‘‘Sugar and spice and all things nice?’’: Violence against parents in Scotland, 1700–1850

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This article analyzes the nature and incidence of Scottish parricide from 1700 to 1850. Despite a rarity of prosecutions, parricide (or parental murder) was regarded as an extremely serious offense by the Scottish judiciary. Through an exploration of cases from the Justiciary Court, this article argues that parricide appears to have been a gendered crime in relation to both perpetrator and victim and it tended to occur in the more rural or remote parts of Scotland during the period before 1850. It is also evident that certain circumstantial triggers could act as a catalyst for the crime’s perpetration, such as excessive alcohol consumption. In offering explanations for the lack of parricidal behavior in Scotland before 1850, this article suggests that alongside the church and state working together to foster deference to familial authority, the close-knit bonds of intrafamilial relations were such that parricide was only very rarely resorted to by members of the populace.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-335
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Family History
Issue number3
Early online date18 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Abuse
  • Alcohol
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Parricide
  • Scotland


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