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Title: 'The worst of drunkards' : female drunkenness in mid-Victorian Lancashire
Author: Stafford, Craig Naden
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 8639
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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Historical research on Victorian female drunkenness has focussed, almost overwhelmingly, on the effects of the habitual drunkards legislation of the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Furthermore, the women who comprised the prison population during Victoria's reign have been under-researched. Drunkenness was the most common offence for which women were committed to prison and this thesis examines the lives of women incarcerated in Strangeways Prison, Manchester, between 1869 and 1875. This was a period of intense concern about drunkenness in general and female drunkenness in particular, with fierce debate over licensing legislation being held both in Parliament and the provinces. The objectives of the thesis were, firstly, to provide an overview of the licensing debates, policing and sentencing of female drunkenness in two Lancashire boroughs, Salford and Rochdale, combined with an examination of the life cycle of women committed to gaol. It explored the debates surrounding drunkenness at a parliamentary level and how these debates were reflected in social commentary in these boroughs. Secondly, the thesis explored local power dynamics in Salford and Rochdale and showed the impact that police policy and magisterial discretion had on the number of women prosecuted and imprisoned for the offence. It noted that working class women were targeted by the police and that the personal views of policemen and magistrates were instrumental in their drive against drunkenness. Finally, the thesis re-constructed the lived experience of incarcerated women, by examining their family lives, occupations and places of birth. It showed that vulnerability to imprisonment for drunkenness was the preserve of the marginal working class, especially migrants and women who were not part of a familial or neighbourhood support network. Additionally, poverty and poor living conditions were key features in the lives of imprisoned women.
Supervisor: Davies, Andrew ; Godfrey, Barry Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral