'More single parent homes in 1800s'

Single parent familyCouples with large age gaps, and the number of single-parent households, were more common in Victorian Britain than they are today, according to new research.

A study of census records from the 1800s by family history website Ancestry.co.uk showed there were twice as many couples with an age gap of at least 10 years compared to the present day.

The oldest partner in the 1800s tended to be female, often because mortality rates in the workplace were high, resulting in a greater number of widows, said the report.

An analysis of the 1841 census showed that one in six households had one parent, compared with 5% nowadays.

Deaths from childbirth, or workplace accidents, were a more common reason for a single household in Victorian times than divorce, said Ancestry.

Miriam Silverman of Ancestry.co.uk, said: "The millions of census records now online allow for the observation of fascinating social trends, including how today's non-nuclear families are far from a modern trend.

"In many ways, a married couple with 2.4 children is the real unconventional household."
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