, 16th–21st centuries (Bern, 2004); A. Fauve-Chamoux, ‘Servants in preindustrial Europe’, 112–29.

28 Van de Pol and Kuijpers, ‘Poor women's migration’.

29 Grosjean and Murdoch, Scottish communities abroad; Sogner and van Lottum, ‘An immigrant community?’; Sundsback, Life-experiences.

30 Lesger and van Leeuwen, ‘Residential segregation’, 333–69; Schrover, M. and van Lottum, J., ‘Spatial concentrations and communities of immigrants in the Netherlands, 1800–1900’, Continuity and Change 22, 2 (2007), 215–52.

31 Lesger and van Leeuwen, ‘Residential segregation’, 333–69.

32 Ibid., 368.

33 Ibid.

34 Cited in Lesger and van Leeuwen, ‘Residential segregation’, 366.

35 Schrover and van Lottum, ‘Spatial concentrations’, 215–52.

36 Sundsback, Life-experiences.

37 Ibid.

38 E. Boekman, Demografie van de Joden in Nederland (Amsterdam, 1936).

39 Fauve-Chamoux, Domestic service; Fauve-Chamoux, ‘Servants’; P. Laslett and R. Wall eds., Household and family in past time (Cambridge, 1972); T. Meldrum, Domestic service and gender, 1660–1750: life and work in the London household (London, 2000).

40 Sundsback, Life-experiences.

Marriage patterns and residential behaviour among Norwegian women in Amsterdam, 1621–1720



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