Cargoes of Women: Ill-Repute

This is part four of ‘Cargoes of Women’. For part one, please click here. For part two, please click here. For part three, please click here. Georgian Britain suffered from a surplus women problem. With each passing census, its inhabitants grew increasingly concerned about the poor distribution of the fairer sex within their empire and […]

Cargoes of Women: A Numbers Game

This is part three of ‘Cargoes of Women’. For part one, please click here. For part two, please click here. At the heart of the Victorian surplus-women-problem debate was the 1851 British census. In this mighty document lay the seemingly irrefutable proof that Britain was plagued with an over-abundance of women. The reason for this […]

Cargoes of Women: The Maids

This is part two of 'Cargoes of Women'. For part one, please click here. Scottish editors were a cheeky lot. Although I do my best, I cannot possibly begin to share the dozens of sweet, saucy and utterly bizarre notices they placed in their papers. Although most topics were considered fair game, the comedic tragedy […]

Cargoes of Women: The Undocumented

As I slowly trawl through the pages of the Scottish press, I now and then come across a humorous anecdote, a winking satire, or a ludicrous lampoon. For the most part, I have shared these as research notes. Yet, as my folio of absurdities grew, a curious trend began to manifest; the marriage and migration […]

Worsnop’s ‘A Reevaluation of “the Problem of Surplus Women” in 19th-century England’

Abstract A debate concerning the “surplus women” problem identified by the 1851 Census took place, between women and men, between radicals and conservatives. Both the debate, and the actuality, of surplus women was influential for feminism and the women’s suffrage movement. This paper examines this debate through the 1850s and 1860s published voices of both […]

Bush’s ‘The Right Sort of Woman’: Female Emigrators and Emigration to the British Empire, 1890-1910’

Abstract: This article explores white British women’s efforts to appropriate their share of the Empire through the propaganda of female emigration societies. Female emigrators rejoiced in growing government recognition of their work, but sustained a style of female leadership and activism that deserves evaluation alongside other Victorian and Edwardian women’s movements. The article analyses the […]

Levitan’s ‘Redundancy, the ‘Surplus Woman’Problem, and the British Census, 1851–1861’

Levitan provides a highly accessible account of the 1851 Census and its relationship to the gendered politics of Malthusian ‘redundancy’. Highlighting one aspect of her larger work on the census, it argues for the role enumeration played in ongoing social conflicts, particularly within the middle classes where female redundancy was most severely felt, and makes explicit links to the debates surrounding […]

Seducing Agriculturalists: Allowing Scottish Farmers to Emigrate

Last week, I wrote about the strange trend in the Scottish press to attack the seemingly non-existent seduction of industrial labourers to North America and Australia. Their treatment of agriculturalists, whether affluent farmers or lowly labourers, was quite different. In the early post-war years, the influx of labour—in the form of demobilised soldiers—and a sharp fall […]