Author Topic: Illegitimate Birth  (Read 707 times)

Offline poirot

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Illegitimate Birth
« on: Sunday 18 March 18 15:09 GMT (UK) »
My paternal grandmother Jessie Robertson Keir was the illegitimate daughter of Jane Robertson.

She was born 7th feb 1866 in Boharm, Elgin. In the register she is entered as Jessie Robertson and only her mother's name Jane Robertson is entered.

In the marriage register to Robert Littlejohn 2nd July 1891 she calls herself Jessie Keir and her father is entered as William Keir a farmer. William Keir and Jane Robertson never married.

On her death certificate William Keir is entered as her reputed father.

Sadly her daughter Ida died on her eighth birthday in Jan 1909 and my father was born in March the same year.

Jessie was found dead on Christmas day that year on the shore in Lossiemouth due to drowning.

I have found a possible William Keir on the 1861 & 1871 censuses in Boharm and just wondered if Jessie was allowed to take his surname without his permission or would she have had to go through the courts

Poirot.
brown,henshaw in cheshire,berry,dowding,phillips in gloucester, littlejohn,arkle,nicol in aberdeenshire.

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Offline Millmoor

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Re: Illegitimate Birth
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 18 March 18 15:29 GMT (UK) »
I think  all of my numerous ancestral illegitimate births from Moray and next door Banffshire have taken the father's surname. In some cases the parents were admonished by the Kirk Session. If a sheriff court paternity suit had taken place there may well be a RCE attached to the birth registration on Scotland's People. (Scottish Indexes have been indexing the sheriff court paternity cases - don't think they covered Elgin or Banff but hopefully they will).

William
Dent (Haltwhistle and Sacriston), Bell and Jetson (Haltwhistle), Postle, Ward, Longstaff, Purvis, Manners, Parnaby and Hardy (Co. Durham), Kennedy and McRobert (Banffshire), Reid(Bathgate), Watson (Wemyss), Graham (Libberton), Sandilands (Carmichael), Munro (Dingwall)

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Offline poirot

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Re: Illegitimate Birth
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 18 March 18 15:37 GMT (UK) »
Thank you so much for your quick response.

It is such a sad family story as my father never knew his mother and was brought up by his eldest sister.

poirot
brown,henshaw in cheshire,berry,dowding,phillips in gloucester, littlejohn,arkle,nicol in aberdeenshire.

Online dowdstree

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Re: Illegitimate Birth
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 18 March 18 16:02 GMT (UK) »
That is really sad that your father never knew his mother. Is there an RCE to her death? This happens if there was an enquiry into cause of death.

Many illegitimate children took their father' surname with or without permission in those days. An RCE as suggested might help you clear this up. I have death certificates which also state reputed father.

RCE's can be a valuable source of information.

My friend's father was born in 1900 with only his mother's name on his birth certificate. The family have the original. She said it would have been nice to have a name for her grandfather. Last year she had her 70th birthday and did not want any presents. I do not know what prompted me but I went on to Scotland People and looked at her father's birth entry and there was an RCE giving her grandfather's name. On her birthday I gave her an envelope containing a copy of the RCE and she could not stop crying and said it was her best present ever. This is what really makes our research worthwhile.

Hope you are as lucky as I was.

Dorrie
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Easson, Scotland
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Madden, Co. Westmeath
Dickson, Co. Down

Offline poirot

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Re: Illegitimate Birth
« Reply #4 on: Sunday 18 March 18 16:24 GMT (UK) »
I didn't know what a RCE was but have just looked at the death certificate again and handwritten on the back is the following:-

(Vol 2) Page 123 Register of Corrected Entries for the Parish of Drainie in the County of Elgin.
The following report result of a Precognition has been received touching the death of Jessie Littlejohn Registered under No 56 in the Register of Deaths for the year 1909.

I think this refers to the way she died as it says that she drowned in the sea opposite the Old Battery, Lossiemouth. The certificate says she was found on the shore near the swimming baths.

Rumour had it in that my father's three sisters thought that their mother was suffering from milk fever.

poirot
brown,henshaw in cheshire,berry,dowding,phillips in gloucester, littlejohn,arkle,nicol in aberdeenshire.

Offline HannahR

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Re: Illegitimate Birth
« Reply #5 on: Sunday 18 March 18 16:32 GMT (UK) »
Hello Poirot,

RCEs on deaths tend to relate to the manner of death or suspicious deaths such as drowning.

RCEs on births will list corrections to the child's name, parents, etc. Have you tried searching for a Jessie Keir in the same year for birth? I came across one case where a child was reregistered about thirty years later with the father's name. There was no RCE connected to the original birth certificate only an additional entry for her other surname.

Hope this helps.
Hannah
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Offline Millmoor

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Re: Illegitimate Birth
« Reply #6 on: Sunday 18 March 18 17:01 GMT (UK) »
I do think that the William Keir you have identified in Boharm is the most likely candidate for Jessie's father. He seems to have married Jane McWilliam in Boharm in 1868 - I have seen this pattern repeated again and again in rural Banffshire: go on and marry someone other than the mother of the illegitimate child.

There is an entry for William Keir in libindx.He died in Cullen 26 April 1907 and appears to have gone from being a farmer to a grocer. The entry quotes a headstone reference for him and various newspaper extracts. There is an obituary for him in the Banffshire Advertiser.

The Scottish Calendar of Confirmations shows that this William Keir left a will.

William
Dent (Haltwhistle and Sacriston), Bell and Jetson (Haltwhistle), Postle, Ward, Longstaff, Purvis, Manners, Parnaby and Hardy (Co. Durham), Kennedy and McRobert (Banffshire), Reid(Bathgate), Watson (Wemyss), Graham (Libberton), Sandilands (Carmichael), Munro (Dingwall)

Offline poirot

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Re: Illegitimate Birth
« Reply #7 on: Sunday 18 March 18 17:29 GMT (UK) »
Just looked at Scotlands People again under Keir from her birth in 1866 until her death in 1909 and there is not a further entry.

I really appreciate all the help i have been receiving but it looks like she just decided to use her father's surname.

I think her mother was sure that william Keir was the father and wondered why he did not make an honest woman of her.

He went on to marry a lady 14 years younger than himself and was a Farmer of 112 acres employing 9 people so maybe she was not of the same social standing as her father was a Crofter of 5 acres.

I was typing this as your reply was sent but will post it anyway
poirot
brown,henshaw in cheshire,berry,dowding,phillips in gloucester, littlejohn,arkle,nicol in aberdeenshire.

Offline Forfarian

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Re: Illegitimate Birth
« Reply #8 on: Sunday 18 March 18 19:17 GMT (UK) »
I have found a possible William Keir on the 1861 & 1871 censuses in Boharm and just wondered if Jessie was allowed to take his surname without his permission or would she have had to go through the courts.
The was no law or rule to stop her being known by any name she liked, and she would not have had to go to court.

In 1866, and in Boharm, there is a pretty good chance that the Kirk Session took an interest in Jane's unmarried pregnancy. I recommend a look at the records of Boharm Kirk Session. These have been digitised, and they are supposed to become available 'soon' on Scotland's People, but I have no idea when. In the meantime you either have to go, or get someone to go on your behalf, to the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, or to one of the archives that has the link to the digitised version.
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