Courtship, illegitimacy, and marriage in early modern England /
Richard Adair.
Manchester ; New York : Manchester University Press, 1996.
xii, 273 p.
0719042526 (hard)
More Details
Manchester ; New York : Manchester University Press, 1996.
0719042526 (hard)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1996-11-01:
Adair's study consists of a massive marshalling of statistics on which to construct a theory of illegitimacy and bridal pregnancy in early modern England. His emphasis is on a regional divergence in courtship practices, reflected in trends of illegitimacy. The empirical lengths to which Adair goes are admirable. He provides carefully contextualized evidence from an unprecedented number of parish registers, sources that take priority over church court records with their even more palpable biases. Much of the text consists of methodological qualification, yet historical constructs that proved a stimulating diversion in the act and in the historical imagination can seem antiseptic in the reading. Less quantitatively inclined readers will be able to recognize that the most bedeviling variables are courtship, sexuality, and marriage as socially and theologically defined in various regions and economic circumstances. Adair's work qualifies several pioneering theories and effectively links statistics to courtship practice. The information and arguments contained in this book will provide grist for the mills of historians of English society for years to come. Graduate students and faculty. M. C. Noonkester William Carey College
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, November 1996
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Bowker Data Service Summary
This is a study of bastardy and marriage between the 16th and 18th centuries, exploring the topic from a regional perspective. The book asserts that the very concept of national demographic data is shown to be deeply flawed.
Main Description
A study of illegitimacy in England between 1538 and 1754, this text assembles data from over 500 parishes across the country, providing a detailed reconstruction of the lives and marital histories of the women and men who had children, both inside and outside marriage. A regional perspective is explored, providing evidence of a clear cleavage in the texture of courtship in England during this period. The survey shows the concept of national demographic data, often the basis of past research, to be deeply flawed. Offering a fresh look at contemporary attitudes towards marriage, the research is synthesized with original material from the ecclesiastical courts, in order to illustrate hitherto unsuspected regional contrasts in courtship behaviour in this period.
Table of Contents
List of tables
List of figures
Historiography and methodologyp. 1
Bastardy - a descriptive frameworkp. 48
Bridal pregnancyp. 92
Towards an explanation of regional variationsp. 110
Courtship and marriage in early modern Englandp. 129
Courtship in the Lowlands and in the Highlandsp. 149
Urban illegitimacyp. 188
Conclusionp. 224
App. 1 The 523 parishes used in this studyp. 228
App. 2 Parishes used in large-scale analysesp. 233
Bibliographyp. 237
Indexp. 271
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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