the Absconding Father

in The Unwanted Child

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226317274
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226317298 | DOI:
the Absconding Father

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On February 20, 1615, the bailiff of suburban Gostenhof reported to the Nuremberg city council that he had taken into custody three young girls “left sitting” by their father, soldier Christof “Stoffel” Baur of Nördlingen. This chapter explores the background of Stoffel and other absent fathers, looking at the frequency of their comings and goings, the reasons behind their departures, and the impact their decisions had on the wives and children they left behind. It describes the necessities of everyday life for such households, how these heads of households attempted to meet those necessities, and what happened when they failed. Most important, the relative roles of informal child circulation and of governmental intervention in sustaining the fatherless household receives special attention, particularly in the context of paternal responsibility and affection.

Keywords: child abandonment; absent fathers; households; child circulation; child welfare; government intervention; paternal responsibility

Chapter.  21098 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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