Most Women Were Housewives




In the Victorian Era, most women were housewives. These women stayed at home and tended to the house and family, but there were a small percentage of women that had other occupations.

About 3% of all white women during the Victorian era and 25% of all black women were part of the working force and worked for wages. Most of these women were either a maid, nurse, laundress, teacher, psychiatrist, or social worker. Since there were so few women who worked at these jobs, only 9 out of every 10 homes had domestic help (maid, nurse, or laundress). Besides these jobs there is also another way that some wives stayed at home and earned money. This was by farming; some farm wives earned money from selling butter, milk, and other farm products that they produced on their farm.

Women had very little choice in those days and one only has to read the article that was in the Perth Courier in 1880.

Perth Courier, September 10, 1880
Child Desertion—Port Elmsley—On Monday evening, at about 10:00, Mrs. McNab and family, living on the Smith’s Falls Road about two miles from this place, were aroused by a knock at the door.

On going out, a man presented himself saying he had a parcel for Miss McNab, who lives across the road.  Mrs. McNab kindly requested that the parcel be left with her to be delivered in the morning.  The stranger handed Mrs. McNab a letter and started away as if to get the parcel but to their surprise there was a woman sitting in the buggy holding the horse on the road and he stepped in and the pair drove off.

They went to see which way they were going and found a basket which they supposed contained the parcel but upon examination it was found to contain a baby girl about five months old and also a considerable amount of clothing.  On opening the letter the mystery was revealed.  It was headed “Kingston” and said that they were man and wife but their marriage was a secret one and they were forced to part with their darling and asking that the child be cared for and brought up as one of their own.

The mother of the child repented of the rash act and returned two days later saying she could not live without the child and begging them to let her have her child and allow her to return home.  She gave them her name as Smith and said that she was from Montreal.  The mother was brought before the Council and it was decided after hearing the entire story that if the woman was willing to take her child and promised to care for it in the future, it was best to return it to her.



About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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