Lucy Rose Morgan

Department of History

Research student

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Lucy Rose Morgan
Department of History

Thesis title: Single men and manhood in early modern England, 1650-1750




Thesis abstract:

Early modern England was characterised by a high age at first marriage, and the English population was slightly but steadily decreasing in the half-century after the Civil War and plague, indicating that many never married at all. Yet early modern culture was highly marriage-normative; it was assumed that most men would marry, and that those who didn’t probably wanted to. This gap between society and culture creates an uncertain position for single men both in the early modern period and in the existing historiography about gender and manhood.

In my thesis, I aim to uncover the social realities of the lives of adult single men (both bachelors and widowers) in contrast with the cultural stereotypes of male singleness which existed in the period 1650 to 1750. My thesis is structured around three chapters and three approaches. Firstly, I will establish the demographic presence and most common household structures of single men in England through the use of the Marriage Duty Acts of 1695-1706. Secondly, I will analyse the single male “lifestyle” as seen in the letters and diaries of bachelors and widowers; this includes some notable seventeenth and eighteenth century figures, such as the scientist Robert Hooke. Thirdly, I will examine the traits associated with single men in contemporary literature and the extent to which satirical and didactic representations of singleness actually reflected single men’s lived experiences.

More widely, I have an interest in gender and its performance, as well as standards of appropriate behaviour and how individuals were shaped by social and cultural norms. I am always open to discussion and workshopping ideas - feel free to contact me via my institutional email if you would like to do so.

  • PhD History, University of Sheffield, 2021 - present
  • MA Early Modern History, University of East Anglia, 2018-2019
  • BA (Hons) History, University of East Anglia, 2015-2018


  • Mark V Williams Scholarship (University of East Anglia, May 2018) £7,550
Professional activities and memberships
  • Co-organiser of Early modern men: patriarchs, patriots and pricks in Europe, 1500-1800 (online conference), February 2022
  • Regional Editor for The MHR, 2021 - present
  • Member of the Northern Early Modern Network, 2021 - present
Publications and Conferences

Book Reviews:

  • The MHR 5, 1 (2021); 6, 1 (2022)
  • European History Quarterly 49, 3 (2019); 50, 1; 50, 3; 50, 4 (all 2020)


  • “Cross-Dressing for Self-Empowerment: a Case Study of Margaret Cavendish.” EPOCH 1, 4 (2021)

Conference Papers:

  • ‘“As he is a widower, I save him the expense of a servant:” Single Father Households in England, 1650-1750,’ Mothers and Fathers in the Pre-modern World, c.1000-1800 (University of Cambridge), April 2022
  • ‘Single Men’s Family Ties in Early Modern England,’ Early modern men: patriarchs, patriots and pricks in Europe, 1500-1800 (online conference), February 2022