The Planter’s Wife
Historians, Lois Green Carr and Lorena S. Walsh, have came to identify several factors that demonstrate the higher status and the fewer restraints that women residing in Maryland held. The women in England had additional restraints and a lower social status. This was expressed in The Planter’s Wife. In the late 1680’s, many immigrants came to Maryland. The majority of these immigrants were found to be men.
Very few women chose to resettle. Many did not wish to leave their families and communities to go into an unfamiliar area.
The six to one ratio of men to women would show severe imbalance in Maryland. Most women came to Maryland as indentured servants, recruited by merchants. Some came in search of a husband.
Other women saw that Maryland’s expanding economy offered greater opportunities than that available in England. Usually, the females who arrived as indentured servants later became the merchants’ wife. This occurred after she survived seasoning and service, gaining her freedom. Often, an average of two to three children were reproduced.
Towards the 1680’s, immigration to Maryland could post high risks.
Malaria, for instance, would spread and many would die. A road block held the female population from growing. Many women wouldn’t marry until their early twenties. This prevented the creation of extended families. When the men passed, widows would often remarry. This increased family sizes.
Near the eighteenth century, women began marrying at earlier ages. This gave families the opportunity to expand more than those from the seventeenth century.
As the sexual imbalance disappeared in the eighteenth century, life expectancy grew. This resulted in longer marriages and a greater number of children. Although a woman was unlikely to bring property to her marriage, there was less need for women to play such a high or controlling roll.
At the same time, children were commanded to sustain their mothers. Between the women in England and Maryland, women from Maryland held a higher status. This was an obvious observation throughout the seventeenth century.