Author Topic: attitude to illegitimacy in the eighteenth century  (Read 2229 times)

Offline greyingrey

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,169
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
attitude to illegitimacy in the eighteenth century
« on: Thursday 25 April 19 14:54 BST (UK) »
ive followed a family back from today until 1720 & right up until the beginning of the twentieth century they followed the convention of naming the first son after his paternal grandfather & the first daughter after her paternal grandmother.

there is one exception...in the 1760s when the first son is named after his paternal great grandfather & the first daughter is named after her paternal great grandmother....the grandparents names are completely ignored.

i know youll say there could have been 101 reasons why there could have been an estrangement within the family, but as the grandmother was illegitimate (assuming her son knew this) & the grandfather was a pauper, i was wondering if this may have played a role. i have come across paupers within families, where it doesnt seemed to have mattered, but i havent come across a case of illegitimacy yet.


ive always thought that there was a more robust attitude to illegitimacy in the eighteenth century than in the nineteenth....just wondering if anyone else had come across this

Offline Andrew Tarr

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,768
  • Wanted: Charles Percy Liversidge
    • View Profile
Re: attitude to illegitimacy in the eighteenth century
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 25 April 19 21:52 BST (UK) »
I'm not sure what you regard as a 'robust' attitude to illegitimacy.  We hear a lot about 'stigma' which I suppose amounts to what the neighbours think.  But as churches kept the only records until the Victorian era, we have to consider how robust attitudes were concerning what the clerics were told to write (and probably some were tolerant men of the world?).  After registration started in 1837 there were plenty of examples of births with no father recorded, and I guess there may have been a number of unbaptised children before that.  Plenty of children of teenage girls became late offspring of granny.

I also suspect that even in correct families premarital sex was condoned or even expected following an 'engagement', and a marriage would be arranged as soon as it became necessary.
Tarr, Tydeman, Liversidge, Bartlett, Young

Offline Craclyn

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 3,462
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: attitude to illegitimacy in the eighteenth century
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 25 April 19 23:23 BST (UK) »
They may have been named after someone you know nothing about. If there was illegitimacy involved then the naming pattern could have come from that side.
Crackett, Cracket, Webb, Turner, Henderson, Murray, Carr, Stavers, Thornton, Oliver, Davis, Hall, Anderson, Atknin, Austin, Bainbridge, Beach, Bullman, Charlton, Chator, Corbett, Corsall, Coxon, Davis, Dinnin, Dow, Farside, Fitton, Garden, Geddes, Gowans, Harmsworth, Hedderweek, Heron, Hedley, Hunter, Ironside, Jameson, Johnson, Laidler, Leck, Mason, Miller, Milne, Nesbitt, Newton, Parkinson, Piery, Prudow, Reay, Reed, Read, Reid, Robinson, Ruddiman, Smith, Tait, Thompson, Watson, Wilson, Youn

Offline Maiden Stone

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 7,226
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: attitude to illegitimacy in the eighteenth century
« Reply #3 on: Friday 26 April 19 00:45 BST (UK) »
there is one exception...in the 1760s when the first son is named after his paternal great grandfather & the first daughter is named after her paternal great grandmother....the grandparents names are completely ignored.

I have  examples of this in 2 generations of an extended family in second half of 19thC. In each case a parent was an illegitimate child of a teenage mother and from what I can tell, were brought up by grandparents alongside uncles and/or aunts of a similar age to them, who must have been like their brothers and sisters. One was older than his 2 uncles and some of his aunts. He named his grandfather as his father when he married and named several children after his grandparents (first babies with each name died). Each mother  married when she was 27. The children remained with their grandparents. One did use his mother's name as middle name of eldest daughter, but as it was Jane, a common middle name at the time, it's possible that no one outside the family knew its' significance. His 2nd daughter was called after his grandmother.  He gave his first son the name of the made-up father on his marriage certificate, which was the first name of his step-grandfather. His sister, also illegitimate, named her 2nd son after her made-up father and her eldest daughter after her grandmother.
Cowban


Offline whiteout7

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,946
    • View Profile
Re: attitude to illegitimacy in the eighteenth century
« Reply #4 on: Friday 26 April 19 05:50 BST (UK) »
Depends on which country. My ancesstress had two illegitimate children in the 1800's both boys both with different fathers.

They are listed as reputed fathers on birth certificates with the father surname used in full glory by the mother.

