View Full Version : Unwed pregnancy = name change?
Jo from Australia
08-07-2007, 11:08 AM
Has any found a relative who changed their identity due to becoming pregnant before marriage? I have been reading some victorian life stuff and found an extract that said it was not uncommon for women to change their names to not shame the family. If anyone has found this sort of thing in their dicoveries, how did you find out who she was before pregnancy? After reading on this forum that there was no offical process for name changes - just change it - is it an uncommon thing?
Just interested in dicussing this.
08-07-2007, 1:53 PM
In a recent thread where the question was asked "whether the christian name on a marriage certificate should be the same as on the birth certificate", I said "It depends what quarter the wind was in when the wedding was planned", and much the same idea applies here (though you may have to throw in the exchange rate of the Yen and the variation of the magnetic north as well) plus, where the business of "shaming the family" is concerned, the attitude of those involved.
People in different circumstances, with different upbringing, living in differently minded communities etc., will have different attitudes. I hate generalising, but people in the slums of Bethnal Green are liable to think (and act) differently to those in, say, a chapel-minded Welsh valley, a Lincolnshire farming community, or a northern mill town.
As to "how uncommon" anything was, I would not want to speculate without, first, defining "uncommon" and, secondly, having accurate statistics for the entire population, including those whose porkies have not yet come to light - come back in 100 years when the entire planet has worked out their family history properly!
(continues - it's a bit long so I'll break it up rather than risk the duplicated text bug)
08-07-2007, 1:56 PM
What I will do, though, is give you an example of a "fluctuating" surname.
I have an Ellis/Peacock kiddie in the 1850s, whose parents were not married when he was born.
Mother has told no porkies at the Register Office - no father's name on the birth certificate, he's simply the son of Mary Ann Ellis, born 2 September 1854.
A year later, on 3 October 1855, the kiddie has been baptised - with a little white lie at the church, as he's now the son of Thomas and Mary Ann, surname Peacock.
Why they didn't wait for a bit is, frankly, beyond me, "logic" was evidently not in their dictionary, but, be that as it may, a month *after* this baptism, on 18 November 1855, Thomas Peacock and Mary Ann Ellis then got married.
OK, I expect you're thinking, so whatever the birth/baptism muddle, the nipper will be "Peacock", from now, won't he?
On the 1861 census, he is not with his parents, he's with Mary Ann's father.
Far from not wishing to "shame the family", grandpa Ellis knows that his daughter was not married when her son was born and, even though she has since married so *she* is now legitimately "Peacock", has shown his grandson as "Ellis"!
As I said, "logic" was not in these people's dictionary.
08-07-2007, 1:58 PM
As to how you find out, well, it's largely a matter of luck, cynicism, and things like a willingness to stick your neck out on a birth cert that could turn out to somebody completely different if you guessed wrongly.
Obviously, in this case, the existence of both a birth and baptism record (edit - and with the helpful inclusion of "Peacock" as a middle name on the birth cert), the fact that the parents later married (so we know who Mary Ann's father was) and finding the child as "Ellis" in 1861 when I couldn't find him as "Peacock" so started fishing round the rellies, were all a help. I'm sure I'm not alone in having a number where I have not yet found the answer and may never find it!
Jo from Australia
09-07-2007, 7:48 AM
It is so easy to say how interesting it all is - when it is not happening to you! :o) I have found a person the right name, the right age, the right name of the father in Canada for my g-grandmother - however the family is listed as negro. Believe me there is no negro in my family! I wish I had beautiful olive skin rather than the 'turn red in the Aussie sunshine' british skin!
So I have decided to explore the fact that I might have the wrong person... which then leads me back to a woman from Shoreditch who had a baby before she married (with a full roman catholic service) to a man who may not even be the father. I thought that maybe she might have been one of those women who had to change her name to save the family from shame. But if it is the case, I have no idea how to link her with any record. But I will keep plugging along checking both options!
10-07-2007, 12:45 AM
Jo, don't discount the negro.
All our family have the 'turn red in the ANY sunshine' British skin!
But I have found definite West Indian only three generations back.
Oh! that my dad and grandad were still alive to know that!! or did they???
Jo from Australia
10-07-2007, 9:56 AM
well my grandmother had a deep dark secret that she didnt want anyone to know about....perhaps it was more dark than I thought? No offense intended towards anyone.
She was born out of wedlock, she married twice, she had a baby who starved to death at 8 weeks old, she had my dad out of wedlock and didnt marrying my gradnfather until 41 years after my dad was born -phew- and they are the secrets I KNOW about, I thought were the secrets she hid from the family....perhaps she was ashamed of being part coloured also?
At this stage I will not rule out anything, and explore everything until I have something strong and solid.
08-10-2007, 2:55 PM
I have suspected for awhile now that the parents listed on my ggfather's birth cert were false names. There is no english records that I can find of Alberta Fiszalan, nor a Frederick Rosendale old enough to father a child in 1872! My Frederick Albert Fiszalan Rosendale was sent to Canada by an aunt as part of the English Settlement scheme in 1877, apparently because he was left in her care and she hadn't heard from his parents who had left England for Australia. Fred had always said he was a Barrie before being adopted by the Webster's...how true was that? He had his bc with him when he came to Canada, and he named his daughter Bernice Rosendale Webster!
