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A Few Tips On Illegitimacy.

benny1982

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#1
Hi

I assume that many of you have come across an illegitimate ancestor in your family tree? The absence of a fathers name on a birth certificate or baptism record. Often you can try and begin a search to find a father. Sometimes this cannot always be achieved if say the mother remained single but on the other hand many people have found the father of an illegitimate child, as I did with my Roberts story. The father was still married when the mother was pregnant and his wife died after a long illness just weeks before the actual birth, explaining the illegitimacy.

Those are the sort of things to look out for if you stumble across an illegitimate birth.

A lot of illegitimacies happened because the parents had no option but to wed after the birth, either financial, a previous marriage etc, a divorce awaiting to be granted etc from one of the spouses.

If it was before 1834, then you may be wise to check local Illegitimacy Bonds for the parish where your illegitimate ancestor was born to see if a putative father is named. Or check the original baptism to see if a father is named. After 1834, then Affliation or Court Orders can be checked but not all have survived.

Did the mother marry shortly after the birth? This may make you wonder if she did marry the father of the child, or another man. It is likely that the man she married was the father but looking for more clues may be an option. If this was before any census then check local church records for any clues. What was the new hubbys occupation? What was his previous marriage status? Was the baby baptised after the mother married. If the child was then baptised as "Jane, Daughter of William & Mary Smith" then you are very likely dealing with the childs father. If during the census age, then look at the relationship column although this is not always conclusive. I think the best option is to check baptisms. It all can hinge on the baptism.

The father of an illegitimate child may have lived a fair distance away from the mother. People travelled and commuted remarkable distances sometimes walking. If the suspected father was living say 10 miles from the mother in a census return either before or after the birth, check his occupation. If he was a Servant, carman or coachman, then he probably did travel around and may have had jobs at different houses miles from where he lived and knew the mother. Check old maps to see if there was good road or rail links between the mothers and fathers parish. No cars, but after 1844 there were trains, and there has always been horse and carts. People knew people who lived miles from them either through work, friends, relatives etc. They could travel 10 miles to do their courting, and they didnt want to leave with nothing.

If you suspect a likely father of an illegitimate child through clues such as a baptism, church record or marriage, him either local to the mothers area or a distance away, then another option is to check his marital status at the time of the babys birth? Was he married? Was he only just recently widowed? This may well explain the illegitimacy.
If after 1837, and you know he was still married after the birth or during the pregnancy and you know his previous wife did eventually die, then her cause of death may be something to look at? Was her illness a long and drawn out one? Men did seek comfort if their wives were terminally ill. Causes of deaths can be quite vague before 1875 when a doctors note was required but they can still be informative ie "Bronchitis, years, certified" or "cancer, 5 years certified".

I hope my tips proves helpful, drawing from experince in my own tree.

Ben
 
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#2
Hi,

I have only just joined your community and was most interested in your article on Illegitimacy.

I have 3 people all related (one of whom was my great-grandmother) who were born AFTER the death of their 'supposed' father, Henry Adams who died in 1869, namely Robert Adams, b.1872, Ellen Letitia b,1874 and Margaret Emily b1875/6.

On all their later marriage certificates, they name Henry Adams as their father, serving in the Army (Corps) which ties in with his occupation when alive (Purveyor to the Army). Two of the baptisms, (Robert and Ellen's) took place in Bedford in 1874, but there is no record of the third, Margaret's.
I can find no GRO certificates for any of them, so it appears they were not registered (although I gather this was not compulsory until 1875 anyway).

Their mother, Letitia Adams (formerly Pooley) never remarried after her husband's death, and died in 1920 aged 82 yrs.
I am trying to find a way to establish who their actual father was!

Any ideas?

Many thanks

Cilla
 

p.risboy

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#3
Hi,

I have only just joined your community and was most interested in your article on Illegitimacy.

I have 3 people all related (one of whom was my great-grandmother) who were born AFTER the death of their 'supposed' father, Henry Adams who died in 1869, namely Robert Adams, b.1872, Ellen Letitia b,1874 and Margaret Emily b1875/6.

