By Anne-Marie Kilday
This paintings offers a close background of infanticide in mainland Britain from 1600 to the fashionable period for the first actual time. It examines continuity and alter within the nature and features of new-born baby homicide in Scotland, England and Wales over a chronology of greater than 4 centuries. along supplying a comparative research of the kinds of people suspected of the offence, and an in depth appreciation of different ways that the crime was once conducted, the paintings additionally exposes the wide nexus of causal components which underpinned its enactment. additionally, the paintings investigates the evolving perspective in social, clinical and criminal contexts to the killing of younger babies in Britain over a noticeable period of time. therefore the paintings as an entire is either compelling and cutting edge because it offers the reader with even more than an insignificant heritage of infanticide. The e-book additionally contributes a lot to our knowing of legal heritage, gender historical past, felony historical past, clinical historical past and social historical past in its analyses of different contexts allied to the offence. It does this additionally via its exploration of the advanced features of accusers, commentators and perpetrators throughout cultures, borders and time.
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Extra resources for A History of Infanticide in Britain, c. 1600 to the Present
The first relates to the potential wage earnings available from this type of employment. A. Kent shows that the earnings of young, single servant girls were better than many other female occupations at that time. 107 These working conditions were considered highly favourable by early modern women. 111 The provision of a cash wage for domestic servants gave women a degree of independence in the early modern period, and therein lies the other key attraction of this type of employment. The very nature of domestic service enabled young women to act and think independently about a range of different issues.
The first common trait of indictments for new-born child murder in the early modern period is that women protagonists predominated. Although men could, on occasion, be involved in episodes of infanticide, on the whole women accused of this crime significantly outnumbered men. 14 The second typical characteristic of indictments for infanticide in the early modern period was that the vast majority of defendants were unmarried. 17 This was because the women concerned had not only engaged in what was perceived to be illicit sexual activity, but had also committed a crime regarded as irreconcilable with expected feminine behaviour.
Was this also true of illegitimacy? A great deal of scholarship has been carried out on the incidence of illegitimacy, particularly in the pre-modern British context. 50 Legitimate births were the norm and were far more prevalent. 52 To give an example, the data for the Lothians, Fife and the Central Lowlands of Scotland in the eighteenth century reflects a downwards trend in illegitimacy. 54 Despite these drawbacks, increases in illegitimacy do seem to have occurred across Britain at various points during the pre-modern era, giving some credence to contemporary fears of a rise in sexual non-conformity and associated ‘deviant’ behaviour.