Philobiblon: Nothing new about ...

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Nothing new about ...

... older mothers.

The Hon Georgiana Arstruther (1810-81) gave birth to her first child in January 1862 and twins in December of the same year, having been married at the age of 37.

from J. Lewis, "'Tis a misfortune to be a great ladie': Maternal mortality in the British aristocracy," in The Journal of British Studies, Vol 37, No 1, Jan. 1998, p. 48.

The article argues that aristocratic women's rate of maternal mortality matched the national average (although contemporaries thought that they were much more likely to die). It says that you might have expected, however, their rate to be lower, given their presumed better nutrition and living conditions; probably their earlier marriages were a factor.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a detailed essay about this by Roger Schofield ('Did the mothers really die?' is the title, and it's in an edited volume whose title I've forgotten. But if you go to Early Modern Resources, it'll be in the pregnancy and childbirth bibliography). He suggests that early modern maternal fatality rates in general were not quite as horrific as we tend to believe - and not when you compare them to general mortality rates. (I think he says something to the effect that a woman was as likely to die of other causes between pregnancies as in childbirth, but I'd need to check that bit.) But I can't remember if he has anything to say about 'class' differences; he'd have been using parish registers and similar sources. I'll look up this article at some point, thanks for the reference!

(can't be arsed to sign in today)

9/03/2004 09:41:00 am  

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