The Midwife of St. Giles Cripplegate

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the medieval to the modern. Today’s post is contributed by Sarah Fox an AHRC funded student in her third year of postgraduate study at the University of Manchester.

“The Tryal of a Midwife of St. Giles Cripplegate”: the fate of infertile midwives in eighteenth-century London

Many of you will have read Dr Jennifer Evans’ excellent blog post on the ‘Mistaken Midwife’ last month. Her post focused on a ballad of the same title dated 1674 in which a midwife pretended to be pregnant in order to both please her husband and preserve her business. As Jennifer discussed, experience was considered a vital part of midwifery training and, throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries female midwives were expected to have children of their own. Under the circumstances, one would be forgiven for thinking that the midwife of the ballad was an allegorical figure except, that is, for an almost identical case heard at the Old Bailey on the 1st June 1677[1].

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