Author Topic: Old Parish Registers Query - Illegitimacy and Incest  (Read 641 times)

Offline jonwicken

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Old Parish Registers Query - Illegitimacy and Incest
« on: Wednesday 27 December 17 21:24 GMT (UK) »
Hi I am trying to unravel my ancestors in Cruden, Aberdeenshire, and have a couple of queries from entries I am come across in the registers there. I have two queries on the following:

1. Illegitimacy

On 18 June 1716 George Freeland son of George Freeland was baptised and it states he was 'born in fornication'.

On 22 August 1728 John Laurenson son of John Laurenson was baptised and it also states he was 'born in fornication'.

These are both clearly illegitimate children but I find it interesting that here the mother's names were not listed and the father's were. This would not be the case in English records where usually only the mother's name would be recorded along with usually 'base born'.

Also I am surprised that both children took the surname of the father. This is again different to English parish records where the child would usually have taken the mother's surname. 

I wonder if anyone knows any more about this as it seems in Scotland at this time even with illegitimate children things were even more patriarchal than in England.

2. Incest

On 4 June 1756 Peter Sangster son of Thomas Sangster was baptised and the entry states the child was 'begot in incest with Margaret Crookshank'. Now I can't work out who Thomas and Margaret were but they were not full siblings so I am wondering what 'incest' referred to. Must they have been half siblings or what else would have been considered incest?

Interestingly related to my first question, the entry states that the child was 'presented to baptism by... William Sangster, brother to the sd Thos Sangster' so again the child being illegitimate was taken to church by the father's family, not the mother's.

If anyone has any thoughts or knowledge on these things I would be most grateful so I can understand the social customs regarding these issues at the time.

With thanks and kind regards,
Jon   

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Offline Wendy2305

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Re: Old Parish Registers Query - Illegitimacy and Incest
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday 27 December 17 22:55 GMT (UK) »
Can't help with your second query but in regard of illegitimate children it sounds like that the fathers recognised the children were theirs and appeared  with the mother for the christening also in that time period it was usual for mothers not to be named whether married or not in the parish books (in the case of unmarried mothers if the father attended the christening)

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Online GR2

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Re: Old Parish Registers Query - Illegitimacy and Incest
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 28 December 17 00:01 GMT (UK) »
It may be that in Cruden at that time no mothers were recorded in baptism entries. It is quite common for fathers only to be recorded. The answer is to look in the minutes of the Kirk Session which should mention the mothers and give other details.

Normally the father would present a child for baptism, but if he were under kirk discipline and had not been readmitted to full communion, someone else would act as sponsor of the child.

Offline Rosinish

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Re: Old Parish Registers Query - Illegitimacy and Incest
« Reply #3 on: Thursday 28 December 17 00:34 GMT (UK) »
It was not only Cruden but parishes all over Scotland.

If you do a random search on SP with 'surname beginning' & put in any initial then for 'Forename' use a common name (John), use dates e.g. 1710 - 1740 & choose 'All' for County, I'm sure you will find only the father's name in different areas all over.

Edit to add, it doesn't appear to have been a rule but how the Clergy of a particular Parish did his record keeping.

Annie
South Uist, Inverness-shire, Scotland:- Bowie, Campbell, Cumming, Currie, MacDonald, MacInnes, MacIntyre, MacKinnon, Steele, Walker

Ireland:- Cullen, Flannigan (Derry), Donahoe/Donaghue (variants) (Cork), McCrate (Tipperary), Mellon, Tol(l)and (Donegal & Tyrone)

Newcastle-on-Tyne/Durham (Northumberland):- Harrison, Jude, Kemp, Lunn, Mellon, Robson, Stirling

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Offline Rosinish

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Re: Old Parish Registers Query - Illegitimacy and Incest
« Reply #4 on: Thursday 28 December 17 01:42 GMT (UK) »
I have read over your 'Incest' question a few times & wonder...

As women in Scotland whether married or unmarried at the time of baptism of their child/children would be named by their maiden name...

Is it possible for Margaret Crookshank to have been the wife of William Sangster?

If so, could 'incest' have been the term for the fact Thomas was the brother of William i.e. not being divorced but an 'affair' which could be seen as 'keeping it in the family' ?

Or...could Margaret & the Sangster brothers have been 1st cousins?

You did ask for 'any thoughts'  ;D

Annie



South Uist, Inverness-shire, Scotland:- Bowie, Campbell, Cumming, Currie, MacDonald, MacInnes, MacIntyre, MacKinnon, Steele, Walker

Ireland:- Cullen, Flannigan (Derry), Donahoe/Donaghue (variants) (Cork), McCrate (Tipperary), Mellon, Tol(l)and (Donegal & Tyrone)

Newcastle-on-Tyne/Durham (Northumberland):- Harrison, Jude, Kemp, Lunn, Mellon, Robson, Stirling

Kettering, Northampton:- MacKinnon

Canada:- Callaghan, MacKinnon, MacPhee

"OLD GENEALOGISTS NEVER DIE - THEY JUST LOSE THEIR CENSUS"

Offline Maiden Stone

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Re: Old Parish Registers Query - Illegitimacy and Incest
« Reply #5 on: Thursday 28 December 17 02:10 GMT (UK) »
Although George Freeland and John Laurenson were "born in fornication" might their parents have married after births of their sons and before they were baptised? Fornication may have included pre-marital sex.
Q.2  Sangster and Crookshank. Could they have been in-laws? Marrying a brother-in-law or sister-in-law was incest in some eras & religions. Uncle and niece/aunt & nephew?

