Skip to main content

Married women's occupations in eighteenth-century London


The evidence of criminal court records suggests that almost all London wives were engaged in gainful occupations in the eighteenth century. The records of the City livery companies and of Christ's Hospital show that the wives of craft masters and professional men worked, as well as those in poorer families where their income was essential. At lower socio-economic levels it was unusual for couples to work in the same trade. At middling levels it was more common, especially in textiles and retail, but no more than half of couples worked together or in related occupations.

Hide All


1 Schwarz, Leonard, ‘English servants and their employers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’, Economic History Review 52/2 (1999), 236–56; Tim Meldrum, Domestic service and gender 1660–1750: life and work in the London household (Harlow, 2000).

2 Margaret Pelling, ‘Older women: household, caring and other occupations in the late sixteenth-century town’, in her The common lot: sickness, medical occupations and the urban poor in early modern England (London and New York, 1998); Samantha Williams, ‘Caring for the sick poor: poor law nurses in Bedfordshire, c. 1770–1834’, in Penelope Lane, Neil Raven and K. D. M. Snell eds., Women, work and wages in England, 1600–1850 (Woodbridge, 2004).

3 Amy M. Froide, Never married: singlewomen in early modern England (Oxford, 2005), ch. 4.

4 See the summary in Sara Mendelson and Patricia Crawford, Women in early modern England 1550–1720 (Oxford, 1998), 314–20.

5 For reviews of the historiography, see Maxine Berg, ‘Women's work, mechanisation and the early phases of industrialisation in England’, in Patrick Joyce ed., The historical meanings of work (Cambridge, 1987), 65–7; A. L. Erickson, ‘Introduction’ to Alice Clark, Working life of women in the seventeenth century (London, 1992), viii–x, and Sharpe, Pamela, ‘Continuity and change: women's history and economic history in Britain’, Economic History Review 48 (1995), 353–69.

6 Steve Rappaport, Worlds within worlds: structures of life in sixteenth-century London (Cambridge, 1989), 41.

7 Earle, Peter, ‘The female labour market in London in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries’, Economic History Review 42/3 (1989), 338, or Earle, A city full of people: men and women in London 1650–1759 (London, 1994), 114–23.

8 L. D. Schwarz, London in the age of industrialisation: entrepreneurs, labour force and living conditions, 1700–1850 (Cambridge, 1992), 22.

9 Margaret R. Hunt, The middling sort: commerce, gender and the family in England, 1680–1780 (Berkeley, 1996), 133, Table 3, using insurance records for 1775–1787; Nicola Phillips, Women in business, 1700–1850 (Woodbridge, 2006), 130–4 (30 per cent of 156 policies in 1735 and 6 per cent of 259 policies in 1845 specified marital status); Peter Earle, The making of the English middle class: business, society and family life in London 1660–1750 (London, 1989), 169 (30 per cent of 188 women insuring stock in trade provided their marital status). The insurance records cover all of England but they heavily over-represent London and the better-off tradespeople.

10 Hannah Barker, The business of women: female enterprise and urban development in northern England 1760–1830 (Oxford, 2006), 77–8, 175; Phillips, Women in business, ch. 9.

11 Barker, Business of women, 109–13; Phillips, Women in business, 210, 219.

12 Earle, ‘Labour market’, 337. Earle enlarged his sample for his chapter on ‘Women's work’ in City full of people, 105–55, raising the total number of married women from 427 to 685. The proportion of wives employed and the sectoral distribution of those employed changed very little compared with the smaller sample (see specifically City full of people, Tables 4.1 and 4.3). I have therefore focussed on the material presented in the earlier article because more detail is given on precise occupations and couples' occupations than in the later book presentation.

13 A. L. Erickson, ‘The marital economy in perspective’, in Maria Ågren and A. L. Erickson eds., The marital economy in Scandinavia and Britain 1400–1900 (Aldershot, 2005).

