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By Anne-Marie Kilday (auth.)

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As a growing sense of medico-legal humanitarianism pervaded the minds of social commentators and judicial authorities alike, a more nuanced understanding of why individuals resorted to committing this crime evolved and impacted upon the way that infanticidal women were regarded over time. 4 is the low number of convictions for infanticide throughout the eighteenth century. As the data shows, there is a substantial gap between indictment levels and conviction rates, especially in relation to the evidence for London and Wales.

Initially, Ann ‘stoutly denied’ the accusation against her, but eventually confessed that it was true, but that as the child had been still-born, she had locked it away in her box. 9 Whether the child had been born dead or alive was 23 24 A History of Infanticide in Britain not contested in court and no associated medical testimony was provided. 10 After all of the evidence for the prosecution had been heard, Ann alleged in her defence that she had tried to call for assistance during her delivery.

This is primarily due to the expense involved in caring for a child (especially one which had been conceived in sinful fornication) during a period where the economic conditions were unpredictable and precarious. 93 In addition to causing potential problems with legitimacy, lineage and inheritance, increased illegitimacy levels could also threaten the economic stability of a community. 95 Evidence to support this argument comes in the form of gendered legislation passed in England at the beginning of the seventeenth century and briefly mentioned in Chapter 1.

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