Making a Match

Eleanor Hubbard

in City Women

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609345
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739088 | DOI:
Making a Match

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter addresses the appeal of the London marriage market for migrant maids. Due to the predominance of men in the London population, women there married relatively early, around the age of 24. Very few remained unmarried, in stark contrast to the high celibacy rates in the rest of England, even though the evidence suggests that most maidservants had meager portions and were unable to save much money in service. This chapter compares marital outcomes for migrant and London‐born women, and presents several cases studies of London courtship, mostly between apprentices and maidservants. It discusses the constraints under which apprentices courted, the role of family and friends in aiding and restricting courtship, the strategies of migrant maids without local kin, the dangers of drawn‐out courtships, and the role of economic and romantic considerations for courting couples.

Keywords: early modern London; sex ratio; marriage; courtship; celibacy; dowries; portions; apprentices; kin; widowers

Chapter.  15767 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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