Women in Early Modern England, 1550-1720

By Sara Mendelson; Patricia Crawford | Go to book overview

5
THE MAKESHIFT ECONOMY OF POOR WOMEN

WORK AND GENDER

In early modern England there were sexual divisions of labour; some work was considered women's work, other men's. Although these divisions might vary regionally--for example, in a few areas women undertook ploughing, although mostly this was men's work--yet in all places there were types of work deemed proper solely for women or for men. The gender order of society was both expressed and defined in terms of work. Contemporaries were troubled at any disturbance of the division of labour.1 Ballads such as The Woman to the Plow and the Man to The Hen-Roost mocked reversals of work roles and implied that such reversals turned the world upside-down.2 One hypothesis to be tested here is that the higher the social level, the more rigid were the divisions between men's and women's work. The lower the status, the more likely it was to find men and women engaging in similar tasks.

Class or social divisions were also reflected and reinforced by the nature of work which individuals performed. No ladies could engage in manual labour and retain their status. Yet while noblewomen and poor labouring women performed different kinds of work, there were nevertheless some common features. Irrespective of social status, wives were responsible for housekeeping and child-care.

A history of women's work requires that we consider what work they performed at different social levels. This chapter focuses on what Hufton has termed the 'makeshift economy' of that large proportion of the female population who were poor;3 the next, Chapter 6, on the work of the

____________________
1
Although Bridget Hill, citing Alice Clark, The Working Life of Women in the Seventeenth Century ( 1982), 5, believes that 17th-cent. men did do housework, the evidence suggests that this was highly unusual; B. Hill, Women, Work and Sexual Politics in Eighteenth-Century England ( Oxford, 1989), 120.
2
"The Woman to the Plow and the Man to The Hen-Roost", in The Roxburghe Ballads, ed. W. Chappell and T. Ebsworth, 9 vols. in 8 ( London and Hertford, 1866-99), vii, 185-7.
3
O. Hufton, The Poor of Eighteenth-Century France, 1750-1789 ( Oxford, 1974).

-256-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
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
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 488

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.