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'Cougar' women more common in Victorian times than today

The research by genealogy website Ancestry.co.uk also showed that there were more single mothers in 19th century Britain than there are in the UK now, the Daily Mail reported.

It stated that while couples with 10 or more years between them nowadays comprise eight per cent of households, that figure was almost double in the 1800s.

Sex and relationships, 'Cougar' women more common in Victorian times than today

And while there is no particular trend for either gender to be the older spouse in the 21st century, in 61 per cent of cases the woman was the older partner two centuries previously.

These days around five per cent of households are single parent families, however a look at 1841 Census results, reveals back then one in six - or 16 per cent - of homes had just one parent.

But unlike today, the cause of the breakdown of most relationships was down to the high mortality rate - death from childbirth was far more common than divorce.

In the 1841 Census also revealed that one in seven households had at least one adult-child aged 25 or older living under their roof.

Today that figure is lower at 12 per cent - despite present high unemployment driving many adults back into the family home.

One modern development researchers found was the number of non-married, cohabiting couples.

During the 1800s women often got married in their teens or early twenties, while today the average woman waits till 30 before she ties the knot.

Cohabiting couples comprised around one per cent of households during the 19th century, compared to 10 per cent today.

“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,” the paper quoted Miriam Silverman, the website’s UK Content Manager, as saying. 

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