Author Topic: Nurse Child  (Read 19849 times)

Offline peterarkell

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Nurse Child
« on: Saturday 26 March 05 14:01 GMT (UK) »
Often, when transcribing 19th-century censuses, I would come across the phrase "Nurse Child" but would not know what was meant.

I have discovered that this phrase hides a very tragic story relating to illegitimate or unwanted children.  Before the Elizabethan poorlaw was changed in the 19th-century care of illegitimate children and their mothers was haphazard.  The 19th-century poor law changed this and placed the responsibility on the mother.  Most times, she was unable to hold a job and to feed the infant.

One solution to her problem was the baby farmer.  This person would for a small fee, offer to take care of the infant.  As soon as the money stopped coming (or before), the infant would be starved to death or just dumped in a convenient place.

This procedure continued until the end of the century when horror stories in the newspapers, compelled the government to act.

peterarkell

Offline DebbieDee

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Re: Nurse Child
« Reply #1 on: Saturday 26 March 05 15:29 GMT (UK) »
Hi peterarkell,

Yes it is a tragic story.  "Nurse Child" sounds pretty harmless too.  I have heard of the same thing happening when upper class women wanted to hide an illegitimate birth as well.

Have you heard of the Thomas Coram Foundling Hospital?  I think it opened in the 18th century to take in abandoned children.  There was clearly a big problem even before the law change.  They were inundated with unmarried mothers leaving their children.  At first the mothers were told they could reclaim their children if they were able to provide for them in the future.  It turned out, however that hardly any records were kept so in most cases this would have been impossible.  I don't think they were cared for that well either and a lot died too. 

Debbie

Offline Reyz

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Re: Nurse Child
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 26 March 05 16:04 GMT (UK) »
Interesting to read the above. 
My Grandmother was brought up in the 'Thomas Coram Foundling Hospital' in London.  Two days after admission to the Home in 1897,  she was fostered out to a family in Surrey until she reached School age.  Then she  had to return to the TCFH for full time education.  On the 1901 Census she is living with her foster family and described as a 'Nurse Child'. 
Though her name on the Census is not her birth name, it is one the Home re-christened her with.   

Reyz
Essex  :  Lodge Wheal.
London UK : Bird, Bogg (Lightermen), Brittle, Chamberlane. Perry. Spencer.
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire  :  Smith.
Hereford : Hope. Prothero(e). 
South Wales UK :  Blaenavon - Hughes Smith.  Brynmawr area - Hobbs. Smith. 
Maerdy Glamorgan - Prothero(e).
Merthyr Tydfil : Hope. Long. Prothero(e).  
   
Census information is Crown Copyright from  www.nationalarchives.gov.


Offline lindagene

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Re: Nurse Child
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 26 March 05 21:05 GMT (UK) »
Hi Reyz,

I have found a couple of children in my family, very distant family, where the two children were 'farmed out', on investigation it seemed that their mother had died and their father had placed them with a family living in a village where there were a few other family members.  I guess that for one reason or another the family members were unable to take them in.  Happily in this case, a later census shows them both as being reunited with their father.   So not always a bad thing?

Lindy
Snowdon, Collinson,  Durham, Northumberland,Yorkshire
Payne, Essex    Baker  Norfolk/Essex/Australia
Davies  Staffordshire, Shropshire

Offline Reyz

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Re: Nurse Child
« Reply #4 on: Saturday 26 March 05 22:15 GMT (UK) »
Hi Lindy

No not always a bad thing  :) and good the children in your case were reunited with their father.
Reading between the lines, my Great Grandmothers family may have persuaded her to part with her daughter, to avoid scandal? Thank goodness things have changed!

Reyz
Essex  :  Lodge Wheal.
London UK : Bird, Bogg (Lightermen), Brittle, Chamberlane. Perry. Spencer.
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire  :  Smith.
Hereford : Hope. Prothero(e). 
South Wales UK :  Blaenavon - Hughes Smith.  Brynmawr area - Hobbs. Smith. 
Maerdy Glamorgan - Prothero(e).
Merthyr Tydfil : Hope. Long. Prothero(e).  
   
Census information is Crown Copyright from  www.nationalarchives.gov.

