Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700–1830

Gender, Place and Memory 1400-1900

We work with a variety of external organisations to deliver impact activities associated with various cluster projects. These include heritage interpretation at sites managed by heritage organisations such as the National Trust and Historic Houses.

Dr Briony McDonagh and Dr Amanda Capern
Dr Briony McDonagh and Dr Amanda Capern
Principal Investigators

The Challenge

Gender, Place and Memory 1400-1900 is an interdisciplinary research cluster which brings together academic staff, postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate research students working on women’s histories and historical geographies.

The Approach

We use a range of qualitative and quantitative source materials and approaches to examine women's histories and historical geographies. Our projects include work on women’s property ownership, including land, buildings, livestock and commons; women’s engagement with the law; gender, land, landscape and emotions; women’s contribution to landscape change including enclosure and improvement; gender and the family.

We also work with a range of history and heritage organisations in delivering impact from our research. Three of our PGR students are receiving funding from the AHRC’s Heritage Consortium to undertake placements with a range of heritage and museum providers.

OUR AIMS

  • to research and write critical histories and historical geographies which re-evaluate women’s place in the social, economic and environmental history of Britain and beyond

Projects

Wicken Park

Beyond the park pale

This interdisciplinary project led to the publication of a monograph, Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700-1830. This highly original book provides an explicitly feminist historical geography, offering compelling evidence for women’s involvement in a variety of practices.

Gleaning

Gendering the early modern commons

This agenda-setting project critically re-examines how gender shaped access to the commons and reassesses poor and middling women's contributions to landscape change.

Court of Chancery

Going to Chancery: Family, Law and Society in England, 1550-1750

This interdisciplinary, collaborative project uses rich archival sources at The National Archives to offer a critical revision of histories of gender and family life.

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Beyond the Park Pale 

Briony McDonagh

This interdisciplinary project led to the publication of a monograph, Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700-1830 (Routledge, 2017)

Drawing on examples from across Georgian England, Elite Women offers a detailed study of women’s relationships with landed property specifically as they were mediated through the lens of their estate management and improvement. This highly original book provides an explicitly feminist historical geography, offering compelling evidence for women’s involvement in a variety of practices – including enclosure, agricultural modernisation and landscape improvement – which fundamentally remade the eighteenth-century rural landscape. It addresses important questions about propertied women’s role in rural communities and in Georgian society, whilst contributing to wider cultural debates about women’s place in the environmental, social and economic history of Britain.

Gendering the Early Modern Commons

Briony McDonagh

Supported by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (2019-2020), this agenda-setting project critically re-examines how gender shaped access to the commons and reassesses poor and middling women's contributions to landscape change. In doing so, it challenges existing gender-blind theory to write new critical historical geographies of the commons, enclosure and the making of the British landscape.

Going to Chancery: Family, Law and Society in England, 1550-1750

Amanda Capern

Supported by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (2019-2020), this interdisciplinary, collaborative project uses rich archival sources at The National Archives to offer a critical revision of histories of gender and family life. By focusing on the normality of equity litigation as a feature of social relations, it will challenge understandings of the connections between state and private life, raise new questions about the role of institutions in gender formation, and examine the emotional journeys made by litigants seeking justice over property.

The project uses digital catalogue data to analyse the social profile of litigants over time and place, combining this with pleadings and depositions, law reports, lawyers’ records and private correspondence to investigate social authority and its construction vis-à-vis legal languages of equity, truth and justice.

Gender, Debt and Family Relations: The Temples of Stowe

Amanda Capern

Supported by a Huntington Library Research Fellowship (2017), this project focuses on the extensive Temple family. Deploying the concept of matriarchy to explain how gender could locate a woman at the centre of a family lending hub, it offers significant revision of the familial economies of debt, honour, obligation and emotion.

The project critically engages with the role of debt as the creator of networks of people bound to one another financially, so structurally framing family as a unit and defining the boundaries of social (and litigious) interaction with kin, friends and servants.

Gender, Place and Memory Seminar Series

'Castles, Chapels and Townhouses: Women and Architecture in Late Medieval Scotland'
Rachel Delman

15 May 2019
LT1, Cohen

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Scotland

Members

Outputs and publications

McDonagh B, Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape 1700-1830, Routledge (2017)

Worthen H, ‘Supplicants and Guardians: The Petitions of Royalist Widows during the Civil Wars and Interregnum, 1642-1660’, Women’s History Review (2017).

Capern A, McDonagh B, Aston J (eds), Women and the Land 1500-1900, Boydell and Brewer (2019)

Aston J, Capern A, McDonagh B, ‘More than Bricks and Mortar: female property ownership as economic strategy in mid-nineteenth century urban England’, Urban History, 46:4 (forthcoming, 2019).

McDonagh B, ‘Feminist Historical Geographies: doing and being’, Gender, Place and Culture (forthcoming, 2019).

Worthen H, McDonagh B, Capern A, ‘Gender, Property and Succession in the Early Modern English Aristocracy: the Case of Martha Janes and her Illegitimate Children’, Women’s History Review (accepted)

Capern A, ‘Maternity and Justice in the Early Modern English Court of Chancery’, Journal of British Studies (forthcoming 2019).

Research Students

Stormm Buxton-Hill

The impact of women on family dynastic ambitions and legal change in England, 1550-1800

Charlotte Garside

Women’s litigation in the Court of Chancery 1670-1700

Catherine Goddard

A comparative investigation into how a sample of historic houses in the East Midlands select and interpret women’s histories and the impact of such heritage interpretation on the visitor experience

Helen Manning

Women, property and the law: mapping sexual inequality in the East Riding of Yorkshire 1708-1974

Ruth Quinn

The significance of rural idylls in shaping the Salt family’s paternalistic vision for Saltaire, and the role that rural landscapes played in the social fabric of Saltaire life

Elizabeth Rogers

Curiosity and collecting in the country house: a space of female enlightenment in Britain, 1680-1820

Sarah Shields

Elite eighteenth-century women’s relationship with property across their life-course

Alice Whiteoak

An analysis of the gendered use of the Court of Exchequer, 1620-1670

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