Thursday, May 20, 2010

Whittington spends your taxes on ‘amiss’ women

Well, that might have been Andrew Bolt’s headline for this... but the following may in fact be the first recorded instance of special needs targeting in the provision of health services:

In the 15th century 8 beds were added [at St Thomas’s Hospital, Southwark] at the behest of the Lord Mayor, the famous Dick Whittington. They were ... “for young women that had done amiss.”

That would be unmarried mothers; and it was even proposed to take a culturally sensitive approach in regard to those special needs cohorts:

The transgressions of these so-called “unfortunates” were to be kept secret as “it might cause hindrance to their marriage.”

Nice! What a cuddly bunch of medievalists.

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Blogger Caz said...

How glorious!

How very liberal!

Gone amiss, amiss!

Yet look how many hundreds of years it still took before women who strayed were not punished, hidden in shame, and did not have their babies snatched away from them because they were 'unfit'.

22/5/10 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

Yeah Caz, the line about "keeping their transgressions secret as it might cause hindrance to their marriage" certainly indicates they weren't able to keep their babies. And one wonders what happens to these little orphans? Did they have workhouses in medieval England, like in Dickens? Perhaps something similar, but not "regulated" as in the 19th Century. In any event their stories are probably largely lost to history.

23/5/10 1:43 PM  

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