"The black lamb of the black sheep": illegitimacy in the English working class, 1850-1939.
I am far from defending the law of England.... On the contrary, I think it a disgrace to the nation. It visits the sins of the parents on the children; it encourages vice by depriving fathers and mothers of the strongest of all motives for making the atonement of marriage; and it claims to produce these two abominable results in the names of morality and religion. (1)
Though the illegitimacy laws had many conservative defenders, even those who championed English practice admitted that the sanctions were meant to punish the parents through their children, a morally dubious action; furthermore, the laws meant that England had many children existing in a legal limbo. As a result, the issue never entirely disappeared from public discourse, though the law of illegitimacy did not see any change until 1926--and even then the reforms were mild. Through the late Victorian period to World War II and even beyond, bastardy was a serious stigma legally, socially, and emotionally.
Many historians have studied the history of childhood in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, but these studies have rarely made any distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children. (2) Studies of illegitimacy, on the other hand, have been mostly demographic in nature, charting the rise and fall of illegitimate births, or have focused on the legal and cultural discourse on illegitimacy--e.g., on middle-class attempts to reclaim "fallen" women, on the legal position of unmarried women, or on how unmarried mothers coped with their difficult situation in a harsh climate . (3) Though these are all valid approaches, I would like to focus on the children rather than their mothers, and more on their experiences than on the discourses written about them. By doing so, I hope to look at the history of childhood and the family from a different perspective from those "living outside the law." (4)
Because of the large scope of this subject, I will limit the pool by class, concentrating on the working class, particularly those who tried to be "respectable." I will also center on family relationships rather than on the experience of children in institutions, though I will include some who moved in and out of state care. (It would be impossible to identify children who ended up dealing exclusively with state or with private charities, since many poor families had to resort to a variety of institutions to survive bad times.) Finally, I am concentrating on the Victorian period and the early 20th century, ending in 1939 with the beginning of World War II. However, I recognize that many of these stories are not confined to these discrete years and so may sometimes overstep these boundaries; in addition, the experience of illegitimacy did not necessarily change due to the very limited reforms in 1926 or when the dislocations of war made the status more common between 1914-8 and after 1939.
I have used several different kinds of sources to try to explore the experience of illegitimacy. First, I have read the autobiographies and memoirs of children in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, both legitimate and illegitimate, but focusing more on those of illegitimate children. Some of the most celebrated figures of this period were born out of wedlock and into poverty, including Henry Stanley and Catherine Cookson, but several less famous illegitimates have also left thoughtful memoirs. In addition, I have supplemented these with collections of autobiographical writings, such as those compiled by John Burnett. By comparing the experiences of working-class children born in wedlock to those outside, I can gauge the differences and similarities in their experiences. Second, I have used Elizabeth Roberts's oral history collection from 1890-1940 to get first-hand accounts of attitudes towards illegitimacy and also to hear the experience of her subjects who were or knew such children. I have been careful to use the memoirs of those born before 1920 and not afterwards in this collection. Third, I have assembled a large sample of newspaper reports of cases of violence and neglect of illegitimate children in both London and Lancaster between 1850 and 1914. Though these obviously skew towards negative experiences, they do give an idea of some of the family dynamics involved when one or more of the children in a union were "illegal." I chose to survey both London and Lancaster in order to avoid too much London-centered history, and Lancaster's records work well with Roberts's oral history testimonies. (5) Fourth, I have used the report of the National Council for One-Parent Families, published in 1986, which gathered the testimony of illegitimate children to argue for further changes in the law of illegitimacy. (6) The report is replete with firsthand accounts of social and legal discrimination; though many of the remarks concern the mid to late 20th century, some discuss those born before the first world war, particularly when respondents reflected on the experiences of their parents. I have excluded those testimonies that are beyond the period or unclear about birthdates. Though hardly exhaustive, these sources allow me to draw some tentative conclusions about the experience of illegitimacy in the working class throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
One can of course question the representativeness of these sources. Autobiographers are by definition unusual and all autobiographies must be used with care, due to the subjects' tendency to rewrite history in the telling. Roberts's respondents may also have had faulty memories, and the NCOPF collection is anonymous and therefore difficult to assess. Many of these writers' experiences, however, match trends identified by historians of the poor in this period; several of those who wrote memoirs also have biographers who have tested their accuracy. I have taken advantage of these works whenever possible, and I have indicated where autobiographies are inaccurate. I have also surveyed a number of legitimate working-class autobiographers, and these works offer strong basis for comparison to the experiences of illegitimates. In addition, the autobiographies and oral histories do not stand alone. Contemporary surveys by Henry Mayhew and Charles Booth supplement these accounts, as do legal records. The combination of sources will help to mitigate their inherent biases, though one can never entirely eliminate them.
Children were illegitimate for any number of reasons, including rapes, seductions, adultery, failed courtships, and long-term cohabitation. Whatever the reason for their status, illegitimate children caused a problem for a society that made heterosexual monogamous marriage the only respectable family formation. Such children were visual proof of sexual relations outside of this "norm," thereby jeopardizing idealized Victorian views on women and family. The responses to his threat varied with the situation and class of the parents. Those who cohabited often simply reproduced the idealized family as closely as possible, with mother, father, and children living together, though this did not always work smoothly. However, when the father was absent, the family had to find anotherway to approximate the norm. As a result, such children, and their mothers, were often written out of family stories so that the "real" family could maintain respectability. These strategies could lead to violence, neglect, or discrimination, as when the mother abandoned or harmed the child. But more often, the child took on a fictitious identity. Usually, the maternal grandparents acted as the parents of the new baby, while the mother transformed into a sibling. Any of these choices resulted in difficulties for everyone involved, but especially the child. When the illegitimacy was openly acknowledged, the child faced discrimination; when it was a secret, the child had the burden of protecting the family's honor, often only dimly aware of what had caused the shame. And in every situation, the fact of illegitimacy changed the family dynamic in a variety of ways.
Illegitimate children were a minority of infants, but not a negligible group. Lionel Rose estimates that the rate of illegitimacy fell from 7 per cent in the mid-1840s to 4 per cent by 1900, but that because of the general population increase, the number of illegitimate children stayed fairly steady. He estimates that between 40,000 and 44,000 illegitimate births per year were recorded--and probably 30% of such births went unrecorded. Thus, up to 65,000 illegitimate children were born each year. Naturally, over such a long period, there were variations; for instance, the number of recorded illegitimate births rose during World War I, and then declined, with the rest of the birthrate, between the wars. Nevertheless, between 1850 and 1940, hundreds of thousands of children had "illegal" parentage. Some of the children, of course, ended up in state care; particularly after the New Poor Law, the number of illegitimates eligible for outdoor relief fell steadily. Rose, e.g., points out that there were 11,179 pauper children in 1870 on poor relief, of whom only 2,894 received outdoor help, which meant that 8,000 children were in poorhouses, and there were probably others in charitable homes. All the same, those receiving such help were still a minority, even of recorded births. The majority of "chance" children had to be cared for within the community. (7) This conclusion is supported by other evidence. Elizabeth Roberts often asked her subjects if they knew anyone who had a child out of wedlock; most claimed to know only one or two, and almost all recorded that the maternal families cared for illegitimate children as a matter of course. Mr. T3P, e.g., born in 1886, insisted that the grandparents usually stood by "and the neighbours as well." In addition, some of the legal records indicate family forbearance; Phoebe Aldren still lived with her parents and siblings in Lancaster in 1895 despite having given birth to three illegitimate children. (8) As many historians affirm, the horror of the workhouse was so strong that even the poorest people would take in abandoned children rather than let them go to such a place. (9) Thus, the most typical situation for an illegitimate child was to remain in a private family, usually the maternal home.
How the lives of illegitimate children progressed depended on many factors, including the family's class, the level of secrecy about their status, and the success or failure of the relationship between the parents. In some cases, the illegal birth would make very little difference to the experience of growing up. Among the very poor and "criminal" classes, illegitimacy was unimportant as long as the breadwinner remained. Although illegitimate children could tell ghastly stories of poverty and deprivation, these were shared by most of their legitimate peers. (10) For example, violence between cohabiting partners shows no major differences with those between married partners in the lower working class; children did not escape the consequences of drunkenness or job loss just because they were not legally tied to their fathers. Although one woman told Margaret Loane in the early 1900s that she did not want to marry because "she didn't choose to be knocked about, or see her children treated bad," most women endured domestic violence whether or not they had a legal contract. (11) According to Henry Mayhew, e.g., in the 1850s and 1860s, the costermongers treated their women brutally, yet the women remained with abusive partners. Charles Booth reported several similar cases thirty years later in his study of London poverty. (12)
The personality and weaknesses of the parents also played a role in the experience of childhood and could obliterate any difference between "legal" and "illegal" offspring. Some parents were disastrous failures and neglected all their children whatever their status. James Yeames, a Methodist missionary to the East End of London in the late nineteenth century, told the story of a widow in 1869 who was called before the bench for neglecting her children while she drank away all of her parish assistance. She had five children, three the product of her marriage, but two of which were from % man with whom she was cohabiting, and that man was also cohabiting with another woman." All five children suffered equally from the lack of a breadwinner and their mother's alcoholism; the three legitimate children had no advantage over their siblings, since their father was dead. As Yeames pessimistically summed up the story, "The future of children who have known such a childhood may easily be imagined." (13) In these cases, the illegitimate children did not experience tremendously different lives from those of their legitimate peers.
All the same, illegitimate children faced serious disadvantages, although the problems varied depending on the class and structure of the family. For those in the poorer classes, or those with only one parent present, violence was a distinct possibility. Illegitimate children were disproportionately represented in infanticides. (14) Unmarried women wanted to avoid the disgrace and shame and so abandoned or murdered their infants. Numerous historians have studied infanticide as an aspect of the history of crime or of women in the 19th century, and cases of violence and desperation abound. (15) Servants in particular were prone to infanticide, since they could not possibly care for an infant in their jobs, but other women also committed the crime, usually from a combination of poverty and fear of disgrace. Such cases were sadly common throughout the nineteenth century and could be horrifying. In 1860, for example, Ann Murphy, unmarried and without means of support, buried her two-week old child alive in Liverpool; the baby lay in the hole for three hours before a gardener discovered it, crying and "in an exhausted state." (16) Her example could be multiplied many times, particularly women who for whatever reason could not fold the child into a maternal home but did not wish to go to the workhouse. With so little public or private support, unmarried mothers took desperate steps to hide the evidence of their "falls," often with fatal results.
