The maintenance of bastard children in London, 1790-1834
The Economic History Review
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Williams, S. (2016). The maintenance of bastard children in London, 1790-1834. The Economic History Review, 69 945-971. https://doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12279
Despite recent scholarship historians still know relatively little about the dynamics of the maintenance of illegitimate children under the old poor law. This article examines the affiliation system in Southwark and Lambeth, 1790s-1830s. It analyses, for the first time, the proportion of fathers (and mothers) who paid maintenance for their children, either in lump sums or in weekly allowances, plus the associated costs of childbirth and legal fees, the range of weekly sums, the duration for which they were paid, and the role of fathers' occupations. The analysis reveals that many men paid more than the 2s. 6d. cited by historians. Fathers supported their illegitimate children financially for many more years than the period of nurture of seven years. The occupations of fathers were not representative of all men and their occupations played varying roles in the sums they paid and the duration. The article also reanalyses the 1834 Town Queries for London and the parochial bastardy recovery rate. The article reveals a complex system, variable at the parochial and regional level – as was the wider poor law – but one which ran in parallel with the poor law and offered tenacious overseers a way of deflating the parish rates.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12279
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/250561