How much infidelity was there in the 1800s.


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Well, it seems not much, although it varied by time and area and socio-economic factors.


"It is widely assumed many men aren’t the biological fathers of their children. The rate of extra-pair paternity, as this is called, has been claimed to be as high as 30 per cent today. “They look just like the milkman,” goes the popular joke that no parent finds funny.However, over the past two decades DNA studies in several countries have shown the average rate is low – around 1 per cent. Maarten Larmuseau at KU Leuven in Belgium, who authored one of these studies, wondered whether there was a difference between groups.

He suspected, for example, that the rate was higher among aristocrats in the 17th century, as there was often a large age gap between husband and wife."

"“What we found was completely the opposite to what we expected,” says Larmuseau.

The rate of extra-pair paternity among farmers and more well-to-do craftsmen and merchants was about 1 per cent, rising to 4 per cent among labourers and weavers and nearing 6 per cent among working class people who lived in densely populated cities in the 19th century. This was in comparison to a rate of around 0.5 per cent among the more well-off."

What the study cannot reveal is why people were more likely to be in this situation. “We cannot give an explanation,” Larmuseau says.

“We cannot interview them.”
One possibility is that poorer women in cities were more vulnerable to male sexual violence and exploitation.

The overall rate was still low, at 1.6 per cent per generation. But that still means a very large number of people alive today may not be aware of their biological parentage. Larmuseau says 30 million people worldwide have done ancestry tests, which suggests up to 500,000 could have made a shocking discovery about their father. Companies offering these tests don’t provide any counselling, he says."

Honestly, that's the best explanation they can proffer? How about the fact that the well to do women had much more to lose? So, a destitute woman working in a factory was caught out by her destitute and probably drunken husband? How much worse off could she be? Maybe, even, better. I'm not saying there wasn't rape etc., and prostitution, because there was, but let's be realistic about people, shall we?

Follow the money is always a good rule. It's one explanation for why doctors have a lower divorce rate.

Propinquity and the strength or lack thereof of social constraints is another factor. A farm woman in a rural area would rarely have been off that farm, and even more rarely, alone. Then, when local mores permit a husband to kill both lover and spouse with not only no social consequences but no legal ones, it would make anyone tempted to stray think twice or three or four times. Religiosity would also be a factor.
My own data on the subject . . . Just a couple of years ago I found a cousin (same YDNA) in England via DNA test and paper research. We share a most recent common ancestor who was born c1600. That’s a lot of faithful wives in the succeeding years.

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