Infanticide, Religion And Community in the British Isles, 1720–1920: Introduction

Anne-Marie Kilday, Katherine D. Watson

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


This special issue focuses on the crime of infanticide in three of the four constituent nations of the British Isles: England, Scotland and Ireland. The papers collectively point to the fact that although families and communities could be a source of support for women in crisis, they were also the route by which many instances of infanticide were revealed. In addition, the evidence here suggests that the significance of religious cohesiveness to family and community relations may, in some contexts, have encouraged infanticide to occur, due to a pressure to maintain respectability in religiously observant communities. The fact that the crime occurred regardless of the moral climate in each nation suggests that women faced with the reality of bearing a bastard weighed it against the possible consequences of committing infanticide and decided to take the risk. Thus the role of religious belief in the actions of married and unmarried infanticidal women emerges as a unifying contextual theme that is likely to stimulate further research. Adapted from the source document.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-99
Number of pages16
JournalFamily & Community History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


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