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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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Affinity and consanguinity

Affinity and consanguinity

(p.52) 3 Affinity and consanguinity
Living In Sin

Ginger S. Frost

Manchester University Press

This chapter addresses the affinal and consanguineous relationships and how neighbours, families and society reacted to them. Most unions within the prohibited degrees were between in-laws, though a minority of others might occur, especially uncles and nieces. The more serious consequence for working-class affinal and consanguineous families was when they needed assistance, especially with the death or desertion of the breadwinner. At that point, women and children came into contact with the poor law. Judges' and juries' leniency showed that working-class behaviour affected the state to mitigate the punishments for illegal unions. It is noted that the middle classes preferred to have a marriage ceremony, but they did not have to risk prosecution. Couples wanted to go through a ceremony; the vast majority did not dislike marriage itself. The Victorian criminal justice system faced yet another dilemma in dealing with irregular unions.

Keywords:   affinity, consanguinity, neighbours, families, society, illegal unions, middle classes, marriage ceremony, Victorian criminal justice system

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