In the March of 1786, the sheriffs of London presented a petition to the King of England, King George 111, stating the urgent need to transport unwanted, diseased criminals crowding England’s jails and hulks. With the colonies of the America no longer an option – they were lost during the war of independence in 1783, the suitability of various places around the globe was undertaken by a Committee of the House of Commons.
Between 1780 and 1850 Britain was industrialising. Towns were transforming into cities and the landscape changing from subsistence farming into one of large factories and mills.
Traditional crafts were being displaced by machinery and new living spaces created cramped and squalid conditions. These significant economic and social changes influenced the ways in which male and female roles were perceived.
The notion of ‘spheres of separation’ considered a women’s place to be in the home, and regarded it as a haven from the chaotic and busy world of factories and business. Sufficient emotional fulfillment was to be found as a wife and mother and these new standards ensured numerous publications were sold informing women how to be good household managers. Marriage signified maturity and respectability, but motherhood was idealised as a world of virtue and female fulfilment. A man on the other hand was to be found in the public realm of business and politics.