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The Married Widows of Cornwall – the Wives ‘Left Behind’


An untold story of 19th century emigration from Cornwall is that of the thousands of wives ‘left behind’ by men leaving to work overseas.

Historian and author, Dr Lesley Trotter, explores the lives of these unsung heroines of many a Cornish family. She describes the resources they drew upon in the absence of their husbands and the challenges they presented to the authorities.

Dr Trotter illustrates her talk with poignant individual stories that highlight the risks and vulnerability of being a ‘married widow’.


About the speaker:  Dr Lesley Trotter is a historian, writer and genealogist. Following on from her Undergraduate Advanced Diploma in Local History from the University of Oxford and a master’s degree, she gained her PhD in Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter for her thesis on the experiences of wives ‘left behind’ by emigrating Cornish miners in the nineteenth century. She is an Honorary Research Fellow of the Institute of Cornish Studies, University of Exeter, and is also an Associate of AGRA.

Before undertaking postgraduate studies at Exeter, Lesley combined independent historical and genealogical research with work on a wide range of projects in the scientific press, business communications and interactive training. She has held a number of senior editorial posts, most recently as Editor of the Royal Forestry Society’s Quarterly Journal of Forestry, and is also Editor of Troze, the online journal of the National Maritime Museum  Cornwall.

After living in many parts the UK, Lesley is now based in West Cornwall.

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