Convict Bastards, Common-Law Unions, and Shotgun Weddings: Premarital Conceptions and Ex-Nuptial Births in Nineteenth-Century Tasmania

Rebecca Kippen, Peter Gunn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    5 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article uses reconstituted family data from birth, death, and marriage registers to measure ex-nuptial fertility and premarital pregnancies in nineteenth-century Tasmania. It also examines the extent to which convict origins of European society on the island caused a departure from English norms of family formation behavior, during a period when men greatly outnumbered women. Illegitimacy was high during the convict period. From the mid-1850s, after the convict system collapsed, levels of ex-nuptial births were relatively constant until the end of the century, as indicated both by the illegitimacy rate and by the proportion of marriages associated with prenuptial births. By the end of the nineteenth century, rates of illegitimacy and prenuptial conceptions in Tasmania were well within the range of those of contemporary English-speaking populations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)387-403
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Family History
    Volume36
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

    Keywords

    • Australia
    • Convict women
    • Ex-nuptial births
    • Illegitimacy
    • Marriage
    • Nineteenth century

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