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General => The Common Room => Topic started by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 11:57 BST (UK)

Title: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 11:57 BST (UK)
I have come across a bit of a puzzle re: the parentage of a person I am researching. Forgive me, but I am going to anonymise as much as I can.

The problem starts with the birth of a child, John, into a poor family in an urban area shortly before 1900. He was born on 5th August and was registered under his mother's surname with no father listed on the birth certificate. On the certificate, his mother's name is Amelia and she was unmarried at the time. She married about six months later and John lived with this family during his formative years, even stating Amelia's husband as his father when he got married. During some early censuses, he has two surnames - his mother's and his "father's". Eventually he only used his "father's" name.

That was all quite logical - I assumed that Amelia had had John with the man she married but as they weren't legally married at the time of his birth, his father's name couldn't be entered onto the birth certificate.

The problem came when I tracked down John's baptism record in the Catholic church. The baptism entry is the correct one - his date of birth is consistent with his birth certificate (5th August) - and the godmother is Mary Jane who is Amelia's twin sister. John was baptised on 22nd August. No father is listed here - as to be expected - but the strange thing is that his mother is "Helenae", Latin for Helen - not Amelia, as I was expecting.

The curious thing is - Amelia had a younger sister called Ellen! The problem is that if Ellen was indeed John's mother - she would only have been about 12 years old when he was born!

So the question is - do you think it would have been possible for a 12 year old to have carried a child? And that in between baptism and the registration of his birth (much later on 16th September), Amelia decided to raise John as her own? And that when she married, John took his name instead? I should point out here that on the first census John appears on, he is listed under his maternal grandfather (with both surnames!) as "grandson" - despite the fact that Amelia, her husband and two legitimate children were also living in the same house, but they were listed separately as another family unit. John is not listed as being in their "household". The other anecdotal evidence for this would be that I have been told that John never got on well with his "family" and nothing much has ever been spoken about with regards to his relatives.

Or - could I be blowing this all out of proportion and it's simply a case of some priest writing the wrong name in the baptism register?

I would be very grateful if I could benefit from your collective wisdom on this one! Which scenario do you think is possible/probable? Will I ever get a definitive answer?

Many thanks.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Girl Guide on Saturday 18 August 18 12:18 BST (UK)
Slightly sidetracking here - when Amelia married was it a Roman Catholic marriage or a Church of England etc one?

What proof do you have that Amelia's family were Roman Catholic?

Helenae is usually the Latin form of Helen.  I can't see any suggestion that it would be Ellen, but I may be wrong.

12 is young to have a child but not impossible.

By giving no names Rootschatters will not be able to assist by double checking your research for you.  It means that you are relying solely on your own research which is fine.  Not everyone wishes to provide names.

No doubt other Rootschatters will be along to give their opinions.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 12:30 BST (UK)
Thanks for your reply.

Amelia and her family were definitely Roman Catholic. She was baptised and married in the Catholic Church too.

I am pretty certain that Helenae is Latin for Ellen and Helen (both names are related anyway). Iíve seen a lot of Catholic registers and another Catholic Ellen in my family was always written as Helenae in Latin, and in the same church too!

I am a bit concerned about providing surnames as it is a bit close to home!

The question really hinges on whether someone could get pregnant at 11 years old. Otherwise it could simply be a mistake in the baptism register?
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: rosie99 on Saturday 18 August 18 12:37 BST (UK)
The question really hinges on whether someone could get pregnant at 11 years old. Otherwise it could simply be a mistake in the baptism register?

Yes they could get pregnant at 11 but I don't think you should assume that she did
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Girl Guide on Saturday 18 August 18 12:39 BST (UK)
Anything is possible in family history Robert.

If a girl has already started periods at 11 then yes, quite possible to get pregnant.  You have to ask yourself if Ellen was in any position to get pregnant.

It may well be that the priest made a mistake when filling in the mother's name in the register.  Was there any other baptism on the same page that had a Helenae for a mother?

Amelia's name wasn't written down by another child's name?

If you are sure of all your other facts, then the Helenae name could be regarded as a mistake by the priest when he wrote the details in the register.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: groom on Saturday 18 August 18 12:41 BST (UK)
Quote
The question really hinges on whether someone could get pregnant at 11 years old. Otherwise it could simply be a mistake in the baptism register?

Depends how mature the girl was. A woman can get pregnant and have a baby as soon as she begins ovulating, or producing eggs. This typically occurs about a year after they first begin menstruating. I would think even if an 11 year old did get pregnant, the chances of her carrying the baby to full term and both surviving the birth would be fairly slim in 1900.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Ruskie on Saturday 18 August 18 12:41 BST (UK)
Yes, a girl could have a baby at 12 years old, but it is unusual.

Have you looked at the original baptismal record or is the information from a transcript? If you have seen the original is the writing clear and is there any possibility of the name Helenae belonging to an adjoining entry? (I have seen this happen before)

I would tend to agree that it is more likely for there to be an error on the register than for a 12 year old to have a child, farm him off to a sister, and for that child to then take the sister's husband's surname. Nothing is impossible, but it is all a bit convoluted.

Do you know what happened to the sister Ellen?

If these events occurred before 1900 then all those involved will be long deceased and I'm sure you will get more help if you are willing to provide the names.

Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 12:52 BST (UK)
Thanks everyone. I have seen the baptism register in person. The writing is very clear and confident and states Helenae as the mother. His was the only baptism that day and no other Ameliaís or Helenís appear on the page. This is looking very much like a riddle I will never solve!
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: AntonyMMM on Saturday 18 August 18 12:56 BST (UK)
On a topical note, Aretha Franklin had her first child at the age of 12
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: iolaus on Saturday 18 August 18 13:08 BST (UK)
The youngest person to give birth (via section) was 5 (Lina Medina) - in the 1930s

The cases are rare but an 11 year old conceiving is not impossible (unfortunately it is likely to be as a result of incest and/or rape), while most of this list are more modern this list has several from the time period you mention - and all 10 or under -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_youngest_birth_mothers

I've known an 11 year old be pregnant with twins (12 when they were born)
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: PaulineJ on Saturday 18 August 18 13:20 BST (UK)
So what would the latinised version of the Germanic-rooted Amelia be?

Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: avm228 on Saturday 18 August 18 13:35 BST (UK)
So what would the latinised version of the Germanic-rooted Amelia be?

Just ďAmeliaĒ by the looks of it, by a quick skim of online Catholic baptisms (Liverpool ones being my sample - lots of examples of parents as Ricardi/Amelia, Jacobi/Amelia etc).

Re an earlier post, Helena(e) certainly was used to Latinise both Ellen and Eleanor.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: roopat on Saturday 18 August 18 15:26 BST (UK)
Are you sure Amelia was her only forename? Could her first name have been Helen? My grandmother was Lucy Elizabeth but appears with the 2 names transposed in several censuses/documents & was known by the family as Liz. In my husband's line there are siblings with very similar names. Not to mention a friend whose brother was called Tony Anthony....
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 15:35 BST (UK)
I canít say for certain, but she was always simply Amelia on every record I have ever seen her on. So I have no idea if she had a second forename unfortunately.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: PaulineJ on Saturday 18 August 18 15:39 BST (UK)
I canít say for certain, but she was always simply Amelia on every record I have ever seen her on. So I have no idea if she had a second forename unfortunately.

So list which records those are, with their dates & sources!
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: avm228 on Saturday 18 August 18 15:39 BST (UK)
Re ďabout 12Ē - are you able to ascertain exactly how old Ellen would have been at the relevant time?  Do you know what became of her?
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Milliepede on Saturday 18 August 18 15:46 BST (UK)
Have you the exact birth dates for Amelia and her sister to ascertain exactly how old they both would have been on 5th August whatever year John was born?
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 15:56 BST (UK)
Yes, Iíve got both birth certificates. Amelia would have been just over 19 years and 4 months. Ellen would have been 11 years and 11 months.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 15:59 BST (UK)
Re: Ellen, she married while pregnant when she was 29 years old. After that, Iím not sure except that she stayed in the same area and died in the 1950s.

Re: the documents with Ameliaís name on, all the usual ones like birth, marriage and death certificates, parish registers, censuses, electoral rolls. I never ever saw her give any other forename than Amelia.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Milliepede on Saturday 18 August 18 16:05 BST (UK)
Quote
The baptism entry is the correct one - his date of birth is consistent with his birth certificate (5th August) - and the godmother is Mary Jane who is Amelia's twin sister.

Twin sister.  Do you know what happened to Mary Jane?  Is it possible she was the mother and the baptism was a bit of a ruse :-\
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 16:12 BST (UK)
Mary Jane and Amelia were twin sisters, Ellen was younger. Mary Jane married, had children and stayed in the same locality too. In fact in one census all of them are living together with their parents, husbands etc! I guess it could well be possible that John was Mary Janeís son, although there is absolutely nothing on paper to suggest that. Only that his mother was either Amelia or Ellen.

Thinking about the godmother on Johnís baptism record, it could actually be his grandmother who was also Mary Jane.

Itís a pretty good puzzle. Obviously a very close knit family and the only thing I am certain about is that John was illegitimate! But whose son he actually was, Iíve absolutely no idea!
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Milliepede on Saturday 18 August 18 16:21 BST (UK)
It is intriguing.  If Ellen was the mother being so young Amelia may have been protecting her by putting herself as the mother on the birth - did Amelia register the birth as well by the way?

But if that were the case I don't know why she wouldn't have shown herself as the mother on the baptism as well - unless Ellen insisted it be her. 

I'm sure we all would prefer to think someone that young wasn't the mother but have to accept it is possible. 
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Milliepede on Saturday 18 August 18 16:24 BST (UK)
I take it on census as a child John is described as "son" not adopted son or nephew or anything else out of the ordinary?
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 16:39 BST (UK)
Yes Amelia registered the birth herself on 16th September. Iíve got both the GRO version and the actual copy from the local register office. Itís got Ameliaís own handwritten signature on it!

Well on his first census, John is listed as grandson because he falls under his grandparents in their family unit. Ellen and Mary Jane (who is married at this point) are also listed, as is Mary Janeís first child and a cousin who is also living with them. Amelia and her husband are listed together with their two legitimate children as a separate family unit within the same house. Itís like a house full of waifs and strays!

