University of Cambridge > > Early Modern Economic and Social History Seminars > The punishment of unmarried parents in London, 1695-1834

The punishment of unmarried parents in London, 1695-1834

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The parents of illegitimate children were liable to punishment by the church and secular courts. Under canon law church courts could hear sexual offences, including fornication, cohabitation, and bastardy. However, far more cases of bastardy were prosecuted by recognizance or indictment at quarter sessions. An Act of 1576 made provision for the imprisonment of unmarried mothers in the house of correction for one year as ‘lewd women’ where they could be set to hard labour. The failure of both parents to maintain their child could also result in commitment to gaol. This paper will examine the implementation of the law for bastardy in London between 1695 and 1834.

This talk is part of the Early Modern Economic and Social History Seminars series.

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