Offline Forfarian

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Re: Old Parish Registers Query - Illegitimacy and Incest
« Reply #6 on: Thursday 28 December 17 10:07 GMT (UK) »
It was pretty much the norm for any unmarried pregnant woman to be summoned before the Kirk Session and interrogated about the identity of the father. This was, as far as I can tell, for two reasons.

The ostensible reason was an attempt to stamp out fornication, which was regarded as a major sin (some Kirk Session records even describe it as a 'crime'). The couple were subjected to various punishments including having to appear in church as penitents, being denied the benefits of church membership, and paying a fine. Judging from the amount of time and the number of pages in the minutes devoted to records of 'discipline' by the Kirk Sessions, it was pretty ineffective.

The benefits of church membership included baptism of the resulting child, and I've come across a few references in the parish register to a child being presented for baptism by someone other than the usual parent because the usual parent is still 'under scandal'.

Digression - My own great-great-grandfather's elder sister was "presented by the mother the father being under scandal".  The Kirk Session minutes reveal the nature of the 'scandal': "it having been reported to the Session by the Elders that [my great-great-great-grandfather] seldom or ever attended any place of public worship and that he had continued for several years past habitually in the neglect of this duty, the Session therefore were of opinion that he had no right to the sealing ordinances of the Gospel whilst he continued in this criminal neglect of attending the public worship of God in the Church upon the Lord's Day - they therefore did and hereby do suspend him from all sealing ordinances of the Gospell untill he give evidence of his repentance and reformation". This dire, dreadful and singularly pointless sentence evidently, and not surprisingly, had no effect whatsoever on my gggf because from then on all his children, including my ggf, were presented for baptism by my gggm.)

The other reason, not usually explicitly stated in the KS minutes, was to prevent the child becoming a charge on the parish, or at least so that they knew whom to target to pay for the maintenance of the child if the mother and her family were unable to do so.

Generally speaking the whole parish usually knew who had fathered which illegitimate child, and it was the norm for such children to be known by their fathers' surnames.

If the parents married after the birth of a child, the marriage legitimated the child retrospectively provided that the parents were free to marry at the time of its conception. So a child born in adultery as opposed to simple fornication could not be legitimated by the subsequent marriage of its parents once the one who was married at the time of conception had become free to marry.
Researching

AITKENHEAD, Lanarkshire; BINNY, Forfar; BLACK, New Monkland; BRYSON, Cumbernauld; BURGESS, North-East Scotland; CRUICKSHANK, Rothes; DALLAS, Botriphnie; DAVIDSON, Oyne; GUTHRIE, Angus; HOGG, Larbert; LESLIE, Rothes/Mortlach; MENDUM, England; MOLLISON, Lethnot; PATERSON, Larbert; RHIND, Forfar; SANG, Scotland; SCOTT, East Kilbride; STOR(R)I/E/Y, Shotts; THORNTON, Shotts; WADDELL, New Monkland; WILKIE, New Monkland; WILKIE, Tannadice; WYLLIE, Angus; YOUNG, Keith

Offline jonwicken

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Re: Old Parish Registers Query - Illegitimacy and Incest
« Reply #7 on: Sunday 07 January 18 01:52 GMT (UK) »
Thanks very much for all your replies. Last week I finally visited Aberdeenshire after twenty years of wanting to visit! I had a dig about the archives and one thing I did was look at the Kirk session records for Cruden which can be seen online.

While there are some minutes surviving from the 1680s, really the minutes start in 1720 so I was able to find out who the mother of George Freeland's son born in 1716 was.

However the minutes for July 1728 name John Lawrence and Barbara Hay being reprimanded for their behaviour. A pregnancy is not mentioned, presumably as there was no secret or dispute so the mother did not have to be questioned and the child's father did not have to be summoned. As John Lawrenceson junior was baptised in August 1728, his mother must have been Barbara Hay. AS john later married Elizabeth Hay in 1732, could they have been sisters?!

I was also able to find out about the incestuous relationship I also discussed. We know that on 4 June 1756 Peter Sangster son of Thomas Sangster was baptised at Cruden and the entry states the child was 'begot in incest with Margaret Crookshank'.

The Kirk sessions reveal how this was incestuous. It turns out that Margaret Crookshank was the daughter of Alexander Crookshank of Easter Ardiffery. Thomas Sangster had been married to the [unnamed] sister of Alexander Crrokshank. So therefore Thomas had begun a relationship with his niece by marriage. Not quite the incest we would think of today.

The interesting thing is that this relationship is first mentioned in the Kirk minutes in 1752, four years before the 1756 baptism. Their relationship is mentioned many times over the following period but despite everything, Thomas and Margaret did not separate. One Kirk session minute refers to how prayers were said by the congregation for them!

I can't find the baptism for Margaret daughter of Alexander Cruikshank and nor can I find a marriage of a Thomas Sangster to a Crookshank which is a shame as I would like to know more about this. But thought you might like to hear what I found out.

Best wishes,
Jon