By the time of the next census, Ameliaís clan have moved elsewhere. She is living with her husband and all her children, including John. He is listed underneath the parents as the first and eldest child and the only indication that he is different is that he retains the motherís maiden name as well as her married name. So he effectively has two surnames. Interestingly, when John had his own children later on (he had to get married too, oh dear!) he signed the certificates using both surnames. So he was clearly aware he had a different name to the rest of his ďsiblingsĒ. However by the time he died in the 1960s, he had dropped his motherís maiden name. Certainly no one in the family has ever mentioned anything about Johnís family. These are from my own and my dadís recollections of talking to my grandad as well as my dadís cousin who is still alive. None of us have been told anything about Johnís family. Everything was about his wifeís family!

I donít know and canít prove anything, but I just sense something a bit strange. Taking it all into account. Itís such a pity my grandad, nor his brother, is no longer alive to put this to.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Milliepede on Saturday 18 August 18 17:47 BST (UK)
Ah one more question then does the number of children born add up?
I know strictly the number was supposed to be those born to the marriage and John was born prior but how many does Amelia say she has? 

Wondering why Amelia wouldnít be the Godmother on the baptism  :-\

Was twin Mary Jane married before the baptism of John? 

Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 18:13 BST (UK)
Well, looking at the 1911 census, Ellen is unmarried and living with her mother and cousin. It doesn't indicate that she had had any children on the census.

In terms of Amelia, the 1911 census states that she had 9 children, 1 of whom had died. This is accurate and the total would include John.

Mary Jane (Amelia's twin) was not married when John was born - but their mother was also Mary Jane. As they would both have shared the same surname when John was born, I cannot tell now if the godmother is Mary Jane senior or Mary Jane junior. No godfather is listed on the register.

I'm currently doing a bit of research into Ellen to see what became of her. She married in 1914 and gave birth to a son, Charles three months later. Her husband died at sea the very next month. She then appears to have had another son born in 1917 - I'm going to request the birth certificate to see what it says. I'm certain it's her because the 1917 baby died in 1918 and the address is consistent with where her sister Mary Jane was living then. So, clearly Ellen was living with her sister, having been widowed. She never remarried and died in the 1950s. On the 1939 census she is still alone, lodging with others it seems. Her occupation is a sack mender, so not very lucrative money-wise one would assume. If she is John's father, maybe the tough time she had explains why she never came forward to claim him as her own? I.e. she wouldn't have been able to support him?

Gosh, it's a very confusing picture. I'm going to request a few certificates relating to Ellen's life to see if I can flesh things out a bit. I don't imagine it will help me unravel the mystery of John's baptism entry!! It would be a lot easier if I could just accept that the priest entered Ellen instead of Amelia by mistake!!
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: [Ray] on Saturday 18 August 18 19:03 BST (UK)
Hi     

You posted " - I assumed that Amelia had had John with the man she married but as they weren't legally married at the time of his birth, his father's name couldn't be entered onto the birth certificate."     

Certainly both names can be entered on the registration/cert if the father was present ( and signed ), married or not, generating 2 indices pointing to the same registration.     
It has been the subject of a recent thread on RootsChat and GRO have confirmed to me by email.       


What I do not know is     
     
1) How long that situation has been allowable.   

2) What the dates in this case really are   

3) Why you do not just tell us the detail?
 
     


 
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Jebber on Saturday 18 August 18 19:18 BST (UK)
Hi     

Posted " - I assumed that Amelia had had John with the man she married but as they weren't legally married at the time of his birth, his father's name couldn't be entered onto the birth certificate."     

Certainly both names can be entered on the registration if the father was present ( and signed ), married or not, generating 2 indices pointing to the

same registration.     
It has been the subject of a recent thread on RootsChat and GRO have confirmed to me by email.       


What I do not know is     
     
1) How long that situation has been allowable.   

2) What the dates in this case really are   

3) Why you do not just tell us the detail?


 
   

Since 1875 the unmarried father had to attend the registration for his name to be included on the birth certificate, before that a woman could name anyone whether they were the father or not, I have quite a few such examples.

Although not a common occurrence at the time you are talking about a girl could marry at 12 and a boy at 14.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 19:33 BST (UK)
As I have said, I do not want to include any identifying information. I have given as much as possible but I'm sure you can understand that this is fairly close to home and I don't particularly want a permanent record of it all floating about on the internet forever!

I do very much appreciate everyone's help, though - it has been interesting to discuss it and some of your questions have prompted me to think about new possibilities or check small details I would not otherwise have thought of. It seems that whilst unlikely, it is possible that Ellen could have given birth at a very young age and that Amelia could have raised the child as her own. Then again, it could just be an error on the baptism register. I really have checked every possible record I can find and I don't think any document will prove without doubt who John's biological parents were. Sadly, there is no one left to ask who would remember.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: [Ray] on Saturday 18 August 18 19:43 BST (UK)


All the info currently available ( and possibly more ) will still be available . . . . . .
Are you running the risk of distorting the truth because of incorrect assumptions?     
Will generations down the line be thankful to you for not getting it as correct as you can when you have/had an opportunity?     


Rootschatters are only too pleased  ( to be asked ) to help



 
 
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Girl Guide on Saturday 18 August 18 20:21 BST (UK)
From Robert

Quote
As I have said, I do not want to include any identifying information. I have given as much as possible but I'm sure you can understand that this is fairly close to home and I don't particularly want a permanent record of it all floating about on the internet forever!

Robert has made it clear that this is a sensitive issue for him and we should respect that wish.  We all love helping but there are times when we should stand back and allow the poster to do what they feel is right.  For Robert this means no names. Perhaps sometime in the future he may decide to reveal names - his choice.

Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Sloe Gin on Saturday 18 August 18 22:04 BST (UK)
I assumed that Amelia had had John with the man she married but as they weren't legally married at the time of his birth, his father's name couldn't be entered onto the birth certificate.

The father's name could have been entered on the certificate, but only if he was present at the registration of the birth.  If your assumption is right, they could have been under the same misapprehension - or it could just be that he was unable to attend.

However I do think it likely that John's mother was Ellen.  It could explain why they waited as long as possible before registering the birth, there may have been lengthy discussions on what to do for the best.  The baptism is another matter.  The priest may well have been aware of the situation, so they wouldn't have got away with attributing the baby to the wrong mother.  As others have said, Helenae is the Latin form used for Helen, Ellen and Eleanor. Those names are somewhat interchangeable, I have one ancestor who is recorded under all three at different times.

I think the ID of John as "grandson" and not "son" (of Amelia) in that first census is quite telling.

If Ellen was mature for her age, then she might certainly have been capable of bearing a child at 12.  It's not common, but it does happen, and there was little in the way of contraception available then.  (I did not know until reading her obituaries this week that Aretha Franklin became pregnant at 12 and had a child at 13, and another at 14.)

It could simply be a mistake on the baptism register, but as you have seen the original and there doesn't seem to be much room for confusion with only one baptism on that day, it seems to be less likely.  Hopefully something may turn up one day to throw a bit more light on this.  In the meantime I completely understand your reticence about revealing names and places.

Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: iolaus on Saturday 18 August 18 22:16 BST (UK)
Was Amelia and Ellen's mother called Amelia?

Just wondering about the grandson element

And if at registration she was asked for mother's name (meaning baby's mother) and gave her own mothers name - especially if they (mother and daughter) went together and if the registrar made the assumption it was the adult woman's baby rather than the pre-teen's baby then either didn't correct him, or couldn't read it to realise it was wrong
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Milliepede on Saturday 18 August 18 22:19 BST (UK)
Grandmother was Mary Jane. 
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Ruskie on Saturday 18 August 18 22:32 BST (UK)
I think the ID of John as "grandson" and not "son" (of Amelia) in that first census is quite telling.

The relationship of each person to the Head of Household was supposed to be given on the census. John's relationship to the head of household was grandson, so this is correct.

It can be a bit of a grey area and exact relationships are not always given, eg "visitor" rather than "wife's sister".

I suppose anything is possible and it comes down to whether you believe the registration of birth or the record of baptism. Hopefully something more will come to light to prove it one way or another.


Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 22:38 BST (UK)
I assumed that Amelia had had John with the man she married but as they weren't legally married at the time of his birth, his father's name couldn't be entered onto the birth certificate.

The father's name could have been entered on the certificate, but only if he was present at the registration of the birth.  If your assumption is right, they could have been under the same misapprehension - or it could just be that he was unable to attend.

However I do think it likely that John's mother was Ellen.  It could explain why they waited as long as possible before registering the birth, there may have been lengthy discussions on what to do for the best.  The baptism is another matter.  The priest may well have been aware of the situation, so they wouldn't have got away with attributing the baby to the wrong mother.  As others have said, Helenae is the Latin form used for Helen, Ellen and Eleanor. Those names are somewhat interchangeable, I have one ancestor who is recorded under all three at different times.

I think the ID of John as "grandson" and not "son" (of Amelia) in that first census is quite telling.

If Ellen was mature for her age, then she might certainly have been capable of bearing a child at 12.  It's not common, but it does happen, and there was little in the way of contraception available then.  (I did not know until reading her obituaries this week that Aretha Franklin became pregnant at 12 and had a child at 13, and another at 14.)

It could simply be a mistake on the birth register, but as you have seen the original and there doesn't seem to be much room for confusion with only one baptism on that day, it seems to be less likely.  Hopefully something may turn up one day to throw a bit more light on this.  In the meantime I completely understand your reticence about revealing names and places.

Many thanks for your very thoughtful and considered reply. I have to admit that my gut, after looking at every available document (online, printed and in person in church!), leads me towards the same conclusion. The church he was baptised in was located on the very street his family lived on and he was born on. So, I think the priest would know all the ins and outs of family life. Lots of different strands of my family converged on that very small area and everyone was baptised and married in the same church. In fact, while looking at the baptism register I actually photographed 33 other records that relate to my family! And that was in just one bound volume. And I didnít spot any other inaccuracies in any of those records. Itís just a bit of a shock to think that such a young girl could end up pregnant and and giving birth to my great-grandfather. But I guess everyone is human. If this scenario is true, one thing is reassuring and that is the way Amelia and her husband raised John as their own. That reveals something of their character.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Saturday 18 August 18 22:49 BST (UK)
I think the ID of John as "grandson" and not "son" (of Amelia) in that first census is quite telling.

His relationship to the head of household was grandson. It can be a bit of a grey area and exact relationships are not always given, eg "visitor" rather than "wife's sister".

I suppose anything is possible and it comes down to whether you believe the registration of birth or the record of baptism. Hopefully something more will come to light to prove it one way or another.

Can I confirm that you believe Ellen may have had her first child at age 12 and her second child at age 29?

