Laurence Stone's other book
Posted by P. Bingham on March 20, 1998 at 13:50:16:
In response to house servants and marriage, written by P. Bingham on March 19, 1998 at 18:31:18
Here is what The Family, Sex & Marriage in England 1500-1800 says on this subject. He reiterates, I think, what he said in the other book mentioned earlier. (Harper Torchbooks 1979 ISBN 0 06 131979 1, earlier version pub by Penguin books 1977)
"The custom of marriage in church-going parties partly broke down after the Resoration and later it was no longer regarded as the decisive event in forming a union. key to change is a change in the recognized status of honor. The gigantic rise of pre-nuptual conceptions in the late 18c was not caused by massive violation of accepted standards of sexual behavior, but by a change in those standards. Only the minor phenomenon of the rise of bastardy involved a violation of social norms. The spouslasbecame the generally accepted moment at which sexual relations could begin, the marriage ceremony occuring later, often when the bride was far advanced in her pregnancy. The man's honor was not damaged provided he marry her and the women's honor was not dammaged merely for having sex before marriage. I the man did not marry the honor of both would be ruined in the community. The man was a liar and the woman unchaste. The father paid for the support of the child, rather than the parish poor rate, and the child was taught a trade by which to earn its living. (after 1733 an elleged father was given a choice between marriage, imprisonment and the payment of an allowance) Rise of prenumptual conceptions represents a shift in community standards of honor and the rise of bastardy represents social disintigration and a collapse of all standards of honor, primarily among social groups too poor to afford or comprehend such things."
The penalties of birth without marriage for a woman was heavy for both child and mother. She was likely to lose her job, might be sent to the House of Corrections and eventually be driven to prostitution. Because of the tremendous incentive to the mother to conceal the birth, the child was likely to be murdered within the first few hours or dumped at a workhouse. Another explaination for the rise in pre-marital births and illigetimate births was economics. The value attached to chastity is directly related to the degree of social heirarchy and the degree of property ownership. Pre-marital chastity is a bargaining chip for the marriage game to be set off against male property and status rights. Pre-marital female sexual repression is built into the social system, since male and female are nargaining on the marriage market with different goods, the one social and economic, the other sexual. The withholding of sexual favors is a woman's only source of power over men. The system serves the interest of both parties since the male is guaranteed that he is purchasing new and not used goods, while the female has a power level to obtain marriage. Both the principle of pre-marital female chastity and the double standard after marriage are theerefor functional to a society of property owners, especially small property owners. The most sexual inhibited class in the pop is likely to be the lower-middle class of small property owners, among them rigid ideas of patriarchy, extreme loyalty to the authoritarian state, and extreme sexual inhibitions tend to be the norm, among both husbands and wives. The poor were under no such restraints and the rise of landless rural labors and urban workers without property or status mean the rise of a class to whom virginity was not important, and foresight, prudence and planning were irrevelent to theri dismal economic future. The progress of enclosures, the amalgamation of farms, the developement of cottage industries and the growth of towns were causing considerable increase in size of the class.
Another reason for these habits are the rise of the cottage industry and later of factories, which enabled a young couple to earn enough to live on at an early age. They were therefore for the first time in a position to defy both parents and community norms and to indulge in full premarital sex, secure in the knowledge that if pregnancy occured, they could afford to then marry. The rise of illegitamacy was caused by fathers defying custom and evading their responsibilities. Many of this class were forced by demographic pressures to leave the village and seek casual labor in town while more and more young women were also forced to move further away from home to go into urban omestic service or the dressmaking trade.
There is a bastardly-prone minority group, some of those at the lowest of the social scale who were homeless. Large nunmbers of these girls ended up on the streets of London.
The principal change in the rise of bastardy in England can be attributed to the collapse of the resistance by more young women to full premarital sex due to rise of the proportion of property with the economic stake in the value of thier virginity, and the rise of the proportion of men removed from the pressures of family, community and priest which previously would have contrived to force them into marriage. Thus was a change in the attitudes towards premarital sex on the part of some workingclass women, a change of economic circumstances which left the male seducers more free to refuse their traditional obligation to marry the girls whom they have empregnated.
An important and tragic result of this decline of family and community protection of single girls, especially in domestic service or a small workshop, was that they were increasingly persued by sexual exploitation. Without the protection of parents, kin, neighbors, ministers or local opinion, these girls were easy victims of seduction by theri masters, who then dismissed them when they became pregnant.
The book also states that the servant classes either did not marry or they often married very late. The lower classes, in general, married late because they could not afford to marry and start a family. They would wait until these were better equipped to afford some sort of life for a growing family.
Sorry that was so much... I didn't realize how much. Also, if this was already quoted from, I apologize, I didn't see it.
- Very informative! Lesley 00:18:26 3/21/98 (0)
- Don't appologise, Patricia; that was very interesting... Marie Bernadette 00:10:07 3/21/98 (4)
- Lords & unexpected babies P. Bingham 18:52:35 3/21/98 (3)
- Out of the running... Marie Bernadette 13:29:53 3/23/98 (2)
- bastards P. Bingham 22:12:58 3/25/98 (1)
- It still amazes me the amount of inform. U can provide :-) nfm Constanza 11:03:49 3/26/98 (0)
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