14 Pearl, Valerie, ‘Change and stability in seventeenth-century London’, The London Journal 5/1 (1979), 7, 13, 27.

15 Earle, ‘Labour market’, 339.

16 The categories appear to have taken from the 1851 census; ibid., 341.

17 The phrase is from Pelling, ‘Older women’, 159.

18 Earle, ‘Labour market’, 342.

19 Earle, ‘Labour market’, 338 and Appendix A, 348–52. Earle's Appendix A, however, contains the occupations of only 231 couples, not 256. It is possible that the remaining 25 married women had husbands whose occupations were not stated, so they were not included in Appendix A. But note that Appendix B (‘Occupations of husbands of “unemployed” wives’) does include an ‘unknown’ category, whereas Appendix A lists no unknowns.

20 This is my count from Earle's Appendix A, of 34 couples, including second occupations (e.g., counting the woman who was a nursekeeper and drover, and her husband who was a drover), and using the total of 231 (see previous note).

21 Dorothy George, London life in the XVIIIth century (London, 1930), 427–9, Appendix VI. Note that Earle (‘Labour market’, 352) counted only 11 of George's couples as being in the same or closely related trades, but it is not clear which ones he meant.

22 In Commissary Court depositions 1669–1692, in a sample of 33 deponents 10 were women, and in 1713–1722, 23 of a sample of 74 deponents were female (London Guildhall: 9065 A/8 and A/11). In the Court of Arches, 1694–1700, 33 of 109 deponents were female (Lambeth Palace Library: Eee8).

23 There are no ‘unknowns’ in Earle's Table 10, dividing by marital status; ‘Labour market’, 339.

24 The Old Bailey Online is at It is possible that the original Sessions Papers would yield a higher level of marital-status identifications, but that this information was not transferred to the Proceedings. If this proves to be the case, then the reasons why the public were not thought to be interested in a woman's marital status would have to be considered.

25 See, for example, Rebekah Williams, acquitted of shoplifting because she proved herself married; Old Bailey Online: t16910527-31.

26 Note that the ‘feme sole trader’ rule, whereby the Custom of London allowed a married woman in a business separate from her husband's to be treated as a single woman to the extent of her business property is not invoked in the criminal courts. (Searches for ‘feme sole’ and ‘sole trader’ in the Old Bailey Online produce nothing.) Whereas the paucity of references to feme sole traders in city courts has been interpreted as a decline in business opportunities for married women (Marjorie K. McIntosh, ‘The benefits and drawbacks of femme sole status in England, 1300–1630’, Journal of British Studies 44 (2005), 410–38), the total lack of feme sole traders in the Old Bailey alongside abundant evidence of married women in business supports Phillips' thesis that the legal status did not confer the capacity to trade but was used specifically as a tool for debt recovery; see Phillips, Women in business, 55 and ch. 3 generally. See also Karen Pearlston, ‘Married woman bankrupts in the age of coverture’, Law and Social Inquiry (forthcoming).

27 I have to date been unable to identify this case in the Old Bailey Online for further details.

28 George, London life, 168.

29 Earle (‘Labour market’, 330) suggests that this question was only asked in the period 1695–1725. In fact, it was asked both before and after this period, so offers possibilities for longer-term analysis.

30 My estimation, confirmed by Alice Wolfram who has also worked with these records. In Commissary Court depositions, 1669–1692, in a sample of 33 deponents only 6 per cent were asked about maintenance, and in 1713–1722, in a sample of 74, half were asked about maintenance (London Guildhall: 9065 A/8 and A/11). In the Court of Arches, 1694–1700, 18 per cent of 33 female deponents were asked about maintenance (Lambeth Palace Library: Eee8).

31 In the Commissary Court, 1713–1722, 65 per cent of women (15 of 23) but only 45 per cent of men (23 of 51) were asked.

32 Anne Tarver, Church court records (Phillimore, 1995), 18. The question may appear anywhere in the interrogatories (there may be up to 20 of these), although it is usually toward the beginning. Within a single case, it is always the same number of interrogatory.

