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  1. #1
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    Default Why Illegitimate children were not baptised?

    Hi, I am researching Thomas FOSTER born 1826 in Broughton, Huntingdonshire. I know that he was born illegitimate. I have been unable to find a baptism entry.

    During recent research I came across the newspaper quote below:

    "In many parishes bastards used never to be baptised, in consequence of the mothers being liable, under the old law, to be interfered with by the parish officers. This having ceased, more are now baptised..." Huntingdon, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette January 14, 1837 page 6.

    Can anyone explain what is meant by this in the context of the poor laws that would have been in place in 1826.

    Thanks

    Ian Foster
    CT, USA

  2. #2
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    I don't know for certain what it means, but I suspect that it has something to do with the right of Settlement, which determined which parish was responsible for providing poor relief to individuals. If someone fell on hard times and was looking for assistance they could actually be forced to return to the parish they were born in.

    A woman could take her husband's place of Settlement but an illegitimate child could claim it's place of birth as it's place of Settlement so the parish overseers would often try to move the mother on before she gave birth.

    You might find some more information on this site:
    https://www.workhouses.org.uk/poorla...tml#Settlement


    I don't understand the baptism issue though as I have seen many many parish records full of the baptisms of illegitimate children.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ijfoster View Post
    Hi, I am researching Thomas FOSTER born 1826 in Broughton, Huntingdonshire. I know that he was born illegitimate. I have been unable to find a baptism entry.

    During recent research I came across the newspaper quote below:

    "In many parishes bastards used never to be baptised, in consequence of the mothers being liable, under the old law, to be interfered with by the parish officers. This having ceased, more are now baptised..." Huntingdon, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette January 14, 1837 page 6.

    Can anyone explain what is meant by this in the context of the poor laws that would have been in place in 1826.

    Thanks

    Ian Foster
    CT, USA
    I have not read the newspaper article you mention but I suspect it was little to do with the child being illegitimate and more to do with the introduction of civil registration.

    The problem being that in those days the Church of England ran a lot of things it was in control of looking after the poor, of probate and in effect in charge of registration.
    The fear was all these things would be taken from the Church which would mean a loss of income for the clergy.
    There were numerous pamphlets printed about this at the time.

    It is true that mothers of illegitimate children were “examined” questioned to try to discover who the father of the child was, but that had been going on for hundreds of years, so there is really no reason to believe such examinations prevented mothers from baptising their illegitimate children.

    In 1575/6 the Justices of the Peace in each county were given powers to order the mothers or putative father of illegitimate children to pay for their maintenance.
    Under an Act of 1609/10 the mother of a bastard (the correct legal term at the time) child which had become chargeable to the parish might be imprisoned for a year.
    Under the the Bastardy Act 1733 the man could be imprisoned until he gave security to indemnify the parish for the costs of looking after the child, or until he agreed to marry the woman.

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

  4. #4
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    Just looking n Ancestry and I see there is a tree for Thomas Foster born 1826 in Broughton (died in NSW, Australia) Mother listed as Ann Hannah Foster Just wondered if this is your Thomas, if so have you seen the entires?

  5. #5
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    This tree looks very complicated. Looks like there were half siblings too.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by suemalings View Post
    Just looking n Ancestry and I see there is a tree for Thomas Foster born 1826 in Broughton (died in NSW, Australia) Mother listed as Ann Hannah Foster Just wondered if this is your Thomas, if so have you seen the entires?
    Yes, this is my Thomas.

    In reply to Guy's points, there is record of Ann's examination and also identification of the father, Bond etc. So I know most of the genealogical information, now I'm trying to better understand the historical context of illegitimacy in the days before the Poor Law reform, especially given the situation as to why Thomas was not baptised. I will keep researching the laws and see what I can find

    Thanks

    Ian Foster

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ijfoster View Post
    especially given the situation as to why Thomas was not baptised.

    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.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ijfoster View Post
    I will keep researching the laws and see what I can find

    Thanks

    Ian Foster
    Check google books "the justice of the peace, and parish officer richard burn volume 1" -Should return a searchable version - key "bastardy" et al.
    "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg"

  9. #9

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    Just checked the google book version returned - it's Vol IV, dated 1810, 25th edition, whereas I'm reading Vol 1, 1st edition, published 1800. This doesn't appear available via Google Books. But the 1810 edition does cover bastardy.
    "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg"

  10. #10

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    I can let you have PDF file of the Chapter in Vol 1 on "Bastards" in the 1800 edition - pages 217-271. Have sent you a Private Message.
    "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg"

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