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  1. #11

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    An extract from the chapter headed "Poor" in "The Hampshire Repository: or, Historical, economical and literary miscellany" - published Winchester, 1800?

    " ... bastardy ... We have only to contemplate the common process attendant on this offence, and to denote the degrading incidents visited upon delinquents subject to the corrections the the law inflicts upon it, in the road from the parish officer to the justice, and from the justice to the bridewell-keeper, to decide what share of modesty, decency, and delicacy can survive this debasing career...."
    "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg"

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megan Roberts View Post
    There was no legal requirement to be baptised. There may have been a charge levied to perform the ceremony and if you were poor then it might not of been a priority.

    It's possible that she might have been a non conformist and those records can be harder to track down as there is no central authority.

    Sometimes people were baptised later in life as employers might want that as a pre condition to employment or if they were taken into the workhouse, then the workhouse might baptise them.

    So it might be worthwhile expanding your search forward up to 20 years.
    There is one problem with looking for baptisms that must not be forgotten, any christen may baptise a child, it does not have to take place in a church and the baptism may not be recorded in any register.
    Yes the majority of baptisms were recorded but there was no legislation to force baptisms that took place away from the CoE to be recorded.

    There is also much confusion about public disapproval of bastards, If the mother, or parents of the child supported him/her there was little or no disapproval, and the bastard child was accepted in society, if however she/they could not or did not support the child the disapproval was enormous. (Though this did change in the Victorian era).

    Cheers
    Guy
    As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.

  3. #13
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    Under the old poor laws, a woman giving birth to an illegitimate child would be subjected to a 'Bastardy Examination' to establish the identity of the father and recover the costs of supporting the child from him.

    This is probably the 'interference' referred to.

    The new poor laws (1834)were intended to largely halt this and make the mother entirely responsible for the child. If she did not have the means to support it, then they would have to enter the workhouse - no support would be given. The idea was that this would reduce illegitimacy.

    If you go to the site workhouses.org which Megan has linked to there is a section about the old and new poor laws. The full text of the 1834 act is also there

    Having said that, as Guy says, the link to baptism seems to be a false one, as the issue was whether the mother was being supported by the parish, and if she was then the authorities would know about it whether the child was baptised or not.

  4. #14
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    Thanks Megan, I'm pretty sure he was never baptised based on a lot of searching and some other evidence, eg. he stated he was a Baptist when he arrived in Australia in 1853, presumably as a way to explain why he had no proof of identity while his wife and children did (I have the original baptism extracts they took with them). I am pretty sure neither he or his mother Ann was actually a Baptist; she had been baptised along with her siblings. I think it may come down to the fact that he was illegitimate and the alleged father was from a class above Ann's poverty-stricken laboring family (they are consistently on the Broughton poor rate records), suggesting some pressure to avoid a public event such as a baptism. That is my current theory. Thanks again

  5. #15
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    If he was a baptist then he would not be baptised until he was an adult. Baptists do not baptise babies.

    My maternal grandmother converted to baptism after the birth and baptism of her eldest child, so none of four youngest, including my mother, were baptised as children. When my mother was grown she rebelled, and it was not until she was about 40 that she joined the presbyterian church and was baptised there.

  6. #16
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    Thanks, I know that the mother was subject to a Bastardy Examination and the father was identified, so the 'interference' on that front had already happened before Thomas was born. I am thinking that the standing in the village of the identified father probably had something to do with there being no baptism (his father was an Overseer of the Poor at one time). I have also now gone through all of the village Poor records (which are quite extensive) and there is no record of payments for maintenance from the parish. I assume that means the putative father provided maintenance directly as required under the Old Poor Law.

    I spent some time on the workhouses.org site, amazing amount of material. I found a link to a paper called "The Politics of Illegitimacy in an Age of Reform" which explains the political context and what lead to the changes in 1834, very interesting read if anyone has further interest in the topic.

    Ironically Thomas's future wife had several illegitimate children after the 1834 law change and she ended up in the Workhouse with them. Neither of the children survived reflecting perhaps the harshness of the revised laws.

  7. #17
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    My reply was more in response to your original enquiry about the article you had read, but playing devil's advocate, most illegitimate children were baptised without any mention of the father, so I don't see why the father's 'standing' would have any bearing.

    Perhaps he was a baptist after all? My family switched to become baptists, and although my mother was baptised (as an adult) I chose not to be and married in a CofE church - but if asked I still class myself as a baptist.

  8. #18
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    There is a lot of evidence that he wasn't in fact a baptist. For him not to be baptised because of that reason would obviously mean it was his mother who was a baptist. She married several years later and had three children who were all baptised. Also, after Thomas landed in Australia he hosted the local farming community in his home for several years for Anglican service while a church was being built. All four of his children were also baptised in the Anglican church.

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