33 Lambeth Palace Library: Eee 8 (Court of Arches 1694–1700), Depositions of Jane Lister and Hannah Brownsworth. The same objection was made by male witnesses; see for example London Metropolitan Archives: DL/C/633/p120 (1715–1716).

34 Earle, ‘Labour market’, 353.

35 Margaret Hunt, ‘Women and the fiscal-imperial state in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries’, in Kathleen Wilson ed., A new imperial history: culture, identity and modernity in Britain and the Empire, 1660–1840 (Cambridge, 2003).

36 The level of employment among all women is likely to be underestimated insofar as work which might call into question a deponent's good name – such as theft or receiving stolen goods, say, or the exchange of sexual favours for economic consideration – was not mentioned in the courts, although it was probably ‘firmly within the general pattern of female employment’, according to Faramerz Dabhoiwala in ‘The pattern of sexual immorality in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century London’, in Paul Griffiths and Mark Jenner eds, Londinopolis (Manchester, 2000), especially p. 94, and note the list of prostitutes' clients' occupations from 1713 on p. 101. See also Garthine Walker, ‘Women, theft and the world of stolen goods’, in Jenny Kermode and Garthine Walker eds., Women, crime and the courts in early modern England (London, 1994).

37 Old Bailey Online: t17680907-47.

38 They were not all asked, of course. Occasionally the court did ask a female witness, ‘Are you a married woman or a single woman?’, but not in the sample examined here, so I have not yet examined the circumstances of this question.

39 Old Bailey Online: t17450710-18.

40 A chandler's was a sort of eighteenth-century corner shop, supplying bread, cheeses and small beer, small quantities of kitchen necessaries, and (until this trade was outlawed in 1751) spirits; George, London life, 32, 36–7, 158, 169.

41 Saloop was a hot drink of salep or sassafras and milk sold at night and in the early morning as a hangover cure. It is rare to find a couple hawking together. I cannot identify this case in the Old Bailey Online, but the husband may have been the defendant, casting around for a legitimate occupation to supply.

42 A cardinal was a silk cloak.

43 ‘The plumber … was often a caster of lead statues and of decorated lead cisterns’; George, London life, 160. Plumbers appear at the top of the building trades in the 1690s tax records; see James Alexander, ‘The economic structure of the City of London at the end of the seventeenth century’, Urban History Yearbook 1989, 57.

44 Old Bailey Online: t17550409-1. This case is listed here as 1755, but in George (and so in Appendix 1) as 1758.

45 Old Bailey Online: t17670218-46.

46 Old Bailey Online: t17770115-38.

47 I have followed Earle's categorization, for which see Table 1, as closely as possible. However, there is a great deal of overlap between ‘shopkeeping’, ‘hawking/carrying’, and ‘catering/victualling’.

48 The institution was established as a foundling hospital in the sixteenth century, but in the seventeenth century the social status of the admissions rose gradually, and markedly after 1682, when the Court of Orphans collapsed. This court had acted as a bank holding the inheritance of freemen's children in trust. The intake of the Hospital at this time appears to have been similar to that of the Burgerweeshuis in Amsterdam; see Anne McCants, Civic charity in a golden age: orphan care in early modern Amsterdam (Chicago, 1997).

49 For example Earle, English middle class, ch. 1.

50 In 1702, 75 women and 27 men presented children to the Hospital. The women were predominantly single: widows (63) and women whose husbands had absconded or were at sea (4). Other women presenting were remarried widows (3) or another kinswoman of unspecified marital status (5). Men were widowers (16), other kinsmen (6) and married men, probably remarried widowers (3). See London Guildhall: MS 12818A/7.

51 This restriction probably explains why only 15 per cent of the admissions were girls from the 1680s onwards, whereas the sex ratio had been equal when the Hospital took primarily foundlings. Once admissions were restricted to one child from each freeman's family, competition for resources among siblings would have dictated that the girls in Christ's Hospital were likely to have been those without brothers. Approximately 20 per cent of all marriages would have produced daughters but not sons. However, since some men married more than once, the proportion of freemen with no sons would have been somewhat lower than 20 per cent, and 15 per cent is not implausible. The demographic research to confirm whether these girls had brothers or not could be done in parish records but has not been undertaken here.