In some situations, even the presence and financial help of the father did not save the child's life. In 1875, the York assizes featured the case of Thomas Checkley, a brickmaker, and his stepdaughter, Ann Pendrick, who was only sixteen years old. Both were tried for the wilful murder of their daughter; they had concealed the birth because it revealed their incestuous intercourse which had begun with the death of Pendrick's mother two years previously, when Ann was only fourteen. To make matters worse, Checkley had strangled the baby, then boiled the body, then "threw the remains in the ash heap, where they were discovered by the police." The crime came to light when Pendrick fell ill and had to be attended by a doctor. After being found guilty of manslaughter, Checkley went to prison for life, while Pendrick received eighteen months penal servitude for concealment of birth. Undoubtedly, Checkley's abuse of his stepdaughter and their infant's grisly death led to his long sentence, but the jury also held Pendrick responsible, despite her youth and the fact that she must have been bedridden during the crime. The shameful combination of incest and illegitimacy was a powerful incentive both for the parents to destroy the infant and for the jury to award harsh penalties. (17) Lack of sympathy for incest victims was common in Victorian courts. Carolyn Conley, in her study of Victorian Kent, found that men charged with incest with their stepdaughters, unless the girl was under the age of 12, were all acquitted. Judges assumed that girls consented to sexual relations, ignoring the vast power differential between a father and his dependents. (18) Efforts to kill such babies, then, were not surprising, given the limited options of their mothers.
Even if the illegitimate child survived infancy, mothers sometimes saw them as obstacles to forming permanent unions, especially if the new man made it clear he did not wish to support children from previous liaisons. According to Conley, in Kent, "of the forty-five homicide victims between the ages of fortyeight hours and twelve years, 67 percent were either stepchildren or illegitimate and all but six were killed by a parent or stepparent." (19) My research in Lancaster and London, though less systematic, offers numerous examples of the same phenomenon. Elizabeth Allcock lived with a hawker known as "Pot Tom" in Newton, Lancaster in 1860. Tom told her he would live with her, but not her illegitimate five-year old daughter. Elizabeth then went into the kitchen, grabbed the girl, "threw her on the floor, and kicked her with her clog on the abdomen." The child died a few days later, from malnutrition and "continued ill-treatment." Similarly, in 1865, Mary Ann Clarke deserted her eight-year old son in an outhouse in Lancaster, soon after she had married Christopher Dodd. According to the newspaper report, the boy "was without shoes or stockings, was almost in a state of nudity, and was covered with dirt." (20)
If the mother did not rid herself of the child voluntarily, her new partner might do so. Cecil Chapman, who was a magistrate of the police courts in Southwark between 1901-1908, reported in his memoirs about cases of cruelty to children from "want of self-restraint in the exercise of irresponsible power," insisting that "every one of them had to do with a step-child or an illegitimate child ..." (21) Often the abuse escalated if the mother died and left an illegitimate child with a step-parent. William Bail was arrested in April 1880 in Derbyshire for assaulting Mary Ann Heckling, aged eleven, the illegitimate daughter of his deceased wife. She acted as his housekeeper, "and he has frequently flogged her severely with a leather strap, and brutally kicked her." It is entirely possible, of course, that Bail would have abused his step-daughter whatever her birth status. But her illegitimacy added another reason to resent her and may also have added to her feeling of powerlessness. (22) Not all violence came from men, however. Frances Kidder married the father of her illegitimate child in 1867 in Kent. She discovered only after her marriage that her husband already had a daughter, the offspring of another irregular union several years earlier. Kidder drowned her step-daughter in a ditch in August of 1867. (23)
At times, the presence of a man, either the father or another lover, led to violence. However, the absence of the father was also a catalyst, particularly if the mother had mental problems. Women could react violently if they lost their partners and were left with many mouths to feed. Maria M'Neil had three illegitimate children living with her in her lodgings in London. In the fall of 1855, M'Neil's long time cohabitee deserted her, and her behavior became increasingly erratic; in fact, her friends persuaded her to allow her middle child to go to relatives in the country in order to get at least one of her children away from her. In December, M'Neil cut the throats of her remaining two children, and readily admitted to the crime. The court eventually found her insane, probably a combination of despair and post-partum depression. Ellen Lanigan faced a similar problem, but did not get similar mercy. She was married and had four children, but her husband was sent to an asylum, leaving her destitute. Ellen eventually lived with a man for support, only to have him leave her pregnant with twins. After giving birth to the children in a Liverpool workhouse, she drowned them, out of "poverty and distress and cruelty." (24) More commonly, women gave in to hopelessness and turned to alcohol with all its attendant ills. Mary Ann Payne had three illegitimate children by March of 1854 and no support from their Father, who was a married man. She was brought before the Lambeth police court for neglect of her children, since she was in the habit of locking them up in their lodgings "for days and nights together, while she herself was at the publichouse wallowing in drunkenness." Payne got four months in prison and hard labor, while her children went to the workhouse. The equally neglectful father of the children, of course, received no punishment at all. (25)
Naturally, these examples are extreme. Most children did not face violence as infants or as older children and found some kind of home life with their mothers or maternal kin; in addition, one should always remember that violence against children was fairly common in the 19th century, as was poverty. Any child who grew up without a breadwinner was in a tenuous position, as many of the above examples showed. All the same, illegitimacy made it easier for Fathers to desert or neglect their offspring, particularly because they had few legal obligations. The numerous trials for infanticide were a case in point; the majority of the women under indictment had been deserted by their lovers before their babies arrived. Many of the stories of the Foundling Hospital also showed how destitute an unmarried mother with a child could be without a breadwinner; in addition, they demonstrate how difficult it was to get charitable assistance, even from an institution set up specifically to help them. As many historians have noted, the Foundling Hospital had very strict guidelines for admitting infants. The applicant must have had only one illegitimate child, have "fallen" under a promise of marriage, and been of previously irreproachable behavior. Needless to say, many women did not meet these requirements; the hospital rejected far more petitions than it accepted, with the result that some of the poorest babies went unassisted. (26)
As the Victorian age advanced, and more and more child welfare initiatives began, the effects for illegitimate children were contradictory. On the one hand, some private charities and state welfare agencies specifically excluded illegitimates, so their problems remained unaddressed. Parish authorities used any loophole to avoid supporting dependents, and sometimes an illegal birth offered this. Henry Mayhew interviewed a homeless young woman in the mid-Victorian period who had never known her father and whose mother had died. She "wished to get into the parish, in order to be sent out as an emigrant, or anything of that kind; but her illegitimacy was a bar, as no settlement could be proved." (27) In addition, emphasis on "morality" in most charities meant that children of "sin" were not welcome. During the late Victorian period, Dr. Bernardo's creche for orphans did not allow illegitimates; as Sir John Kirk explained, "One of the roles here is that the parents, though necessarily poor, must be married; otherwise it has been found that a premium would be put upon vice ... "Barnardo was not alone in this policy. As Anna Davin points out, illegitimate children were purposely excluded from many of the creches set up to aid working mothers at the turn of the century; of the fifty-five in London, twenty-five expressly excluded such children, "thus denying access 'to those unfortunate mothers and infants who need it most'." (28)
However, the emphasis on promoting "morality" could, paradoxically, work in just the opposite way. In the late Victorian period, especially after W.T. Stead published his expose "The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon" in 1885, more and more "child savers" concentrated on "rescuing" girls from potentially harmful environments. As a result, they were more likely to intervene in situations where the mother was "immoral," and they challenged custody of such mothers with higher levels of success--though such interventions were limited to daughters. Louise Jackson's research on the NSPCC and other such agencies showed that especially after the 1880 Industrial Schools Amendment Act, which allowed the state to remove children from "immoral surroundings," mothers were likelier to lose their daughters than before. (29) Since having an illegitimate child made the mother automatically morally suspect, many illegitimate girls eventually became wards of the state, either in industrial schools (started 1866) or the workhouse, or wards of private charities, like the Waifs and Strays Society or the Salvation Army.
