1st Edition

Nurture and Neglect: Childhood in Sixteenth-Century Northern England

By Loretta Dolan Copyright 2017
    266 Pages
    by Routledge

    266 Pages
    by Routledge

    Nurture and Neglect: Childhood in Sixteenth-Century Northern England addresses a number of anomalies in the existing historiography surrounding the experience of children in urban and rural communities in sixteenth-century northern England. In contrast to much recent scholarship that has focused on affective parent-child relationships, this study directly engages with the question of what sixteenth-century society actually constituted as nurture and neglect. Whilst many modern historians consider affection and love essential for nurture, contemporary ideas of good nurture were consistently framed in terms designed to instil obedience and deference to authority in the child, with the best environment in which to do this being the authoritative, patriarchal household.

    Using ecclesiastical and secular legal records to form its basis, hitherto an untapped resource for children’s voices, this book tackles important omissions in the historiography, including the regional imbalance, which has largely ignored the north of England and generalised about the experiences of the whole of the country using only sources from the south, and the adult-centred nature of the debate in which historians have typically portrayed the child as having little or no say in their own care and upbringing. Nurture and Neglect will be of particular interest to scholars studying the history of childhood and the social history of England in the sixteenth-century.

    Table of Contents

    Table of Contents

    List of Tables




    Chapter 1 Interpreting the Sources

    Legal Process

    Ecclesiastical Courts

    Secular Courts

    Quarter Session Courts

    Chancery Courts

    Social Status of the Court Users

    Reading the Sources for Children

    Community Norms Reflected in the Sources

    Chapter 2 Notions of Nurture and Neglect in Adult–Child Relationships

    Forms of Communication

    Birth to Seven Years

    Responsibility of Adults in Regards to Children

    Notions of Nurture and Neglect

    Seven Years to Adolescence

    Responsibility of Adults in Regards to Children

    Notions of Nurture and Neglect for the Older Child

    Neglect of the Older Child

    Nurturing Discipline or Cruel Abuse

    Intended Audience of Advice

    Community ideals of Nurture and Neglect

    Chapter 3 Child Marriage

    Legal Definitions of Child Marriage

    Consistency of Practice Across the Dioceses

    Motivations for Child Marriage

    Role of Family and Friends

    Community Response to Child Marriage

    Social Class of Children Married Underage

    Lived Experiences of Children Married Underage

    Emotional Responses and Reactions

    Chapter 4 Education

    Contexts of Learning

    Types of Available Schooling

    Professionalisation of Teaching

    Participants in Formal Education

    Children’s Lived Experiences at School

    Chapter 5 Apprenticeship

    System of Apprenticeship

    Relationship Between Apprentice and Master

    Conflicts and Concerns Between Master and Apprentice

    Participants in Apprenticeship

    Pauper Apprenticeship

    Female Apprenticeship

    Life After Apprenticeship

    Chapter 6 Parental Deprivation

    Types of Parental Deprivation

    Costs of Raising a Parentally Deprived Child

    Provisions Made by Parents

    Disputed Authority

    Parental Survival Expedients

    Children’s Contributions to Nurture





    Loretta Dolan is an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Humanities at the University of Western Australia (UWA). She recently completed a PhD at UWA under the supervision of the late Professor Philippa Maddern and Dr Stephanie Tarbin, researching children and childrearing practices in the North of England, c. 1450-1603. She is the author of ‘Child Marriage in Sixteenth-Century Northern England: The Emotional Undertones in the Legal Narratives’ Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies, 20.3, (2015) and the forthcoming ‘Poverty, Pilfering and Pleadings: The Microeconomics of Parental Deprivation in Northern England c. 1485-1603’.