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To date three Ph.D. theses, 11 masters dissertations and eight BA dissertations have been completed on the Occupational Structure of Britain c.1379-1911 research program. These are all listed below and in some cases the theses can be download as PDFs.

3. Sebastian Keibek, The male occupational structure of England and Wales, 1600-1850

This dissertation – submitted in November 2016 and officially approved in February 2017 – addresses three central problems of the 'Occupational Structure of Britain 1379-1911' project namely (a) the lack of geographical and temporal coverage by the project's existing data sources before the nineteenth century, (b) the allocation of the numerous men with the indistinctive denominator of 'labourer' to occupational sectors, and (c) the correction of occupational structures derived from single-occupation denominators for dual employments. The solutions to these problems result in a set of estimates for the male occupational structure of England and Wales between 1600 and 1850, in twenty-year time intervals, at the level of sectors (primary, secondary, tertiary) and sub-sectors (farmers, miners, textile workers, transport workers, etcetera), at national, regional, and local geographical scales.

2. Keith Sugden, An occupational analysis of the worsted industry, circa 1700-1851. A study of de-industrialization in Norfolk and the rise of the West Riding of Yorkshire

This thesis is an occupational analysis of the textile industry in England and Wales, circa 1700-1851, with particular emphasis upon the worsted manufacture in Norfolk and in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The historiography is reviewed, and the primary sources utilized in the study are discussed. These sources include testamentary evidence, freemen lists, poll books, newspaper reports, and Quarter Sessions records from the eighteenth century, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century marriage and baptism records, and the 1851 census. All of the sources are problematic, not least because of the relative paucity of female occupational data. Other than the 1851 census, the embezzlement records lodged with the Quarter Sessions or taken from newspaper reports, and some marriage records after mid-1837, all of the sources concern adult males only. Another concern is that some records, for instance, testamentary evidence, freemen lists, and poll books, have a bias towards the elite and thereby are unrepresentative of the male population. The Norwich Quarter Sessions recognizances have a bias towards shopkeepers, innkeepers, and labourers. These shortcomings are acknowledged. To minimize their effect, the sources have been used in conjunction, to supplement each other and provide as accurate a picture of occupational structure as is possible.

1. Xuesheng You, Women's employment in England and Wales, 1851-1911

This thesis - submitted in September 2014 - offers a quantitative and systematic analysis of women's work in England and Wales from 1851 to 1911. Previous studies on women's working experience, drawing evidence from sources such as autobiographies, parliamentary reports and wage books etc., have focused on issues such as the gender gap in wages and skills, the relationship between women's domestic role at home and their gainful employment in the labour market, and women's diverse experiences in different industries. However, limited by the scope of their evidence, most of these studies have been confined to particular locations or industries. In terms of women's labour force participation rate, the regional diversity of women's employment, female occupational structure and the determinants of women's labour force participation, we still know surprisingly little.

Masters dissertations

11. Alex Powers, M.Phil in Economic and Social History (2017)

10. Beth Kitson, M.Phil in Economic and Social History, The working lives of Irish women in late nineteenth-century England (2017)

This research analyses the machine-readable 1881 census enumerators' books (CEBs) to establish the employment and occupational status of Irish migrant women, with a particular focus on the two largest concentrations of Irish migrants in Merseyside and in London. The data supports the contention that the labour market was bifurcated by sex and further segmented by migrant status, calculated using the sex occupation quotient (the measure of the sex balance in different occupational classes, calculated as the occupational class share by sex relative to the total occupation class share for both sexes) and the migrant occupation quotient (the migrant concentration in different occupational classes, calculated as the proportion of the Irish female labour force in an occupation relative to the proportion of the total female labour force in the same occupation). The labour force participation rate of Irish migrant women in London was significantly higher than in Merseyside. Whereas in numerical terms domestic service was the largest single employment for Irish-born women, they were more likely than native women to work in street selling, in textile factories, and in daily or occasional domestic work.

