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Living In SinCohabiting As Husband and Wife in Nineteenth-century England$
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Ginger S. Frost

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780719077364

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719077364.001.0001

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Violence and cohabitation in the courts

Violence and cohabitation in the courts

(p.32) 2 Violence and cohabitation in the courts
Living In Sin

Ginger S. Frost

Manchester University Press

This chapter concentrates on cases of violence within cohabiting families. It is shown that the motives for violence were sexual jealousy and money squabbles. Judges and coroners castigated violent men even when their partners were drunk or worked as prostitutes. The courts were most sympathetic to women when they were the victims of violence. The Victorian courts, especially judges, primarily blamed men for cohabitation and violence. The judges' insistence that the men were responsible for ‘living in sin’ was incorrect; the strict law of divorce, and its high expense, kept many of these couples from marrying. The interplay of class, gender and cohabitation is considered. Cohabitees were a minority of those who came into the courts, civil or criminal. All the same, their cases show that large numbers of couples lived outside of legal matrimony in the nineteenth century.

Keywords:   violence, cohabitation, sexual jealousy, money squabbles, class, gender, Victorian courts

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