52 Approximately 25 girls were apprenticed annually from the Hospital, or a total of perhaps 1,700 between 1682 (when admissions become almost exclusively the children of City freemen) and 1750, although the trade specification of apprenticeships for both boys and girls in the Hospital registers declines by 1750.

53 Five were identified as never married and 31 were clearly widowed. A further seven women were not specified as widows, but they were taking their own children apprentice, and shared the same name as the child (and in one case a stepchild whose father was listed as deceased in the register), so can be assumed to have been widows. The marital status of the remaining 36 women was unspecified, but these were probably single women or widows.

54 Suits for failure to train or for abuse of apprentices appear in the quarter sessions. George, London life, Appendix IV, 418–24, and Steven R. Smith, ‘The London apprentices as 17th century adolescents’, in Paul Slack ed., Rebellion, popular protest and the social order in early modern England (Cambridge, 1984), 222–3 (Slack assumes throughout that apprentices were male, with the curious exception of when they sued their masters in court).

55 It appears from the 1695 London tax data that married women comprised 54 per cent of the adult female population, single women 35 per cent and widows 11 per cent; D. J. V. Glass, ‘Socio-economic status and occupations in the City of London at the end of the seventeenth century’, in A. E. J. Hollaender and William Kellaway eds., Studies in London history (London, 1969), 376, Tables 1 and 2, 375–6. I have corrected the overall figures for the female population in Glass's Table 2 using the information in Table 1 that 46 per cent of the population were children, servants or apprentices and therefore single.

56 Blackwork was a particular type of embroidery used on both clothing and furnishings.

57 Alexander, ‘Economic structure’, 55–6.

58 For such prosperous milliners, see Phillips, Women in business, ch. 10 and Ivy Pinchbeck, Women workers and the industrial revolution 1750–1850 (London, 1930), 287–90. Milliners and mantuamakers were similar in social stratum.

59 That is, Dorothy Alwell, Ann Sleekes and Anne Cole in Section 1 and Ann Tench in Section 2 of Table 3.

60 That is, Elizabeth Francklin, Elizabeth Coppingdale and Elizabeth Bayley, Judith Tomlinson and Elizabeth Hawkes.

61 Earle, ‘Labour market’, 338.

62 See Earle, ‘Labour market’, 336, note 23, which does not distinguish between married and single women. This is comparable to the rate found by David Cressy, also in London church courts, in 1690; see his Literacy and the social order (Cambridge, 1980), 129. However, note that when Earle distinguished the signing ability of people from different employment sectors in the church courts (in City full of people, 120), women in the needlework trades – who also dominated the Christ's Hospital mistresses – had a 74 per cent signature rate.

63 For an example of a gentleman's wife in overseas trade, see Richard Grassby, Kinship and capitalism: marriage, family and business in the English-speaking world 1580–1740 (Cambridge, 2001), 322.

64 London Metropolitan Archives: A/FH/A12/003/001. See also Ben-Amos, Ilana Krausman, ‘Women apprentices in the trades and crafts of early modern Bristol’, Continuity and Change 6/2 (1991), 230, 233.

65 Pinchbeck, Women workers, 287.

66 In the 1851 census, shoemaking and tailoring were the two trades in which wives were assumed to help their husbands; Schwarz, London, 16–17.

67 Elizabeth C. Sanderson, Women and work in eighteenth-century Edinburgh (Basingstoke, 1996), 117, found that the wives of professional men also worked, but attributed this to the poverty of Edinburgh relative to London.

68 Phillips, Women in business, ch. 9.

69 Pamela Sharpe, ‘Gender at sea: women and the East India Company in seventeenth-century London’, in Lane, Raven and Snell, Women, work and wages, 65.

70 It may at a later date be possible to approximate representativeness by comparing male occupations from the court records and Christ's Hospital with parish records.

