A Little Light Reading for Your Entertainment

Bastardy and Baby Farming in Victorian England by Dorothy L. Haller.


On February 25, 1834, the London Times echoed the Victorians’ moral and fiscal outrage over the state of poor relief. It was adamant that poor relief should be for the destitute and that, at present, relief to mothers of illegitimate children had reached “a pitch extremely oppressive to the parishes, and grievously detrimental to female morals throughout England.” Thomas Carlyle denounced the old law for putting a “bounty on unthrift, idleness, bastardy and beer drinking.” The New Poor Law Amendment would rightly place the responsibility for the support of the bastard on the “vicious mother” thus relieving parish funds and would, moreover, end the “great offence against the sacrament of marriage. ” The Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords denounced “the lazy, worthless, and ignominious class who pursue their self-gratification at the expense of the earnings of the industrious part of the community.”

The more things change… oh, wait, things really haven’t changed.

If you click through and read the whole paper, I suggest not doing so whilst eating. It’s no more graphic than your average Quentin Tarrantino film, except this is historical fact and not cinematic entertainment.


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