On all their later marriage certificates, they name Henry Adams as their father, serving in the Army (Corps) which ties in with his occupation when alive (Purveyor to the Army). Two of the baptisms, (Robert and Ellen's) took place in Bedford in 1874, but there is no record of the third, Margaret's.
I can find no GRO certificates for any of them, so it appears they were not registered (although I gather this was not compulsory until 1875 anyway).

Their mother, Letitia Adams (formerly Pooley) never remarried after her husband's death, and died in 1920 aged 82 yrs.
I am trying to find a way to establish who their actual father was!

Any ideas?

Many thanks

Cilla
Is there any possibility, that they were registered in Devon/Somerset,
when she moved back.

Steve.
 

benny1982

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#4
Hi

What does the 1874 baptisms say? It seems strange that a woman would name a deceased man as the father in a baptism if there wasnt a note about him being deceased. Where did Henry die? Was it in Bedford?

Ben
 
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#5
:) Worth a try! Hadn't thought of trying Somerset records. Will pop into Bath (where they moved to) and have a look.

Am quite friendly with Colin Johnson, archivist at Bath Record Office!!

Many thanks

Cilla
 

benny1982

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#6
Hi

Yes Somerset may be an option.

I hope you find my tips helpful. One other thing to consider is a lot of illegitimate babies were put up for adoption if there was little or no prospects of the mother marrying. They would either be sent away for a few months to a relatives and the the babe put up for adoption, or they would pretend the baby was a much younger sibling and the mothers parents last child. Parish relief was also an option. Be wary of childrens ages given as 18, 16, 14 and 2. Why the 12 year gap between the penultimate and last child?

Often the mother would give the fathers surname as a middle name for the child, especially if he was refusing to admit paternity. This could be a way to name and shame the father.

Ben
 

JMR

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#7
Hi Ben,

Thanks for sharing your research it is most informative. I'm wondering if you could give me some advice on one of my mysteries please?

It really is quite complex to get your head around, which is why it took me so long to figure it out (at least I think I have).

1861 census shows Hannah Austin (my Gt Gt Grandmother and John Edward Austin (her illegitimate son) listed as daughter and grandson of George Austin
1861 Mary Ann Austin (my Gt Grandmother) was born after the census date.
1869 Hannah Austin marries Luke Moule (8 years after Mary Ann was born)
1871 Hannah Austin dies before the census date
1871 census shows Mary Ann Moule b. 1861 as Luke Moule's daughter, no mother listed (my sense is that she was his step-daughter). Sarah Lunn and her family are listed as living in the same house as well and so was George Austin. Sarah Austin married a John Lunn and she is listed as sister-in-law on the census, to Luke Moule. There is also a Mary Emma Lunn age 11 listed as Sarah's daughter
1881 Mary Ann Austin b. abt 1862 shows up in the census living with Sarah Lunn's family, she was listed as niece. In the house there is also Mary Emma Lunn age 20
1881 later that year, Mary Ann Austin marries John Gaunt of Bradford, Yorkshire and witness to the wedding is Mary Emma Lunn (I have the marriage certificate).

My assumption is that MaryAnn Austin and Mary Ann Moule were the same person. Luke Moule was Mary Ann's step father and she was the illegitimate daughter of Hannah Austin (no father named on her marriage certificate).
Mary Ann Austin is John Edward Austin's sister/half sister.

I have a last found a birth certificate for Mary Ann on Yorkshire BMD (she is no where to be found on GRO. This will probably not solve the issue of her paternity though, which is what I am most interested in. I am wondering if her Father was the 'master' where Hannah was a servant and if he might also have been John Edward's Father as well. Do you have any ideas how can I find out more (I'm in Australia!!)