71 For an example of which see Sheilagh Ogilvie, A bitter living: women, markets and social capital in early modern Germany (Oxford, 2003).

72 These were the Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Merchant Taylors, Skinners, Haberdashers, Salters, Ironmongers, Vintners and Clothworkers. See William F. Kahl, The development of the London livery companies (Cambridge, MA, 1960), 3, 25. See also Pearl, ‘Change and stability’, 8.

73 Rappaport, Worlds; Epstein, S. R., ‘Craft guilds, apprenticeship and technological change in pre-industrial Europe’, Journal of Economic History 58 (1998), 684713; Patrick Wallis and I. A. Gadd eds., Guilds, society and economy in London, 1450–1800 (London, 2002); Roger A. Feldman, ‘Recruitment, training and knowledge transfer in the London Dyers’ Company, 1649–1826' (unpublished PhD thesis, London School of Economics, 2005).

74 Stephanie R. Hovland, ‘Girls as apprentices in later medieval London’, in M. Davies and A. Prescott eds., London and the kingdom: essays in honour of Caroline Barron, Harlaxton medieval studies: proceedings of the 2005 Symposium, XIV (forthcoming).

75 See Rappaport, Worlds, 36–9, on the Weavers, Pinmakers, Bakers, Clothworkers, and Carpenters in the sixteenth century, and for the seventeenth century Sara Pennell, ‘“Great quantities of gooseberry pye and baked clod of beef”: victualling and eating out in early modern London’, in Griffiths and Jenner, Londinopolis, 246, note 33, on the Cooks; Grassby, Kinship and capitalism, 314–16, and pp. 325–6 on the Founders, Carpenters, Apothecaries, Stationers and Weavers. For the eighteenth century see Schwarz, London, 19, on the Drapers. See also Mendelson and Crawford, Women, 330–1, and Erickson, ‘Introduction’ to Clark, Working life, xxxi. Different cities and towns had different rules: whereas in London freedom was rarely acquired by patrimony, in Edinburgh freedom was acquired principally by patrimony and there is no evidence that any girls were apprenticed (Sanderson, Edinburgh, 7, 122); for Oxford see Mary Prior, ‘Women and the urban economy: Oxford 1500–1800’, in Mary Prior ed., Women in English society 1500–1800 (London, 1985).

76 Kowaleski, Maryanne and Bennett, Judith M., ‘Crafts, gilds, and women in the middle ages: fifty years after Marian K. Dale’, Signs 14/2 (Winter, 1989), 474501; Prior, ‘Urban economy’, 103.

77 I am very grateful to Cliff Webb for sharing his unpublished data. His London apprentices series is published by the Society of Genealogists (41 volumes and counting).

78 Companies that Webb has not yet analysed are the Bakers, Barbers, Carpenters, Clockmakers, Clothworkers, Coopers, Cordwainers, Drapers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths, Grocers, Haberdashers, Joiners, Leathersellers, Mercers, Merchant Taylors, Pewterers, Salters, Scriveners, Shipwrights, Stationers, Vintners and Weavers. There are no surviving apprenticeship records for the Girdlers, Watermen or Wheelwrights.

79 The numbers of female apprentices here is a minimum for two reasons: first, most of the record sets are incomplete, and second, the figures do not include gender-ambiguous names, sex distinction not being an aim of Webb's research.

80 All but five companies (those with the highest proportions of female apprentices) had a higher proportion of mistresses taking apprentices than they did female apprentices. The percentage of mistresses is highest (12–13 per cent) in the Pinmakers, but the pattern does not follow assumptions about traditional ‘female’ occupations: the next highest are the Horners (12 per cent) and the Fanmakers and Carmen (9 per cent each). Compare the overall average of 3 per cent with less than 2 per cent for sixteenth-century apprenticeships in seven companies; see Rappaport, Worlds, 41. See also Krausman Ben-Amos, ‘Women apprentices’, 239, for the Bristol figures. The number of masters and mistresses is in fact less than the total number of apprenticeships because any master/mistress could take more than one apprentice, although most took only one.