Offline young mo

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Re: Nurse Child
« Reply #5 on: Sunday 22 January 06 08:40 GMT (UK) »
Hi Reyz  My Mother was brought up by Thomas Coram from when she was 6 weeks old in 1912. Did you ever get her real name from them? I have a letter my Mum was given in 1977 when we went to the school together to get this info. It gives her real name & what little was known about her family & I have now traced them as far back as 1843. It's taken us nearly 30 years to get this far, but, there have been long gaps where I haven't done very much! In a way this is a good thing as anyone involved with my Mum's birth will be dead by now & they certainly wouldn't have spoken about it when they were alive! I found someone who had my maternal Grandmother in their family tree, but, the person still alive who knew her refused to speak about the 'dark secret' in their past & became very upset if it was referred to. Regards Mo
Morris (Staffs/Leics/Derbys) Jones (Rhyl/Staffs) Pollard (Notts) Wardle (Leics/Derbys) Parsons (Leics) Hardy, Hargeaves (Leics/Debys) Downing, Thomas, Roberts (Nth Wales) Oldershaw White Bucknall Parker (Leics) Bullus (Staffs)

Offline acceber

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Re: Nurse Child
« Reply #6 on: Sunday 22 January 06 15:00 GMT (UK) »
This topic is really interesting, well it has filled in a couple of gaps!

Two of my four grt grandmothers were illegitimate, both born in the same year, and one is recorded in 1891 as being a 'nurse child' and living with another family in the same town as her birth mother. Her birth mother is 23 and living with the rest of her family, occupation is 'domestic servant. The other illegitimate grt grandmother I cant find on the 1891 census anywhere even though she was born in a tiny rural village with an unsusal surname. I might re-check the census and see if I can find her perhaps as a nurse child to another family. Her mother was also a 'domestic servant' according to her birth certificate and was 19.

My first grt grandmother ended up in 1901 in an orphanage in London (nowhere near where she was born) but happily my other grt grandmother lived with her mother and step father, as her mother married 5 yrs after her birth.

acceber
Pattemore: Somerset - Sellick: Glous + Somerset -Sparrow: Glous + Wilts

Offline young mo

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Re: Nurse Child
« Reply #7 on: Sunday 22 January 06 18:53 GMT (UK) »

Hi acceber,  Glad you found the topic interesting - I went to Coram's many times with my Mum for the reunions and it really tugs at the heart strings when you see all the trinkets that were left with the babies but were taken off them! perhaps your Gt Grandmother you can't find ended up somewhere similar & they took all traces of her past life from her. My Mum's name was really Gladys Jones but they took the next names from the book, called her Jennie Collison & she never knew her real name until 1977 when she was 65. Perhaps they got to know when her real Mum died & it was then fairly safe to release any info they had. My Mum's Dad turned out to be a married man, even though he got engaged to my Grandmother, & my Gt Grandfather tried to find him but failed. We were told his name was Jack La(n)caster and he came from Birmingham,but, I guess he might have given a false name. However, I have had a look for him & found a guy about the right age who ran a newsagents with his widowed Mum with people from the same area of Wales as my Grandmother living next door! That made me wonder if that was how he got his summer season job there? My Mum was born at the end of May so would have been conceived at the end of the summer! Regards Mo
Morris (Staffs/Leics/Derbys) Jones (Rhyl/Staffs) Pollard (Notts) Wardle (Leics/Derbys) Parsons (Leics) Hardy, Hargeaves (Leics/Debys) Downing, Thomas, Roberts (Nth Wales) Oldershaw White Bucknall Parker (Leics) Bullus (Staffs)

Offline Reyz

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Re: Nurse Child
« Reply #8 on: Sunday 22 January 06 20:17 GMT (UK) »
Hi Mo  :)

Very interesting to read your posting, thank you!
 
I contacted the Foundling Hospital first  in 1981. The oldest living member of Gran's had to write to them to confirm she was deceased.  They sent a letter giving Gran's birth name and her parents names.  Also that her parents had been engaged for two years, when her father a Lighterman drowned in the Thames.
It was a real shock for our family at the time, and  I cant imagine what it must be like for a child finding out.

Five years ago I decided to try and find out more and contacted the Foundling Hospital again.  As a 100 years had passed they gave me some more information.
On both occasions they have been very polite, friendly and helpful.   I sent them a photo of my Gran taken with her foster family and another foundling. 

I was told the babies new names were taken at random from a phone book.

 :)anyway think I have chattered on enough

You have done well searching for 30 years, especially before the information they have on-line now.

Best wishes to you and your Mum
Reyz
Essex  :  Lodge Wheal.
London UK : Bird, Bogg (Lightermen), Brittle, Chamberlane. Perry. Spencer.
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire  :  Smith.
Hereford : Hope. Prothero(e). 
South Wales UK :  Blaenavon - Hughes Smith.  Brynmawr area - Hobbs. Smith. 
Maerdy Glamorgan - Prothero(e).
Merthyr Tydfil : Hope. Long. Prothero(e).  
   
Census information is Crown Copyright from  www.nationalarchives.gov.