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Absent Fireguards and Burnt Children: Coroners and The Development Of Clause 15 Of The Children Act 1908

Holmes, Vicky (2012) 'Absent Fireguards and Burnt Children: Coroners and The Development Of Clause 15 Of The Children Act 1908.' Law, Crime and History, 2. pp. 21-58. ISSN 2045-9238

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Abstract

Government intrusion into the homes of the working- classes gained momentum through the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. One hitherto unexamined piece of legislation that sought to regulate behaviour was a clause in the Children Act 1908 pertaining to the use of domestic fireguards. This transpired because of the outcry of coroners who conducted inquests into the death s of children fatally burned in their homes, supposedly a safe refuge, a space constructed as a maternal responsibility. Coroners increasingly believed such accidents were a result of either maternal carelessness or negligence, especially those involving unguarded fires and absent mothers. Yet, limited by inadequate laws and unwilling juries, the coroner could do little but admonish the mother. However, growing Government concern over the abilities of working-class mothers and the health of the nation finally brought the issue of absent fireguards and burnt children to Parliamentary debate, culminating in a provision which appeared to have been aimed more at prevention than punishment.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2015 14:36
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2015 14:36
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/14242

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