Nurture and Neglect: Childhood in Sixteenth-Century Northern England  book cover
1st Edition

Nurture and Neglect: Childhood in Sixteenth-Century Northern England

ISBN 9781472470188
Published October 4, 2016 by Routledge
266 Pages

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Book Description

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

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




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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’.