The ‘other Victorians’: the demimonde and the very poor

Ginger S. Frost

in Living In Sin

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780719077364
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700723 | DOI:
The ‘other Victorians’: the demimonde and the very poor

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This chapter discusses the very poor, the ‘criminal’ classes, and the demimonde, with the most emphasis on the first, since the second and third groups have received more historical attention. Most of the poor married legally but a significant minority did not. Marriage conferred a legal obligation for the husband to support his wife, but a cohabitee had no such right. Age, race, ethnicity, family and occupation are the reasons why couples prefer cohabitation. The resemblance of stable cohabitation to marriage comes out most clearly in the violence cases. It is noted that the most of the poor who lived in cohabiting unions lived among and interacted with their married neighbours. Voluntary cohabitees were more often pressured to marry by authorities and their families, since they had no impediments to marriage. Women accepted free unions, but seldom as a first choice.

Keywords: cohabitation; very poor; criminal classes; demimonde; marriage; age; race; ethnicity; family; occupation

Chapter.  11545 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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