Agriculture: The Sexual Division of Labour

  • Pamela Sharpe
Part of the Studies in Gender History book series (SGH)


Commentators on historic Essex portray a prospering county, well endowed with natural resources and ideally placed to benefit from the growing London market. Most of the farm land was long enclosed which enabled farmers to become increasingly commercially orientated towards the burgeoning metropolis.3 Essex farmers were early agricultural improvers who did not lack the capital necessary for the expensive farming on the heavy clays. In the early modern period, they read local agricultural writers like Thomas Tusser,4 and their increasing affluence was evident to observers such as William Harrison in 1577.5 Farms were mixed producers with some dairy, often some woodland and an increasingly important grain growing sector. For some the proximity of the London market gave the impetus to grow specialist crops. Saffron, hops, medicinal herbs and vegetables were produced. Communications with the capital were good. Before 1800, Maldon was the chief port for shipping grain out of the county. In part due to the flat terrain, the roads were also of reasonable standard in comparison with other counties in England. The old Roman road to Chelmsford and Colchester and on to Ipswich was the chief postal route to East Anglia in the eighteenth century.


Eighteenth Century Seventeenth Century Early Modern Period Female Wage Sexual Division 
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Copyright information

© Pamela Sharpe 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pamela Sharpe
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BristolBristolUK

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