Seventeenth-century engraving showing a series of scenes in a week of marriage
Original Author: Thomas Cecill, engraver; Edward Lee, printer
Created: ca. 1630
Medium: Engraving

Gender Conventions in the Seventeenth Century

A circa 1630 engraved page titled A New yeares guift for Shrews depicts a fictional sequence of events in the week following a marriage, while offering insights into real-life gender conventions in the seventeenth century. The sequence of events begins at lower left with a peaceful marriage scene, but by the next day the couple, at bottom center, are arguing. Malcolm Jones, a curator at the British Museum, describes the image as follows: "In a series of unified scenes, it depicts the traditional nagging wife eventually beaten by her husband, and ultimately chased off by the devil. It is accompanied by the following rhyme":

Who marieth a Wife uppon a Moneday./ If she will not be good uppon a Tewesday./ Lett him go to y[e] wood uppon a Wensday./ And cutt him a cudgell uppon the Thursday./ And pay her soundly uppon a Fryday./ And she mend not, y[e] Divil take her a Saterday./ Then may he eate his meate in peace on the Sonday.
In the final scene the husband is shown outside an inn, happily enjoying a jug of ale and a meal by himself.