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Dr Alexander Wakelam

Dr Alexander Wakelam

Alexander Wakelam is available for consultancy.


PhD in History. University of Cambridge 2015-2018. Supervised by Dr Amy Erickson

MPhil in Early Modern History. University of Cambridge 2014-2015.

BA in History. University of York 2011-2014.

Research Interests

My research interests centre on the social, economic, and cultural history of England 1650-1815 focussing on issues of debt, commerce, and female business ownership.


My PhD research investigated debtors' prisons in the long eighteenth century. It assessed the functionality of the prisons from the perspective of creditors to facilitate the repayment of debts, using confinement as a method of enforcing informal oral contracts without set repayment plans. To accomplish this, I conducted an extensive quantitative examination of surviving prison commitment registers which demonstrated that the majority of prisoners did indeed pay their debts. My thesis used these surprising revelations to argue for the importance of female involvement in imprisonment, demonstrating that they were likely to be held accountable for their own financial failures. 


My MPhil thesis focussed on the Merchant Taylors' Company of York and their admittance of women after 1693. Using company and civic records, centring on a database created from entrances to the apprenticeship register (1696-1725), my work studied female apprenticeship strategies, parental intentions, and the worth of female traders within the city in the first thirty years of female membership of the Company. It was awarded a distinction and can be read in the History Faculty's Seeley Library.


Part I: Paper 9 - British economic and social history, c. 1500-1750

Other Professional Activities

Member of The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure


  • Economic, Social History
  • British social history c.1600-1850
  • Early Modern History

Key Publications

“Benefiting from the ‘comforts of ease & afluence’: The Experience of Female Business Retirement in the Diary of Sarah Florry”, Women’s History Review vol.27, no.5 (2018), 707-728.

Credit and Debt in Eighteenth-Century England: An Economic History of Debtors’ Prisons (Routledge 2020)