‘It may be true that subsequent work on borough and county records may modify my impressions of the meaning of night walking, and also allow us to more fully investigate the representativeness (or otherwise) of metropolitan experiences for other expanding seventeenth century towns, which were subject to quite similar ideologies and felt-pressures.’
This quotation from Paul Griffiths sums up exactly why I wanted to research this topic. Transactional sex in a rural setting is barely touched upon in the historiography, and this may because social historians have been unable to find sufficient evidence to study the topic successfully. In contrast, a great deal has been written on London, yet almost none taking a rural focus. I intend to research the experiences of these women who engaged in rural commercial sex and how contemporaries and society viewed them, as well as trying to establish what it would have been like to live in such poverty that the only way to survive was through prostitution. However, if (like other historians) I cannot uncover sufficient evidence for this proposed study, I will extend my focus to illicit sex more broadly. I am particularly interested to investigate the experience of these women, and I also wish to explore why there is little evidence for transaction sex in a rural setting.
I chose the period of 1600-1800 because during this period there was a massive shift in ideas regarding sex and human anatomy, as well as changing attitudes towards religion and science among the educational elite, as well as more popularly. I believe that Kent will provide an excellent regional study because of the quality and quantity of the surviving records and the nature of the county itself. Its geographical position vis-à-vis continental Europe and London means that Kent was bustling with travellers and people, thereby bringing about this ‘hidden underworld’.
 Paul Griffiths, ‘Meanings of Nightwalking in Early Modern England’,
The Seventeenth Century, 13:2 (1998), 212-38, p .224.