Yes thatís right. Setting aside John for a moment, Ellen was single until she married at 29. Three months later she gave birth to a boy. Then her husband died the following month and she appears to have had another son 3 years later with someone else who she obviously didnít marry. She retained her married name until she died. Iíve requested that birth certificate because I would like to see what it says.

The first census is interesting. There are two households living in the same house. The first is headed up by Johnís grandparents and also contains their children, Ellen and Mary Jane. Mary Jane has a son living with them but her husband is missing. There is also a nephew of the head of the house (his brotherís son). Then the next head is Ameliaís husband, Amelia and her two legitimate children after marriage. The curious part is that John is not listed under them on this census. But by the time of the next census, John is living separately with Amelia and the rest is history.

The other detail is that Amelia married about 5 months after Johnís birth. I have to question why they did not marry before John was born...unless Amelia wasnít the mother.

Another curiosity is that Amelia had another elder sister Ann and they both ended up marrying brothers! So the family was very intertwined. No wonder they couldnít keep track of who belonged to who!!
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Sloe Gin on Saturday 18 August 18 23:12 BST (UK)
I think the ID of John as "grandson" and not "son" (of Amelia) in that first census is quite telling.

The relationship of each person to the Head of Household was supposed to be given on the census. John's relationship to the head of household was grandson, so this is correct.

Yes, but the point is that Amelia, her husband and children are also in the house (shown as a separate household) but John is not included as part of her family.

I suppose anything is possible and it comes down to whether you believe the registration of birth or the record of baptism.

They could easily have got away with giving false information at the registration, but not at the baptism.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Ruskie on Sunday 19 August 18 07:03 BST (UK)
I understand that SG, but as we don't know the names to look at the census entries ourselves, it makes things a little more difficult. We don't even know which "the first census" is which Robert is referring to.  :-\ (or I may have missed that)  :) Relationships given in the census are not always set in stone anyway ....

I'm sure you have already done this Robert, but have you looked to see if there are other families with the same surname (and possibly forenames) christening children in the same church at the same time? Sorting people into family groups can sometimes help - cousins, brothers, sisters, all living the the same area at the same time, same names, children given the same names, same occupations .... it can be very difficult to unravel.

One more thing - if you could trace living descendants of Amelia and Ellen or their siblings, do you think any of them may have heard family stories? It must have been a bit of a scandal for a 12 year old to have a baby. There may have been "talk" and if one claimed to be the mother when the birth was registered, and another claimed to be the mother when the baby was baptised, it might have been something they tried to cover up, though one sister would have been pregnant and the other not, so they wouldn't have fooled anyone).

What I don't understand is, why not register the birth giving the mother's name as Ellen if she was the mother? (particularly if the registrar was a stranger .... why fib?)

It is a puzzle ....
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: rosie99 on Sunday 19 August 18 09:07 BST (UK)
In 1901 John was not with Amelia and her husband & children in their part of the dwelling but was listed with his grandparents in their part and showed as John with Amelia's maiden surname followed by her married surname.  John was possibly sharing a room with another grandchild of the same sort of age and as Amelia now had 2 children sleeping space may have been limited in her part of the dwelling.

The following census he still showed both surnames but as you say included in the 9 children that Amelia had supposedly given birth to.

As Amelia signed the birth certificate as mother of the child why would she not be his mother.  :-\
You have a document signed by her stating she is the mother which you are comparing with a document completed by an outsider with another name on. 

Interestingly when Amelia married her marriage certificate was signed by the couple who are entered on the register after her, she and her husband signed theirs.  Surely that is proof that church records can be wrong  ::)
I should add these are the signatures of the couple who married and not the witnesses
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: LizzieL on Sunday 19 August 18 09:39 BST (UK)
It seems that whilst unlikely, it is possible that Ellen could have given birth at a very young age and that Amelia could have raised the child as her own. Then again, it could just be an error on the baptism register. I really have checked every possible record I can find and I don't think any document will prove without doubt who John's biological parents were. Sadly, there is no one left to ask who would remember.

If Mary Jane was married at the time of John's birth, it would be more likely that she (for the sake of decency) would take him on than another unmarried sister.
I think the priest made a mistake on the baptism record.
If they were his parishioners and regular churchgoers he might have known the three sisters names but got them muddled up.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: groom on Sunday 19 August 18 09:56 BST (UK)
I think those last 3 posts sum it up well:

1. Why would Amelia register the birth as mother, but the baptism be under her sister's name? f the
    sister acknowledged she was the mother, why didn't she register the birth.

2. In 1911, Amelia counted him as a child born to her.

3. Why would an unmarried sister take on the child when there was a married one? The chances are
    that if a 12 year old had given birth, her mother would have claimed the child as hers, and
    registered him under her name. Something we see quite often.

I think you could well be reading too much in to this and that it was a simple mistake by the priest, especially if he completed the baptism record after the service.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Sunday 19 August 18 10:22 BST (UK)
Thank you all for the latest replies. Youíve all made some very persuasive arguments. I hadnít considered some of these and it has made me think of it in a different light.

Although I will probably never get 100% proof, I do think now that reading too much into one parish register when all the other documents say something else is a bit silly. If I were a historian, I would be drawing a conclusion based on the weight of evidence, not one document!

