Unmarried Motherhood in the Metropolis, 1700–1850

Pregnancy, the Poor Law and Provision

  • Samantha Williams

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Samantha Williams
    Pages 1-43
  3. Samantha Williams
    Pages 45-77
  4. Samantha Williams
    Pages 79-109
  5. Samantha Williams
    Pages 111-164
  6. Samantha Williams
    Pages 165-205
  7. Samantha Williams
    Pages 207-230
  8. Samantha Williams
    Pages 231-238
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 239-270

About this book


In this book Samantha Williams examines illegitimacy, unmarried parenthood and the old and new poor laws in a period of rising illegitimacy and poor relief expenditure. In doing so, she explores the experience of being an unmarried mother from courtship and conception, through the discovery of pregnancy, and the birth of the child in lodgings or one of the new parish workhouses. Although fathers were generally held to be financially responsible for their illegitimate children, the recovery of these costs was particularly low in London, leaving the parish ratepayers to meet the cost. Unmarried parenthood was associated with shame and men and women could also be subject to punishment, although this was generally infrequent in the capital. Illegitimacy and the poor law were interdependent and this book charts the experience of unmarried motherhood and the making of metropolitan bastardy.


illegitimacy childbirth workhouse chargeable bastardy single parents

Authors and affiliations

  • Samantha Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-73319-7
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-73320-3
  • Buy this book on publisher's site