The intervention of crusaders and parish authorities meant a great deal of disruption in family life and also stigma for illegitimate children. In other words, though the intentions of many "savers" were good, their efforts could cause as much harm as benefits to the objects of their concern. These children lost touch with their relatives, were confused in their identities, and also became imbued with shame, especially children who ended up in the workhouse. Those taken in by the parish suffered the double stigma of bastardy and pauperism. In fact, the humiliation of these two conditions blurred together indistinctly for many children. A woman responding to a survey about the experience of illegitimates in 1986 said that her mother "was put in an orphanage and did not get full knowledge about her parents until she was 55. She suffered greatly as a young woman in service as a bastard without rights." Another respondent complained about the conditions of early twentieth-century social welfare:
In the workhouse, I was separated from my mother. I'd be about two years old. Yes, it is worse than it reads to have the experience. I was put into a children's home until 15 years old when l suffered daily beatings, constant hardwork, e.g. scrubbing large floors, outside yards, all on hands and knees, handwashing bedding and clothes for 28 children and all the domestic chores ..." (30)
Many autobiographies and testimonies dwell on this workhouse humiliation. Joanne Hill, writing in 1873, was one of the few middle-class observers to understand the stigma of the workhouse uniform and the inevitable teasing it invited, describing it as % source of misery to many a girl." Florence Atherton, born in 1898, went to the local school, and the workhouse children also attended. Her description of them makes it dear that their "difference" was obvious to every child in the school:
Now these children were pathetic. All their hair was cropped and they had thick clogs, thick caps and all their hair was almost shaved off.... We knew they were workhouse children but we didn't bother with them because we didn't understand what those children were feeling. We didn't know, we had a good mother and father, see. They had what they call a mother, bringing them and taking them back you see, and I was always in the concerts and used to sing and go on the stage. But the poor workhouse children had to go home. (31)
One respondent in the 1986 survey, born in the 1920s, recalled, "Marching to school and church in twos in crocodile fashion, having normal children shout at us, I'd be trying to hide my face ... I would wonder why nobody loved me, why was I in a home, why was my mother ... a Miss and not a Mrs." (32) The painful knowledge of being "abnormal" must have been bad enough; the poverty added insult to injury.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, workhouse children were often fostered out rather than left in the institution, but this did not always solve their problems. Dorothy Hatcher, born in 1904 to an unmarried Kent farm servant, moved constantly between different situations, mostly under the impetus of the state. She was born in the workhouse, then her mother took her to live with her great-grandmother, then she went back to the workhouse; finally, at the age of four, she was fostered out to a loving couple and was fairly happy. Unfortunately, when she was ten, she had to go to a different family, because her "Auntie Bea" had to take in other relatives. She was not happy with the second family and after a year moved yet again to another situation. She was again content, but after only three years in her third foster home, at the age of fourteen, she had to go to a training facility for domestic service and then to her first position. In her autobiography, she summed up her confused reaction to her peripatetic life:
I must have been a very bewildered little girl.... I seemed to have no rights, no privileges as others did.... An unsettled early life, the stigma of being illegitimate and not realising why I was despised because of it, all combined to make me grow up with the feeling that everyone was against me. I had a huge inferiority complex and it has taken the best part of my life to conquer. (33)
As the case of Dorothy Hatcher showed, many illegitimates led completely unsettled home lives, marred by constant shuttling between a variety of guardians and/or state services. This was not simply a result of elite "social control," but an interaction between single parents, usually mothers, and various helping agencies. The mothers tried to use the law to gain some limited control over their lives, though always under the rules shaped by poor law authorities and "savers." These interactions increased the likelihood that the child would move around frequently. For example, in In re Carey (1883), a fifteen-year old girl gave birth to a child and gave the baby to foster parents for the first six years of its life. After that point, the mother sued to regain custody of her child, but her case was weak because she was then living "under the protection of a gentleman" and so "was not a proper person to have the custody of the child." She lost her original appeal, so she then sued to have the child given to her sister and brother-in-law, a respectably married couple, and this suit succeeded. While the case wound through the courts, the subject of it lived in one of Dr. Barnardo's homes. Thus, the child first lived with a foster couple, then in a charity institution, and then with an aunt and uncle all in the space of a few months. One can only guess the emotional trauma of losing foster parents at the age of six, much less going to an institution and then to strangers, but such stories were far from rare. (34) Henrietta Barnett, who worked to reclaim "fallen" women in workhouses in the 1870s and 1880s, discussed the case of a young woman named Emma, who was twenty-six. Emma had lived with a man on the continent for some years before returning to England with him and being deserted. Barnett got her a job as a servant in the country, but this meant that her son had to live apart from his mother and saw her only on holidays. Though this arrangement was certainly preferable to the workhouse, the boy had largely lost both of his parents in a short period of time, and must have found the transition wrenching. (35) Lack of support from fathers was a major factor here, but such shuffling went on, even when the father took some responsibility. One illegitimate, born in the nineteen-teens, described this childhood:
My mother gave me three years of loving care before I was four years old. I was then taken to see an English country gentleman, my father. He would give the five shillings the courts had demanded to anyone willing to house me. In the 1920s there were many who were willing to take the money. Short passages in my past years would have made a good Hitchcock film with no exaggeration. (36)
George Behlmer's work on the Church of England's Waifs and Strays Society, founded in 1881, illuminated many of these same difficulties, complex interactions, and disruptions. The CEWSS took in children either voluntarily or otherwise and often boarded them out to foster parents, sometimes with some support from mothers and sometimes without. This system was rife with complications for children, particularly if the mother's contributions stopped. Because the boarding out system could be expensive, the CEWSS had a financial motive to accept adoptions for its children and sometimes took children from loving homes as a result. John S., an illegitimate child, lived in a foster home and was described as "happy well cared for and loved" in his adopted family. Nevertheless, when his mother disappeared, taking her weekly four-shilling contribution with her, the CEWSS accepted an offer of adoption for him and he was abruptly uprooted. Sometimes these stories ended happily. Edith B., whose mother was a servant, was boarded out with a Mrs. Smith in London, with her mother contributing one shilling per week. Edith was in poor health when she went to Mrs. Smith's home, but flourished under the kindness of her foster mother. Mrs. Smith adopted Edith six years later. However, this happy ending came about primarily because the child had a well-off sponsor, a Mrs. Billing, who helped to underwrite the entire scheme. Without sponsors, the children were left much more vulnerable. Lilian W. was adopted by a Mrs. Edwards in Wales when she was 14; two years later, Edwards backed out of the arrangement, complaining that Lillian was "a bit rude." Behlmer argues that since adoptions were informal, they could fall through easily, and, as the first example showed, adoptions did not always lead to happiness for the child. At the very least, none of these children could feel secure in their home lives. (37)
Though state and private charities were guilty of insensitivity about the harm these constant changes caused to their wards, they were not solely responsible for the problems. As many of the above examples indicate, the parents and other relatives contributed to the confusion. Dorothy Hatcher, for example, might have stayed with her great-grandmother, except that her mother got pregnant out of wedlock a second time, forcing the family back to the workhouse. In addition, fathers either did not support their children at all or did so capriciously, or even, in the case of the survey correspondent above, searched for the lowest bidder to care for their children. Furthermore, children could become the subject of bitter custody disputes, as in In re Carey; ironically, that child's problems came from the fact that so many different parties wanted him, rather than from indifference. Though the directors of workhouses and charities certainly had more leverage than their clients, the families of the children sometimes caused their offspring just as much misery as even the most insensitive representative of the state.
Partly, of course, the parents faced limited options because of their poverty, but even illegitimate children whose parents were not poverty-stricken faced frequent moves and custody problems. For example, Rudolf Rocker, an immigrant who became a leader in the Jewish labor movement, lived with Millie Witcop in London in the Edwardian period. He had previously lived with another woman and had a child with her, but they had been unable, in his words, to find "any spiritual bond between us." Thus, they separated, with the child going with his mother. However, when the boy was six, his mother married another man, and, according to Rocker, "the child was in his way, and Milly and I took him in ... She was a good mother to my son." (38) Though this child ended up in a loving home, since Rocker and Witcop remained together for 58 years, he may well have never forgotten that his mother rejected him when he was six.
Probably the best single example of the difficulties of custody, step-parenting, and state intervention involves the varied experiences of the Chaplin menage in the 1890s. Hannah Hill had an illegitimate child, Sydney, before she married Charles Chaplin, Sr. (though Syd may well have been Chaplin Sr.'s son). She gave birth to Charles, Jr. when legally wed, but soon after the couple decided to split. Sydney and Charles remained with their mother, who then lived with Leo Dryden and gave birth to another son, George Dryden Wheeler. Because of Hannah's growing mental instability, Dryden took his son away when he was only six months old; George apparently never saw his mother again, and only reconnected with his half-brothers thirty years later. In the meantime, Hannah had lost all financial support and appealed to Charles, Sr., who was now living with a woman named Louise and had yet another illegitimate son (a third half-brother for Charlie). Charles Sr.'s refusal to support them brought the family of three to the workhouse twice. Charlie and Syd also lived with Charles, Sr. and Louise for a brief time, which was exceedingly unpleasant for everyone involved. Indeed, things were so bad that on one occasion the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children intervened. Eventually, Charlie and Syd went back to their mother, and as Charlie became a successful actor, the money problems eased. However, on the early death of Charles, Sr., Louise had to apply to the workhouse with her little son--ironically, the same one where Charlie and Syd had lived and loathed. (39)
Extreme poverty, trips to the workhouse, and custody battles were not, of course, the monopoly of the illegitimate. Legitimate working-class children also suffered, often through the death of one or more parent, a not-infrequent occurrence in this period. In particular, the workhouse was a shame that affected anyone tainted with its brush no matter what their birth. However, illegitimates had the added difficulty of constant questions about their identity. Since they had no legal name, they caused a problem for state authorities, and could be left in some confusion about who exactly they were. If in the respectable poor, illegitimates either lived in ignorance of their real names--and thus in danger of disillusionment when they found out the truth--or had to lead a double life. For instance, Catherine Cookson, daughter of a Jarrow barmaid, was known as Katie McMullen, which was the name of her step-grandfather (whom she believed to be her father). Her natural mother's maiden name, however, was Fawcett, and she overheard her mother telling the correct name to the headmistress at one of her schools, a conversation that bewildered her. In addition, her mother eventually married, which changed her last name to McDermott, the name of her stepfather. Just to make things more confusing, her mother had registered her birth as legitimate and even put the name of her natural father, Andrew Davies, on the form; anyone who saw this paper would assume Catherine's last name was Davies. By the age of seventeen, then, Catherine had four possible names attached to her, and her experience was only slightly more complicated than most. As a result, many illegitimates longed for a "legal" name, one that would make them like other children. Louie Stride, who grew up poverty-stricken in Bath in the Edwardian period, was always ashamed that her name was the same as her mother's maiden name since it immediately identified her as "a Bastard child." When her mother married, she was joyful; her step-father had given her a "real" name at last, and she insisted on going to a new school to use the name with a clean slate. (40)
The advantage of having more than one name was that one could see new ones as opportunities for rebirth. The disadvantage was the confusion of identity that was almost inevitable. Furthermore, multiple names led to much embarrassment, especially in the late nineteenth century when the state increasingly intervened in the lives of children. For example, Louie Stride's happiness in her new "legal" name was short-lived. The school board man, Mr. Billet, eventually appeared at her new school and humiliated her by calling her a liar and revealing her birth name. She concluded, gloomily, "I never lived it down." Bim Andrews, illegitimate daughter of poor but respectable parents in Cambridge (born in 1909), faced difficulties with her name when she went to boarding school, since her parents had married after her birth:
My birth certificate said 'Strange', and so did the elementary school register. My mother wanted the records straight, mad I was told to speak up and get myself listed as Ball. Such a lot of lists, and so many teachers to speak up to. I did not have the sense to say that my mother had married a second time, so I could only face the avid ring of playground questioners with hot humiliation. (41)
Children of the mid-Victorian period would have at least been spared "such a lot of lists," though the playground cruelty may have occurred nevertheless. One of the hardest aspects of childhood and adolescence is the process of identity formation, and this maturation was particularly complicated for children without legal parents or surnames. After all, who were they? And what did their names mean? If they shared the status with siblings, they could at least have company in their uncertainty, but children like Bim Andrews, whose siblings were all legitimate, had the burden alone.
