This book is about the meanings and experiences of lone mothers in eighteenth-century London. It explores the material lives of men and women who produced legitimate and illegitimate offspring an examines those lives within a shared social, economic and cultural plebeian context. It examines how women copied when they found themselves pregnant, the consequences of bearing an illegitimate child and poor women's survival networks. It deos so by exploring the encounters between poor women and the parish as well as philanthropic authorities in the city. This study of London's lone mothers has implications for the history of gender relations, the family and sexuality, the social, economic and cultural circumstances of plebeians, employer/servant relations, philanthropy and poverty.Unmarried mothers did not constitute a deviant minority within London's plebeian community. Lone mothers and their babies captured the public philanthropic imagination of the mid-century. In the extraordinary climate of the mid to late-eighteenth century metropolis many unmarried mothers could expect to find compassion rather than ostracism a respose to their plight.

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