Housewives and Servants in Rural England, 1440-1650: Evidence of Women's Work from Probate Documents
Transactions of the Royal Historical Society
Cambridge University Press
This essay examines the work patterns of housewives and female servants in rural England between the mid-fifteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries. Despite the fact that such women expended the majority of female work-hours in the rural economy, their activities remain a neglected topic. Here probate documents, wills, inventories and probate accounts are used alongside other types of sources to provide insight into women's work. The three parts of the essay examine the proportion of female servants employed in different households and localities, the types of work that servants and housewives undertook and the scale and level of commercialisation of four common types of women's work.
Copyright © Royal Historical Society 2005. Published version reproduced with the permission of the publisher.
Vol. 15, Issue 1, pp. 51 - 74