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  1. #1
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    Default Private adoption 1891 Barrington - Herberts

    Hi

    I am trying to find out what the usual adoption process was back in 1890-1891.

    I know my great-grandfather was adopted by a family called Barrington in St Helens, Lancashire (either late 1890 or early 1891).

    I have a Certificate of Baptism for 17 March 1891 for William James Barrington (my great grandfather). The Barrington family had him baptised at St Mary's, Lowe House, St Helens on 17 March 1891. His date of birth is unknown but on the Baptism Certificate it's written as "April (?) 1887". Oddly enough, his adopted parents christian names aren't on the Baptism Certificate. Where it says Father's Name its been handwritten as "(Father by adoption) --- Barrington", similar to Mother: "(Mother by adoption) Mrs Barrington".

    I have in my possession, letters written from a Mrs Herberts to Mrs Barrington. In these letters Mrs Herberts asks "please let me know your lowest terms would be to take him as your own", which indicates Mrs Herberts was to pay Mrs Barrington a small allowance of sorts.

    I don't know if the christian names, William James were his original ones as his name was never mentioned in any of the letters (I have 5 in total).

    I'm trying to find out how they would have made contact? Was it something advertised in newspapers? Or the church?

    Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated as I have hit a wall with him in my family tree.

  2. #2
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    Unfortunately prior to adoption being given a statutory framework in the 1920s there was no one set of rules. Adoptions could be informal or formal; they could be arranged privately or through third parties. To give you an example of the type of things that I am talking about, my grandfather was orphaned when he was 6 or 7 years old. He and his 3 older siblings were then effectively in the care of their elderly widowed grandmother. She couldn't take care of the 2 younger siblings so they were adopted out to 2 separate families. Although they both moved out of their original village to near by ones all the siblings stayed in contact. One of the younger children had her surname changed, not through deed poll or anything formal, but just through custom and usage. The other one didn't even though it was different to the adoptive parents.

    Given that you have documents it might be worth doing a newspaper search to see if there were any references to the agreement.

  3. #3
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    The Mrs Herberts mentioned in the letters might not be the birth mother but someone acting as a go-between, a broker for the adoption. Therefore it is quite possible that the Barringtons may not have known who the mother of their adopted son was.

    Emeltom

  4. #4
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    Did the letters have dates on them? Also is there an address on the letters for Mrs Herberts?

  5. #5
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    Thank you Megan

    Yes. I’ve started searching newspapers as I’m assuming Mrs Barrington had contacted her in writing given the opening paragraph in first letter. Here’s a transcript from the first letter:

    Poste Restante
    Walsall
    Mrs Barrington
    Dear Madam
    Your letter to hand. I shall be please to let you have the child if we can come to terms. My reasons for waiting to find someone to adopt him are, we have no settled home of our own. We are travelling about every week & I thought it would be better if I could find one for him.
    He is a fine little fellow & will scarcely give you any trouble. He can walk about by himself, goes to bed at 6 o'clock & lies until about 8 in the morning, during the day he plays for hours.
    Please let me know for return of post what your lowest terms would be to take him as your own. They must be reasonable as our means are very small.
    Hoping we shall be able to come to terms. I remain
    Yours sincerely
    Mrs Herberts

    Thank you once again for responding Megan.

  6. #6
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    Thank you Emelton

    I did think of this. One of the lines of thought in our family is if these letters were written by his natural mother, she would have come from a family with money as not everyone could write copperplate back then. They need a good education.

    Another idea is that she paid someone to write the letters on her behalf. So many scenarios.

    Thank you for your time.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by shippo View Post
    Did the letters have dates on them? Also is there an address on the letters for Mrs Herberts?
    The letters aren't dated which I found odd.

    In each letter, she tells Mrs Barrington where to send her reply letter to. They are all Post Offices within the Lancashire area.

    I'll keep searching old newspapers for a possible private advertisement.

    Thank you for your time.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoBarrington View Post
    Thank you Megan

    Yes. Iíve started searching newspapers as Iím assuming Mrs Barrington had contacted her in writing given the opening paragraph in first letter. Hereís a transcript from the first letter:

    Poste Restante
    Walsall
    Mrs Barrington
    Dear Madam
    Your letter to hand. I shall be please to let you have the child if we can come to terms. My reasons for waiting to find someone to adopt him are, we have no settled home of our own. We are travelling about every week & I thought it would be better if I could find one for him.
    He is a fine little fellow & will scarcely give you any trouble. He can walk about by himself, goes to bed at 6 o'clock & lies until about 8 in the morning, during the day he plays for hours.
    Please let me know for return of post what your lowest terms would be to take him as your own. They must be reasonable as our means are very small.
    Hoping we shall be able to come to terms. I remain
    Yours sincerely
    Mrs Herberts

    Thank you once again for responding Megan.
    Sound to me that Mrs Herberts is the mother.
    quote" MY reasons for waiting to find someone to adopt him are, we have no settled home of our own. We are travelling about every week & I thought it would be better if I could find one for him.

  9. #9
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    I did a quick search of birth records for Herberts born around 1887 and there are not that many – just half a dozen. Those that there are can be tracked and found with their birth families in later censuses.

    So I think that either his birth was not registered or he was not the natural child of Mrs Herberts, or that was not her real name.

    My guess is that for you one route to consider is the DNA route. I don’t use it and know little about it, but there are others here who know more. However, I think that in essence you would sample your own DNA and upload it to an DNA genealogy web site and hope that either now, or at some point in the future, you find a match.

  10. #10
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    Is this your ggrandfather in the 1891 census? If so note that his middle name on the image is Jno. John not James?

    RG12 Piece 3020 Folio 12
    11 King St, Windle, St Helens
    William Birch 28 Coal miner St Helens
    Alice Birch 25 St Helens
    Mary Birch 6 St Helens
    Maggie Birch 4 St Helens
    Patrick Barrington 41 chemical labourer born Ireland
    Elizabeth Barrington 40 born St Helen's
    William Jno Barrington 3 Born - Not Known.

    I also see that Patrick and William are with Patrick and his new wife Esther Roughley nee Shufflebotham and her 3 sons in 1901. Elizabeth died age 46 Sept 1/4 1896

    In each letter, she tells Mrs Barrington where to send her reply letter to. They are all Post Offices within the Lancashire area.
    Poste Restante
    Walsall
    Mrs Barrington
    Dear Madam
    The only Walsall google maps is giving me is in the county of West Midlands. Which Wikipedia tells me is historically part of Staffordshire, Does anyone know of a Walsall in Lancashire?
    Christina
    Sometimes paranoia is just having all the facts.
    William Burroughs

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