A Banbury Story: Cohabitation and Marriage Among the Victorian Poor in Notorious Neithrop
17 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2012
Date Written: January 16, 2012
The parish of Neithrop, now a suburb of Banbury, was known in the nineteenth century as a place ‘inhabited by the poor and persons of bad character’ and, according to the demographer Peter Laslett, was an area ‘notorious’ for non-marital arrangements. Drawn to investigate further by the tragic story of Susan Owen, allegedly murdered by the man she was living, ‘Badger’ Willson, and by the suggestion that five out of a row of eight houses were inhabited by cohabiting couples, I discovered a very different picture. Not only did it turn out that neither of these specific claims was true, but the high rate of marriage among Neithrop couples also cast doubt on the widespread assumption that cohabitation was common among the Victorian poor.
Keywords: cohabitation, history, marriage
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