As works designed for mothers to instruct their children within the home, early modern mother-directed catechisms, like traditional catechisms, use the question-and-answer format to present the basic tenets of the Protestant faith. But such catechisms differ from traditional ones in how they represent the mother-child relationship. Because catechisms discuss fine questions of theology, and because they present a non-contentious image of maternal authority, many literary critics and cultural historians have failed to explore their cultural significance, focusing instead upon secular, dramatic representations of motherhood in early modern plays and pamphlet accounts of murderous mothers. This collection demonstrates that these catechisms provide valuable insight into constructions of early modern maternity, and more broadly, into the degree of power and authority accorded to women in the early modern Protestant family. It includes nearly all of the extant catechisms the editor was able to locate which were designed expressly for mothers and published between 1550 and 1750.
Contents: Preface by the General Edtors; Introductory Note; Dorothy Burch, A Catechism of the Several Heads of Christian Religion, Gathered together in Question and Answer, it being intended onely for private use, but now published for the good and benefit of others, by the importunitie of some friends (1646); Mrs. J. C., The Mother's Catechism in an Explication of Some Questions of the Catechism (1734); John Willison, The Mother's Catechism for the Young Child: or, a Prepatory Help for the Young and the Ignorant, in order to their more easy Understanding the Catechisms of a larger size (15th edition, Ist extant English edition, 1735); Appendix A: D. M. [Dorcas Martin], trans., Title pages 'An Instruction for Christians' (221), 'The Maner How to Examine' ( Lamp 2:232-4) and 'The True Summe of all Christian Religion' ( Lamp 2: 234-44) from An Instruction for Christians, i(n The Monvment of Matrones. Ed. Thomas Bentley,1582); Appendix B: John Craig et al., The Mother and The Child. A Short Catechism or brief summe of Religion, gathered out of Mr. Cragges Catechisme, for the fitting of little Children for the publick ministry (1611); Appendix C: Robert Abott, '’The Sum of the following Catechism, may be conceived thus’ (A3-A3v) ’A Catechism for Children, thorough the chief points of the Body of Divinity, to prepare them for the Lords Supper’ (A4-A7); ’A briefer Catechisme to be opened at first’ (A7v-A8v); ’To His much Honoured Patronesse, the Lady Honoria Norton …’ (aa-aa5v); ’To his much honoured Friends, Mary Lady Bakere … and unton LadyDering …’ (aa6-aa8), in Milk for Babes; or A Mother's Catechism for for Her Children (1646); Appendix D: Title page, title page verso and extracts (sigs. A7v-A10v; A16-C5) from The First Book for Children: Or, The Compleat School-Mistress (1705)