81 This figure could be refined by more detailed analysis of the average number of apprentices taken by masters and by mistresses, and the sex ratio of apprentices to masters and to mistresses, but this dataset belongs to Cliff Webb.

82 Glass, ‘Socio-economic status’, 376, Table 2.

83 This is a very conservative estimate because not all men taking apprentices were married. Some were widowed and it is possible that some were unmarried. The correct relationship should be the percentage that widows taking apprentices formed of married men taking apprentices – a figure which is not available because men's marital status was not identified, but which is necessarily higher than the 3 per cent that widows formed of all those taking apprentices. The use of the proportion of five wives to one widow also assumes that women were as likely as men to carry on a joint trade after the death of their spouse. If wives were less likely to continue a joint trade then the proportion of wives sharing their husband's trade would be higher than 15 per cent.

84 The phrase is Judith Allen's: ‘Evidence and silence: feminism and the limits of history’, in Elizabeth Grosz ed., Feminist challenges: social and political theory (Sydney, 1986).

85 The Company of Clockmakers register of apprentices 1631–1931 (London, 1931). The Clockmakers are not yet included in Webb's London apprentices series.

86 Rappaport, Worlds, 41.

87 The figures for boys are based on a sample of the 1,502 apprentices in the Register whose last names began with A, B or C, who were apprenticed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The figure for girls derives from an anonymous paper of the 1980s, ‘Female apprentices of the London Clockmakers’ Company' (London Guildhall: AHS pam51). Based on the year totals provided in that list, girls formed 1.4 per cent (70 of 5,019) apprentices taken between 1631 and 1800. However, that list of 70 should be taken as a minimum because the author may have missed ambiguous or unusual christian names. In the names beginning with A-C in the Register, Zarah Abrahams, who was almost certainly female, was omitted from AHS pam51.

88 Peter Buckle, son of a Citizen and Upholder, apprenticed 4 May 1741 to Elizabeth Webster, turned over to Henry Webster, clockmaker, with £8. There is so far no evidence of restrictions on female clockmakers over the eighteenth century in London, such as occurred among Geneva watchmakers. Monter, E. W., ‘Women in Calvinist Geneva (1550–1800)’, Signs 6/2 1980, 203–4.

89 Sanderson, Edinburgh, 125.

90 ‘Women, work and the industrial revolution: female involvement in the English printing trades, c.1700–1840’, in Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus eds., Gender in eighteenth-century England: roles, representations and responsibilities (London, 1997), 97.

91 Ariadne Schmidt, ‘Overleven ne de dood. Weduwen in Leiden in de Gouden Eeuw’ (unpublished PhD thesis, Amsterdam University, 2001), English summary.

92 A Christopher Saxby was born 22 Jan 1715 in Westminster St Martin in the Fields; a Christopher Saxby married Jane Bass in Westminster St George Mayfair on 26 February 1754; and a Jane Bass was born 17 September 1724 in Westminster St Martin in the Fields. See London Guildhall: International Genealogical Index 1992 fiche.

93 In 1760, 1762, 1764, two in 1768 and two 1770. She took no female apprentices, but there may have been more males since my sample only covered A–C in the index. The apprentice from Christ's Hospital was ‘Booty, Alexander, 10 Jan 1764, son of Alexander; St Leonard, Shoreditch, cabinet-maker, deceased’. Joanna May, another apparent widow, took at least four male apprentices whose names started with A, B or C, and one female apprentice, between 1690 and 1710. Jane Saxby was not unique, merely unusual in the number of apprentices she took. I have used her as an example because I can identify her in parish records and because she falls into one of the very few years in the eighteenth century covered by the Company's surviving quarterage books.

94 Rappaport, Worlds, Appendix 2, Table A2.1; Giorgio Riello, A foot in the past: consumers, producers and footwear in the long eighteenth century (Oxford, 2006), 156.