Social and legal discrimination increased and complicated the identity problems. Evidence from illegitimate children makes clear that other children regarded them with hostility and contempt. One illegitimate child, born in 1929, said "my schooldays were hell--I was called a BASTARD many times, never really told any details about my birth until later in my life." Another respondent, born in the 1920s, reported, "children are cruel and when I was very young children would say when they wouldn't let me play with them: 'Clear off, you haven't got a father' This had an adverse affect on me." (42) Children knew very well what an insult the word "bastard" was, to themselves as well as their mothers. One boy growing up in Barrow, Lancashire before WWI, recalled: "I remember a boy shouting after me something about a bastard, and I thought oh, that was a crime against mother. I was so annoyed that I chased him right down the street and I caught him and I belted him."(43)
Illegitimate children were often left out of social activities when neighbors assumed they were inherently "bad" and would pollute the other children. Indeed, illegitimacy could mean instant unrespectability; those with hopes for respectable status, therefore, would not mix with such children. Catherine Cookson recounted a story in her autobiography of not being invited to a local girl's birthday party. She went to the house anyway and tried to draw the mother's attention, insisting to herself that they had simply forgotten her invitation. The birthday girl finally mid her bluntly that she could not come in. Her mother had forbidden it, she explained, because "you haven't got no da." (44) Dorothy Hatcher, while she was fostered out with her "Auntie Bea," went to the local school. She made friends with one of the girls, but as soon as the girl's mother learned of her background, she forbade the friendship: "she said she was not to play with me anymore as I was born in disgrace." When Dorothy told her foster parents, they explained that "I could not expect respectable people to treat me as themselves." (45)
Illegitimate children also made convenient scapegoats for children and teachers alike, particularly as Social Darwinist ideas filtered into school curriculum. An illegitimate child born in 1912 was sent to a Catholic private school for her schooling. Because the school required proof of birth, her illegitimacy was well-known to both the faculty and students. She later recalled, "I was made a little scapegoat if anything went wrong in class, then I heard them say one day after I had slid down the rail leading to the tennis court, 'Oh, it is her bad blood I expect, she should not be here really.' So if any trips were going to take place ... I was excluded." Even when teachers did not explicitly discuss "bad blood," they could be completely indifferent to the pain they caused with careless remarks. Hatcher remembered a teacher at her local school asking each student what work they wanted to do when they became adults. Each student spoke in turn, detailing a variety of possible careers. However, when the teacher got to Dorothy, he did not give her a chance to answer, saying dismissively, "'You haven't got a choice. All workhouse children will be put in domestic service.'" Hatcher felt humiliated and concluded, "Everybody seemed bent on rubbing it in that I was not like others and had no say in my future at all." (46)
The psychological scars from the shame and fears of rejection could be lifelong. One of the best examples of this was Henry Stanley, born John Rowlands, who was the illegitimate son of a Welsh servant. His feckless mother left him with her family in Denbighshire when he was still an infant, and his uncles paid a couple to care for him until he was six years old. At that point, his caretakers asked for more money, and his uncles were unwilling to do this. Instead, they took him to the workhouse where he remained until he left school. He later went to the United States, became a journalist, and began his world travels. Clearly, Rowlands had a young life full of transitions and hardships. He had no parents except for the foster couple, who gave him up when his uncles would not raise their rate to keep him. The scars of this experience showed up in Rowlands' later life and writings. His biographers have proved conclusively that his autobiography, which dealt with his childhood and young adulthood, was an almost total fabrication. He vastly overstated the hardships he faced in the workhouse, unpleasant as it must have been, and claimed (falsely) that he ran away after attacking his sadistic headmaster. He then invented a father/son relationship with Mr. Stanley of New Orleans, a man he knew only slightly. Rowlands's need for a good father figure (as opposed to his natural, indifferent father) required that Stanley fit the mold. Since neither Stanley nor his wife actually supported Rowlands, Rowlands recorded in his autobiography that both them died several years before they actually did so in order to explain their neglect. He took Stanley's name, rejecting his natural one, and reinvented himself as the newspaper correspondent, explorer, and imperialist. (47) Clearly, Rowlands's transformation went well beyond a name change into an entirely different history. And, apparently, his scars never healed; he had problematic relationships with others all of his life, particularly with women. Emr Wyn Jones called him "pathological," and his most recent biographer, John Bierman, concluded that his childhood left him an "emotional cripple." (48)
Another experience shared by illegitimates was the disruption of family relationships, and the tensions this caused in their lives. Several did not know who their fathers were, or even their mothers. When the child was taken in by the maternal family, they believed their grandmothers or even aunts were their mothers; their mothers were "aunties." This was particularly the case in the respectable poor, those who lived in what Carl Chinn has called "settled" neighborhoods. (49) There the need for keeping up appearances was paramount, and the grandparents tried to erase the stigma of illegitimacy by adopting the child as their own. This was an unstable solution in several ways. The first was that often the mothers eventually wished to reclaim their children, usually when they married, but sometimes when they faced other crisis points, such as widowhood. At that point, the children not only had to adjust to a completely different home life, but also discovered that they were not who they thought they were. One woman born in 1908 described her experience:
I lived in a village with my grandparents until I was ten years old when I was told that I must go and live with my aunt who lived in the next road ... My auntie had four children under five years old (twirls). Then after a few days I was told I was never to visit my grandparents or to have anything to do with them in any way. I had to work hard with the children and housework--hating every minute of my life. Then when I was twelve years old my aunt told me that she was my mother. I couldn't bring myself to call her anything but Auntie until a near tragedy when I was sixteen. (50)
This woman's mother regarded her illegitimate daughter as an unpaid servant; no wonder the girl had trouble calling her "mother." Her life with her grandparents was interrupted 'after ten years of care, and she never felt a full member of her mother's second Family. Indeed, she did not even know that the small children she tended were her brothers and sisters for two years.
The grandparents were the usual adoptive parents, but wider kin also sometimes became involved, and this was not always a better situation. In fact, these cases also showed another aspect of the instability of casual "adoptions" of illegitimates by their families. Often relatives, particularly siblings, resented the "fallen" woman who had visited disgrace on the family, and those tensions could spill out onto the child. One illegitimate woman claimed that she was taken in by her great-uncle and aunt, but this did not result in much happiness. Her great-aunt disliked her natural mother and had no hopes for her daughter, "the black lamb of the black sheep." (51) Resentment of "fallen" siblings was clear in several cases, though most of my examples concern sisters rather than brothers. Catherine Cookson's Aunt Mary, a respectable woman, never forgave her sister Kate for disgracing the family; her dislike was compounded by Kate's alcoholism which brought further shame for her relatives. One of Elizabeth Roberts's subjects, Mrs. W1B, born in 1900, thoroughly disliked her sister Edith, who had an illegitimate child and still remained their mother's favorite; she told several stories about her sister that made Edith appear selfish, argumentative, and flighty. (52) Legal sources also show tensions between sisters. Phoebe Aldren, who lived with her maternal family with her three illegitimate children, committed suicide in Lancaster in 1895. In her suicide note, she blamed her sister Mary, who had apparently been castigating her: "I will forgive my sister Mary for what she called me on Saturday, but it is through her that I have done this. I never was so good as her." (53) Few records mention brothers who reacted with such acrimony, which may well be because the tensions came from pre-existing conflicts rather than the mere fact of illegitimacy. However, sisters may also have resented a "fall" more than brothers, since their reputations were damaged more severely by the social disgrace. In addition, the pregnancy of an older sister could mean an even more circumscribed social life for all daughters who followed, a circumstance that angered many of them.
Yet another reason that "adoptions" were unstable was the fact that children could find out the truth accidentally and be devastated by the news. Since they often lived in small, tightly-knit communities, the entire neighborhood knew. Cookson, known as Katie McMullen throughout her childhood, lived with her grandparents and her mother, and long assumed her mother was her sister. She was disabused of this forcefully at the age of seven when she got into an argument with a girl during play. Katie, furious, threatened to tell her "ma" about the girl's bad behavior, only to get a shocking response:
On this she shot me into the awareness of living by sticking her face close to mine and bawling at me, 'She's not your ma. If ya want to know, she's your grandma ... your Kate's your ma and she drinks, an' ... YOU haven't GOT NO DA, me ma says so.' ... No one, unless he has been through a similar experience and has had the security of parents wrenched from him, can have any idea as to the force of this impact. (54)
Cookson called her reaction "the fear of not belonging." According to Kathleen Jones, her most recent biographer, she was even more explicit in an unpublished autobiography, labeling her fear "the lost feeling, the feeling of aloneness ... it has life of its own, an all-knowing, desolate, universal life." (55)
Not all illegitimates faced hostility from their families and neighbors, but this did not mean that they escaped all the difficulties. One of Elizabeth Roberts's subjects, Mrs. C3P, had a relatively happy life living with her mother and aunt in Preston in the early twentieth century. But she still had problems working out her family relationships. Her mother, she explained, "wouldn't let me call her mother, I had to call her Hannah." She admitted to loving her aunt more than her mother, and one reason may have been this rule, which indicated that her mother was ashamed of her and did not wish to acknowledge the relationship. After all, how many other children called their mothers by their first names? (56) And because they were subject to shuffling among their relatives, they could suffer even when they were welcome and loved, as another of Roberts's subjects showed. As mentioned above, Mrs. W1B's older sister Edith had an illegitimate daughter. She freely admitted how much she resented her sister, and she claimed her father was also furious with Edith. All the same, none of the family visited their ill feelings on the baby girl, Nellie; indeed, the entire family spoiled her. Nellie lived with her maternal grandparents until her mother got married. Then things changed, as Mrs. W1B explained:
Edith when she got married took Nellie with her. The child wasn't happy and m' father was vexed. He said that it wasn't right to take her with her.... It was a complete change for the child because she'd always called her Edith and she'd to start and call her mum. She married a widower with two children of a similar age. We all missed her because she was ruined between us. (57)
In other words, even if the child were wanted rather than rejected--indeed sometimes precisely because she was wanted--she could be uprooted at a particularly difficult age, leading to unhappiness or at least confusion for the child.