I know some of you have worked out the family I am talking about so thank you for not posting surnames etc. There are other living descendants of John kicking about and I wouldnít necessarily want them to find this discussion. Iíll show them the weight of evidence once Iíve got it all together.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: rosie99 on Sunday 19 August 18 10:33 BST (UK)
I know some of you have worked out the family I am talking about so thank you for not posting surnames etc.

It just shows how easy it was for you to unintentionally post something that gave us the information we needed to follow the trail  ;D   ;D
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: bearkat on Sunday 19 August 18 11:00 BST (UK)
 The age that puberty begins is decreasing (quite scary).  Looking at this article it would have been about 15 years in 1900/1910.


https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/04/why-is-puberty-starting-younger-precocious

a study by Dr. Marcia Herman-Giddens found that in 1860, the average age of the onset of puberty in girls was 16.6 years. In 1920, it was 14.6; in 1950, 13.1; 1980, 12.5; and in 2010, it had dropped to 10.5.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Sloe Gin on Sunday 19 August 18 12:08 BST (UK)
What I don't understand is, why not register the birth giving the mother's name as Ellen if she was the mother? (particularly if the registrar was a stranger .... why fib?)

Because they didn't want John to find out that Amelia and her husband weren't his parents?
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Gan Yam on Sunday 19 August 18 12:11 BST (UK)

[/quote]

The other detail is that Amelia married about 5 months after Johnís birth. I have to question why they did not marry before John was born...unless Amelia wasnít the mother.

[/quote]
There could be lots of reasons for not marrying before the baby was born.
Under age of consent and his/her parents wouldn't give consent. He was working away from home. They intended to get married sooner and it just didn't happen - illness, money, or he wasn't the father and was wavering over marrying!

Are there any records from school available to show that Ellen wasn't attending? or had left the school.

How long before baby no2 arrived for Amelia - was there enough time between the two babies ?
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Sloe Gin on Sunday 19 August 18 12:12 BST (UK)
If Mary Jane was married at the time of John's birth, it would be more likely that she (for the sake of decency) would take him on than another unmarried sister.

Why would an unmarried sister take on the child when there was a married one? 

Robert has told us that Mary Jane was not married at the time of John's birth.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Sunday 19 August 18 12:18 BST (UK)
I had a look into school records but unfortunately it seems that the local record office doesn't hold them. Not sure where they would be now after over 100 years!

Sorry, I neglected to mention that there was another sister, Ann, who had married well before John was born. So I think the question is regarding why Ann didn't raise the baby (or their mother)? Why would Amelia have stepped forward if she wasn't the actual mother?

One thing regarding Amela's husband - he is not to be found in the local area in the census before John is born. The closest I can find is that he is at an army barracks. This could make sense because I know his brother was also in the army at this time and actually died in South Africa during the Boer War. So I guess that could explain why his marriage to Amelia was delayed after John's birth. Maybe he was away in the army at the time?

So many questions and possibilities!
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Ruskie on Sunday 19 August 18 12:27 BST (UK)
Presumably you have checked for any bastardy documents for John?  :-\
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Sunday 19 August 18 12:28 BST (UK)
Presumably you have checked for any bastardy documents for John?  :-\
No that's not something I am familiar with, so that sounds interesting. Do you know where I should start looking for those?
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: rosie99 on Sunday 19 August 18 12:33 BST (UK)
I wonder if Amelias husband was Johns father.  Who was he named after  :-\

She had other sons named after her husband, her father and father in law
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Ruskie on Sunday 19 August 18 12:34 BST (UK)
It's not something I have ever researched (though plenty of others have and will be able to point you in the right direction).

Maybe try a google of the county or parish and see if anything comes up?

Some general information here though there will be tons more on the internet:

https://www.genguide.co.uk/source/bastardy-documents-parish-poor-law/140/

Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Sunday 19 August 18 12:35 BST (UK)
I wonder if Amelias husband was Johns father.  Who was he named after  :-\

She had other sons named after her husband, her father and father in law
Well that's the strange thing, there was the odd John here and there in the family but most of them died as infants. There weren't any notable John's kicking about.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Sunday 19 August 18 12:37 BST (UK)
It's not something I have ever researched (though plenty of others have and will be able to point you in the right direction).

Maybe try a google of the county or parish and see if anything comes up?

Some general information here though there will be tons more on the internet:

https://www.genguide.co.uk/source/bastardy-documents-parish-poor-law/140/

Thanks - I think I will contact a researcher at the local record office to see if any further light can be shed.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Sloe Gin on Sunday 19 August 18 12:42 BST (UK)
Sorry, I neglected to mention that there was another sister, Ann, who had married well before John was born. So I think the question is regarding why Ann didn't raise the baby (or their mother)? Why would Amelia have stepped forward if she wasn't the actual mother?

Perhaps Ann's husband was unwilling to take on someone else's child.  Not sure about the grandparents - age or health issues perhaps.

Quote
One thing regarding Amela's husband - he is not to be found in the local area in the census before John is born. The closest I can find is that he is at an army barracks. This could make sense because I know his brother was also in the army at this time and actually died in South Africa during the Boer War. So I guess that could explain why his marriage to Amelia was delayed after John's birth. Maybe he was away in the army at the time?

It could also explain why he wasn't named as the father at the registration, as he may have been unable to attend.  I suppose that could be the reason for the long delay in registration;  they may have been hoping that he could come home in time.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: rosie99 on Sunday 19 August 18 12:45 BST (UK)
I wonder if Amelias husband was Johns father.  Who was he named after  :-\

She had other sons named after her husband, her father and father in law
Well that's the strange thing, there was the odd John here and there in the family but most of them died as infants. There weren't any notable John's kicking about.

