Dr Samantha Williams

University Senior Lecturer, Academic Director for Local and Regional History


Samantha undertook her PhD on poverty and welfare provision under the Old Poor Law in Cambridge at the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure, University of Cambridge. Before joining the Institute of Continuing Education, she held lectureships in History at Goldsmith's College (University of London), the Faculty of History (University of Cambridge) and Trinity Hall (University of Cambridge).

Samantha is also an Official Fellow and Director of Studies at Girton College and an Affiliated Researcher at the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Studies.

Courses Taught

Teaching and research supervision areas

  • British social, economic and local history.
  • Course Director, tutor and supervisor for the Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Local History.
  • Course Director and supervisor for the MSt in Local and Regional History (under revision).
  • Course Director and tutor for the Madingley Weekly Programme and weekend courses at Madingley Hall.
  • Cambridge Undergraduate Tripos courses: 'British Social and Economic History 1700-1914', 'Historical Argument and Practice'.
  • PhD and MPhil supervision.

Research interests

  • Poverty, policy and welfare provision under the Old and New Poor Laws.
  • The experience of unmarried motherhood in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Professional activities

  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • Local Population Studies Society Committee member and website manager
  • Economic History Society member
  • Consultant, Nutopia TV production company, 'Great Britain: Our Story'



'"They lived together as Man and Wife": plebeian cohabitation, illegitimacy, and broken relationships in London, 1700-1840', in R. Probert (ed.), Changing Relationships? Cohabitation and births outside marriage, 1600-2012 (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2014).

'Support for the elderly during the "crisis of the Old Poor Law", c.1790-1834', in C Briggs, P Kitson, and S Thompson (eds.), Population, welfare and economic change (forthcoming, Boydell and Brewer, 2014).

Sam_Williams_book_cover_90px'Britain, 1750-2000', in E Vanhaute, I. Devos, T. Lambrecht (eds.), Rural Economy and Society in North-Western Europe, 500-2000, Making a Living: Family, Income and Labour (Brepols, 2012), pp.70-95

Sam_Williams_Poverty_Gender_book_90pxPoverty, Gender and Life-cycle under the English Poor Law, c.1760-1834 (Royal Historical Society, Boydell and Brewer, 2011).


'The Experience of Pregnancy and Childbirth for Unmarried Mothers in London, 1760-1866', Women's History Review, 20, 1 (Feb 2011), pp.55-72.

'"I was Forced to Leave my Place to Hide my Shame": the living arrangements of unmarried mothers in London in the early nineteenth century', in J. McEwan and P. Sharpe (eds.), Accommodating Poverty: the housing and living arrangements of the English poor, c. 1600-1850 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp.101-219.

T.S. Ashton Prize from the Economic History Society: 'Poor Relief, Labourers' Households and Living Standards in Rural England c.1770-1834: a Bedfordshire case-study', Economic History Review LVIII, 3 (2005), pp.485-519.

A. Levene, T. Nutt, and S.K. Williams (eds.), Illegitimacy in Britain 1700-1920 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)

'Practitioners' Income and Provision for the Poor: parish doctors in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries', Social History of Medicine, 18: 2 (2005), pp.1-28.

'Earnings, Poor Relief and the Economy of Makeshifts: Bedfordshire in the early years of the New Poor Law', Rural History, 16: 1 (2005), pp.21-52.

'Malthus, Marriage and Poor Law Allowances Revisited: a Bedfordshire case study, 1770-1834', Agricultural History Review, 52 (2004), pp.56-82.

'Caring for the Sick Poor: poor law nurses in Bedfordshire, c.1770-1834' in Keith Snell, Penny Lane and Neil Raven (eds.), Women, Work and Wages, c. 1650-1900 (Boydell and Brewer, 2004), pp.141-169.

'Life Course and Lifecycle: reconstructing the experience of poverty in the time of the Old Poor Law', co-authored with Susannah Ottaway, Archives, 23 (1998), pp.19-29.


    How to get in touch


    University of Cambridge
    Institute of Continuing Education
    Madingley Hall
    Cambridge CB23 8AQ

    Email: skw30@cam.ac.uk

    Tel: +44 (0)1223 746281

    Location: Hall Tower Room


    Academic Policy Committee

    MSt Liaison Committee