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Poor Law and elusive relative

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Poor Law and elusive relative

Postby clare_bear » Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:42 pm

Hi All

I'm new here and am a complete amateur at family history research! I've been doing it on and off for a few years and have a major stumbling block.

My great gran's birth certificate and therefore parents are proving quite elusive! Her name was Carrie Williams and she was supposedly born on the 9th Nov 1900, but this may be approximate, in or around Wendron, Cornwall. The problem is that we think her mum may have given her away. We know she was brought up by a lady called Fanny Allen (she is on the 1901 census as a boarder at Fanny's place in Helston, Cornwall) and it seems that Fanny took in children whose 'mother's didn't want them' (according to a relative of Fanny's). Fanny Allen was very poor (on 1901 census as a charwoman) and had quite a few children of her own, in addition to several she had taken in. There's no way she could have afforded to feed and clothe these children (and I know that they had very little growing up as Carrie told stories of what it was like to her daughter), so it is assumed she was paid to take in these boarder children, which probably helped her afford to feed her own children. Presumably this would come under some 'poor law' records or something like this? Any idea where I should be looking for info on payments received by Fanny by the parish as this seems to be my only lead at the moment.

Carrie was married in 1922 to James Harold Goldsworthy and died in 1988 in Gweek, Cornwall. She was a great lady and I'd love to be able to unravel this mystery for her daughter (my great aunt, who I'm very close too) as well as myself.

Any advice on where to go next or how to find out about any Poor Law records would be very welcome.

Thanks
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Re: Poor Law and elusive relative

Postby Past Times » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:30 pm

It was quite common at that time for people to take in what were often known as "nurse children" or "boarders", and as you correctly say, a fee was paid each week for the upkeep of such children.

They could be anything from a newborn to a child of up to 11 or 12. Wetnursing (breastfeeding) another woman's newborn was very common - and was very ofen as a result of the baby's mother dying in childbirth or soon after - although of course only in such cases where the father or wider family could afford to pay for it, either through the Church Poor Law or direct to the wet nurse.

Similarly, if a mother had an illigitimate child and did not want to keep it, she would arrange to "farm" the child out.

If you search on google or similar on the subject of "baby farming", there is lots of info relating to this practice.

Sadly however, the homes were not inspected form suitability and from my experience it would appear that absolutely anyone could apply to relieve the Parish of burdensome orphan children or those who's own family for any reason, were not able to take care of them. Many lived in squalor and were treated as unpaid labourers from the age of 4 or 5 years old by the families who took them in.

Payment was usually only a few pennies a week, but to a very poor family, this extra income could mean the difference between life and death for them all, including the nurse child :(

For Poor Law records you will need to consult the Record Office in the relevant area. You could also try searching the Parish Chest records, which will show not only monies coming in and going out of the Church, but also various things like Bastardy Bonds, or incidents were someone was called before the Church Council for what was considered immoral or unacceptable behaviour - this could be anything from having sex outside of marriage to being drunk :shock: :lol: There may be a mention of nurse children being "housed outwith" etc.

However, I should mention that Poor Law and Parish Chest documents very rarely survive due to the nature of how they were stored - quite literally in a large wooden chest in the Church Vestry - subject to damp, mould, temperature and mice!

The Record Office will be able to advise you on any that may be helpful :)


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Re: Poor Law and elusive relative

Postby clare_bear » Tue Nov 24, 2009 10:58 am

Hi Tracy

Thanks very much for all that info. I'll get in contact with the local Record Office to see if they can offer any help. The story that had been passed on was that her mum died shortly after giving birth, but the lack of documentation on anything has led us to suspect that this may not be true. The only facts we have are that Carrie was a 'boarder' on the 1901 census at Fanny Allen's home. It's definitely possible she was 'farmed' out.

Thanks
Clare
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Re: Poor Law and elusive relative

Postby irondeb » Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:41 pm

Have you tried widening the name search? My gran was christened Violet Annie Coronation Simmonds in 1902, but I couldn't find her on the 1911 census. As I got more experienced in searching ( and realised how transcriptions could be extremely wrong!) I managed to find her living with her nan and grandad - their surname was Newell but had been transcribed as Newill, which I hadn't accounted for originally. My dad had made a throw away remark that she was always known as Corrie and that's how she was entered on the census by her grandparents. Her sister was Ruby, but entered as Rubby! As my dad keeps reminding me, many of the people were illiterate and wouldn't really know how to spell.

