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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



External departments

  • University of Hull


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-721
Number of pages27
JournalUrban History
Issue number4
Early online date28 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.

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