AHRC Doctoral Studentship Opportunity

Household Cures and Female Charity: The Welfare and Well-Being of the Estate, supervised by Dr Elizabeth Hurren, Reader in Medical Humanities

This PhD will explore how charitable provision and medical care was managed by the leading Montagu women, predominantly in Northamptonshire, and to some extent elsewhere on the 25 other Montagu/Buccleuch landholdings, by the close of the long-18th century.

The research will involve examining the main archive at Boughton House and Northamptonshire Record Office, with subsidiary estate records located in Scotland and Southampton.

The primary research will specifically involve:

  • Quantifying the Montagu personal financial accounts which contain regular and irregular payments for essentials like self-dosing, midwifery, inoculation, and so on.
  • Engaging with humoral theory that involved regulated food production – literally eating yourself well – in herbals, cook books, and recipes for common cures, as well as complementary medicine such as listening to music to raise the spirits and tackle depression – all of which were facets of the common good
  • Investigating those medical recipes and household cures – how common were they, who paid for them, and who administered them, and to what extent did they contribute to the health of the wider community in Northamptonshire and the Montagu/Buccleuch family.
  • Reconstructing the nature of the local medical market-place, in both regular and irregular medicine – were there quacks, bone-setters, apothecaries, midwives, surgeons, and physicians all competing to provide medical services to the Montagu/Buccluegh family, their retinue and  estate villages
  • Investigating the nature of the Old Poor Law, charitable giving, and both the mixed-economy of welfare in operation in the area, as well as the makeshift economies of the labouring poor

You will thus need to have studied up to a Masters level, some of the following core themes:

  • An historical overview of the operation of the Old Poor Law
  • Be able to engage with female charitable provision and historical concepts such as the mixed-economy of welfare, the makeshift economies of the labouring poor, and more generally have a sense of the social history of the family during the long 18th century
  • A working knowledge of male and female roles in Georgian society and be familiar with concepts of the public/private household space
  • You will need to have studied aspects of the history of medicine or medical humanities for the period, and in particular be familiar with the general historical literature on quacks, self-dosing, medical recipes, and a history of the body

It is anticipated that some of these themes will form the chapters of the thesis and result in a ground-breaking study of the health and well-being of the Montagu/Buccleugh family, their retainers and estate villagers by the close of the Georgian period.

Training in the Academic and Heritage sectors:

The aim of the CDA partnership is to engage the local community and academic scholars with the wealth of material held by the Montagu/Buccleugh family since 1528. This is a unique opportunity for a PhD student to work in private family archives closed to the public for almost 500 years. They will be the first to investigate how a leading family were trend-setters and the practical aspects of their household, servants, and estate management. It is the social landscape that will produce a contribution on how health, well-being and social harmony were maintained.

The chosen candidate will thus be trained in:

  • Setting up exhibitions, digital and virtual, at Boughton House to engage the general public with their findings
  • Take part in heritage events at Boughton House and gain experience of knowledge transfer partnerships working in the East Midlands heritage sector
  • Publish popular articles and respond to media enquiries about the new archive findings
  • Engage with other heritage providers such as English Heritage and the National Trust where appropriate in terms of publicising the significance of the collections
  • Prepare and publish academic conference papers and give presentations to widen the outreach activities of the archive content
  • Speak to schools and local communities about the richness of the archive and assist in its wider dissemination for those who might want to do further scholarly work in connection with national initiatives like the Heritage Lottery Fund communities scheme

Please do email informally Dr Elizabeth Hurren (eh140@le.ac.uk) if you think that you might be the right PhD candidate for this worthwhile opportunity.

7 Oct 2013