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A great deal has changed over the past 300 years on all fronts. Industry and then technology has developed in leaps and bounds, modern medicine has transformed the world into a healthier and less superstitious place, devastating global conflicts have arisen, travel and communications have opened individuals up to the world at large, man has visited the moon and explored space. The list goes on and on and on.

However, one of the areas in which a great deal of change has occurred in a less dramatic sense is in people’s social and family lives. The structure of an individual’s personal lives, the expectations put upon them and the possibilities presented to them are altogether different from how they were at the beginning of the 18th Century. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the social and family lives of the early 1700s.

Family Life

Broadly speaking there were two major defining categories when it came to family lives and where you landed on these made the bulk of decisions about how you would have behaved: class and gender.

Men, in whatever class, were expected to earn the money, to provide for the family and ensure financial security. For the aristocracy, this could be quite a passive role, with money coming in from land ownership or other sources without much work needing to be done. The nobility would have a great deal of power and would work hard at ensuring that their connections to other individuals of power were maintained. A busy social calendar was considered the work of high-class gentlemen of the era.

“For the common man, the 18th century was a defining period, since it was the first century in which a really strong ‘middle class’ evolved. Nevertheless, regardless of whether you fit into this new class, or found yourself at the bottom of the pile, it was a man’s job to provide for his family”, explains Caroline Rodgers, a historian at Oxessays and Boomessays. This would mean picking a trade, quite often a trade that your male relatives were involved in, and plying it. The ability to expand business was becoming more and more present in a greater range of trades in the 18th Century, so improving your family’s life was something that men would be looking to achieve.

Women of the various classes had the opposite experience of men in their family life. Their role was consistent between the aristocracy or the lower classes in a way that actually meant more work and activity for the wealthy women than the poor. Women were in charge of developing and caring for the household. This included the bearing and raising of children, as well as the management of the home economy. If you had a giant estate with a hundred employed staff, generating wealth off your land then it was quite likely that the woman would be busily taking care of a great deal of that. If you lived in a single house without any employees, then it would just be a question of cooking and cleaning.

Social Life

As mentioned previously, a busy social calendar of concerts, balls, dinners, drinks, afternoon tea, hunting and more was a very important part of the lives of aristocratic men. “In many ways, social life and family responsibility were synonymous for men of the ruling class. Social functions were how he was able to keep his interests and assets protected to support the family”, says John Cole, lifestyle writer at BestBritishEssays and Ukwritings.

Socializing for men of the lower classes was purely for enjoyment, and would largely consist of time spent in taverns with other men of their profession. Socializing between men and women was still discouraged at this point, but wasn’t unheard of.

Married aristocratic women would socialize with other women of their class exclusively, over afternoon tea or at balls and other events. Unmarried women would meet suitors at certain events, though behavior was monitored closely. Lower class women would have very little chance for socializing and were the most restricted in what it was seen as acceptable for them to be doing.


It is quite easy to see the myriad of ways in which life in the 1700s differs from life today. Though, of course, it is still interesting to identify the similarities, in general, the prescriptive nature of life in that era is nothing like our current society.

About The Author

Molly Crockett is a writer for EliteAssignmentHelp and AustralianReviewer. Molly’s writing focuses on history and sociology. She is always seeking ways to help develop writing and creativity in young people, and she teaches writing skills for ReviewEal.