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Illegitimate children

Leamington, Ontario
I have found several ancestors in my line (mid to late 1800's) who bore children "out of wedlock". The first time I found this, I was somewhat surprised...now, I just think, "Well, here's another one!"
Was this more common than we have been led to believe? All those stories of straightlaced Victorians appear to be a bit exaggerated. Or was it, as an elderly relative told me not too long ago, that women were "taken advantage of"?
I don't actually think the ordinary working people were as bothered by marriage as historic sources imply. I have read an account by clergy in Sheffield about the lack of churchgoing and the immoral life the common people were leading. When people moved from small country areas where their every move was watched and they had to go to the church they quite naturally stayed away plus a marriage would cost money and time off from what was astonishingly long hours. Being married wasn't any great advantage to them except when they had to call on the parish.
Hi Katie,
My paternal Gt.Gt. grandmother had 3 children, and no fathers named on any baptisms, birth certs nor marriage certs for any of them.
So the trail ended there.:mad:
So obviously, she couldn't have give a fig about what people thought.:biggrin:

Hi Katiemay

My great, great grandmother was illegitimate and he mum married shortly afterwards and her new husband was named as the father on the baby's baptism. He was already married while the mum was pregnant. His wife died weeks before the baby was born of a long illness. I am certain he was the father in that case.


I think virtually everyone will find an illegitimate ancestor. I have a direct ancestor who gave birth to an illegitimate child then married soon afterwards. The baby was baptised under her mothers name and she wed about 9 months later and the baby kept his mothers name of Eade. When he wed in 1848 he left his fathers name column blank so I am very sceptical that James Archer was his father. This was in rural Suffolk. I descend from James and Sarah's daughter Sarah born 1823.

My great-grandmother - born 1846 in Nottinghamshire - was the second daughter born to her mother, with neither child having a father listed on the birth registration. Her mother married in 1848 and bore another child six months later. Although the two eldest children were registered at birth with their mother's name ( Houlton ) following the marriage, they began to use their step-father's name ( Procter ).
When my great-grandmother married, she named her mother's husband as her father.
At first, I wondered if, indeed, my gg-grandmother's husband was the biological father of the eldest two children...and they just finally got around to getting married...
Guess that's one of those mysteries...
Hi katiemay

Have you tried baptisms for these children?

My gggran was born 31 Dec 1863, her mother wed in July 1864 and the baby was baptised 6th November 1864 daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann Roberts.