By Anne-Marie Kilday (auth.)
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Extra resources for A History of Infanticide in Britain c. 1600 to the Present
138 However, mitigation of this type was only successful if the accused woman was docile, meek and utterly remorseful when she appeared before the court.
84 In addition, the intended targets of the legislation, lewd women, were rarely indicted for the offence. Rather, it was far more common for women of a good character to be charged with new-born child murder, as they were more likely to have solid reputations to maintain. Thus the avoidance of opprobrium to maintain decency was (as we will see) a strong contributory factor in episodes of infanticide, and the authorities became uncertain about the extent to which this kind of behaviour should be punished.
13 The case against Ann Price includes elements which mean that it can be regarded – at first sight – as a typical example of an indictment for infanticide in the early modern period. Indeed, these elements appear to be so common amongst new-born child murder episodes from this era that they could be said to embody an archetype of infanticide, accepted by contemporary authorities, social commentators and historians alike. The first common trait of indictments for new-born child murder in the early modern period is that women protagonists predominated.