Women in early modern Britain and colonial America were not the weak husband- and father-dominated characters of popular myth. Quite the reverse, strong women were the norm. They exercised considerable influence as important agents in the social, economic, religious and cultural life of their societies.
This book shows how women on both sides of the Atlantic, while accepting a patriarchal system with all its advantages and disadvantages, contrived to carve out for themselves meaningful lives.
Unusually it concentrates not only on the making and meaning of marriage, but also upon the partnership between men and women. It also looks at the varied roles – cultural, religious and educational – that women played both inside and outside marriage during the key period 1500-1760. Women emerge as partners, patrons, matchmakers, investors and network builders.
1. General introduction 2. How and where were marriages solemnised? 3. What was marriage? What was its purpose?4. Finding a partner among the landed aristocracy 5. Making marriages among women of the professional and the middling sorts 6. Attitudes to marriage 7. Patriarchy 8. Partnership and separation 9. Mistress of the household: what wives did all day 10. Mothers 11. Wives and property 12. Widows and widowhood 13. Women's formal and informal education 14. Women and religion 15. Contemporary culture: print and non-print, public and private 16. Women's cultural lives: participation