The Early Modern Family

Elizabeth Ewan

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199563692
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

The Early Modern Family

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  • History
  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)



Clan and family ties are among the most recognized aspects of ‘Scottishness’ around the world. But what do we know about the historic Scottish family, as opposed to images largely based on nineteenth-century traditions? Perhaps because of the popularity of clan roots among modern diaspora Scots and the resulting association with ‘tartanism’, most historians have tended to focus their research elsewhere. While family history has flourished in those other areas since the 1980s, Scottish studies, especially of the pre-modern family, have only recently begun to appear, despite earlier calls for such work. This article explores the family in early modern Scotland, focusing on the nuclear family unit of parents and children. It also examines the family's place in the wider context of kinship and society, and considers illegitimacy, divorce, marriage and marriage litigation, domestic abuse, and women's history.

Keywords: Scotland; family; parents; children; kinship; society; marriage; illegitimacy; women's history; domestic abuse

Article.  8728 words. 

Subjects: History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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