Children in Elizabethian England Julia Bossonis

Background Information


Petty Schools

Children aged 5-7, mostly boys but some girls, would attend petty schools, Here, they were taught to read and write English by local women, usually the wife of a noble (Benson,York Stock, 1). They were also taught Christian values and lessons in proper behavior.

Grammar School and University

Children aged 7-14 would attend grammar school, where students would mostly learn to read and write in Latin because it was used in university. Only upper middle class to wealthy boys could attend university. All work in university was completely in Latin. Subjects University offered students to study included Liberal Arts, Music, Astronomy, Arithmetic, The Arts and more (Benson,York Stock, 1).

"A late 16th century English grammar school"


In Elizabethan England, children were expected to be respectful and serve their parents. If children misbehaved, they would receive beatings or even more severe punishments (Benson,York Stock, 1). Parents would have an unusually cold or insensitive disposition towards their children, possibly because of the high mortality rate among infants (Willam and Womack, 30).

"Punishment at school in the Tudor age"

Infant Mortality


Couples in Elizabethan England had many children. This was because of the extremely high mortality rate in infants. This was caused by a high disease rate, lack of effective medical care, and unhygienic conditions (Willam and Womack, 30)..


30-40% of children died before the age of 1. Only 60% of children survived past the age of 10 years old. This left an overall infant mortality rate of 33% (Grendler, 76).

Wealthy Children

Raising the Wealthy

Children from wealthy families in Elizabethan England were often raised by wet nurses because mothers could afford to have other women raise and breastfeed their children. Elizabethan women often had many children because of infant mortality. Wealthy families often had many servants working for them, and a family's relationship with their servants would often be a very close one. This made it more appropriate for young children to be raised by women who were not their mothers (Grendler, 110).

Society's View of Children

Children were considered miniature versions of adults. Wealthy children were often dressed in smaller versions of adults clothes (Willam and Womack, 36).

A portrait of a wealthy Elizabethan family


"Daily Life in the Elizabethan Era." Elizabethan World Reference Library, edited by Sonia G. Benson and Jennifer York Stock, vol. 1: Almanac, UXL, 2007, pp. 181-194. World History in Context, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017. link

Baker, William, and Kenneth Womack. The Facts On File Companion to Shakespeare. Facts on File, 2012. 5 vols. Facts On File Library of World Literature. English. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017. link

Grendler, Paul F. Encyclopedia of the Renaissance. New York: Scribner, 1999. Print. 66

Punishment at school in the Tudor Age (gouache on paper). Photograph. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 7 Mar 2017. link

ENGLISH SCHOOL, 1577. - A late 16th century English grammar school; note the birching of a boy at the left: woodcut from Holinshead's "Chronicle," 1577.. Fine Art. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 7 Mar 2017. link

Introduction to the Elizabethan Age. Perf. Dr Tarnya Cooper. National Portrait Gallery, 2013. Introduction to the Elizabethan Age. 7 Oct. 2013. Web. 7 Mar. 2016. link

TORRIGIANI PIETRO / TORRIGIANO PIETRO. VIRGEN DE BELEN- PRIMERA MITAD DEL SIGLO XVI- BARRO COCIDO POLICROMADO- 1,30 m de altura- CAPILLA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD DE SEVILLA- FOTO B/N -A¥OS 50. Fine Art. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 7 Mar 2017. link

A Portrait of a Family saying Grace Before a Meal, 1602 . Fine Art. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 7 Mar 2017. link

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