Gender-specific demographic adjustment to changing economic circumstances : Colyton 1538-1837
This thesis presents the results of a 'total reconstitution' of the parish of Colyton in Devon. The demographic patterns found in Colyton have been extensively studied by the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure. However, many of the details of the parish's social and economic history had not been well researched. As well as providing the outlines of the economic and social structure, the original Colyton reconstitution was enhanced by extending the database using a diverse collection of records. This provided a check on the coverage of the parish registers, and highlighted the problem of missing marriages in the 1650 to 1750 period. The main benefit of using this method, however, was that demographic patterns could be analysed in a class-specific manner. Demographic change in Colyton proved to be both class- and gender-specific. It was evident that males and females behaved according to different socio-economic imperatives and that, consequently, it was appropriate to view their demographic actions as 'gender-specific'. The result of gender-differentiated economic activity and migration was unbalanced sex ratios. This led to the conclusion that the balance of the population should be given a central position in historical demographic studies since distorted sex ratios are an effective population growth inhibitor.