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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2019

Northumbria University, Sutherland Building, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 8ST, UK
University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull, HU6 7RX, UK
University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull, HU6 7RX, UK


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.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019 

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