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'Refined Home' for your illegitimate baby

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'Refined Home' for your illegitimate baby

Postby SarahDevs » Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:01 pm

Can anyone elaborate on this advert which a fellow member of this forum unearthed for me? My grandmother was born at this house in 1911 with Mrs Bates in attendance. Whilst I wait for 'My Ancestor was a Bastard' to arrive from Amazon (for further reading) I'm wondering if anyone has any knowledge of homes such as these?

Were they for more genteel women rather than paupers? My great grandmother was a housemaid so I'm wondering who was paying the 10 shillings a weeks (which seems an awful lot of money for a single maid)

Were they regulated at all? Would there be any way to find out if my grandmother stayed there for her early childhood?

I've contacted Southwark Family History Society for more information but I'm impatient so thought I'd try here too
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Re: 'Refined Home' for your illegitimate baby

Postby ianbee » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:20 pm

You could also have a look at the Children Act 1908
Part 1 Infant Life Protection
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/190 ... 067_en.pdf
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Re: 'Refined Home' for your illegitimate baby

Postby MoVidger » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:35 pm

Another good source about Victorian baby farming (and lying-in houses) is from this book on Google:
"Child Welfare: England 1872-1989". Chapter 2 (?) "The Morally Reforming State"

In fact, if you Google 'Victorian baby farming/farmers' there is quite a bit of information out there.
http://vichist.blogspot.com/2012/03/baby-farming.html
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Re: 'Refined Home' for your illegitimate baby

Postby MoVidger » Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:27 am

Also on Google: Pearman, Joanne (2017) Bastards, Baby Farmers, and Social Control in Victorian Britain. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent.

Apparently newspaper adverts, such as the Bates', were quite commonplace during the Victorian era.
"While it is not explicit in the advertisements or in the contemporary accounts, it seems to have
been well understood that in most of these cases, ‘adoption’ alluded to a means of permanent
disposal, possibly on-site in the lying-in house or, potentially in a foster home. Once a premium had been paid by the mother, the child would be transported to its next, often its resting, place".
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Re: 'Refined Home' for your illegitimate baby

Postby MaureenE » Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:28 am

I think ten shillings weekly was a reasonable sum of money in those days, and perhaps unaffordable by a housemaid.

My assumption is that the money must be coming from the father of the baby who must have been in good financial circumstances. Possibly he was the employer of your GGM, or a contact of the employer. Or perhaps the employer was not the father of the baby but had compassion for his servant?

The website Children's Homes http://www.childrenshomes.org.uk/ has a page Boarding Out (Fostering)
http://www.childrenshomes.org.uk/boardingout/
where a payment of five shillings a week for each child was mentioned.

10 shillings a week appears to be aimed at those who can afford to pay more, and probably outside the framework set out in the above link. However, If you look at the link "Mother and Baby Homes" from the above website http://www.childrenshomes.org.uk/MB/ the fee at some of these homes was around ten shillings.

My interpretation is that the "Married Couple" were in effect running a small business from their own home, and probably unregulated.

Perhaps in the social conditions of the day, the "customers" were more likely to be servants who had been seduced by rich employers, (who at least weren't completely abandoning the woman), rather than unmarried genteel women, but who knows.
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Re: 'Refined Home' for your illegitimate baby

Postby SarahDevs » Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:06 am

Thanks all - I will get reading. My theory is indeed that her employer was the father (to the point I have made contact with his family via Ancestry and a photo of his legitimate daughter bears a startling resemblance to my uncle and cousins). It was claimed in local newspapers that he had fathered another child with her in 1907 and apparently his (estranged) wife had been the housemaid when he met and married her so there's a pattern forming.

He was a man of moderate means and died in 1917. I'm wondering if he had made some provision for my grandmother which stopped when he died - therefore had she remained with the Bates from birth but was then returned to her mother when the money dried up? The 1911 census shows other older children at the house so I don't think they were in the business of disposing of the children and were perhaps a tad more benevolent..?

Ultimately I'm trying to figure out why my grandmother wasn't put up for adoption or sent to the workhouse. Was she with her mother from birth and therefore mistreated from birth? Or was she returned to her in 1917 as an unwanted burden with no financial benefits? Why not just abandon her?

So many questions!

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