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Graham Report 31 May 2013 15:07

I've just found out that one of my great great grandmothers was born out of wedlock and her mother (my 3 times great grandmother) was only 14 at the time! My three times great grandparents got married a month later. What does that say about my 3 times great grandfather? If that happened today he would probably facing a life sentence.


GlitterBaby Report 31 May 2013 15:09

No probably not as the age for marriage was a lot lower than it is now


Graham Report 31 May 2013 15:16

How times change :-)

Shirley~I,m getting the hang of it

Shirley~I,m getting the hang of it Report 31 May 2013 15:53

Well in victorian days girls could marry at 12 and boys at 14 with parental consent.

I have family that the mum was 15 when she married a 20 year old . she wasnt pregnamt\!!

Her elder sister too married at 15.

In those days older children needed to bring in money to the family so they often went into domestic service OR the girls married so no longer a financial burden on her family .

Times were hard then :-(


GenealogyResearchAssistance Report 31 May 2013 15:57

My 4 x Great Grandmother married at 15. My 4 x Great Grandfather was 21

It was a different time. Children where down the mines or at the foot of looms from a very early age and so childhood as we know it never existed.

Edited to correct spelling mistake


Graham Report 31 May 2013 16:01

We often think of people as being rather prudish in victorian times; but I'm beginning to think we might be more prudish now :-S
At least kids today know how well off they are (where is that emoticon with the tongue in its cheek?)

Shirley~I,m getting the hang of it

Shirley~I,m getting the hang of it Report 31 May 2013 16:32

well when I was a teenager in the late 1940 to 1950 its was a very taboo thing to get pregnant out of wedlock .

Mum would say "keep yer hand on yer happenny (halfpenny) and its a boys place to ask but a girls place to say NO !!.

I was terrified of getting myself in any situation before I married . even justified myself after marriage that NO we were married for 4 plus months when I got pregnant.
Research tho on family shows oh my goodness it did go on and girls got pregnant out of wedlock . and who would have thought it cos she was so prim !!

Some family secrets have surfaced on that score AND to some who were absolute prudes who didn't practice what they preached :-P


jax Report 31 May 2013 18:16

I would love to be able to tell my grandmother that her own mother was pregnant when she married plus she did not know who her father was :-D

She made such a big thing about my parents "having" to get married but 56 years later they are still together


MarieCeleste Report 31 May 2013 20:07

Like Graham, I too thought the Victorian's were prudish - boy! were my eyes opened once I got into family research.

The illegitimacy, bigamy, etc really surprised me.


DazedConfused Report 31 May 2013 20:34

One of my G/Gt/Grandfathers murdered his wife - all in the past - from the reports both very heavy drinkers

Not my problem.....

Only person it affected was my g/grandfather (and his older siblings) who went into the workhouse at age 2.

Yes the Victorians were very prudish, but the men regularly visited prostitutes of both sexes and ages (the certainly had a prediliction for young boys & girls!), Opium dens were everywhere, and men owned their wives and children - all the norm for them..... Thought nothing of children as young as 4 working ..... Sounds pretty much like those governing us today!!!!



MarieCeleste Report 1 Jun 2013 00:02

PP - that's not to mention family relationships that were closer than they ought to be, petty crime that was just a means to put food on the table, 2 years hard labour for stealing turnips and so on .......


SylviaInCanada Report 1 Jun 2013 02:23

I maintain that it was only the middle class Victorians who were prudish

Lots went on among the "higher classes", although once a woman married she was expected to remain pure until she had produce 2 sons .............. the "heir and a spare"

After that, it might be anyone's guess who fathered subsequent children!

Many young unmarried women were taken on a Grand Tour or to a European spa "to keep their mother company while she took the waters" ............. a baby would make its appearance after a few months, and could be adopted away or MUM might return to the UK with a new baby. The girl was then usually married off quickly, so she wouldn't get into any more trouble.

The "lower classes" were working too hard to make a living to pay much attention ............ babies were assimilated into the family. Many country people didn't mind sons marrying a pregnant woman or one with children, even if they were not his ............. the children proved that the woman was fecund, and would thus produce children to help on the farm, to take care of the parents and grandparents, etc.

It was the "middle class" .......... the shop keepers, professionals, etc ............. who were concerned with keeping their daughters "pure", and who hid all legs in case men got aroused ................ including chair legs, piano legs, etc.

My own grandmother was born in 1884, married in 1902, and was about 2-3 months pregnant at the time.

Both she and my grandfather lied on their marriage certificate .............. but rather stupidly.

She said she was 20 and he said he was 19 (actually 19 and about to turn 18) .............. stupidly, because they still needed parental consent :-D

Of course, we didn't know that, and I don't think even my mother realised she had been born so soon after the marriage.

I finally put 2 and 2 together about 3 years ago when I was holding both the marriage certificate and Mum's birth certificate looking for some information on certificates of that era!

As for bigamy ................ divorce was all but impossible for all but the extremely wealthy. But marriages broke down with about the same frequency that they do now.

All that people could do was leave such a marriage, often moving to another town, posing as single or widowed ........... and "re-marry" if they met someone. Of course, that would then be bigamy.

Or the couple lived together in sin ............... marrying only after the first spouse died .........

.......... that's why you sometimes find marriages years and years after children were born


CupCakes Report 1 Jun 2013 09:23

Love the title shocking - after I've been delving into lifes for over 15 years I'm not shocked by anything anymore - my word to describe family research would be 'fascinating'.

I always tell people that I help that family research is just history - in every family there are secrets - some good but some can be terrible.

One point not so far mentioned in this thread is that the toy boy phenomenon is not new.

Going back generations, being married was the ulimate respectability and safety net. Many younger men having nowhere to live married older women with children.

People really lied about their ages when marrying - taking 10 years off was quite common. For some women 15 years was not uncommon. Have to laugh - just this week found a 19 year old soldier who pretended he was 28 when marrying his first wife who chopped 5 years off her age and claimed she was 38 - docs are to hand which prove it.


MarieCeleste Report 1 Jun 2013 10:17

In the matter of divorce - although widely and rightly regarded as the prerogative of the wealthy at the time there are quite a few instances I've come across where relatively poor people successfully divorced, so never rule it out.

Lawyers would sometimes act "in forma pauperis" (in the manner of a pauper), usually in adultery cases. If it was established that the co-respondent was going to be good for the costs then the lawyer may take the case on. This could work if a wife went off with a wealthier man. However, a wife who's husband went off with the village tart would probably have no chance.


MarieCeleste Report 2 Jun 2013 12:45

Speaking of shocking, the daughter's occupation horrified me on this 1861 found while looking for something on another thread:

NEILE, Jane Head Unmarried F 38 1823 Concubine Hull, Yorkshire
SMITH, John Boarder Unmarried M 38 1823 Labourer Otteringham, Yorkshire
NEILE, Ann E Daughter Unmarried F 4 1857 Prostitute Hull, Yorkshire
NEILE, Martha G Daughter F 11 1850 Servant Hull, Yorkshire
NEILE, John T Son M 7 1854 Hull, Yorkshire

Piece: 3589 Folio: 48 Page: 10
Registration District: Hull
Civil Parish: St Marys
Municipal Borough: Kingston upon Hull

Address: 9, Cooks Buildings, Broadley Street, St Marys, Kingston Upon Hull County: Yorkshire (East riding)

The daughter is actually 11, not 4, but still bad enough (I'm not naive, I know it happened). What surprised me is that there's a whole street where most of the women's occupation is openly given as concubine or prostitute instead of hiding behind the euphemism of milliner or seamstress.