Project Update: New Outputs, New Funding, New Jobs!

Jane Whittle

Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_Haymaking_(detail)_-_WGA03447It’s been quiet on this blog lately, but behind the scenes a lot has been going on. This includes the announcement of new funding allowing us to expand on the original project! As a result we are looking for three postdoctoral research fellows and a PhD candidate to join the new project – two fellows this year (October 2019), and one fellow and a PhD the year after (September 2020). This blog updates our activities and publications and describes where the new funding will take us.

The Leverhulme Trust funded project ‘Women’s Work in Rural England’ finished in November 2018, but we have still been keeping ourselves busy! An article by Jane and Mark presenting the main results ‘The gender division of labour in early modern England’ is coming out in the Economic History Review and is available prepublication on their website. Jane’s article on ‘A critique of “domestic work”’, which discusses the ideas behind the project and presents some more results was published by Past and Present in May 2019. Mark’s article on ‘Time and Work in Rural England 1500-1700’ has also been accepted for publication by Past and Present and will appear next year. Imogene has just completed a full draft of her PhD on ‘Evidence of women’s waged work from household accounts, 1644-1700: three case studies from Devon, Somerset and Hampshire’ (hooray for Imogene!). Charmian and Mark published an online edition of some of our court depositions last autumn, available via this website. Mark now has a lectureship at Bristol University, while Charmian has been awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cambridge to study everyday travel in early modern England (hooray for Charmian!), as well as publishing an article on female servants in Continuity and Change.

The project will continue because at the the end of March, Jane was awarded a European Research Council Advanced Grant for the project ‘Forms of Labour: Gender, Freedom and Work in the Preindustrial Economy’. This will start in September 2019 and run for five years. It has three strands.

  • The first strand expands on the ‘Women’s work’ project adding evidence from church courts and quarter sessions records from two further contrasting regions: northern England, and eastern England. The aim is to expand the database from 4300 examples of work tasks to around 15,000. From this, Jane and Mark will write a book on The Experience of Work in Early Modern England, using work task evidence to not only explore gender and work, but also how work differed according to age and marital status. We will explore the location and timing of work, employment relations, how work tasks and occupational labels intersect, and also the important issue of regional difference.
  • The second strand provides time for Jane to write a monograph on Rethinking Women’s Work in the Preindustrial Economy. This book will concentrate on the debates arising from existing historical research on women’s work in the period 1250-1750 (on the gender pay gap, gender division of labour, women’s access to skills and property for instance) and reconsider the theoretical ideas behind the explanations offered for gendered differences in work and earnings (patriarchy, freedom, biological difference, market mechanisms).
  • The third strand re-examines the idea of free (and unfree) labour by looking at the variety of forms of labour found in the late medieval and early modern English economy, and the legal mechanisms that sought to control work and workers. This will lead to an edited volume, a series of articles and a conference. Here Jane will be collaborating with Dr Thijs Lambrecht of Ghent University and Dr Cristina Prytz of Uppsala to put England in a comparative context within Europe. Jane and Thijs have already organised a session of nine papers on the comparative history of the labour laws at EURHO in Paris this September.

We are looking for talented early career researchers to join the new project. At the start of next academic year (Sep 2019) we will appoint two three year posts: one to work on church court depositions and one to work on quarter sessions records, from the period 1560-1700. These researchers will be responsible for collecting and analysing archival evidence from county archives: selecting, photographing and analysing documents. They will enter evidence into the project database and analyse the results. Each researcher will use this material to write at least two academic articles – one jointly with Jane Whittle on a specific topic, and one sole authored on a topic of their choice. They will also help to organise an international conference on forms of labour, as well as presenting papers at other international conferences. At the end of their work on the project they will be free to use the evidence collected for their own future research. We need people with excellent palaeographic skills and a sound knowledge of early modern social/economic history with the enthusiasm to make an active contribution.

The following year (Sep 2020) we will appoint a third postdoctoral research fellow for three years to work on 14th century manorial accounts and 16th and 17th century household accounts, looking at the range of workers employed. This research fellow will need the skills to work with manorial documents in medieval Latin. There will also be a PhD studentship advertised in early 2020 to begin in Sep 2020 focusing on pauper apprenticeships in the period 1580-1720, examining the how the poor laws shaped forms of labour.

Do get in touch with Jane at or Mark at to find out more if you’re interested. Full details of the first two posts can be found here. The deadline is mid-August. Interviews will be in the first week of September, to start work 1 October. So, we are delighted to be continuing this work, and look forward to welcoming new members to the team!


About manyheadedhailwood

Mark Hailwood is a Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Bristol
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1 Response to Project Update: New Outputs, New Funding, New Jobs!

  1. Pingback: Workers of the Week: Harvesters | Women's Work in Rural England, 1500-1700

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