Women's admission to guilds in Early Modern England: the case of the York merchant tailors', 1693-1776

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • S.D. Smith


Publication details

JournalGender and History
DatePublished - 2005
Issue number1
Number of pages27
Pages (from-to)99-126
Original languageEnglish


The admission of women into the York merchant tailors' is a remarkable episode in the history of post-medieval guilds. Within England, the York experience was probably exceptional; across Europe more generally, it can be classified as a rare phenomenon. The article analyses male and female merchant tailors and apprentices in order to identify the gender-specific characteristics of women guild members. It argues that the decision of the York Company to admit women illustrates that guilds could be flexible in their responses to female employment, depending on local conditions, particularly the attitude of the civic corporation. In consequence, generalisations about the relationship between guild regulation and women's work need to be tested against the results of specific case studies.

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