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Illegitimate ancestors and their effect on todays researchers.

benny1982

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#1
Hi

I dont know what it is but even today, many researchers cannot accept an illegitimate ancestor in their tree or if there is a sinister reason for an illegitimacy such as one of the parents being married, many people of today cannot accept such a thing. They become very sensitive about the stigma even today. In those times many men did stray with single women, especially if their wives were ill or unstable. It happened in my tree.

Many people accept that but I have noticed the odd person who cannot accept such a reason or circumstance surrounding an illegitimate birth. Things like this happened and if a man was nursing a sick wife, he would often need solace and comfort, and this resulted in pregnancy. Its simple, if a man was bereft and stressed with a dying loved one, he needed support. Also men strayed if their wives were fit and well. Things like that happened and if we find such a reference we just have to accept it.

Ben
 

nainmaddie

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#2
Dear Ben
I couldn't agree with you more. I have found many on my Welsh side including an aunt who was born to my grandparents and I still can't find a marriage for them. My mother and her sisters made no mention of their sister and she had the last laugh when I told her about her mother and father . She was about 90yrs at this time and I made her day.
The Registrar at Llangefni AGY told me she always had a terrible time telling people that their ancestors were either illegitimate or a pauper.
Why do people not get real ! It happened and it always will. What are future generations going to do when they can't find a marriage.
nainmaddie
 

duckweed

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#3
There are several reasons why a childs parents weren't married. At one time only church marriages were deemed legal and the couple may not have been prepared to be married by a church they did not believe in. One of the parents was married but had split with previous partner. Divorce was impossible for ordinary people. I also think that for many couples it just didn't seem important. Church records show that in the early 1800s church attendance was poor. The Government actually built churches in the hope of combating what they saw as immoral behaviour and drunkedness but these churches were not popular. Indeed in Sheffield the Chartists attempted to blow one such up, St Marys.
 

benny1982

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#4
Hi

I think if an illegitimate child was baptised after the parents wed, then that is pretty good evidence that the man was the father. It all hinges on the baptism. Some people lied to a registrar but very few people lied to a vicar, so I think a baptism is enough evidence if a suspected father is named as such on the childs baptism.

Once you were in church, and you believed in God, then most people would tell the truth and if you said to a vicar that the child was yours when it wasn't then in those days they thought that God would see bit and know they lied and off to hell they went. Anyway why say to a vicar that a baby was yours if it wasn't? You may lie to a registrar but normally that was about whether or not you were married.

Ben
 

p.risboy

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#5
I was never baptised nor christened at the time of my marriage. The Vicar asked me, and I told him the truth. But I was not illegitimate.

I think the cost of marriage was also a factor why illegitimacy was apparent in the old days.
Thank goodness for enlightenment, and register offices.

Steve.:)
 

benny1982

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#6
Hi

I think most people felt obliged to tell the truth in church. If you baptised a baby as yours in a church then it usually was the natural child of both parents.

As said, delayed marriages explains a lot of illegitimacies as well.

Ben
 

benny1982

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#7
Hi

A lot of parents kept the child in the dark about their illegitimacy if they married when they were too young to remember or something.

That is why if a mother did marry after a birth, then checking for a baptism or what the husband was doing or his previous marital status is good in finding if he was the father. If he said he was the father, especially in a church baptism, then it is very likely it was his child. That is how I built up my Roberts illegitimacy success case, as mentioned in previous threads.

There were a few occasions where the mother married someone else but normally there are clues which suggest this such as absence of his name on the baptism or "Step son" or "Step daughter" named on the census. If the man the mother later married wasnt the father, then it was probably best to let the child know that from day one:-

No risk of them finding out the truth later in life and it devastating them.

No need for the child to ask questions and have doubts as to if he was their father or not if they were different in looks, ethics etc.

No need for the man to keep itching to tell the child the truth.

No need for that constant fear of how they'd react if they ever did find out the truth.

As said, often the blood parents married years after an illegitimate childs birth, or even after having several children together, if they couldnt afford to marry or one was already married.

Ben
 

p.risboy

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#8
My Gt.Grandmother was Illigitimate, so does that make me one eighth Iligitimate.:2fun::2fun:

God bless her, coz I wouldn't be here if Gt.Granny wasn't born.;)

No doubt some wish I wasn't here.:2fun::2fun::2fun:
 

benny1982

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#9
My great, great gran was illegitimate so does that make me 1 16th illegitimate? :D Although her parents wed when she was 8 months old. This was 1864. However the child still remained illegitimate even if the parents wed until the law changed in 1926.
 

JeffAlvey

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#10
Don't forget "Common Law" marriages, where couples would commit to each other in marriage (remaining faithful) but never formalised it in a church.

And also husbands who worked away (journeymen). At the baptism the wife's name might only be recorded.

In the records of parish registers I have over many years the "vicars" were very prone to register their disapproval on the original entry:
"illegally begot"
"in fornication"
"a bastard child"
 

joaning

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#11
In my experience whilst researching, I have found incorrect occupations of the father put on marriage certificates, e.g. Dr. or even deceased, when he wasn't. Wrong surnames, to hide illegitimacy.Made up surnames, and an alteration to a marriage date by one year to legitimise their first born. A 50th anniversary,when it was only their 49th. I also have adoptions, and other "hush hush" happenings, I accept them all, that's what family history is all about. Joan:)
 

benny1982

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#12
My great, great grandmother was almost 7 months old when her parents married in July 1864. She was then baptised in November 1864 as daughter of Thos & Mary Ann Roberts. She was born 31 December 1863. Small chance her parents altered the marriage date to 25th July 1863, a year earlier than the real date to make it look like the eldest was legitimate.

In reality the father lost his previous wife in November 1863 when his next wife was 7 months pregnant. His previous wife died after a long illness of phthisis. Thomas was a servant and footman and his next wife lived in a village surrounded by manors.
 

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