John is possibly the first name of his father then  :-\
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Gan Yam on Sunday 19 August 18 12:48 BST (UK)
Ellen was well under the age of consent and the penalties when the child was under 13 were higher. 

From my perspective: would you not be angry that your just turned 11 year old was pregnant?  Would not want to seek redress? Trying to conceal who the mother was could lead to difficult questions about why you would want to do that!
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Sloe Gin on Sunday 19 August 18 13:14 BST (UK)
I had a look into school records but unfortunately it seems that the local record office doesn't hold them. Not sure where they would be now after over 100 years!

The answer will probably be no, but does the local school from that time still exist?  If by any chance it does, they may still have their old registers.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: rosie99 on Sunday 19 August 18 13:17 BST (UK)
There is also a good chance that his father will be named as Amelias husband - he was known by that surname in 1901 before he went to school
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: mazi on Sunday 19 August 18 13:40 BST (UK)
Both myself and my wife spent our early working years at the heart of a catholic community in a very similar city, myself as a colleague, my wife as ďthemĒ that is she worked for the local authority.

The one thing that stood out was, despite lifeís problems, the local priest was the law, I think, especially as Robert has commented on the church being close at hand that the priest knew full well who was the mother, and probably who the father was.

Amelia was told by the matriarch of the extended family Go and register the birth and she did just that.

It was the norm then for older sisters to look after the young ones, maybe she formed an attachment to the baby and that is why John ended up with her,

One thing is certain, we are not going to find the father :)

Mike
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: andrewalston on Sunday 19 August 18 17:03 BST (UK)
Presumably you have checked for any bastardy documents for John?  :-\
It's extremely unlikely that there would be any record. It would be the Parish who would initiate court proceedings to recover any money they had spent supporting the unmarried mother and the child.

In this case, there was a support network in place - Amelia and her parents, soon joined by Amelia's husband.
 
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Melbell on Sunday 19 August 18 18:46 BST (UK)
Did you know that the names Amelia and Ellen/Helen are considered to be 'the same' or used for the same person sometimes?

Melbell
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Sunday 19 August 18 18:53 BST (UK)
Did you know that the names Amelia and Ellen/Helen are considered to be 'the same' or used for the same person sometimes?

Melbell
I did wonder about that but didn't know if they were interchangeable? The strange thing is that on every other baptism entry for her other children she is Amelia/Ameliae/Emiliae.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Sloe Gin on Sunday 19 August 18 18:59 BST (UK)
Did you know that the names Amelia and Ellen/Helen are considered to be 'the same' or used for the same person sometimes?

As far as I'm aware, the names are not related to each other at all.

https://www.behindthename.com/name/amelia
https://www.behindthename.com/name/helen
https://www.behindthename.com/name/ellen-2
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Daisypetal on Sunday 19 August 18 19:21 BST (UK)

Hi,

Have you tried looking at local newspapers? They sometimes have reports of Courts dealing with maintenance matters, also if anything awful had happened there might be a report of that.

Regards,
Daisy
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Maiden Stone on Sunday 19 August 18 20:50 BST (UK)
In 1901 John was not with Amelia and her husband & children in their part of the dwelling but was listed with his grandparents in their part and showed as John with Amelia's maiden surname followed by her married surname.  John was possibly sharing a room with another grandchild of the same sort of age and as Amelia now had 2 children sleeping space may have been limited in her part of the dwelling.

Robert has said in reply #43 that a nephew of John's GF (and also therefore a cousin of the girls) was present at census 1901. John was probably sharing a room with him and so he was in his GF's part of the house and down as grandson of head of household. It was the correct information to put on the census form.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Maiden Stone on Sunday 19 August 18 21:06 BST (UK)
The one thing that stood out was, despite lifeís problems, the local priest was the law, I think, especially as Robert has commented on the church being close at hand that the priest knew full well who was the mother, and probably who the father was.

Amelia was told by the matriarch of the extended family Go and register the birth and she did just that.

It was the norm then for older sisters to look after the young ones, maybe she formed an attachment to the baby and that is why John ended up with her,

One thing is certain, we are not going to find the father :)

Mike

I agree with all that.
However, if Ellen was pregnant, would the priest not have suggested sending her away & having the baby adopted? He would have been able to arrange it. 
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Maiden Stone on Sunday 19 August 18 21:13 BST (UK)
As Amelia's husband was in the army and went off to fight the Boer War, you may be able to find his service record and work out if he was near home at the right time to be John's father. Mind-you, Amelia might have gone on an away-day to visit him in the town where he was stationed. John might have been a Boer War baby.  :-*
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: rosie99 on Monday 20 August 18 07:48 BST (UK)
In 1901 John was not with Amelia and her husband & children in their part of the dwelling but was listed with his grandparents in their part and showed as John with Amelia's maiden surname followed by her married surname.  John was possibly sharing a room with another grandchild of the same sort of age and as Amelia now had 2 children sleeping space may have been limited in her part of the dwelling.

Robert has said in reply #43 that a nephew of John's GF (and also therefore a cousin of the girls) was present at census 1901. John was probably sharing a room with him and so he was in his GF's part of the house and down as grandson of head of household. It was the correct information to put on the census form.

