Shifts of Housewifery: Service as a Female Migration Experience

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


There is no indication whether this letter to a gardener and his wife in the port area of Colchester was from a male or female servant or apprentice. The implication is that he or she went to London after some disagreement either with the family or with an ex-suitor. The servant finds him or herself in a lonely position, significantly ‘with nobody to do nothing for Me’. Service was a double-edged status in the eighteenth century. Poor law records make it clear that even those in fairly lowly positions would buy services, like laundry (hence, presumably, the laundry number to be stitched on to the ‘things’). In a country with a rapidly growing population, and an expanding group of the poor, people in work would be able to find people less well-off than themselves to carry out menial tasks for them. This was also a feature of a developing consumer society.


Eighteenth Century Migration Experience Domestic Service Street Trading Illegitimate Child 
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Copyright information

© Pamela Sharpe 1996

Authors and Affiliations

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

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