Get A History of Infanticide in Britain, c. 1600 to the Present PDF

By Anne-Marie Kilday

ISBN-10: 0230547079

ISBN-13: 9780230547070

This paintings presents an in depth background of infanticide in mainland Britain from 1600 to the trendy 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 delivering a comparative research of the kinds of people suspected of the offence, and a close appreciation of different ways that the crime used to be conducted, the paintings additionally exposes the huge nexus of causal elements which underpinned its enactment. additionally, the paintings investigates the evolving perspective in social, scientific and criminal contexts to the killing of younger babies in Britain over a significant period of time. therefore the paintings as an entire is either compelling and leading edge because it presents the reader with even more than a trifling background of infanticide. The e-book additionally contributes a lot to our realizing of legal historical past, gender background, criminal background, scientific heritage and social historical past in its analyses of the several contexts allied to the offence. It does this additionally via its exploration of the complicated features of accusers, commentators and perpetrators throughout cultures, borders and time.

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Extra info for A History of Infanticide in Britain, c. 1600 to the Present

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83 This resulted in various attempts to make the legislation more malleable through the permissibility of certain defences which could work to strongly undermine the initial charge laid. 84 In addition, the intended targets of the legislation, lewd women, were rarely indicted for the offence. Rather, it was far more common for women of a good character to be charged with new-born child murder, as they were more likely to have solid reputations to maintain. Thus the avoidance of opprobrium to maintain decency was (as we will see) a strong contributory factor in episodes of infanticide, and the authorities became uncertain about the extent to which this kind of behaviour should be punished.

Women also predominate amongst those indicted as the principal suspects in episodes of infanticide across both Europe and North America at this time. ’24 Most of the women accused of new-born child murder were, quite reasonably, suspected to have been the mothers of their victims. Their dominance of the indictment data is not only due to the nature and context of the offence itself, but is also linked to the constitution of the statutory provision under which they stood accused. Mothers, especially those carrying illegitimate offspring, had arguably more means, motive and opportunity than other women for committing this crime.

67 One final explanation for increases in the illegitimacy rate during the early modern period relates to the records of the births themselves. Certainly, it is hard to discern the accuracy of birth registration in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 69 Such definitional inconsistencies were especially prevalent after Lord Hardwicke’s Clandestine Marriage Act came into force in England in 1754. This legislation outlawed previously ‘accepted’ versions of marriage which had been conducted outwith an officially sanctioned church ceremony.

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A History of Infanticide in Britain, c. 1600 to the Present by Anne-Marie Kilday

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