The nephew was age 17.  Mary Jane's son was 5 so more likely to be sharing with John age 3 though they could all have been in together. 

I was not disputing the  description given of grandson, I have seen the census entry so know how it is set out and what it says.  ;)
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: IJDisney on Monday 20 August 18 10:33 BST (UK)
The simplest answer is usually the correct one - the priest made an error.

But is there any possibility that "Helenae" was Amelia's confirmation name?
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Monday 20 August 18 10:46 BST (UK)
That's a very good point. I'm not sure. I wonder if any confirmation registers exist for that church? I'll see what I can find.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: mazi on Monday 20 August 18 11:06 BST (UK)
The simplest answer is usually the correct one - the priest made an error.



That has set me wondering, because we have five grandchildren with us at the moment, I know all the names but which name goes with which child I have to think hard

I wonder if the aged priest knew the family so well that he made no notes, and, having finished off the communion wine went to fill in the book and just made the same error that I did ten minutes ago


Mike
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Monday 20 August 18 11:13 BST (UK)
Yes, it is definitely a possibility that the priest just made a mistake. At the time of John's baptism, the family had 4 sisters and a brother. So confusing the names of the 4 females is a definite possibility. I just wish Amelia hadn't had a sister called Ellen, or that Ellen wasn't significantly younger. Then it would be easy to prove it was a mistake!
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: rosie99 on Monday 20 August 18 11:14 BST (UK)
 ;D   ;D

That is highly likely Mike especially after the 'wine'   

As I posted earlier when Amelia married she and her husband signed someone elses marriage certificate as the bride & groom, the other couple signed Amelia's so the clergy was obviously not doing their job properly.  There was a message posted alongside both certificates to the effect that they were wrong.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: LizzieL on Monday 20 August 18 11:34 BST (UK)

That has set me wondering, because we have five grandchildren with us at the moment, I know all the names but which name goes with which child I have to think hard


One of my grandmothers was like that. Not only did she get me muddled with my female cousin, but with my aunts (her daughters) as well. I was Jill, Joy or Sibyl more often than myself.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: itsrobert on Monday 20 August 18 11:39 BST (UK)
;D   ;D

That is highly likely Mike especially after the 'wine'   

As I posted earlier when Amelia married she and her husband signed someone elses marriage certificate as the bride & groom, the other couple signed Amelia's so the clergy was obviously not doing their job properly.  There was a message posted alongside both certificates to the effect that they were wrong.

Yes that amused me when I first saw it!

Another amusing error in my family research was the cremation record of my great-grandfather. He died and was cremated in 1976, but according to the cremation register, it was his son who was cremated! I can categorically say it wasn't as my grandfather didn't die until 1999. He never knew he had been cremated twice!!
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: rosie99 on Monday 20 August 18 11:56 BST (UK)
I wonder if Amelia and the other couple had a 'double wedding'

It does not make sense otherwise as Amelias wedding should have been over and registers signed before the other couple had their ceremony
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Maiden Stone on Monday 20 August 18 16:38 BST (UK)
Rosie, re reply 69. My post was intended to support your explanation of the sleeping arrangements and that John being included in GF's household on the census was a mere practicality and that one shouldn't read too much into it. I haven't seen the census myself.
Several people sharing a room, 2 or 3 in a bed, putting occupants of a household wherever they could be fitted in was the norm.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Maiden Stone on Monday 20 August 18 17:23 BST (UK)
One of my grandmothers was like that. Not only did she get me muddled with my female cousin, but with my aunts (her daughters) as well. I was Jill, Joy or Sibyl more often than myself.

Same here.  A woman in the village and a teacher at school were forever mixing me up with a sister or cousin. I was too shy and polite to correct them.
The priest may have been used to seeing all 4 sisters together each Sunday and as there was a set of twins wasn't certain who was who. Perhaps, like the woman in my village and the teacher at my school, he'd been addressing Amelia as Ellen (or Mary Jane or Ann) or Ellen as Amelia (or Mary Jane or Ann) for years and hadn't been put right.

Alternatively the priest might have needed (new) glasses and couldn't read the mother's name scrawled on a slip of paper and guessed. Perhaps all he could make out was "el" and concluded the name was Helen. (Try writing "Melia" and "Helena" with your eyes closed.) We don't know how much time had elapsed before he wrote the baptism in the register. He might have done another dozen baptisms + a few weddings and funerals before he got round to writing it up.

I've been at a funeral where the elderly priest who'd known the deceased by his Christian name for 20 years, referred to him by his son's name.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: Sloe Gin on Monday 20 August 18 17:38 BST (UK)
Rosie, re reply 69. My post was intended to support your explanation of the sleeping arrangements and that John being included in GF's household on the census was a mere practicality and that one shouldn't read too much into it. I haven't seen the census myself.
Several people sharing a room, 2 or 3 in a bed, putting occupants of a household wherever they could be fitted in was the norm.

I would still expect a family unit to be listed together if everyone was under the same roof.
Title: Re: Parentage problems!
Post by: roopat on Monday 20 August 18 21:10 BST (UK)
All my London ancestors (poor as church mice) lived in houses which were subdivided between members of the same family, for example my grandmother & grandfather lived in the same house as her parents + a brother & his family. All listed separately. They lived in the same house/street for 2 or 3 generations.