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Author Topic: Mistress, Mrs, Miss and Ms - historical usage  (Read 406 times)
Theophania_Elliott
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« on: August 22, 2015, 09:56:27 pm »

Here is a newspaper article on research into when the honorifics Mrs and Miss were used, and how it changed, from the medieval period through to the end of the nineteenth century.

http://www.newstatesman.com/cultural-capital/2014/09/mistress-miss-mrs-or-ms-untangling-shifting-history-women-s-titles

I think this is the original paper:
http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/research/projects/occupations/abstracts/paper25.pdf

It's interesting to find that when upper female servants were given the honorific "Mrs" even when unmarried, initially this did not denote the acquisition of an imaginary husband to raise the woman to the "superior" married state, but instead simply that she had reached a social status entitling her to an honorific. Men were treated in exactly the same way: a footman would be John, but the butler would be Mr Smith. The custom remained even when the meaning of "Mrs" changed from denoting social status to denoting marital status.
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