On the other hand, Nellie was well-loved and popular, so she had an advantage in dealing with her transitions. As indicated above, another of the major problems for illegitimate children was the feeling that they were never secure members of their families. They were the children most likely to be traded around between kin, and they could also be handed over to state institutions whenever times got difficult. The difficulties are well illustrated in the natal and marital family history of Mr. T1P, who was born in Preston in 1897. TIP had eleven siblings; ten of them belonged to both of his parents, but the oldest, Bill, was his mother's illegitimate child. Although described as a "grand lad," Bill was clearly not a regular part of the family. He sold papers on his own and went about barefooted. Mr. T1P explained, "I though t it was my own brother till I got older, like. They told us." A half brother, apparently, was not "my own brother"; unlike the other children, Bill was on the outskirts of the family. Interestingly, Mr. TIP went on to marry a woman who had an illegitimate son. When she died, he had to work long hours and had no one to watch the child. As a result, he put his stepson in one of Dr. Barnardo's homes. "He were there quite a while.... I don't know whether he held it against me. I could manage, but it was the neighbours who thought it would be better." Mr. T1P did not say so, but one got the impression that he would not have given up his own child though he may have done the same with a legitimate step-child. Eventually, T1P remarried, and his second wife brought the boy home. The boy lived with the couple until he was ready to go out on his own, but he must have wondered what would happen to him should his step-mother die as his mother had. (58)
Some children knew that they were in a precarious situation, and they began to act out in response to their fears of abandonment. Another of Elizabeth Roberts's subjects from Preston, Mrs. W4P, born in 1900, told the story of a nurse who got pregnant by a man who refused to marry her. She had the baby and lived as a single mother and eventually began courting a man named Brian. Her son, Mark, was five years old when she became engaged, and Mrs. W4P, who lived across the street, noticed that the boy was upset and frightened, because he began behaving badly to his grandmother. Mrs. W4P decided to take a hand:
I told her [his grandmother] to bring him across and we talked to him and I said, "You'll have a proper dad Mark and your mother won't leave you, even for Brian because she loves you too much." After a time he got quiet and I said, "when you go back tell your grandma you're sorry." After that, that little boy was different altogether. They say it doesn't make any difference even yet, to a little bastard.... but it does. (59)
Though her terminology was hardly sensitive, Mrs. W4P was perceptive enough to recognize Mark's fears and to address them. Such apprehensions must have been a regular part of life for many illegitimate children and, like Mark, they responded with aggression. Cookson became increasingly violent after she discovered her illegitimacy, threatening to fight anyone who challenged her. Dorothy Hatcher, too, was always in trouble for violent behavior: "Auntie had quite a time placating angry mothers who complained I had kicked their child .... I was feeling insecure due mainly to the circumstances of my birth." (60)
As historians have recently pointed out, the process of keeping family secrets and shames was one that implicated several generations and led to enormous stress for the children involved. Illegitimacy was one of the most powerful of family secrets, well into the twentieth century. (61) Illegitimacy exposed illicit sexuality, and showed that the family involved was unable to fit into the "normal" family pattern. In other words, an illegitimate child broke through the myth of the idealized family, the "family we live by," rather than the actual family "we live with, to paraphrase John Gillis. (62) This shattering was much more serious in the middle classes, where the myths were particularly strong, but it could also upset the respectable working class. It could also have a profound effect on the development of the children. As one historian has noted, "the burden of knowing yet not knowing lies heavy upon children." (63) Without really understanding why, children simply knew they must keep silent. This knowledge led to fear of discovery, as well as a sense of responsibility for protecting the family's honor; it could also lead to a sense of separation from all those without--and even within--the family.
At times, children never knew the exact circumstances of their births because of the wall of silence about it. Indeed, though sometimes children blurted out the news, the adults of the neighborhood colluded in the deception. Carl Chinn described the experience of one illegitimate child who found out about the circumstances of her birth in her late teens through an elderly neighbor who accidentally said too much to her; the rest of the people living on her street had never mentioned it. (64) In such cases, the children sometimes got partial answers or intuited something of their situations on their own. J.E. Bowman, for instance, claimed to have already known about his illegitimacy before he received confirmation at age eleven. Interestingly, though, he worked this out on his own, without asking questions or discussing it with his mother or grandparents, keeping the family secret as carefully as they had. Some understood that through their silence, they were part of the conspiracy, and they were unable to break through that later in life. One illegitimate child who responded to the survey in 1986 explained that she simply could not ask her mother about her birth, "as I have colluded with her silence on the subject for too long." (65) Years of avoiding the subject inhibited frank discussion, even when the reasons for secrecy had disappeared.
The largest difference in home life for illegitimate children was one of absence; in the vast majority of cases, one or both of their natural parents were not part of the family circle. Most often, the missing member was the father, and this had numerous ramifications. As stated above, financial strain was inevitable without a strong breadwinner, and many children, legitimate or not, discovered just how bad this situation could be. But they also missed the relationship even when there were no economic worries. Thomas Burke, whose father died when he was less than a year old, described the difference between his home and that of his better-off friend Frida's as the difference between having a father and not having one: "A Father, I felt, made all the difference between a cosy little place where you lived and a real Home." (66) Since such language was usually used about mothers, this is a particularly striking example of the importance of both parents to the child's welfare. Of course, as this example indicates, children did not have to be illegitimate to lose a parent, but irregular unions made the separation just that much easier.
In addition, the lack of the father caused great strain between mothers and illegitimate children because mothers were reluctant to discuss their often painful memories of their relationships with the fathers. Unlike widows or divorcees, unmarried mothers did not have romances with even temporary happy endings, and they also felt a great deal of shame. Many illegitimates resented not knowing who their fathers were or any of the circumstances of their births. One illegitimate, born in 1917, complained:
I never knew who my real father was.... I asked my mother to tell me, she refused I am sorry to say. I never forgave her for not telling me. I may have walked past him or even spoken to him not knowing who he was. I am 68 years of age, so he will be long gone. I still shed tears knowing I never knew him. I do believe a child in that situation should be told no matter what. (67)
Another person in the same situation, concluded flatly, "I find it hard to forgive my mother for 'lying' to me by her silence when I was young." (68) Even illegitimates with basically happy lives regretted having no relationship with their fathers. Mrs. C3P was content with her unmarried mother and her aunt, but she was wistful about her father, whom she only saw twice in her life: "Oh, he was a nice man. Nice to look at and he was lovely spoken. Oh yes." (69)
As is sometimes the case with children of divorce in modern times, the custodial parent, who did the difficult job of rearing the child, faced resentment and blame for the absence of the non-custodial parent. With illegitimate children, the custodial parent was almost always the mother, and the absent parent the father, Few of the children expressed any animosity towards their fathers, despite the fact that many had deserted their mothers in the worst possible circumstances and almost none contributed money to the upbringing of their children. This parental indifference was somehow less offensive than the admittedly sometimes secretive care that they received from their mothers. Indeed, many children fantasized about their fathers and assumed that they were well-born, kind, and simply unaware that the child existed. Catherine Cookson, e.g., chose the local doctor as her father when she was quite young and had an elaborate fantasy about him. She even bragged to school friends about it, which, fortunately for the doctor, no one believed. (70) Mothers invariably saw themselves as protecting their children from pain by telling them as little as possible about their parentage, but many children resented the silence that their mothers insisted upon. Furthermore, children often could not see that their mothers may have been constrained by pressures of their own parents for secrecy, in order to maintain respectability in the neighborhood. The need for discretion was another complicating factor in the already tangled relationship between mother and child.
An additional difficulty occurred when the mothers resented their illegitimate children as symbols of shame and as financial burdens. Sometimes, as indicated above, this bitterness flared into outright violence or took the form of neglect. However, far more frequently, mothers simply made their distaste obvious verbally. One of the 1986 correspondents, born in 1908, claimed that her mother "told me once that I had been the curse of her life." This woman was traumatized enough by her childhood to be unable to face sexual relations; she broke off three engagements by the time she was 40, though she eventually married at the age of 45. Yet she also said she did not see her mother's reaction as unreasonable, since "I later understood what she had been through because of me." (71) Almost certainly, those mothers both loved and resented their illegitimate children at the same time, even though the rest of the family might not have as much ambivalence. J.E. Bowman, born in 1920, was taken in and loved dearly by his grandparents and his uncle, despite his illegitimacy. But his mother's reaction was to become "remorseful and embittered." She did not tell him the truth about his parentage until he was eleven. Unlike many illegitimate children, he was not horrified, though he still expressed some of his difficulties of adjustment: "As I had already some idea of the true situation I did not feel much different, although I did find it difficult to call her mother." But he went on to say that he saw his parents' story as romantic, not shameful: "I was born of love and I am proud of it." (72) One can understand, however, why his mother did not share his pride.