In the census however the children uses the mothers surname until they were older.

I have no idea if the men were called to task for their issue by the church??

Her family owned a shop and she worked in it, so I don't think struggling to feed her sons even came into the picture.

Have yet to find any documents where the fathers provided any money.

The source of the shop and money appears to be the maternal grandfather.

My ancestress also had a full sister with a illegitimate child, so obviously no women learnt any lessons here?

This was in Scotland and I have read in other places, women in the industrial era with work were not to concerned about marriage ........ the odd illegitimate child being cheaper to keep that several born in wedlock
Wemyss/Crombie/Laing/Blyth (West Wemyss)
Givens/Normand (Dysart)
Clark/Lister (Dysart)
Wilkinson/Simson (Kettle or Kettlehill)

Offline majm

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 25,385
  • NSW 1806 Bowman Flag Ecce signum.
    • View Profile
Re: attitude to illegitimacy in the eighteenth century
« Reply #5 on: Friday 26 April 19 07:28 BST (UK) »
Happy to be corrected,  but I have been of the understanding that in England that it was not until 1753 or thereabouts that Parliament introduced laws about marriage,  so surely without such laws there would not have been any legal definition or 'illegitimacy' concerns anyway.

So the 1760s situation may simply be 'robust' to 21st century understanding,  but not to the first generation sorting out formalising domestic relationships ... to conform to political matters devised in Parliament.

JM
The information in my posts is provided for academic and non-commercial research purposes. 
Random Acts of Kindness Given Freely are never Worthless for they are Priceless.
Qui scit et non docet.    Qui docet et non vivit.    Qui nescit et non interrogat.   
All Census Look Ups Are Crown Copyright from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
I do not have a face book or a twitter account.

Offline pharmaT

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,343
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: attitude to illegitimacy in the eighteenth century
« Reply #6 on: Friday 26 April 19 08:06 BST (UK) »
I have always been under the impression that up until the Victorian era people were more relaxed about illegitimacy.  Except in the case of more well off families where there was inheritance to determine.
Campbell, Dunn, Dickson, Fell, Forest, Norie, Pratt, Somerville, Thompson, Tyler among others

Offline BumbleB

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 13,526
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: attitude to illegitimacy in the eighteenth century
« Reply #7 on: Friday 26 April 19 08:40 BST (UK) »
I have an ancestor who was excommunicated in 1782, along with two other females.  Although no reason is actually stated in the parish records, one was a widow, one just named as daughter of, and the third was named "afterwards married to ...."

Another family member had 4 illegitimate children (1822-1830) prior to her marriage to the father in 1831.  His will acknowledged all his children before and after the marriage.

Transcriptions and NBI are merely finding aids.  They are NOT a substitute for original record entries.
Remember - "They'll be found when they want to be found" !!!
If you don't ask the question, you won't get an answer.
He/she who never made a mistake, never made anything.
Archbell - anywhere, any date
Kendall - WRY
Milner - WRY
Appleyard - WRY

Offline Maiden Stone

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 7,226
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: attitude to illegitimacy in the eighteenth century
« Reply #8 on: Friday 26 April 19 20:33 BST (UK) »
Attitudes to illegitimacy altered over time. Economics of single motherhood was one factor.
 Those found guilty of fornication in England were liable to physical punishment and public humiliation (whipping at the cart's tail was a traditional punishment) until the 17th century. Illegitimacy rates were low at the time this censure was enforced.
Lists of people summonsed to answer fornication charges include a woman with the same names as my 6xGGM from the same village as her, around 1720.
Towards the end of 18thC, illegitimate births in her parish were around 10%, as they were in another parish I've looked at. Around half the single mothers in the first parish married within a couple of years. (A 5xGGF may have been father of one of those babies and one of his relatives was godfather but they didn't marry and I don't know what happened to mother or daughter.) I suspect that members of one family were mothers of several illegitimate children in the 2nd parish. No proof, as it was a locally common surname and their abode in baptism register was also location of cottages which were the parish poorhouse. There was proof of serial offenders in baptism register of another parish e.g. '3rd bastard daughter of Ann Winstanley'. Again I suspect that some families made a habit of it, but as the surname was the commonest in the parish, it's hard to be sure.

'The Incidence and Nature of Illegitimacy in East Yorkshire in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries'  by Margaret Oliver is a thesis. https://hydra.hull.ac.uk/assets/hull:12306a/content
Cowban