It's definitely a BRICK WALL!|banghead|
08-10-2007, 7:28 PM
I have suspected for awhile now that the parents listed on my ggfather's birth cert were false names.
Have you checked other spellings? Fiszalan isn't a name I've heard of, but Fitzalan might be a possibility. And Rosendale might be Rossendale or Rossindale etc.
08-10-2007, 8:07 PM
Further to Arthur's suggestions, have you considered that Rosendale might be an anglicised version of a foreign name - e.g. Rosendahl?
ET in the USA
08-10-2007, 9:20 PM
Just to confuse everyone, here is another example of the things that our ancestors have done to make life difficult.
Born in Middlesex, London in 1851, Emma Mary Thould worked as a domestic in the London area and was entered as such on the census.
In 1885, she gave birth to a son, Henry Gooder Thould in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. Emma Mary was about 33 years old and her occupation is 'Domestic Servant'. No father is mentioned on the GRO birth entry. I believe she chose the location because her brother had moved there the year before, her father was dead and her mother (born Harriett Gooder) was also dead.
Next comes a christening - Name: Henry Gooder Thould, born: 08 Feb 1885, Christening 21 Apr 1885 Victoria Chapel, W-s-M, Somerset.
Mother: Emma, Father: David Thould. So, it appears from this one entry alone that Thould is Emma's married name and her husband is David. Don't know who was cast in the role of David for the christening, I only know that I have found no one born, married or dying named David Thould who was born this early. My earliest David was born 1950 !
Next we have a marriage: Emma Mary Thould - age 37 - spinster - married Charles Benfield - age 55 - widower at Holy Trinity Church, Weston-super-Mare. Notice that now that we are legit, it is COE and that the accident was christened in a chapel. The town isn't that large, but maybe she thought no one would notice or show up. Another interesting point is that Charles Benfield was actually twice widowed. The most recent widowing was in Dec Qtr. 1887 when Mary Benfield, formerly Dance nee Thould died. Mary was Emma's Aunt, so perhaps the terms of her will were to marry her niece?, or Charles was just a nice guy.
The Benfield family appears on the 1891 census
Husband - Charles Benfield
Wife - Emma Mary Benfield
Son - Henry G. Benfield age 6 (born about 1885)
Son - Charles T. Benfield age 2
Daughter - Gladys M. Benfield age 10 months
And again in 1901, without Charles T. who died in 1892 at about 3 years.
Charles (Sr.) and Emma Mary remained married until his death in 1916, but son Henry G. Benfield / Thould, the boy with a choice of fathers - Mr. No Name, David Thould who might not be a real person or Charles Benfield who I hope wasn't really is father since he was married to Emma's aunt at the time |blush|, hasn't been found again.
09-10-2007, 9:47 AM
Thank you for the suggestions on looking for variations on the spellings. I have done that, many times, not limiting myself to the UK nor time frame. The closest I've some is a Frederick Rosindale b. 1857 from Cambridgeshire (would he be the father at age 15 of a son in Somerset?) and the Fitzalan-Howard family in Middlesex (many daughters, but no Alberta). I have tried to find records of the Home Children sent to Canada, but few exist, especially from Miss Ryes's children (that is the group he came with). I would love to find the "aunt" in whose care young Frederick was left, but I have no name and no idea where to start. Census don't help, as his time in England was 1872-1877. At this point I'm left with theories!! :-)
09-10-2007, 10:38 AM
In the 1861 census there is Frederick ROSENDALE, boarder, Unm, 25, Ship broker Cl., born Prussia, living at 35 Cornwallis St, Liverpool, Lancashire, RG9/2576 folio 34, page 5.
However, I agree with you that the parents of your Frederick are probably fictitious. There is no sign of anyone with their names or any variation of them, living in the area. Also, I doubt that a landed proprietor would abandon his legitimate male offspring, then disappear without trace, leaving his child to be brought up as a pauper & shipped off to the colonies with other pauper children. |nopity|
09-10-2007, 3:24 PM
Thank you for the suggestions on looking for variations on the spellings. I have done that, many times, not limiting myself to the UK nor time frame. The closest I've some is a Frederick Rosindale b. 1857 from Cambridgeshire (would he be the father at age 15 of a son in Somerset?) and the Fitzalan-Howard family in Middlesex (many daughters, but no Alberta).
Sorry if I suggested the obvious - I wasn't sure how much you'd already tried. A Cambridgeshire lad being a father in Somerset at age 15? - not very likely, I don't think. However (and I nearly mentioned this yesterday), are you aware that Fitzalan-Howard is the family name of the Duke of Norfolk? Not sure if that gets you anywhere, but you might find it interesting...
10-10-2007, 1:01 AM
Sometimes the most obvious is overlooked, so all suggestions are appreciated. And it was worth looking again - you never know when a record will "appear"! I did not know that Fitzalan-Howard is the family name of the Duke of Norfolk....wouldn't that be an interesting tale, but a little far fetched for even my imagination!
10-10-2007, 1:09 AM
I do remember finding the Prussian Frederick Rosendale, and forgot why I discounted him. I looked again, and found him with a family in the United States in 1870. I don't know too much about what a land proprietor was, but didn't really understand why parents would leave an infant to travel to Australia! I am still searching ship records though; if the "aunt" made up that story, it's really good!
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