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More than bricks and mortar: Female property ownership as economic strategy in mid-nineteenth-century urban England

Aston, Jennifer; Capern, Amanda; McDonagh, Briony


Jennifer Aston

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Dr Amanda Capern
Senior Lecturer in Early Modern Women's History

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Professor Briony McDonagh
Interim Director of the Energy and Environment Institute & Professor of Environmental Humanities


Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019Â. This article uses a quantitative and qualitative methodology to examine the role that women played as property owners in three mid-nineteenth-century English towns. Using data from the previously under-utilized rate books, we argue that women were actively engaged in urban property ownership as part of a complex financial strategy to generate income and invest speculatively. We show that female engagement in the urban land and property markets was widespread, significant and reflective of local economic structures. Crucially, it also was more complex in form than the historiography has previously acknowledged. The article delivers a final piece in the jigsaw puzzle of women's investment activity, demonstrating that women were active investors in the urban land market as well as the managers of landed estates, business owners and shareholders, thereby opening up new questions about how gender intersected with economic change and growth in the rapidly changing world of nineteenth-century England.


Aston, J., Capern, A., & McDonagh, B. (2019). More than bricks and mortar: Female property ownership as economic strategy in mid-nineteenth-century urban England. Urban history, 46(4), 695-721.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 4, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 28, 2019
Publication Date Nov 1, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 11, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 14, 2019
Journal Urban History
Print ISSN 0963-9268
Electronic ISSN 1469-8706
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Issue 4
Pages 695-721
Public URL


Article with rights statement (86 Kb)

Copyright Statement

Article with rights statement (908 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This article has been published in a revised form in Urban History [ 10.1017/S0963926819000142]. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press.

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