Dr Charmian Mansell

British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Charmian Mansell

I am British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge (2019-24), working on a research project titled ‘Everyday Travel and Communities in Early Modern England’.  I previously held a Lectureship in Early Modern British History at Queen Mary University of London.  Having completed my PhD at the University of Exeter in 2016, I returned in 2018 to take up a post as a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the Leverhulme-funded project Women's Work in Rural England, 1500-1700.  I have also previously held postdoctoral posts at the University of Oxford and the Institute of Historical Research.  My book, Female Servants in Early Modern England was published with Oxford University Press in 2024 and is available open access.

Research Interests

I am an economic and social historian of early modern England. My research lies at the intersection of the histories of work, gender and community and is primarily concerned with recovering everyday experiences and socio-economic identities of ordinary people using court records. 

My monograph breaks new ground by challenging several deeply-entrenched tropes within the scholarship of female service. At the core of this project is a large body of data gathered from church court depositions between 1550 and 1650. Analysing service from demographic, geographical, economic and social perspectives, this book presents a richer, more textured picture of female service. It illuminates the variety of experiences of female service that extended across the life-cycle and beyond the home, highlighting the important role that women in service played in the early modern community.

My second project, titled ‘Everyday travel and mobility in early modern England’ has developed from my interests in servant mobility, community and sense of place. Drawing upon rich depositional evidence from early modern courts, the project analyses everyday journeys made by individuals across the social and economic spectrum beyond the boundaries of parish. The project expands the geography of the mechanics of community – credit networks, social relations and work – beyond the parish. 


Tags & Themes


Faculty of History, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9EF


Key Publications

'Beyond the Home: Space and Agency in the Experiences of Female Service in Early Modern England', Gender and History (early view 2020) (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0424.12494)

‘The variety of women's experiences as servants in early modern England: evidence from church court depositions’, Continuity and Change 33:3,2018, 315-338 (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0268416018000267)

‘Court Depositions of South West England, 1500-1700’ (University of Exeter, http://humanities-research.exeter.ac.uk/womenswork/courtdepositions, 2018). Edited with M. Hailwood, this online edition features 80 fully transcribed, annotated church court and Quarter Sessions depositions that are freely available as a teaching and research resource.

‘Female servants and the village community in south-west England 1560-1640: the labour laws reconsidered’ in J. Whittle (ed.), Servants in Rural Europe, c.1400-1900, (Boydell, 2017), pp.77-94.