I found another relative who was Bickers but transcribed as Broker!!

Taking illiteracy and transcription errors into consideration it's amazing we manage to find anyone :D :lol: but it's really exciting when you eventually find them.
researching May (London and Middlesex), Wadley (London and Worcester), Newell (Dorset and Hampshire), Simmonds (no idea at all yet!!), Peters (Reigate), Packham (Kent and Surrey), Bingham (Middlesex and Hampstead) and Bickers (Suffolk)!
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Re: Poor Law and elusive relative

Postby johnlee » Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:39 am

Some proofs were subsequently approved by one of the leading Poor Law.



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Re: Poor Law and elusive relative

Postby callbrian » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:19 am

Hi Clare,
I'm not sure whether you are aware of the following website for Cornwall.
http://www.cornwall-opc.org This is the online parish clerks site, it is quite comprehensive with quite a lot of free information. I had a quick look at bastardy orders and births and burials for Wendron. Nothing looked familiar. Please take a tour around the site, as it has a wealth of searchable information, for many parishes.
Good luck
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Re: Poor Law and elusive relative

Postby clare_bear » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:20 am

Thank you very much, everyone. Sorry it's taken me so long to reply!

I shall check out the Cornish OPC, and think of name alternatives. Certainly in Carrie's family, a lot of them used their middle names as their main name, but as she is down as Carrie on the 1901 census, I guess I assumed that it'd be on the birth certificate. I should assume nothing! I shall continue on!

Thanks
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Re: Poor Law and elusive relative

Postby ksouthall » Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:22 pm

I have found a possible birth certificate for Carrie Williams, registered in Helston. Carrie is often an abbreviation of Caroline. As Carrie Williams was living in Helston in 1901, aged 16 months, this could be her. Although in 1901 her age is transcribed as 6 months, I think it is 16 as both the 1 and the 6 have been separately crossed off by the enumerator. The reference is below:-

Name: Crisilda Caroline J Williams
Year of Registration: 1900
Quarter of Registration: Jan-Feb-Mar
District: Helston
County: Cornwall
Volume: 5c
Page: 159

If Carrie was born on 9th November 1899, her birth may not have been registerd until early in 1900. It is possible someone mistook her year of birth.

I think I'd prefer Carrie to Crisilda, so can understand why she may have used a middle name.
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Re: Poor Law and elusive relative

Postby clare_bear » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:50 am

ksouthall wrote:I have found a possible birth certificate for Carrie Williams, registered in Helston. Carrie is often an abbreviation of Caroline. As Carrie Williams was living in Helston in 1901, aged 16 months, this could be her. Although in 1901 her age is transcribed as 6 months, I think it is 16 as both the 1 and the 6 have been separately crossed off by the enumerator. The reference is below:-

Name: Crisilda Caroline J Williams
Year of Registration: 1900
Quarter of Registration: Jan-Feb-Mar
District: Helston
County: Cornwall
Volume: 5c
Page: 159

If Carrie was born on 9th November 1899, her birth may not have been registerd until early in 1900. It is possible someone mistook her year of birth.

I think I'd prefer Carrie to Crisilda, so can understand why she may have used a middle name.


Thanks very much for looking, you could well have something there! That does all fit in with what I know and is entirely possible, isn't it?

I guess I need to look at the 1911 census to see if I can find Crisilda, because if I can, then it can't be Carrie (as I have her 1911 census entry).....

....After a very quick search of the index, I can't see a Crisilda, but I do see a Caroline registered in Falmouth, Cornwall. This may or may not be her given that Caroline is a common name and she was born in Helston (about 14 miles from Falmouth). I may have to purchase some more credits to see the full transcript later!

Thanks very much, this could be a great lead!
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Re: Poor Law and elusive relative

Postby ksouthall » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:06 am

clare_bear

I also saw the birth registration for Caroline Williams in Falmouth in Apr-Jun 1900, however felt that this is the less likely one as that would be a late registration for a November birth.

There are only 3 Crisilda's in the 1911 Census:-

Crisilda Clegg aged 56, living in Fylde, Lancashire
Crisilda Elizabeth Freeman aged 42, living in Hackney
Crisilda Gillespie aged 10, living in Cardiff.

I could not find Crisilda Williams in the 1901 or 1911 Censuses. I also found no death record for her.

Hope this helps,
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