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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Ten reasons for not marrying: sex and illegitimacy in mid-nineteenth century Cape Town
Author:Malherbe, V.C.ISNI
Periodical:Historia: amptelike orgaan
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:marriage law
illegitimate children
Abstract:This essay looks at sexual behaviour and illegitimacy in mid-19th-century Cape Town, South Africa. The ex-slaves, who had been emancipated in 1834, celebrated their freedom in 1838. Among the measures which Britain put in place to effect that event was the Marriage Order-in-Council, which came into force in 1839. Applying to several of Britain's colonies, it sought to legalize 'certain marriages' contracted under slavery and to legitimize the children born of the 'de facto' marriages of former slaves. The advantages of validating their relationships appear to have been widely recognized by eligible couples in the Cape's country districts and at the Christian mission stations, but the measure's impact on concubinage and out-of-wedlock births in Cape Town is less clear. In mid-19th-century Cape Town, illegitimacy with its attendant ills of moral offence and legal disability for the out-of-wedlock child was the domain of the churches. The chief sources for out-of-wedlock births prior to official record keeping are the church baptismal registers. Besides slavery, the essay addresses a range of other factors conducive to illegitimacy, such as poverty and large numbers of transient men. Notes, ref., sum. in English and Afrikaans. [ASC Leiden abstract]