Author Topic: Concealing the birth of a child  (Read 1451 times)

Offline Eric Hatfield

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Concealing the birth of a child
« on: Tuesday 21 August 18 06:23 BST (UK) »
An ancestor I am researching was, as a 22 year old single woman, convicted of concealing the birth of her child and imprisoned for 2 weeks. The child was stillborn and the stage of the pregnancy was not mentioned, but as it was only 7 months and 1 week since she gave birth to her previous child, the child was obviously premature. This was in UK (Herefordshire) in 1865.

I am trying to understand her life and situation, as she seems to have had a difficult life and appears to have been a victim of circumstances. Does anyone know if this conviction indicates that the mother had obtained an abortion?

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Offline majm

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #1 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 06:35 BST (UK) »
Hi there,

Was anyone else tried on that same day in that court ... if she obtained a termination, then perhaps  the person performing it ought to have been charged too. 

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Offline StanleysChesterton

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #2 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 08:59 BST (UK) »
Abortion is a different offence, so the fact she's been convicted of concealment would indicate it wasn't an abortion, imho.

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Offline medpat

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #3 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 09:33 BST (UK) »
If they could prove illegal abortion they would try for that offence and I think the sentence would be far more than 2 weeks. Looks like she hid the body of the stillbirth and it was found.

Wonder if she was living with the father of the children? Poor couples didn't always marry.

What happened to her later?

I have a 3rd gt aunt married in 1840s, had a baby son then her husband died. 3 yrs later gives birth to a daughter, 2 yrs after that a 2nd son, both with her husband's surname. I have the daughter's birth cert. no father named. 2 yrs after her 2nd son was born she marries and has more children. First 3 children remain with dead husband's surname.

Those who know Ancestry won't be surprised to know several trees have the dead father as the father of the 2 born well after his death.  :o
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Offline Eric Hatfield

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #4 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 10:29 BST (UK) »
Wonder if she was living with the father of the children? Poor couples didn't always marry.
I don't know, but I'm doubtful. She had a most unfortunate life as far as I know. She had a child at age 19 and had to go to court get the man she claimed was the father to acknowledge paternity (he denied it) and that child was brought up by that man's parents. Two years later she had another child in the same village and ended up in the workhouse while the child was brought up by her sister and parents. Then 7 months later she had this stillbirth at a village some distance away from the others. I wonder if she got pregnant again while at the workhouse and went away to have an abortion, but maybe it was just to give birth away from people she knew, and the stillbirth was natural.

Quote
What happened to her later?
That is the last I have been able to find of her. There are records of people of her name, but no certainty any were her. So I'm trying to understand her life. I feel she was probably a victim of men who took advantage of her.

Offline Eric Hatfield

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #5 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 12:39 BST (UK) »
Was anyone else tried on that same day in that court ... if she obtained a termination, then perhaps  the person performing it ought to have been charged too.
That's a good thought, I didn't think of it. However the court return for that day shows no-one being charged for that offence. But thanks for the idea.

Offline Eric Hatfield

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 12:43 BST (UK) »
Quote
Abortion is a different offence, so the fact she's been convicted of concealment would indicate it wasn't an abortion, imho.
Quote
If they could prove illegal abortion they would try for that offence and I think the sentence would be far more than 2 weeks.

Those are good thoughts, though perhaps they couldn't prove it, or didn't want to try?

I'm wondering whether anyone has had a similar event in their family history and knows more than I do about the legal situation back then (1865).

Offline xinia

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #7 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 13:12 BST (UK) »
We have to remember the time -

I imagine she was very Niave (maybe once :) but 3 times ?)  bless her. Who knows her circumstances, she herself could have been a child that - well didnt have the best start in life.

It would be brilliant to investigate and imagine and re-create this lady - FIND all that you can.  She deserves it.  There is the chance that she could also have been a 'wanton harlot'  ... but again there would be a reason.

I love to investigate the facts behind this kind of tale.

I have a GG -- of similar circumstances - she had 4 children - before she married.  I have found their baptism's all but ONE (my gg :() and purchased their birth certs.   NO FATHER NAMED

She eventually marries and becomes a respectable member of the little village and seemingly the children are accepted. 

I could ask more questions, but I am nervous of getting the response that I am convinced is correct..

difficult.. 

xin

Offline Eric Hatfield

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #8 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 13:24 BST (UK) »
It would be brilliant to investigate and imagine and re-create this lady - FIND all that you can.  She deserves it.
Yes, I have that feeling about her, that I'd like to uncover as much as I can about her life and circumstances, I guess sort of like giving her the recognition I presume she never gained in life. But so far, I haven't got anything after this stillbirth.