Re Wigtownshire and Illigitimacy

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Lorna B.
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Location: York, England

Re Wigtownshire and Illigitimacy

Post by Lorna B. » Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:22 pm

Hi,
I am about to write an assignment for a course that I am doing, about writing family history into the historical context of the time. The ancestor that I wish to write about was illigitimate. All the information that I have found in historical books suggest that the church had less influence on the population than previously. Looking at the kirk sessions of the time (1843) I wonder if this was true for Wigtownshire. Can anyone recommend a book that might help me establish the truth.
Thank you
Lorna
Researching Burn/s East, West and Midlothian, Kelly in Glasgow, McMaster and Kelly in Stoneykirk, Wigtownshire.

marypryde
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Location: South Carolina, USA

Post by marypryde » Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:25 pm

Hi, Lorna.

I can't answer your question but I am also very interested in historical context and illegitimacy and will follow this thread closely.

Unfortunately, I don't have access to the kirk sessions, if any exist, for the Largo area in the 1870's/80's. Maybe some day... Mary Ellen
Researching Pryde/Doig/Scott/Jack/Paton/Frazer in Fife and Thomson/Barclay/Steele/Barr/Lockie/Sandilands in Lanarkshire

LesleyB
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Location: Scotland

Post by LesleyB » Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:02 pm

Hi Lorna

My understanding is that in the period you mention, control by the church as evidenced by Kirk Session records, was indeed lessening, but there was still some influence a while after that date.

1843 in itself, as you are probably aware, is a very relevant date as that was the year of The Disruption, which I suppose very much signalled the intention of parishoners to think for themselves and not take orders from landowners, etc. though there had been a number of disagreements within various areas of the church for a while before this date, all indicating that folk were beginning to think for themselves and life was no longer seen in terms of black and white, heaven or hell - shades of grey and areas of doubt were creeping in there. I expect that the control exerted by the church over parishoners was pretty much downhill from that date. I've not really looked at much in the way of Kirk Session records in the late 1800s, as inevitably it tends to be the earlier relatives who are more difficult to find out about and send you off digging in the Kirk Session minutes.

There are some good books about early Kirk Session records and social control, particularly that of women, e.g. those by Rosalind Mitchison and Leah Leneman, but I reckon the best way to illustrate if there is a pattern of decreasing control is to read a selection of Kirk Session minutes from a few different areas and compare what is happening. I expect you will find a big difference between, for instance, a remote rural area, where the Kirk could probably retain a stronger sense of control for longer, and an inner city area where not only is the population greater, but there was an influx of peoples from differennt areas and cultures coming into cities to work around that time.
Can anyone recommend a book that might help me establish the truth.
I don't think you will find a definative "truth" out there, as the situation is bound to vary between parishes. TC Smout's books are generally a good guide to what was going on at the time: "A Century of the Scottish People 1830-1950" would cover your period.

And of course the diminishing control of the Kirk Session is part of a much wider picture with regard to beliefs and knowledge and social systems - the increased activity in the areas of science for instance, meant the "power" if you like, was shifting. e.g. Darwin's theories.

I'll shut up now before I start writing your essay :lol:

Best wishes
Lesley

Lorna B.
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:17 pm
Location: York, England

Wigtownshire and Illigitimacy

Post by Lorna B. » Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:13 pm

Thank you for you swift replies, Marypryde and LesleyB. I have been struggling with this. The more I learn about this particular ancestor, the more questions arise. The kirk sessions show that his father acknowledged him. His father does not appear on any of the later census for the area. The charge was of adultery and was referred from the Stoneykirk Kirk Sessions to Stranraer Kirk Sessions. His birth certificate does not refer to him as being illigitimate or the child of unmarried parents. I gave David WW a copy of the birth entry because he said that he had not seen one where the child was illigitimate but the birth entry does not say so.
The family of the mother were quite powerful in the kirk (at least one being an elder) and in the area as well. I wondered if they could have influenced the way the birth certificate was written.
If only they could tell us..........
Researching Burn/s East, West and Midlothian, Kelly in Glasgow, McMaster and Kelly in Stoneykirk, Wigtownshire.

marypryde
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Location: South Carolina, USA

Post by marypryde » Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:31 pm

My grandfather and his two brothers were born in Largo, Fife in 1877, 1880 and 1886. Their birth registrations indicate clearly under the child's name "Illegitimate." They were born into a presumably poor, and therefore without influence, coalmining family.
Mary Ellen
Researching Pryde/Doig/Scott/Jack/Paton/Frazer in Fife and Thomson/Barclay/Steele/Barr/Lockie/Sandilands in Lanarkshire

LesleyB
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Location: Scotland

Post by LesleyB » Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:34 pm

Hi Lorna
Do you mean you actually have a separate birth certificate from 1843 in addition to the normal entry in the OPR? If so, that is most unusual and not something I've come across.

From those that I have seen, a lot in the Kirk Session records depends on the wording, and what the norm is in that particular parish, so it would be quite difficult to know what was going on without reading the minutes over a reasonable period of time to get a feel for what was "standard practice" for that particular Kirk Session, what format of wording they tended to use, how often they met, how detailed a typical "case" was etc. There was no standard format for Kirk Session minutes, or for OPR entries - some session clerks give lots of information in both BMD entires and the minutes of meetings, and others keep it to the bare minimum throughout.

Best wishes
Lesley

Lorna B.
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:17 pm
Location: York, England

Wigtownshire+Illigitimacy

Post by Lorna B. » Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:01 pm

Oops, he did not have a birth certificate, I meant the baptism listing in the OPR. Many other infants in the same area were described as illigitimate or another word that indicated that the child's parents weren't married. The Kirk Session records make fascinating reading and give a good insight into what was going on in the area. I could not imagine anyone putting up with so much interference in their lives now.
I have found 'A century of the Scottish People 1830-1950' on Amazon. I look forward to reading it. I am sure that it will be interesting.
Thank you for your help
Researching Burn/s East, West and Midlothian, Kelly in Glasgow, McMaster and Kelly in Stoneykirk, Wigtownshire.

Currie
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Location: Australia

Post by Currie » Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:33 am

Hello Lorna,

The “First Detailed Annual Report of Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Scotland,” pages xi to xx, has statistics on illegitimate births for the year 1855 and much comment on the reasons etc. http://tinyurl.com/lm7ype

The proportion of illegitimate births in Wigtownshire for 1855 was 12.3%, well above the average for Scotland of 7.8%.

From HISTPOP - Online Historical Population Reports.
http://www.histpop.org/ohpr/servlet/Show?page=Home

Hope that helps a bit,
Alan

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