Domestic service in a small market town: Crickhowell, 1851-1901

Gant, Robert (2010) Domestic service in a small market town: Crickhowell, 1851-1901. Local Population Studies(84), pp. 11-30. ISSN (print) 0143-2974


This article exemplifies the importance of longitudinal studies of Victorian census materials for interpreting the characteristics and economic role of domestic servants in Crickhowell, a small market centre situated in the middle-Usk valley, in south-east Wales. It focuses on issues of continuity and change and the place-specific characteristics of this important occupational group that cannot be detected through cross-sectional 'snapshots' from individual censuses. A brief introduction to the physical setting and townscape of Crickhowell sets the scene. The definition and characteristics of domestic service are then examined. This leads to a sequential analysis of the demographic profiles and migration histories of co-resident domestic servants. Finally, an exercise in house repopulation focused on the core of the town identifies types of household supporting co-resident servants and their spatial distribution in the built-environment.

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