Labour History

Some Aspects of Colonial Marriage: A Case Study of the Swing Protesters

Labour History (1998), 74, (1), 40–53.

Abstract

One of the most important but least understood aspects of colonial society was the process of marriage involving the lower ranks. Legal marriage was the only officially recognised form of cohabitation. Those who were free were subject to the same scrutiny as convicts if they were marrying a convict or ticket-of-leave holder. Common-law relationships were not common and usually arose because of a woman’s marriage in the colony. Women who usually held the whip hand, choosing men with skills or some capital, cannot be ignored in a discussion of marriage. Although the Swing protesters fared slightly better than others in the marriage stakes (33%) they were not as attractive marriage partners as we had expected. Few achieved material success and their average age at their colonial marriage was far higher than colonial men as a whole. Various stratagems to outwit the bureaucracy reveal the extent to which Swing men valued matrimony.

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Details

Author details

Kent, David

Townsend, Norma

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