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Title: Illegitimacy and the urban poor in London, 1740-1830.
Author: Black, John.
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2000
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Much of the earlier writing on this subject has depicted the expansion in the proportion of illegitimate births in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England as one component of a more widespread change in the demographic regime of the period. In particular, historians have attempted to account for the rise in illegitimacy using various simplistic socio-economic and cultural interpretations; this is particularly true in the context of metropolitan illegitimacy. This thesis demonstrates the multiplicity of causes and archetypal illustrations of illegitimacy in eighteenth-century London. The initial starting point for this thesis has been to give equal emphasis to the various economic, social, and demographic characterisations of both the mothers and putative fathers of illegitimate children. Within the historiography of illegitimacy the latter group have often had scant, if any, attention paid to their role in the illegitimacy process. From this beginning it has become obvious that there was no one pan-metropolitan cause or representation of illegitimacy. It was dependant on the socio-economic, cultural and demographic mix within each individual community that coexisted within the greater London area. Intense examination of the social settings of illegitimacy reinforces the diversity of causation and multiplicity of forms sociosexual encounter. The thesis gives an account of the social, economic, demographic and cultural identities of those parents whose illegitimate children were born or conceived within pseudo-marital relationships. Recusant marriage, bigamy, cohabitation and more informal, long-term, illicit relationships feature conspicuously in this study. The comparative and contrasting characters of both maternal and paternal attitudes towards illegitimate children are traced and grounded within the attitudinal regime of the extended paternal families, and that of the wider plebeian communities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available