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Where was Mrs Turner?: Governance and Gender in an Eighteenth-Century Village

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)

Published
Publication date04/2013
Host publicationRemaking English Society: Social Relations and Social Change in Early Modern England
EditorsSteve Hindle, Alexandra Shepard, John Walter
Place of PublicationWoodbridge
PublisherBoydell & Brewer
Pages89-112
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9781843837961
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameStudies in Early Modern Cultural, Political and Social History

Abstract

The article highlights the significance of alliances of blood and marriage in early modern England and beyond, including both positive and negative relations among kin. Examining different historiographical approaches, it emphasizes the role of kinship in explanations of historical change and continuity. Rather than focusing on the isolated nuclear family or, conversely, on an alleged decline of kinship, it highlights the importance of enmeshed patterns of kinship and connectedness. Such patterns were not only important in themselves (whether culturally, socially, economically, or politically), it is suggested, but they also invite new comparisons with other early modern societies, and in the long run. Even patterns typical of present-day ‘new families’ and ‘families of choice’, or aspects of the present-day language of kinship may bring to mind some similarities with notions of kinship and related ‘household-family’ ties characteristic of the early modern period, the article proposes.
The article makes a new intervention regarding the role of gender in the early modern public sphere by bringing together two fields - women's history and parish studies. It argues that rather than debated the alleged withdrawal of middling women to the parlour (a discussion that occupied historians for decades), we need to focus on middling men's increasing work load in local governance, from the early eighteenth century in particular. This increase, the article shows, was the result of mounting pressures and changing legislation, which impacted on local governance particularly through the administration of the 'poor laws'. The extent of such work is demonstrated through a close case study, showing how male public office not only became more onerous but was in fact supported by female and household labour.

The article draws on a wide histoiographical apparatus and new archival research. It has been closely refereed by the editors, who are leaders in the field. Once published, I believe it will be widely cited.

Bibliographic note

Naomi Tadmor is Professor of History at Lancaster University. Her publications include The Practice and Representation of Reading in England (Cambridge, 1996), (co-edited); Family and Friends in Eighteenth-Century England: Household, Kinship, and Patronage (Cambridge, 2001); The Social Universe of the English Bible: Scripture, Society and Culture in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2010).