Added: May 13, 2006 – Last updated: May 23, 2015


Author: Constance Backhouse

Title: The Tort of Seduction

Subtitle: Fathers and Daughters in Nineteenth Century Canada

Journal: The Dalhousie Law Journal

Volume: 10

Issue: 1

Year: June 1986

Pages: 45-80

ISSN: 0317-1663 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: 19th Century | Canadian History | Prosecution: Laws / Seduction Act ot 1837


Link: Author's Personal Website (Free Access)

Link: HeinOnline (Restricted Access)

Link: Social Science Research Network (Free Access)


Author: Constance Backhouse, Faculty of Law - Common Law Section, University of OttawaAuthor's Personal Website, Wikipedia

Abstract: »The tort of seduction was based in feudal notions that certain people could hold property interests in other people – namely masters with a proprietary interest in servants. In nineteenth-century Canada, the tort was so narrow that it related almost exclusively to fathers' suing men who seduced their daughters for loss of services. Though fathers' proprietary interest in their daughters' chastity and services was reenforced by the legislature, seduction actions were increasingly problematic as women became more independent and left home to work waged jobs. Courts struggled to reconcile the proprietary interest of fathers that treated women as a passive species of property, recognition of women's increasing independence, and judges' antagonism toward women who became pregnant out of wedlock. As a result, the judiciary eroded the effectiveness of the tort of seduction. Nevertheless, fathers continued to pursue and win tort actions in seduction. The lawsuits sought to assert patriarchal property interests in the face of a family unit undergoing drastic change in the face of modernization.« (Source: Social Science Research Network)


  I. Introduction (p. 45)
  II. Origins of the Tort of Seduction: A Proprietary Basis (p. 46)
  III. Legislative Initiative: The Seduction Act of 1837 (p. 49)
  IV. Feudal Concepts in a Modernizing Economy: Dissonance and Contradiction (p. 54)
  V. Judicial Response: Hostility and Suspicion (p. 63)
  VI. The Perserverance of the Action (p. 73)
  VII. Conclusion (p. 77)

Wikipedia: Seduction (tort)