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Palgrave Macmillan

Cohabitation and Non-Marital Births in England and Wales, 1600-2012

ISBN 9781137396259
Publication Date June 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Today, almost half of all children are born outside marriage, with cohabiting relationships accounting for the majority of such births. But what was the situation in earlier centuries? Bringing together leading historians, demographers and lawyers, this interdisciplinary collection examines the changing context of non-marital child-bearing in England and Wales since 1600. Drawing on Private Acts of Parliament, ecclesiastical court records, reported cases, sessions files, coronial records, poor law records, petitions to the London Foundling Hospital, the registers of the London Bridewell, the records of charitable institutions, surveys and modern demographic data, it not only shows the relative rarity of cohabitation in earlier periods but also discovers the nature of individual relationships. It also explores how differences in the extent of both non-marital child-bearing and cohabitation emerge depending on definition, source material, interpretation and location, building up a more nuanced picture of past practices.

Rebecca Probert is Professor of Law at the University of Warwick, UK. Her research focuses on the history of marriage and cohabitation, with recent books including Marriage Law and Practice in the Long Eighteenth Century: A Reassessment (2009) and The Changing Legal Regulation of Cohabitation: From Fornicators to Family, 1600-2010 (2012).

Introduction; Rebecca Probert
1. Bridewell, Bawdy Courts and Bastardy in Early Seventeenth-Century London; Eleanor Fox and Martin Ingram
2. Cohabitation in Context in Early Seventeenth-Century London; Martin Ingram
3. 'All He Wanted Was To Kill Her That He Might Marry The Girl': Broken Marriages and Cohabitation in the Long Eighteenth Century; Joanne Bailey
4. 'They Lived Together As Man And Wife': Plebeian Cohabitation, Illegitimacy, and Broken Relationships in London, 1700-1840; Samantha Williams
5. Bastardy and Divorce Trials, 1780-1809; Julie Shaffer
6. Cohabiting Couples in the 19th Century Coronial Records of the Midlands Circuit; Elizabeth Hurren and Steven King
7. The Kindness of Strangers Revisited: Fostering, Adoption and Illegitimacy in England, 1860-1930; Ginger Frost
8. The Context of Illegitimacy from the 1920s to the 1960s; Rebecca Probert
9. Cohabitation and Births Outside Marriage after 1970: A Rapidly Evolving Phenomenon; John Haskey
10. Cohabitation and Marriage in Britain Since the 1970s; Éva Beaujouan And Máire Ní Bhrolcháin

Joanne Bailey, Oxford Brookes University, UK

Éva Beaujouan, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria

Eleanor Fox, Independent Scholar, UK

Ginger Frost, Samford University, US

John Haskey, University of Oxford, UK

Elizabeth Hurren, University of Leicester, UK

Martin Ingram, University of Oxford, UK

Steve King, University of Leicester, UK

Máire Ní Bhrolcháin, University of Southampton, UK

Julie Shaffer, University of Wisconsin, US

Rebecca Probert, University of Warwick, UK

Samantha Williams, University of Cambridge, UK


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