Cheers,
Jill
 

AthenaLou

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#8
Hi Benny

can u solve this one for me coz i been working on it for ages

My great grandfather Edward Middleton....born about 1864 in Kings Cross according to one census and Notting Hill in another ......hoping i have the right certificate as its very hard to tell.....this was the only birth for an Edward Middleton in area at the time......i managed to track down this one.....Edward Norton Middleton born 24 dec 1865, Kensington, Middlesex, ...........in the workhouse called Browns Buildings, Kensington.......father's name is blank and mothers name is Emma Middleton............Edward's birth wasn't registered until 13 Feb 1866 and was registered by his mother......
On Edward's marriage cert.....it states his father as Edward Middleton, Glazier as the occupation and he is apparently deceased.....its well known for people to invent a father if they are illegitimate.....

i found an Edward Middleton on the 1871 census....aged 5....living with a Mary Morris.....as a 'boarder' so she had obvioulsy taken him in


Name: Edward Middleton
Age: 5
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1866
Relation: Boarder
Gender: Male
Where born: Kensington, Middlesex, England
Civil Parish: Lambeth
Ecclesiastical parish: St Barnabas
County/Island: London
Country: England
Street address:


Disability: View Image
Registration district: Lambeth
Sub registration district: Kennington First
Household schedule number: 136
Household Members: Name Age
Mary A Morris 40
Joseph Creed 50
Edward Middleton 5


......cannot find him on 1881 cen.....then on 1891 he is married to my great nan...Mary Jane....

i cannot find Emma Middleton before or after Edward's birth.....nothing i am sure of anyway......i have no idea where she came from or anything......i have tried looking to see if she was a servant or something and looking for a family called Norton.....it was common for registrars and clergy to encourage single mothers to give their illegitimate children, their fathers surname as a middle name.....especially if the father disputed paternity.....

all very confusing
 

benny1982

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#9
Hi JMR

Well looking for a baptism is a good step. Often a father is named in a baptism when he is not on a register. Very few people lied to a vicar so if a reputed father is named then on balance of probabilities, he must have been although you need to see if Mary Ann was baptised.

If Luke wed Hannah when Mary Ann was 8, then the lengthy gap might go against Luke as being the father. Poor law records for the village Mary was born in could be a start.

What was Lukes marital status on the 1869 marriage to Hannah?

Ben
 

benny1982

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#10
Hi Athena Lou

Looking into the Norton link may be a step in the right direction.

Try googling the name of the workhouse that Edward was born in. See if there is any mention of any surviving admission or discharge registers. You may have to look at the London Metropolitan Archives website. Their holdings of records is indexed on the London Genertaions Database.

I wonder if Emma Middleton gave her baby up for adopton or fostering and fled. Often they did if there was no prospect of a marriage.

I do think the fathers surname given as a middle name for an illegitimate baby was a way to expose him if he doubted paternity, or disputed it. A lot of men knew they probably was the father but pretended to doubt and dispute it to try and get away with it. No DNA in those days.

Ben
 

JMR

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#11
Hi Ben,

Thanks so much for your help with this! I've checked Luke and Hannah's wedding certificate and he was listed a Bachelor and she as Spinster. They were married at The Register Office- East Parade and their residences at the time were the same, Fountains Grove, Kirkstall.

I'm reasonably sure that Luke wasn't Mary Ann's father, as he died in the poor house not far from where Mary Ann and her 7 children lived (by this time they owned 3 houses in Priestman St Bradford) you'd think they could have helped. A poor end even for a decent step father - so that makes you think! There are 2 male witnesses who signed the marriage certificate, so I will try and track them down. It's a long shot, but might give a clue. I'm wondering whether Mary Ann would have been baptised, since Hannah didn't get married in a church!

I would be very interested in tracking down parish records, but am not sure how to. I have subs to both Ancestry and more recently Find my Past, because of the on-line Parish records, but so far nothing has shown up for any of my relatives, even the ones I know are there. I tried to get to Kirksall when I was in England in August and couldn't find it. I found Pudsey, Idle and Calverley though and had a look around. One thing that taught me, is that it's no easier to research family history on the ground if you're not sure what you are looking for!

Any ideas on where to start in Kirkstall would be very welcome!

thanks again
JMR
 

JMR

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#13
Hi Steve,

Thanks so much for the web-site listings. I can't wait to check them out. I'm off out for lunch with a friend, it's a glorious 28 degrees in Melbourne today, but will make it my first priority when I get back.

Cheers,
Jill
 

AthenaLou

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#15
hi Ben
googled the name of the workhouse....wasnt that fruitful.....looked on the workhouse website.....wasnt that fruitful either......only thing i havent treid as yet is the met archives due to lack of time and health.....but i will get there.....eventually..... :D
 

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