Tag Archives: unwed-mothers

Women in Peril– Betrayed by Heartless Scoundrels 1882

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‘The Lost Path’ by Frederick Walker, 1863. 

 

May 5 1882– with files from The Almonte Gazette

 

A passenger on the train from Ottawa to Brockville noticed a woman in a second class car with a large-sized basket containing four or five infants of very tender years. In fact they did not appear to be more than a few weeks, and in one or two cases only a-few days old.

“You have a large family of very young people to look after,” said the gentleman.

“Yes,” was the curt reply.

“Where do they come from” he asked?

“Ottawa and the surrounding rural area,” she replied.

“And may I ask where you are taking them to ?”

“Montreal”

No replies could be more curt, or at the same time more to the point. On his return to the city the gentleman informed a reporter of the incident, who set about making inquiries. After some difficulty the irrepressible scribe discovered that a certain establishment in the guise of a half boarding-house, lying-in-hospital existed in the city, and that several young women, one or two said to be “highly respectable,” were “inmates,” or “ boarders,” or “lodgers,’’ or patients at the  time.

Entering into conversation with the female directress it was learned that a girl “in trouble” could be sent there on payment of four dollars per week, “strictly in advance,” and four dollars more for the doctor who would attend at the time of her confinement.

The patient was to have a room to herself and could be secluded or not as she pleased. After her confinement if she so desired, by the payment of four dollars more, the unfortunate offspring would be taken away at the end of forty-eight hours and sent to Montreal. It was one of the periodical “batches” of helpless infants that were en route to the Commercial Metropolis that at our gentleman friend noticed on the cars.

From one of the patients it was learned that she had been a victim of misplaced confidence. She had loved a member of the civil service, a young and good looking servant, not wisely, but too well. The result was that it was necessary to take care of her. She could not remain at home, and therefore the private lying-in hospital came in most opportunely.

In course of conversation she said that she had arranged to have the issue of her  folly taken to Montreal and she would have “no more trouble about it”. That fact seemed to give her great consolation, and yet, alas what a humiliating, what a cruel, unmotherly phase of human nature did this heartless remark of this heartless girl present. And yet, her case is by no means a singular one.

It is no wonder the infantile mortality of Montreal is so great; no wonder the sanitary authorities of that city are called upon so frequently and urgently by the press to account for the high infantile death rate for a long time considered just cause of disgrace. And yet the explanation is not hard to reach. Ottawa sends its quota; Toronto does and the other cities follow suit. Girls will, doubtless be betrayed by heartless scoundrels, but in the name of all that is just and kind some means should be adopted to protect the helpless infantile victims.

 

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

Related Reading

The Home for Friendless Women

Laundry Babies – Black Market Baby BMH 5-7-66

Embroidery of the Insane?

Women in Peril 1868 — Mathilda Routh

Did You Know About the House of Industry?

The Very Sad Tale of Hessie Churchill

All the Single Ladies?

I’m Every Woman?

 

The Trial of Ann Glascott

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Photo- Linda Seccaspina- Perth- Classic Theatre

Bathurst Courier, May 5, 1848

On Thursday last an inquest was held in the town on view of the body of an infant male child by Robert Muirhead, Coroner, when the jury returned the following verdict:  “that the infant found died on the 25th April, inst., was born alive and that it came to its death through willful neglect of its mother; and it is the opinion of the jury from the strong presumptive evidence brought before them; that Ann Glascott, nursery maid in the employ of Hon. R. Matheson in this place is the mother of said infant”.  Thomas Brooke, Foreman

Bathurst Courier, May 12, 1848

The trial of Ann Glascott for misdemeanour ended yesterday evening a short time before going to press.  We cannot, therefore, enter as fully into the matter as we would have wished. Jane Griffith, a servant in the household of R. Matheson, found the dead child in the bottom of the privy wrapped in a red flannel child’s frock resembling those worn in Mr. Matheson’s family.

Mr. Matheson, when informed, took immediate steps to have an inquest held.  Jane Griffith and Mary Cogrove, another servant, had both been suspicious that Ann was pregnant and that on Saturday, 13th April she was delivered of a child in Mr. Matheson’s nursery.  Dr. Wilson testified the child was fully grown and a male and its neck had been broken.  Dr. Nichol examined Ann and felt she had recently been pregnant.  R. E. Matheson testified he did not know she was pregnant.  Verdict of the Jury:  Guilty

 

PERTH MYSTERIES AND HISTORY: All Summer Long

The Sad Tale of Unwed Mothers of Days Gone By — Perth through the Ages Tour

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

Women in Peril 1868 — Mathilda Routh

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I have written a few stories of how hard it was for women in years gone by. I try not to write sad stories, but feel it is important that everyone remember what women went through. PMS and Menopause were sometimes treated by sending them to Brockville or Kingston insane asylums and unwed mothers, well, all I can say is my heart breaks for them. A list of stories is below.

 

Author’s Note Update December 2 –2016..

Perth Courier, May 12, 1871

Teskey-Routh—Married, on the 28th ult., at the residence of the bride’s father, Appleton, by Rev. Thomas Atkinson, Franklin Teskey of Appleton to Miranda Routh of the same place. She was Maltida’s sister

Perth Courier, Jan. 10, 1868

A young woman named Mathilda Routh died in Appleton last week under circumstances which lead to the holding of an inquest.  As the result of the inquest it was discovered that the poor girl had fallen victim to a heartless wretch who first ruined and then induced her to procure an abortion to conceal her shame.  The jury returned a righteous verdict of “willful murder” against William H. Patterson of Almonte but we regret to learn that he has managed to decamp.  Consequently, justice is not likely to be carried out.  Miss Routh was only 21 years of age and altogether the case is painful in the extreme.