9. Mung Lar Lam, M.Phil in Economic and Social History, Women's work in silk ribbon weaving in Coventry during industrialization (2017)

Most of the silk production in England by1800 was in the ribbon industry, which was highly concentrated around Coventry. This dissertation uses parliamentary enquiries, censuses, parish registers, apprenticeship records, and directories to analyse the trade, on which there is almost no published literature. Ribbon-making employed tens of thousands of people in the first half of the nineteenth century, mostly in domestic workshops or, from the second quarter of the century, in block developments of cottages whose looms in 'top-shops' were centrally steam-powered. The labour force was predominantly female throughout the century, regardless of changes in mechanisation. However, different sources provide different sex ratios depending on what type of work was being counted; the different processes in ribbon-production were largely sex-specific.

8. Markus Block, M.Phil in Economic and Social History (2016)

7. Matthew McKinnon, M.Stud in Local History (2016)

6. Tim Rudnicki, M.Phil in Economic and Social History, The male occupational structure of northwest England, circa 1600 to 1851 (2015)

This dissertation uses a newly built dataset of 88,099 unique adult male occupational observations from the counties of Lancashire and Cheshire in northwest England from between 1624 and 1834 to estimate the male occupational structure of those counties at various points in time between the early seventeenth century and 1851. In the course of doing so, it shows that the occupational information contained in Quarter Sessions recognizances, the primary source material for this dissertation, is representative enough of the male population at large to make such estimates. It argues that a significant portion of the male population of the northwest, and particularly of Lancashire, was employed in manufacturing activities by the early seventeenth century. This suggests that the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries were periods of significant growth in the secondary sector in the northwest.

5. Cheng Yang, M.Phil in Economic and Social History

4. Sebastian Keibek, M.Phil in Economic and Social History, By-employment and occupational structure in early-modern England

This dissertation follows on from a BA dissertation presenting an extended and more sophisticated analysis of early-modern by-employments. It is based on a sample of almost 2,000 probate inventories, covering six counties and two centuries. It introduces an innovative method to remove wealth bias from the probate inventory record, and uses it to create accurate estimates of by-employment incidence – concluding that the 'raw' probate inventory evidence, on which historians have based their calculations in the past, exaggerate the phenomenon by a factor two. It furthermore concludes that by-employments were typically of the household rather than the individual kind, with several members of the same household engaged in different gainful activities, rather than individuals engaging in more than one activity. It examines and explains geographic differences and temporal developments in by-employment incidence and economic importance. And, finally, it examines the corrections which by-employments necessitate on occupational structure estimates derived from principal employments, and finds them to be relatively small.

The most important results of the dissertation have been summarised in two papers in the Cambridge Working Papers in Economic and Social History series.

3. Sophie McGeevor, M.Phil in Economic and Social History

2. Keith Sugden, M.Stud thesis, The Occupational and Organizational Structures of the Northamptonshire Worsted and Shoemaking Trades, circa 1750-1821 (2011)

De-industrialization and industrialization processes have been studied through an occupational analysis of the worsted and shoemaking trades in Northamptonshire, circa 1750-1821. Using a number of primary sources, the timing of the collapse of the local worsted trade has been pinpointed. Decline began well before the introduction of mechanization. Worsted parishes depopulated. Marriage records were found to be of particular value as a proxy of economic change and a useful tool to study those parishes for which occupational data was not available.

Click here for a downloadable copy of this dissertation

1. John Walter, M.Stud dissertation, Employment in the Transport Sector Following the Advent of Railways in Hertfordshire

BA dissertations

8. James Wells - The male occupational structure of Kent in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

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7. Auriane Terki-Mignot - Changing Patterns of Female Employment in Westmorland, 1787-1851

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6. Lanxi Tu

5. Ibrahim Yate - The male occupational structure of the London parish of Stepney, St. Dunstan, from 1610 to 1881

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4. Ellen Potter

3. Lucy Walker - The economic development of Sussex c.1700-1881

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2. Niraj Modha - The male occupational geography of Middlesex in the nineteenth century

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1. Matthew Ward - The Economic Development of a County Town during the Industrial Revolution: Aylesbury, 1700 - c.1850

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