Blaming the victim
We were doing a lookup for client in the Kirk Session minutes for Dalziel, Lanarkshire for a client today (fixed-price, before you ask, so the client didn't pay for our time) when we found the following incident, which we thought we'd share.
Dalziel, 9th July 1820
So a church officer (the precentor lead the singing in the Church of Scotland) beats up his wife (and possibly his children) but "there must have been some irregular behaviour on the part of his wife or family". And the wife is summoned before the Session to explain herself.
19th [July 1820]
Reading between the lines, perhaps Agnes had accused her husband of having an affair with a married woman. A couple of months later, John was up before the Session once again.
10th September 1820
So John showed his repentance by seemingly not beating up his wife again. What you might wonder had prompted him to seek absolution for his crime? The answer seems to appear just three days later:
13th [September 1820]
It seems likely that John had decided to move away from Motherwell, and he would need a certificate from Dalziel Kirk Session in order to become a church member in his new parish. Interestingly enough, there is no mention of his wife Agnes Watson also being granted a certificate. Five months later, though, we read the following:
26th [February 1821]
So it took seven months for Agnes Watson to be absolved from the scandal of being assaulted by her husband. Her assailant, however, was cleared from the scandal in just two months. Patriarchal double-standards are nothing new, clearly.
Source: Dalziel Church of Scotland Kirk Session Minutes [NRS Ref CH2/462/2, pages 19-21]
Genealogy and Family History - A mix of our news, curious and intriguing discoveries. Research hints and resources to grow your family tree in Scotland from our team.