Carolyn Steedman has disputed the myth of the working-class mother as the all-giving, always supportive rock of the family. She has pointed out that these depictions usually come from male autobiographers. Daughters had a much better idea of the conflicted feelings of many mothers for their children: "the impossible contradiction of being both desired and a burden," in Steedman's phrase. I would argue that this is doubly true in the case of illegitimate children. (73) Even when well-loved, illegitimate children were a terrible burden, financially, emotionally, and socially; some ambivalence from their mothers was all but inevitable. And daughters, in particular, returned the mixed feelings. They, after all, had the added pressure of being "the black lamb of the black sheep." Many times neighbors and families expected them to "fall" as wall, and the women themselves had tremendous fears of it. The 1986 respondent who broke off three engagements (born 1908) is one example of this anxiety, claiming "Throughout that adolescent period with sexual development I thought all those sexual feelings were a disease ... and that I must never marry in case I passed this on to my children." Cookson lived in terror of sexual relationships, determined not to fall as her mother had. She did not marry until she was 34 and even then found sexual relations fraught with anxiety. Dorothy Hatcher also confessed that she had not flirted like other young girls because "there was always that dreadful fear of going the same way as my mother, and I tended to be ill at ease when talking with boys or men." (74) None of the autobiographies written by men expresses this fear of sexuality, since, as men, they need not fear "falling" and continuing the cycle of illegitimate motherhood. Nor do most legitimate working-class women report this degree of anxiety and shame about sex, although most were profoundly ignorant about it. For example, Kathleen Dayus, who grew up in Birmingham in the early 20th century, disliked her mother intensely, because she was overbearing and nagging. Yet Dayus described a normal courtship pattern and expressed no fear of sex, making love with her future husband a few weeks into the courtship, an event she described as quite enjoyable. Many of Roberts's subjects gave similar testimony. Mrs. T5P, for instance, described her parents as "very strict" and herself as completely ignorant about sex. She nevertheless was pregnant when she got married, but insisted complacently that "it was no disgrace having to get married because it was the same boy and I went with him four years." (75)
Of course, legitimate daughters did have conflicts with their mothers, but these were often about far more mundane matters, particularly the domestic burdens daughters had to assume. Some working-class women autobiographers express complicated feelings about their mothers, usually a mix of gratitude and exasperation. However, many were frankly admiring and loving. Alice Foley, e.g., loved her mother dearly and lived in fear that her mother would leave the family; she described various maneuvers she tried to do to make her mother more content. Mrs. Murrows called her mother's life "one long life of loving sacrifice," despite the fact that Murrows had to go to work as an agricultural laborer from the age of eight. (76) Furthermore, legitimate children often had the advantage of another parent to balance out any conflicts with their mothers. If daughters did not always get along with mothers, they found some help from their fathers, who could be more relaxed when at home. But this outlet was not often possible for illegitimate children. Finally, a crucial difference with legitimate children was the latter's lack of family secrets and shame about the child's birth. Legitimate children, whatever family tensions they experienced, did not have the shame of sexual stigma, or the burden of hiding the past. They knew who they were, and they also had legal rights to their names, which gave them a type of security illegitimate children lacked.
Without doubt illegitimate children had great difficulties to overcome. As should be clear from many of the examples above, however, unhappiness and ruin were not inevitable. Historical evidence, particularly that in newspapers, tends to privilege negative stories, which skews the record. Some sources record stories of happy childhoods and loving families. For instance, Mayhew and Booth, in contradiction to their emphases on poverty and violence, reported that in the very poor classes all children were equally welcome, whether or not they were legally sanctioned. Mayhew, in his study of the tramping classes, insisted that marriage was rare, and that few couples had children. However, those who did procreate "were very good to their children." He detailed a similar dynamic among the scavengers; despite his disapproval, he admitted that he "did not hear of habitual unkindness from the parents to the children born out of wedlock." (77) A generation later, Booth argued that though most of the "rough" classes in London married, those who did not welcomed children as much as those who did; many families even adopted abandoned children in addition to their own. (78)
Autobiographies of illegitimate children also sometimes record childhoods in almost idyllic tones. J. E. Bowman, e.g., records a cheerful, loving home life with his maternal grandparents and his uncle, even though he grew up in a small village in Lancashire where his status must have been common knowledge. This may well have been because of the attitude of his grandparents, who accepted and loved him. Of them he wrote: "There was never any question of turning us out; we were at home, part of the family." Bowman felt loved and wanted by his grandparents and had a close relationship with his uncle as well. (79) Indeed, even furious parents often calmed down, supported errant daughters, and loved their grandchildren. Nellie, the much beloved child of Edith, was one example of this phenomenon. Carl Chinn also records the case of Wyn Heywood of Birmingham, whose mother exploded in fury when Wyn told her she was pregnant. Nevertheless, the mother stood by her daughter and "showed great pride in her first grandchild." (80)
Mrs. C3P, who lived with her mother and aunt in Preston in the early twentieth century, also described a happy childhood to Elizabeth Roberts, Her mother had been the family drudge, looking after ten children, and had an affair with a married man. When she became a mother, she set up house with her sister, and Mrs. C3P stressed that her mother "just brought me up with love. That is why I'm not aggresive [sic] on the whole and it's stood me in good stead all my life." Both sisters worked, and they had periodic "humdingers of a row," but they made their unconventional family work, Mrs. C3P's grandmother kept her when both her "parents" were away, and expressed no resentment of an illegitimate grandchild. She called C3P "my little comfort." Nor did the rest of the family regard C3P as shameful. Some of the relatives lived nearby and there was constant interaction. She was good friends with one of her female cousins who lived next door, and her aunt and uncle apparently had no objection to her as a companion for their daughter. In fact, C3P admitted to being spoiled, since "they let me do just what I liked." Her aunt, who was the main breadwinner, particularly indulged her: "I only had to ask for something and my auntie would get it for me." Both of her "parents" put her needs first, and this led to her generally cheerful disposition. (81)
Furthermore, her Preston neighbors apparently also accepted her without hesitation. C3P daimed not to have experienced the teasing and cruelty that other illegitimates remembered. She concluded, "It's never weighed upon me that I am what you would call illegitimate at all. It's what you are that counts." She was actively involved in church groups, and took part in processions and outings. And she had no difficulty marrying, though her marriage was ultimately unhappy because of her husband's alcoholism. In other words, her story did not differ significantly from those who were legitimate, and can act as a corrective to the consistently negative portraits of illegitimacy from other sources. (82) Perhaps her memory was faulty, but her demeanor throughout the interview was one of placid enjoyment of life, despite her problems.
Indeed, it is probable that illegitimate children who wrote autobiographies overstated the negatives rather than the positives, though certainly many suffered. First, some, like John Rowlands, painted their childhoods as particularly dire in order to make their subsequent triumphs that much more admirable. But the writers need not have been deliberately deceptive to have overstated their hardships, at least those due to their births. One of the psychological effects of illegitimacy was that such children tended to blame their illegitimacy for every problem they had. All children have moments when they are rejected, and they also all have to face societal prohibitions--what Carolyn Steedman has called "moments of denial." (83) Other factors may have been as important as their birth status when they faced such exclusions. Catherine Cookson, for example, insisted that Father Bradley, her local priest, would not recommend her for nursing training because of her illegitimacy, but her biographer points out that it was just as likely that he could not see the unhealthy, ill-educated girl making it through the program. (84) And any child from the workhouse would have difficulties, whether or not he/she was born in wedlock. The need to blame the problem on illegitimacy was part of the "inferiority complex" that many of the children complained about.
Of course illegitimate children were not alone in feelings of inadequacy. However, many other working-class autobiographers blamed poverty and poor educational opportunities for their problems rather than something inside themselves. Indeed, their recognition of the wider responsibility for their problems often led to lives devoted to social reform and/or politics. (85) Most illegitimates report a degree of self-loathing that is much more acute and enduring than their legitimate peers. Only rarely do legitimate children express such feelings of inferiority, and these exceptions are instructive. Faith Osgerby, born in 1890 in Yorkshire, e.g., complained of never feeling that she had a right to exist. Interestingly, the reason for her lack of self-confidence was that neither of her parents wanted their children; her mother, in particular, resented the arrival of each of her seven children and did not hesitate to say so. Osgerby paints her mother as a harsh disciplinarian who never showed affection and did her best to terminate her pregnancies early. The feeling of being unwanted was, apparently, the key to strong feelings of inadequacy for children. Since illegitimate children were social and financial disasters, they rarely received an unambiguous welcome into the world and often faced outright hostility and neglect from those who should have cared for them the most. Indeed, Osgerby's mother herself was illegitimate, brought up by her mother in poverty, which may have affected her attitude towards her family. (86)
In addition, the fact that many of these people believed their illegitimacy disadvantaged them means that they experienced it in that way, whether or not it was always actual. Other people may have not meant to be discriminatory for that specific reason, but some children allowed their shame about their births to influence their subsequent lives, particularly in courtship and marriage. In this way, what people actually thought about them was less important than how the illegitinvates experienced interactions. It is possible, of course, that some of these women would have had problems with sexuality even if they had been legitimate. But their own analyses put their birth status as the central fact. And they were not alone. Many of the NCOPF correspondents recorded their shame led them to social isolation. One, born ca. 1920, insisted "I am so ashamed of being illegitimate myself ... that I have never had any kind of social life, or friends ever at all, in case it should be revealed by chance." (87) Furthermore, the legal discrimination that illegitimates experienced was actual, not imaginary. Mayhew's interviewee could not get a settlement because she had no legal parents; Dr. Barnardo, as we have seen, would not normally take illegitimate children into his creche; unmarried partners were denied war benefits after World War I so that their children lost their fathers' pensions because of their illegal status. Indeed, illegitimates claimed employment discrimination in the 1920s and 1930s; one woman, born early in the century, could not get a job as a nurse during the 1920s because her birth certificate showed she had no father. (88) The legal and social disadvantages set these children apart from their legitimate peers; it is not surprising, then, that some of them internalized a sense of shame and inadequacy.
