Women in Early Modern England, 1550-1720

By Sara Mendelson; Patricia Crawford | Go to book overview

ing Glass makers Wives, on behalf of themselves, Husbands and Children, who by reason of the said duty are almost redy to Perish'.315

As electoral contests became more regular by the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, new patterns of political protest evolved. During the 1705 elections, Southwark women took exception to a Tory JP who had declared 'that he had rather see a Sow and Pigs, than a Woman and her children'; the women turned up to shout 'No Sow and Pigs'. In Coventry, 'Captain Kate' made a speech to the electoral crowd in support of a Tory candidate. According to The Observator, she clapped the candidate on the back, and declared 'Now, boys, or Never, for the Church.'316 Women were also participants in political crowds, street demonstrations, and riots throughout the eighteenth century.317

By the 1690s, women's relationship to the political sphere had changed in many respects compared to their position in earlier centuries. Broadly speaking, the formal rights of propertied women which were under male institutional control, such as officeholding and parliamentary suffrage, suffered a relative decline; this downward trend continued over the course of the eighteenth century.318 Nor did the prerogatives of Queen Mary II and Queen Anne represent an advance on those of their Tudor predecessors. Indeed, because Mary's husband William was in a strong position to negotiate the terms of his acceptance of the English crown, Mary's monarchical powers were somewhat diminished compared to those of the unmarried Elizabeth 1.


CONCLUSIONS

By the end of the century, both political theory and political institutions were more clearly defined as male. After 1690, women were explicitly excluded from parliamentary suffrage because of their sex. In the eighteenth century, women were barred from listening to debates in the House of Commons. However, such developments do not necessarily indicate that women played fewer or less active roles in politics. Male-centred political theory may have been in part a response to women's greater participation

____________________
315
The Miserable Case of the Poor Glass-Makers and Families ( 1697).
316
The Observator, iv, no. 4, 11-14Apr. 1705; T. Harris, Politics under the Later Stuarts. Party Conflict in a Divided Society, 1660-1715 ( 1993), 191.
317
Shoemaker, "'London Mob'", 283-6; N. Rogers, "'Crowds, Gender, and Public Space in Hanoverian Politics'", in Crowds, Culture and Politics in Hanoverian Britain ( Oxford, 1998, forthcoming). We are grateful to Dr Rogers for allowing us to cite his forthcoming work.
318
See Ch. 1 above.

-428-

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Women in Early Modern England, 1550-1720
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents xi
  • List of Illustrations xiii
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Note Concerning Dates and Spellings xviii
  • Glossary of Terms xviii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Contexts 15
  • 2 - Childhood and Adolescence 75
  • 3 - Adult Life 124
  • Conclusions 200
  • 4 - Female Culture 202
  • Conclusions 255
  • 5 - The Makeshift Economy of Poor Women 256
  • Conclusions 298
  • 6 - Occupational Identities and Social Roles 301
  • 7 - Politics 345
  • Conclusions 428
  • Epilogue 431
  • Select Bibliography 437
  • Index 467
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