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The reality of getting pregnant in early modern England

 
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veasleyd1



Joined: 02 Dec 2007
Posts: 2064

PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:18 am    Post subject: The reality of getting pregnant in early modern England Reply with quote

This is a delightful chapter which I stumbled across this morning:

http://books.google.com/books?id=0bwNAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA39&lpg=PA39&dq=Symonds+d%27ewes&source=bl&ots=19IULPmS_v&sig=g9oAaPkUSwniBkB8-cRX6S06c0k&hl=en&ei=nIL1Sp23Hcfh8AbqmLnzCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBEQ6AEwAjgK#v=onepage&q=Symonds%20d%27ewes&f=false
Women as mothers in pre-industrial England: essays in memory of Dorothy McLaren
By Dorothy McLaren, Valerie A. Fildes (1990)
p. 39 ff.
Linda A Pollock
2. Embarking on a rough passage: the experience of pregnancy in early-modern society.
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JaneO



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 798

PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fascinating.

I rather like the bit about the age of marriage for young women. Clearly they were not all young chits straight out of the school room, nor were they "on the shelf" at 21.
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Elizabeth Rolls



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1079
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I liked the bit about a childless marriage reflecting on the husband's expertise, and the importance of making sure his wife was properly pleasured. Very Happy
What a pity this is not available. I'd buy a copy. Thanks for the link, Virginia.

Elizabeth
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Sunita



Joined: 29 Sep 2007
Posts: 133

PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was struck by the decline in family size during the period studied and the 19 percent of households who were childless. I would never have guessed it was that high, even after the info you provided in the other thread (on the landowners and titled men who died without issue). Fogel's conclusions about how much alcohol was consumed was an eye-opener too; I assume he meant men *and* women. I do wonder why family size declined so much during that period, it sounds as if no one really has a good explanation or has the data to provide it. Fascinating.

Thanks very much for posting the link.
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JennyB



Joined: 25 Aug 2009
Posts: 90
Location: Western Massachusetts

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The idea that girls were on the shelf by 22 is another invention of Georgette Heyer who imposed the social ideas of the early 20th century on the past.

In her letters, Austen had strong words about early marriage, calling one such bride "a poor animal" who would be soon worn out with childbearing.

IF I recall correctly the dramatic drop in fertility in the more educated classes correlates with the vulcanization of rubber slightly after the Regency period.

But it is worth remembering that starving women often stop being fertile and there was a lot of famine among the poor in the 18th and 19th century. Even into the 20th for that matter. In WW I huge numbers of the very lowest classes were rejected as unsuited to military service due to severely stunted growth and bones deformed by rickets.

Gonorrhea was also epidemic and it often causes female infertility. Men of every class so frequently resorted to prostitutes that it is amazing anyone was left fertile.
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JaneO



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 798

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Fogel's conclusions about how much alcohol was consumed was an eye-opener too; I assume he meant men *and* women.

It was everyone men, women and children who consumed alcohol, as in ale for breakfast, until there were sewers (and drains) in general use. The problem was that water was too contaminated to drink, and things like tea and coffee were too expensive for any but the wealthy to enjoy.

One of the things that early settlers in America commented on was that the water was so clean you could drink it!
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Kerstin



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1124
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JennyB wrote:

Gonorrhea was also epidemic and it often causes female infertility. Men of every class so frequently resorted to prostitutes that it is amazing anyone was left fertile.


Exactly. And not only gonorrhea, there are also other sexually transmittal diseases that will left a woman infertile if not treated, chlamydia for example. Since so many upper class men frequented prostitutes then and passed those diseases on to their wives I also wonder that the number wasn't even higher.


Kerstin
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