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Anne Orthwood's Bastard: Sex and Law in Early Virginia Paperback – November 28, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0195144796 ISBN-10: 0195144791

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195144791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195144796
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Pagan's Anne Orthwood's Bastard: Sex and the Lawin Early Virginia spin engaging yarns that tie together the best of recent scholarship while also interweaving fresh historical questions and issues....the kind of work tailor-made to grip and hold the imaginations of undergraduates in early American survey courses everywhere."--Reviews in American History


"Four cases provide the basis for John Ruston Pagan's intelligent and highly readable book." --Virginia Magazine of History and Biography


"superb analysis of the colony's nascent social, economic, and judicial structures. . . . terrific scholarship that adds significantly to historians' understanding of early Virginia. . . . Microhistories succeed when their case studies illuminate larger themes; at their best, the stories they tell rate as literature. John Pagan scores on both counts."- The Journal of Southern History


"John Pagan's subtle and sophisticated research and analysis and his lucid and evocative writing bring to life these Virginians of 350 years ago. The character sketches of the servants, justices of the peace, planters, jurors, and of Anne Orthwood and her lover are gems of historical writing....[An] excellent book."--Richmond Times-Dispatch


About the Author


John Ruston Pagan is a Professor in the School of Law at the University of Richmond, Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This is a well researched and well written book.
Kenny
Dr. Pagan is a law professor and a scholar with a law degree from Harvard and a PhD. from Oxford.
Marcus
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in social or legal history.
Otis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Marcus on December 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Prof. John Ruston Pagan has plucked a young 17th Century woman from deepest obscurity to become the subject of his book: Anne Orthwood's Bastard : Sex and Law in Early Virginia. This is a scholarly effort - it is heavily footnoted and supported by a large bibliography - and a first-rate work of investigation and authorship. Central to Anne Orthwood's detailed history was the availability of original records from the earliest days of English settlement in America. These records are preserved in an old courthouse on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Dating from 1632, they are said to be the oldest English-language court records in America.

First a word about "bastard." Today, it is little more than a curse word. As recently as the 1930s, however, it was still imprinted on birth certificates and, as in 1632, described a child born out of wedlock. In 1632, however, bastardy was considered a serious breach of morals, as well, and was deeply resented for the costs it might impose on taxpayers and church parishioners. Caring for bastards was provided for in detail by church and state law. Someone must pay for the midwife, lying-in expenses, wet nurse, etc. and fund the child's early years. That person was the putative father, if he could be discovered, and if he had any money. Failing that, the church and state stepped in. Punishment, too, must be portioned out upon the mother and father for their immoral behavior - and shame would burden the blameless child.

Anne is, herself, born out of wedlock. Rather than bear the humiliating penance the church imposes, Anne's mother escapes to the city of Bristol. That city just happens to be England's western port and the jumping-off point for the New World.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Janice Moore on April 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
This scholarly work of legal history comes in a surprising package -- a gripping tale of early Virginia families and early colonial life and the economy. What a great way to learn about the development of American laws and their foundations!! It is so well written that I didn't want it to end.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By James Schuyler on February 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading John Pagan's amazing true story of life in colonial Virginia and it reveals so much about life during a period that is little understood in our nation's history. After giving us the facts in the introduction, he unveils the history and its implications as each chapter focuses on one individual who was crucial to the events and the four legal actions which resulted from these events. The detective work has been done for you by the author who spent his summer researching every minute detail that exists--you just sit back and enjoy the tale! It is a great read and an astute portrait of a slice of Virginia life in the 1660s to 1680s--and gives us much to think about as the colonies began to establish a unique American legal system adapted from English law. It also gives us a sense of how "sex" was regulated by government at that time, and how legal decisions relate to social and economic realities of life. It is amazing that this little vignette of forgotten lives is so interesting to read about today and brings up issues of privacy, government regulation, and how courts consider society's social and economic goals--issues that resonate with judicial decisions that are being made today. So please read and enjoy and think about Anne and her son Jasper Orthwood. I think they would be very pleasantly surprised to know that their story is being retold in 21st Century America!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Otis on February 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
This incisive work illuminates Virginia's colonial history in personal detail: legal procedures, community structures, and economic and political relationships. Researching primary sources, Professor Pagan brings the narrative to life with persuasive insights into decisions and events as the participants must have planned them: their ambitions, fears, successes, and failures. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in social or legal history.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Balforth on February 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
Excellent, well-writen and very entertaining! Mr. Pagan's book covers a lot of ground, detailing a series of related trials that define the foundations of American justice. A++++
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By katy888 on September 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Was very helpful in research of family history. Anne Orthwood's Bastard: Sex and the Law in Early Virigina was very enlighting "WHO KNEW'
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Unholier Than Thou on September 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this book for a college class and, holy cow, is it good. Pagan uses a series of court cases arising from a tryst in early colonial Virginia to open a window into the culture then under construction. The colonial authorities either modified or enforced English law in a manner deemed appropriate for the new environment they found themselves in. How and why they did it is extremely fascinating. Pagan mentions in his conclusion that the underlying story is operatic in its dimensions and he isn't lying. The text is a slim 150 pages so this would be a perfect book to buy for people who want to introduce themselves or their lives ones to the joys of historical scholarship. It is interesting enough for the lay reader and meaty enough for professional historians.
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By Amazon Customer on July 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Who would have guessed that Colonial Virginia was one giant daytime television show? It's amazing that the Victorians managed to pretend that respectable people weren't interested in sex. This book is a great reminder of the opposite --before them and after them it was a gigantic aspect of visible society.
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