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Of course, women did find themselves with unwanted pregnancies. Abortifacients were discreetly advertised and there was a considerable body of folklore about methods of inducing miscarriages. Amongst working-class women violent purgatives were popular, pennyroyal, aloes and turpentine were all used. Other methods to induce miscarriage were very hot baths and gin, extreme exertion, a controlled fall down a flight of stairs, or veterinary medicines. So-called ‘backstreet’ abortionists were fairly common, although their bloody efforts could be fatal. Estimates of the number of illegal abortions performed in England varied widely: by one estimate, 100,000 women made efforts to procure a miscarriage in 1914, usually by drugs.

In Memory of Matilda, daughter of Launcelot & Meranda Routh, who died Dec 30, 1867, aged 21 yrs.

Wesleyan Methodist Cemetery

Lot 13, Con. 9, Ramsay Twp. near Almonte.

Burials – 1827 – 1947

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Name Matilda Routh
Event Type Burial
Event Place Lanark, Ontario, Canada
Cemetery Wesleyan Methodist Burial Ground+
Note In Memory Of, Matilda, Daughter Of, Launcelot & Meranda Routh, Who Died,Dec.30,1867, Aged,21,Y’rs., [Inscription Unreadable]

The Sad Tale of Unwed Mothers of Days Gone By — Perth through the Ages Tour

 

The Very Sad Tale of Hessie Churchill

To Be Manic Depressive in a Rural Town — Kingston Insane Asylum

The Sad Tale of Unwed Mothers of Days Gone By — Perth through the Ages Tour

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Pictures from Perth Classic Theatre: Very little time left to catch the Perth through the Ages historic theatrical walking tour, the Nancy Drew-inspired The Maid and the Merchant (here featuring Anna Stewart, Vivian Masswohl and Morgan MacDonald).

Join our intrepid 1930s Nancy Drew-inspired character as she time travels along the streets of Heritage Perth, meeting historic characters who will help her solve one of Perth’s infamous mysteries. You’ll be entertained as you learn about the unique people and places in Perth’s 200 year history. Perfect for the whole family!

The hour-long moving play runs Wednesdays to Sundays at 11 am in Perth. Tickets at www.classictheatre.ca or 1-877-283-1283.

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Author’s note–While this play is a murder mystery it hints of the trials and tribulations of an unwed mother. 

Victorian Attitudes– From the Sad Story of Lucy Em

Things were no different in Lanark County

Unmarried mothers and their infants were considered an affront to morality and they were spurned and ostracized often by public relief as as well charitable institutions. Children conceived in sin were considered to have inherited their parents’ lack of moral character and would contaminate the minds and morals of legitimate children. Family and friends could not be relied upon to offer comfort and aid. If a young woman became pregnant while still living at home, she was usually forced to leave in disgrace and move to an area where she was not known. She was scorned by family, friends and employer alike. Often after the birth of the child she was forced to farm it out in order to gain some employment to earn a living. There were of course few employment opportunities.

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Childbirth brought fear of starvation for the mother and her child, alienation from family and friends, censure from society, relief agencies and employers. In desolation and shame, young unmarried mothers placed their infants in workhouses where their survival was questionable, committed infanticide or turned to baby farmers who specialized in the premeditated and systematic murder of illegitimate infants.

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On February 15th 1865 the body of Mary Jane Harris’ four month old son was found wrapped up in a copy of the Western Times beside a road in Torquay. Miss Harris had farmed out the child to Mrs Winsor for 3s a week and at first resisted Mrs Winsor’s offer to dispose of the child. When the burden of its support became too much she stood by and watched Charlotte Winsor smother her son and wrap his naked body in an old newspaper. The body was later dumped on the roadside.

Testimony revealed that Mrs Winsor conducted a steady trade of boarding illegitimate infants for a few shillings a week or putting them away for a set fee of £3-£5.

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On 31st January 1868 the Pall Mall Gazette exposed another adopter, Mrs Jagger of Tottenham. Her ads for childcare and confinement were usually placed in the Daily Telegraph. She was reported to have had from 40-60 infants in her care in the previous three years, the majority of whom had died of starvation.

Due to the public feelings aroused by this case, the Commission’s proposals for reform were incorporated into the Act in 1872 and the registration of all births and deaths, compulsory registration and supervision of lying-in houses and baby farms were included in the legislation. (Gosh, a committee that achieved! Er well….)

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The facts of this case eventually led to the amendment of the Infant Protection Act in 1897. The new Act empowered local authorities to actively seek out baby farms and lying-in houses, to enter homes suspected of abusing children and to remove those children to a place of safety. It also redefined the improper care of infants.

All in all I think that you will agree that 1880 was not a good time to be an unmarried mother or a good time to be born a bastard.

Pictures from Perth Classic Theatre: Very little time left to catch the Perth through the Ages historic theatrical walking tour, the Nancy Drew-inspired The Maid and the Merchant (here featuring Anna Stewart, Vivian Masswohl and Morgan MacDonald).

Join our intrepid 1930s Nancy Drew-inspired character as she time travels along the streets of Heritage Perth, meeting historic characters who will help her solve one of Perth’s infamous mysteries. You’ll be entertained as you learn about the unique people and places in Perth’s 200 year history. Perfect for the whole family!

The hour-long moving play runs Wednesdays to Sundays at 11 am in Perth. Tickets at www.classictheatre.ca or 1-877-283-1283.

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place