One peculiarity of Victorian England is the rather very high number of illegitimate births and premarital conceptions relative to the periods before it. Illegitimate births and premarital conceptions reached their highest recorded level during Victorian times, as around 1650, less than 1% of all births were illegitimate and only 16% were premaritally conceived. In sharp contrast, in 1852, 6.8% of all births were illegitimate and over 40% were premaritally conceived. In certain areas in the United Kingdom, however, the percentages were even higher. In Eastern Scotland, over 60% of all births were premaritally conceived. Many rural areas in England also similar percentages.
Wrigley in his history on English populations has estimated through reconstitutions that for the period 1800-1837, about 37.6% of all 'first' births were premaritally conceived. He however points out that about a quarter of all 'first' births were illegitimate, implying the majority of first births occurred in a premarital context. I do not quite understand this, since only 6.8% of 'all' births were illegitimate, how can around 20-25% 'first' births be illegitimate?
Furthermore, in Michael Anderson's article on the social implications of demographic change for this period, he points out similarly to Wrigley that "an estimated 20 percent of first births were illegitimate and over half of all first births were probably conceived outside marriage".
Is there any more detailed data available about this? We have much information about premaritally conceived 'first' births for the 1500s onwards but less so about 'first' births that were illegitimate. For example, is there any source which points out what percentage of such births were illegitimate in the 1850s or the 1830s and can present some statistical continuity or change? So far, we have only the '20 percent' figure available. It would be helpful for anything more detailed to be obtained on this matter.