Did things improve for illegitimates over the century? Legally, nothing changed until the Legitimacy Act of 1926. Ironically, this bill did not remove most of the disabilities; it simply changed the English law to coincide with that of Scotland--i.e., illegitimate children whose parents were legally flee to marry when they were born could be legitimized by a subsequent marriage. Since it omitted adulterine bastardy, and required a subsequent marriage, this law had quite limited effects. Indeed, it would not have aided Wilkie Collins's heroines in No Name, since their father was married to a woman in America when they were born. The English "love child" still had no automatic inheritance rights and no legal name. As for the social stigma, change was also glacially slow. Frederick Rogers claimed in 1913 that "The illegitimate child is no longer regarded as a child of shame in many social circles," so the work of child reformers had not been entirely fruitless. Yet there is strong evidence that respectability did not lose its force among the majority, even in the working class. For example, Fred Boughton, born in 1897 to a mining family, insisted that his community frowned upon any illicit sexuality: "It was a terrible crime in those days if two young people lost their self respect. The baby would be called a bastard all its life. (89) Indeed, many of the respondents in the survey in 1986 reported social and legal discrimination into the 1960s. (90) In short, the evidence points to very little change in the status of illegitimate children well beyond World War II.
The sheer number of children involved in this study--hundreds of thousands of children between 1850 and 1939--argues for its significance, since it illuminates the experiences of a previously ignored group of people. In addition, the children's status as "outsiders" helps to highlight several broad themes in the working-class family which can be hidden when the subjects of historical study fit more comfortably into the family "norm." For instance, although much working-class history has emphasized the importance of the mother, the experience of illegitimates makes it dear just how crucial the relationship with the father was for children. Illegitimate children would invent a father figure if they could not have a real one, in part so that they could have an identity--a name--but also to feel wanted by both parents. Indeed, many of them were thrilled with their mothers' later marriages. This leads to the second point, the crucial importance of step-parenting in the working-class home, an aspect of family history which needs further study. The relationships could be strained (or even violent), but could also be a real boon to children. Though legal sources tend to privilege the negatives of step-parents, autobiographies make clear how much better many children's lives were by the advent of a step-father or foster parents. The complicated dynamics of reconstituted families need more research. Furthermore, the experience of illegitimate children demonstrates that working-class mothers did not always make their sacrifices for their children with good cheer. Many suffered greatly from the births of illegitimate children, and this affected their relationships with their children, parents, and siblings. Indeed, the process of keeping secrets led to tensions, resentment, and difficulties for all involved. This need for secrecy showed similarities between the working and middle classes on sexual values. Nevertheless, the working class retained its own value system, since a fourth point of interest is that the birth of an illegitimate child, though disapproved of, did not make a woman unmarriagable. Many of the mothers of such children later married and had legitimate children, even in "respectable" neighborhoods. Such scandals were not, then, total disasters for the Family, since neighborhoods, and people, adapted to circumstances. The child might continue to face embarrassment and discrimination in the larger world, however.
Further, the experience of illegitimates can revise the notion of the supremacy of the "nuclear" family by the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Historians have always recognized that maternal kin were vital to the success of new marriages in the working class, but the kind of help illegitimate children required went beyond the norm. Though the influence of wider kin had diminished in this period, it was by no means gone; when trouble came, women turned to siblings, aunts/uncles, cousins, and parents. Despite some resentment, many of these relatives did what they could to help in the emergency, and, on occasion, neighbors also participated. The most common caretakers, of course, were maternal grandparents, but they were not alone. Mrs. C3P, for instance, lived with her mother and aunt; J.E. Bowman had a substitute father figure in his uncle; and John Rowlands was supported by his uncles until he was six. Even the wretched Mary M'Neil, who eventually killed two of her children, had relatives in the country who agreed to take in one of her brood. The nuclear family remained the goal for most men and women, but the savior in times of trouble was the extended family.
The experience of illegitimates also revises some major ideas in the history of children. Most historians of childhood in the modern period have argued that the lives of children improved over the course of the nineteenth century with the decrease in child labor, the expansion of public schools, and the rise of protective agencies. However, most of those historians have also discussed the two-edged nature of these improvements, and in the case of illegitimate children, the negatives often at least balanced the positives. For instance, the rise of evangelicalism, which some historians point to as a force for improving children's lives in the early part of the nineteenth century, may well have increased prejudices against illegitimate children, because of the stress on original sin. At the other end of the spectrum, eugenic, which led to progressive legislation for children's welfare, also emphasized the "bad blood" of inheritance, which hardly benefitted those unlawfully born. (91) Child protective agencies could rescue some children from terrible conditions, but only at the cost of disruption and even some blame falling on the child. (92) One would not argue that no improvement occurred, of course, but each gain came with costs attached, and those costs were often paid by those already heavily burdened.
Finally, the attitude towards illegitimacy makes clear how long Victorian values held sway in English culture and law. The legal position and disabilities of illegitimates remained largely unchanged until late in the 20th century, unaffected by the family law reforms of the 1920s and the general loosening of standards during the two world wars. For illegitimate children, the "roaring 20s" and social freedom of wartime were hardly revolutionary times; afterwards, though the welfare state eased economic difficulties, it could not stop other forms of discrimination. As the 1986 survey made clear, legal difficulties and social humiliation remained the experience of many children born out of wedlock, even through the 1960s. Historians have (rightly) contested the old view of Victorian sexual repression in recent years, and certainly Victorian sexual attitudes were more complicated than the old paradigm allowed. Nevertheless, the experience of illegitimates indicates that the emphasis on sexual propriety was not negligible, particularly for those whose existence made sexual nonconformity obvious. As a result, through much of the 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of children a year were left to contemplate, in Steedman's phrase, "the impropriety and illegality of our existence." (93)
I would like to thank Dr. Peter Stearns, the two anonymous readers for The Journal of Social History, and Dr. Gall Savage for their helpful remarks in preparing this article. I would also like to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities and Samford University; their financial support made the research possible.
(1.) Wilkie Collins, No Name (London, 1994) [First published 1862], 110.
(2.) See, e.g., Anna Davin, Growing Up Poor: Home, School and Street in London, 1870-1914 (London, 1996); Pamela Horn, The Victorian Town Child (Stroud, Gloucestershire, 1997); Lionel Rose, The Erosion of Childhood: Child Oppression in Britain, 1860-1918 (London, 1991); Eric Hopkins, Childhood Transformed: Working-Class Children in Nineteenth-Century England (Manchester, 1994); Thomas E. Jordan, Victorian Childhood: Themes and Variations (Albany, NY, 1987); and George Behlmer, Child Abuse and Moral Reform in England, 1870-1908 (Stanford, 1982).
(3.) Francoise Barret-Ducrocq, Love in the Time of Victoria: Sexuality, Class and Gender in Nineteenth-Century London (London, 1991); Ann Rowell Higginbotham, "'Sin of the Age': Infanticide and Illegitimacy in Victorian London," Victorian Studies 32 (1989): 319-37; and "The Unmarried Mother and Her Child in Victorian Lond on, 1834-1914," Unpublished Dissertation, Indiana University, 1985. See also Lisa Forman Cody, "The Politics of Illegitimacy in an Age of Reform: Women, Reproduction, and Political Economy in England's New Poor Law of 1834, "Journal of Women's History 11 (2000): 131-56;J. D. Marshall, Out of Wedlock: Perceptions of a Cumbrian Social Problem in the Victorian Context," Northern History 31 (1995): 194-207; N.F.R. Crafts, "Illegitimacy in England and Wales in 1911," Population Studies 36 (1982): 327-31; and Barry Reay, "Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: The Social Context of Illegitimacy in Rural Kent," Rural History 1 (1990): 219-47 and Microhistories: Demography, Society, and Culture in Rural England, 1800-1930 (Cambridge, 1996), 184-212.
(4.) Carolyn Steedman, Landscape for a Good Woman: A Story of Two Lives (New Brunswick, NJ, 1986), 65.
(5.) I compiled the sample for London by reading the police, Old Bailey, and assize reports in The Times for February--March and August--September in irregular years, including 1850, 1857, 1863, 1867, 1872, 1878, 1882, 1888, 1892, and 1899. The Lancaster cases came from reading all issues of the Lancaster Guardian, a weekly, at five-year intervals, from 1850 to 1910.
(6.) For more on the NCOPF, see Sue Graham-Dixon, Never Darken my Door: Working for Single Parents and their Children, 1918-1978 (London, 1981).
(7.) Lionel Rose, Massacre of the Innocents: Infanticide in Great Britain, 1800--1939 (London, 1986), 23, 173-74. See also John Gillis, For Better, For Worse: British Marriages 1600 to the Present (Oxford, 1985), 231-59.
(8.) Centre for Northwest Regional Studies, Lancaster University (hereafter CNRS), Elizabeth Roberts Collection, 1890-1940, Interview with Mr. T3P (born 1886), 38; for grandparents rearing illegitimate children, see also Mrs. S5P (born 1898), 32-33; Mrs. B1P (born 1900), 50; and Mr. and Mrs. PIL, (born 1894, 1898), 95. For Phoebe Aldren, see Lancaster Guardian Supplement, 9 November 1895, 1.
(9.) See, e.g., Ellen Ross, Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London, 1870-1918 (Oxford, 1993), 133-35; Ron Barnes, Coronation Cups and Jam Jars: Portrait of an East End Family Through Three Generations (London, 1976), 37-39; 47.
(10.) See Anna Davin, Growing Up Poor, and Ross, Love and Toil for examples of wretched poverty.
(11.) Quoted in Joan Perkin, Women and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century England (Chicago, 1989), 159; for violence against wives and cohabitees, see Ellen Ross, Love and Tog and Shani D'Cruze, Crimes of Outrage: Sex, Violence and Victorian Working Women (Dekalb, IL, 1998). Neither makes distinctions between married and unmarried couples.
(12.) Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (London, 1861), I:43-46; Charles Booth, Labour and Life of the People of London, First series (London, 1891), II:51-71.
(13.) James Yeames, Life in London Alleys, With Reminiscences of Mary McCarthy and Her Work (London, n.d.), 78-79; first quote from 78, second from 79.