95 London Guildhall: Ms 2723/3, Clockmakers' Company Quarterage Book 1771–1778.

96 On men acquiring rights through their wives see Margaret Gay Davies, The enforcement of English apprenticeship (Cambridge, MA, 1956), 148–9.

97 A full database of the Clockmakers' apprenticeships combined with research in the parish registers would be required.

98 See Olwen Hufton, ‘Women, work and marriage in eighteenth-century France’, in R. B. Outhwaite ed., Marriage and society (London, 1981), 197, for skill as dowry among working-class girls.

99 The often-cited R. Campbell, The London tradesman (London, 1747), dedicated to encouraging parents to find the right trade for their children (mostly but not exclusively sons) was particularly scornful of the seven-year apprenticeship.

100 The wealth of nations (Chicago, 1976), 8–9. I am indebted to Grace Palmer for pointing out that the reverse of the £20 note issued in 2007 depicts Adam Smith and the words ‘The division of labour in pin manufacturing: (and the great increase in the quantity of work that results)’, although the eight (male) labourers in the background appear to be involved in work other than pinmaking.

101 Phillip Woollard, ‘A list of clay tobacco pipe makers with the dates on which they are mentioned in three MSS in the possession of the Guildhall Library’ (unpublished paper in the London Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section reading room, 1999), refers to 1799–1836 but the early lists are clearly the fullest. Tobacco pipes, although popular in the later seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, were little used in the eighteenth century, when snuff was preferred. The Pipe Makers' apprenticeship registers only survive for the year 1800 (Webb, London Apprentices, vol. 12).

102 I have corrected for duplicate entries resulting from name change upon (re)marriage. Omitted from the calculation are 20 entries which included no first name or only an initial. It cannot be assumed in this period, as it came to be towards the end of the nineteenth century, that an initial signified a male. Many women, both single and married, traded under an initial and their last name. See Barker, Business of women, e.g. p. 175.

103 See Horrell, Sara and Humphries, Jane, ‘Women's labour force participation and the transition to the male-breadwinner family, 1790–1865’, Economic History Review 48/1 (1995), 106–7, on the small proportion of family budgets made up of married women's earnings.

104 See Earle, ‘Labour market’, 338, or City full of people, 115.

105 D. A. Kent, ‘Ubiquitous but invisible: female domestic servants in mid-eighteenth-century London’, History Workshop Journal 28 (1989), 119.

106 Carole Shammas, ‘The world women knew: women workers in the north of England during the late seventeenth century’, in Richard S. Dunn and Mary Maples eds., The world of William Penn (Philadelphia, 1986), 106.

107 Substituting the category of ‘Distribution’ for shopkeepers, see Schwarz, London, 243, and his Appendix 1 generally on problems with comparing (mostly male) categories over time. Victualling was the second-largest (male) occupational sector in London by 1700; see Sara Pennell ‘Victualling and eating out’, 232–4.

108 For an example (besides Jane Saxby, above) of learning a business from a husband, see the late-eighteenth-century London financier in Wiskin, Christine, ‘Business women and financial management’, Accounting, Business and Financial History 16/2 (2006), 151–2.

109 Prior, ‘Urban economy’, 110–13; Phillips, Women in business, 177–86; Smith, S. D., ‘Women's admission to guilds in early-modern England: the case of the York Merchant Tailors’ Company, 1693–1776', Gender and History 17/1 (2005), 99126; Sanderson, Edinburgh, 122–3; Wright, Susan, ‘“Holding up half the sky”: women and their occupations in eighteenth-century Ludlow’, Midland History 14 (1989), 69; and for the Netherlands, Bibi Panhuysen, Maatwerk (Amsterdam, 2000), 326–7 (I am grateful to Ariadne Schmidt for this reference).

110 Women workers and the industrial revolution 1750–1850 (London, 1930), 1.

111 Working life, 10.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Continuity and Change
  • ISSN: 0268-4160
  • EISSN: 1469-218X
  • URL: /core/journals/continuity-and-change
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 59
Total number of PDF views: 512 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1622 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.