Book Chapter

The Very Sinews of a New Colony: Demographic Determinism and the History of Early Georgia Women, 1732-1752


Marsh BJ (2007) The Very Sinews of a New Colony: Demographic Determinism and the History of Early Georgia Women, 1732-1752. In: Jaffary NE (ed.) Gender, Race and Religion in the Colonization of the Americas. Women and Gender in the Early Modern World. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, pp. 39-56.

First paragraph: On 30 January 1735, Georgia colonist Robert Parker Jnr observed in a letter to the brother of his new wife, Elizabeth Sale, that women were critical to the operation of a new settlement in North America. Sale, having lost her first husband to disease not long after arriving, had originally planned to emigrate back home to England. But Parker had convinced her to stay and marry him, observing that “I cou'd Not do my Self or the Setlement a greater Service than by laying an Embargoe Upon her by Way of Marriage, which I in few Months put in practice”1 His expression captured a pair of axioms that had manifested themselves in one way or another in every single colony that the British had established in the New World. Firstly, that an insufficiency of females fundamentally compromised the stable evolution of white settlement at the colonial level. Secondly, that demographic imbalances among migrant populations also considerably affected the extent to which individual men and women were able to subscribe to pre-existent gender models. Parker's embargo, in any other environment, would probably have lacked its appeal. He was a grasping, odious character, who sought to profit not only from the acquisition of a wife but the accumulation of her inherited property. But in the insecure surroundings of the colonial frontier, Sale chose to acquiesce. Their decisions, though loaded with psychological baggage imported from the Old World, were taken in the peculiar context of the southern frontier.

Georgia; Trusteeship; Frontier; Women; Demography; Economy; Georgia History Colonial period 1660-1775; Plantation life Georgia; Women Georgia Social conditions 18th century; Women Georgia History 18th century

Title of seriesWomen and Gender in the Early Modern World
Publication date31/07/2007
Publisher URL
Place of publicationAldershot, UK