Category Archives: Girls and Women

Very poor and respectable

Sarah Martin’s sitting room. New Year’s Eve, 1839 Eleanor Simmonds looks tired but chatters away as Miss Martin bounces her baby daughter on her knees, trying to coax a smile. She’s left the Factory and gone back to binding shoes. The money’s not so good but she can work at home while she minds the […]
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Mewing like cats

The Infirmary, Great Yarmouth Gaol May 1837 The Gaoler catches the two young women leaning out of the infirmary window, flirting with the men in the airing yard below. They jump down hastily when he shouts their names.[1] It’s three weeks since Elizabeth Humphrey complained of being sick and was dispatched to the infirmary room, […]
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Plain work and stolen finery

February 1837 They find Sarah Rands in the taproom at the Sir Samuel Hood, laughing and drinking with a group of girls, teasing their jovial admirers. Her hazel eyes sparkle under a green velvet bonnet that frames her flushed cheeks, tied at the chin with silk ribbon bows. A few dark curls escape and nestle […]
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Have mercy on your dear child

Sunday 2 August 1818 Jemima Emmerson takes time between chores to sit on her step, cradling baby George in her arms, and soaking in the warm afternoon sunshine streaming into the yard. She listens out for her husband John to come strolling back from the alehouse, rested and jolly after a hard week labouring. Little […]
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Christmas in Prison, 1839

On Christmas Day 1839 inmates at Yarmouth Gaol tucked into a hearty meal of roast beef and plum pudding paid for by the Mayor. I hope it was washed down with ale, as it had been in 1837. The festive dinner must have made a welcome change from the monotonous prison diet of bread and […]
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