(14.) Rose, Massacre of the Innocents, 60.
(15.) See, e.g., Carolyn Conley, The Unwritten Law: Criminal Justice in Victorian Kent (Oxford, 1991), 110-117; and Judith Knelman, Twisting in the Wind: The Murderess and the English Press (Toronto, 1998), 145-80.
(16.) "Burying a Child Alive," Lancaster Guardian, 16 June 1860, 8.
(17.) "Horrible Child Murder," Lancaster Guardian, 27 March 1875, 2.
(18.) Conley, The Unwritten Law, 121-22. See also Louise Jackson, Child Sexual Abuse in Victorian England (London, 2000), 36-50.
(19.) Conley, The Unwritten Law, 109.
(20.) "Death of a Child from Starvation and Ill-Treatment," Lancaster Guardian, 14 April 1860, 2; "Heartless Treatment of an Illegitimate Child ," Lancaster Guardian, 30 September 1865, 5.
(21.) Cecil Chapman, The Poor Man's Court of Justice: Twenty-Five Years as a Metropolitan Magistrate (London, 1925), 79.
(22.) "Shameful Ill-Treatment of a Girl," Lancaster Guardian, 24 April 1880, 3.
(23.) Knelman, Twisting in the Wind, 132-33; see also Conley, The Unwritten Law, 108-09.
(24.) "Horrible Murder of Two Children by Their Mother," Lancaster Guardian, 8 December 1855, 2; Times, 1 December 1855, 9; 10 January 1856, 9; Lanigan's case in Knelman, Twisting in the Wind, 155.
(25.) Times, 24 March 1854, 11.
(26.) Bernd Weisbrod, "How to Become a Good Foundling in Early Victorian London," Social History 10 (1985): 193-209; and Barret-Ducrocq, Love in the Time of Victoria, 39-43.
(27.) Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, III: 415-16; first quote 415, second quote 416.
(28.) Sir John Kirk, "The Creche and the Ragged School Union," Progress: Civic, Social, Industrial: The Organ of the British Institute of Social Services 2 (1907): 184; Davin, Growing Up Poor, 93.
(29.) Jackson, Child Sexual Abuse, 51-70.
(30.) Deborah Derrick, ed., Illegitimate: The Experience of People Born Outside Marriage (London, 1986), 19.
(31.) Jeanne M. Hill, "Workhouse Girls: What They Are, and How to Help Them," MacMillan's Magazine 28 (June 1873): 137; entire article on 132-39; Florence Atherton quoted in Thea Thompson, Edwardian Childhoods (London, 1981), 116.
(32.) Derrick, Illegitimate, 19.
(33.) Dorothy Hatcher, The Workhouse and the Weald (Rainham, Kent, 1988), 7-27; quote from page 27.
(34.) "Custody of Illegitimate Children," Englishwoman's Review 14 (15 March 1883): 125-26, quotes from 125.
(35.) Henrietta Barnett, "The Young Women in our Workhouses," MacMillan's Magazine 40 (June 1879): 136; entire article on 133-39.
(36.) Derrick, Illegitimate, 19.
(37.) George Behlmer, Friends of the Family: The English Home and Its Guardians, 1850-1940 (Stanford, 1998), 293-97; first quote from 294, second from 297. See also Jackson, Child Sexual Abuse in Victorian England, 132-51.
(38.) Rudolf Rocker, The London Years (London, 1956), 98.
(39.) The story of the Chaplins based on Charles Chaplin, My Autobiography (New York, 1964), 20, 35-40, 59, 87; David Robinson, Chaplin: His Life and Art (London, 1985), 1036; and Kenneth S. Lynn, Charlie Chaplin and His 71rues (New York, 1997), 19-50. Lynn is particularly good at analyzing the unreliability of Chaplin s autobiography, 13-31.
(40.) Catherine Cookson, Our Kate (London, 1969), 48-49; 135; 193-94; KathleenJones, Catherine Co&son: The Biography (London, 1999), 23-31, 80-81,149-52; Louie Stride, Memoirs of a Street Urchin (Bath, 1984), 17.
(41.) Stride, Memoirs of a Street Urchin, 17; Andrews in John Burnett, Destiny Obscure: Autobiographies of Childhood, Education, and Family from the 1820s to the 1920s (London, 1982), 122-23.
(42.) Derrick, Illegitimate, 31.
(43.) CNRS, Elizabeth Roberts's Collection, Interview with Mr. B7P (born 1904), 35.
(44.) Cookson, Our Kate, 110-12, quote from 112.
(45.) Hatcher, From the Workhouse to the Weald, 24.
(46.) Derrick, Illegitimate, 31-32; Hatcher, From the Workhouse to the Weald, 24-25; quotes from 25.
(47.) Henry Morton Stanley, The Autobiography of Sir Henry Morton Stanley (London, 1909), 1-164. For a correction of the falsehoods, see John Bierman, Dark Safari: The Life Behind the Legend of Henry Morton Stanley (Dunton Green, 1992), 3-45; and Emr Wyn Jones, Sir Henry M. Stanley: The Enigma (Denbigh, 1989).
(48.) Jones, Sir Henry M. Stanley, 194; Bierman, Dark Safari, 356-57; quote from 356.
(49.) Carl Chinn, The Worked All Their Lives: Women of the Urban Poor in England, 1850-1939 (Manchester, 1988).
(50.) Derrick, Illegitimate, 19.
(51.) Ibid., 23.
(52.) Cookson, Our Kate, 16-17; CNRS, Elizabeth Roberts's Collection, Interview with Mrs. W1B, 78-79.
(53.) Lancaster Guardian Supplement, 9 November 1895, 1.
(54.) Cookson, Our Kate, 29.
(55.) Jones, Catherine Cookson, 49-52; Cookson's remarks quoted from 52.
(56.) CNRS, Elizabeth Roberts's Collection, Interview with Mrs. C3P (born 1897), 17, 35.
(57.) Ibid., Interview with Mrs. W1B, 78, 52.
(58.) Ibid., Interview with Mr. T1P, 9, 13.
(59.) Ibid., Interview with Mrs. W4P, 44.
(59.) Cookson, Our Kate, 50-52; 112-14; Hatcher, Workhouse and the Weald, 17-18.
(61.) Leonore Davidoff, et. al., The Family Story: Blood, Contract and Intimacy, 1830-1960 (London, 1999), 244-65.
(62.) John Gillis, A World of Their Own Making: Myth, Ritual, and the Quest for Family Values (New York, 1996), 7. The precise wording is "We must be careful not to confuse the family past we live by with the families that previous generations actually lived with."
(63.) Davidoff, et. al., The Family Story, 253-54.
(64.) Chinn, The Worked all Their Lives, 31.
(65.) J.E. Bowman, When Every Day was Summer: Boyhood and Youth in a Rural Community, 1920-1939 (Wigan, 1989), 21-26; Derrick, 111egitimate, 46.
(66.) Thomas Burke, A Son of London (London, 1946), 61.
(67.) Derrick, Illegitimate, 46.
(69.) CNRS, Elizabeth Roberts' Collection, Interview with Mrs. C3P, 17.
(70.) Cookson, Our Kate, 31-32.
(71.) Derrick, Illegitimate, 20.
(72.) Bowman, When Every Day was Summer, 21-26; quotes from 26, 25, 26.
(73.) Steedman, Landscape for a Good Woman, 16--17; quote from 17.
(74.) Derrick, Illegitimate, 20; Cookson, OurKate, 169-70; 192-94; Jones, Catherine Cook. son, 95-116; 149-54; Hatcher, Workhouse and the Weald, 69.
(75.) Kathleen Dayus, Where There is Life (London, 1985), 135-140; CNRS, Elizabeth Roberts Collection, Mrs. TSP (born 1905), 16-17; first quote from 16, second from 17. For other courtships, see Mrs. W2L, (born 1910), 235-36; Mrs. W1B (born 1900), 8990; Mrs. S5P (born 1898), 32-33; Mrs. H7P (born 1916), 25-26; and Bumett, Destiny Obscure, 239-40.
(76.) Alice Foley, A Bolton Childhood (Manchester, 1973), 9-10; Burrows in Burnett, Destiny Obscure, 235.
(77.) Mayhew, London Labor and the London Poor, III:391; II:226.
(78.) Booth, Labor and Life of the People of London, I:42-44.
(79.) Bowman, When Every Day was Summer, 25.
(80.) Chinn, They Worked All Their Lives, 146-47; quote from 146.
(81.) CNRS, Elizabeth Roberts's Collection, Interview with Mrs. C3P, 1-35, quotes from 1, 2, 3, 9, 33.
(82.) Ibid., 4-35; quote from 4.
(83.) Steedman, Landscape for a Good Woman, 110.
(84.) Cookson, Our Kate, 1441'5; Jones, Catherine Cookson, 82.
(85.) See, e.g., Ross, Love and Toil, 100; Burnett, Destiny Obscure, 262-68; Anon., Narrow Waters: The First Volume of the Life and Thoughts of a Common Man (London, 1935), 83-84; Cecile de Banke, Hand over Hand (London, 1957), 192-94; Walter Southgate, That's the Way it Was: A Working-Class Autobiography, 1890-1950 (Oxted, Surrey, 1982), 77; Dayus, Where There's Life, 95-102.
(86.) Burnett, Destiny Obscure, 78-81, quote from 78.
(87.) Derrick, Illegitimate, 40.
(89.) Frederick Rogers, Labor, Life and Literature(Brighton, Sussex, 1973),305;Boughton in Burnett, Destiny Obscure, 315.
(91.) Hopkins, Childhood Transformed; David, Growing Up Poor, 199-217; Bhelmer, child Abuse and Moral Reform in England, 1870-1908; Jackson, Child Sexual Abuse in Victorian England, 51-70.
(92.) Jackson, Child Sexual Abuse, 132-39; see also Behlmer, Friend of the Family, 293-97.
(93.) Steedman Lampshade for a Good woman, (67).
By Ginger Frost
Department of History
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
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|Publication:||Journal of Social History|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2003|
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