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Marriage and family

Legal requirements

  • 1754 Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act
  • 1837 civil weddings
  • ‘consensual unions’ still flourishing

 

Ending marriage

  • Death
  • Marital breakdown
  • Divorce
  • Legal separation
  • 1839 Infants’ Custody Act
  • 1857 Divorce Act
  • legislation confirmed sexual double standard

 

Changing nature of marriage

Aristocracy, gentry – importance of endogamy

  • Early 18c. dynastic marriages
  • mid/late 18c. ‘companionate marriage’
  • importance of the ‘season’

Middle classes – endogamy important

  • Semi-private courtship
  • Domestic ideology
  • Sibling and cousin marriages

Working classes

  • mid 19c ‘respectable’ working class
  • rites of passage important
  • ‘rough’ working class
  • bridal pregnancy common
  • consensual unions frequent

The Family

  • Resilience of the family but structure changed
  • Early modern family – ‘public’ institution
  • mid 19c family - ‘private’ institution
  • women’s input essential at all levels
  • 19c – growing state intervention and regulation of family life

 

Domesticity and home-making - mid 19c

aristocracy, gentry

  • sense of marital partnership
  • ‘strong matriarchal undercurrents’ (Gleadle)
  • sexual double standard

middle class

  • ‘separate spheres’
  • home = a haven in a hostile world

working class

  • complex relationships of
  • resource allocation
  • power and authority

working-class women

  • victims or matriarchs?

 

Motherhood

  • ‘cult of motherhood’
  • 19c taboos on discussion of reproduction

Marital fertility

  • Early modern – pre-marital sex accepted
  • 1750-1850 – soaring birth rate
  • early 20c – birth rates slowing