Male Servants, Identity and Urban Space in Eighteenth-Century England
This chapter explores the neglected topic of the spatial experience of young male servants and apprentices in eighteenth-century towns and cities. It considers a variety of sources, including court records, to explore how young male servants and apprentices imagined, perceived, negotiated and used the spaces in which they lived, worked and worshipped in eighteenth-century England. The chapter argues that in a period frequently seen as pivotal in shaping modern gender roles for men, space functioned as a central category in the creation of young male identity. Young men were less numerous than women, but in England, as elsewhere in Europe, male apprentices made up between 7.5 and 10 per cent of the urban population, and male servants were a significant proportion of immigrants to towns. 'Live-in service' was an integral part of young peoples' lives in eighteenth-century England, and young men in urban areas lived with their employers in fairly close and intimate terms.