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Title: Women of the big house families of Ireland and marriage, 1860-1920
Author: Watt, Neil
ISNI:       0000 0004 5371 260X
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2014
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Women of the big house families of Ireland have been much neglected both by mainstream Irish history, and the more specialised field of women's history; no more so than in the period that this study concerns itself with, 1860-1920. Thus far, the Irish women who have made it prominently into historical discourse have been the rare examples of the fabulously wealthy and the notorious. The female members who occupied the predominant middle-ground of this social group have been largely forgotten. This is arguably unjust as they played an integral role within their respective families, in big house life, but also within the society in which they lived. This study utilises the theme of marriage to bring transparency to the lives of such a middle-ground of big house women. This theme is important for two reasons. Firstly, marriage was the most important concern faced by these women, and would shape their future lives. To marry was to perform their raison d'etre, to give their lives purpose within a marital partnership. Secondly, marriage is an area in which such women were indubitably of equal importance to their male counterparts - emotionally, socially and financially. Using material from both public and private archives, along with other historical sources, this study seeks to bring to light the preparations for marriage, the social, economic and emotional driving forces behind marriage, and the lives of those who failed to marry - the big house spinster. The heiress is also considered in this period and presented in a more realistic way than lingering preconception has previously allowed. Lastly, this study addresses the importance of the role of married women of the big house in both domestic and public affairs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available