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Friday, 2 March 2012

Sarah's story...

Although this account relates to a young girl born one hundred and sixty years ago, it covers a delicate subject which could have had repercussions on this family’s descendants, so I'll not be giving specific details of this family..

Sarah had a harsh childhood. Her formative years were spent in drudgery, with no happy childhood memories to cling to. She was the eldest of eleven children in a mining family and because she was made to stay at home to help care for her younger siblings she had no schooling… although it appears from her marriage certificate years later, that she had been taught to write her own name.
The family lived in two small cottages which had been knocked into one, but as you can imagine it was still too small and cramped for such a large and growing family.

Sarah may have been a naive young woman, or perhaps having such a restricted childhood she might have become rebellious as she grew into her teens...we will never know. But when she was nineteen years of age she and her eighteen year old brother became parents to a baby boy. Because of the stigma attached to this, Sarah's brother was banished from the family (he was known to eventually become a baker by trade, a long way distant from his childhood home) Sarah remained at home and became very reclusive. It is unknown whether it was her choice, or a decision made by her family that she was never to be acknowledged outside of the immediate family as the mother of this child. He was brought up by his grandparents as the latest addition to their own family and grew up thinking of Sarah as his older sister...The local community appeared to accept that this new baby was yet another child which this large family produced at regular intervals...so scandal was avoided!

With this brother now no longer at home the family decided to take in a lodger, who immediately took a shine to Sarah..and within two years she had become pregnant by him and had given birth to another baby boy, who was openly acknowledged as her own child. The lodger wanted to make a *honest woman* of Sarah and they planned to wed - but it wasn't before she became pregnant again, and five months after their wedding Sarah gave birth to a daughter…We have to remember that at this time contraception for women was something that belonged way into the future.

It would be very easy to condemn Sarah and her brother for their lax moral attitude, but with cramped living conditions where so many children had to share a bedroom I suspect teenage hormones were heightened...Considering the number of children most working class families had in those days, there's a strong possibility that the same thing happened in some of those families too, but perhaps not all with the same resulting consequence.

It has to be said that once she was married Sarah proved to be a loving and capable wife and mother to the ten children in her long standing marriage......I question if her husband ever knew about the parentage of the youngest boy in Sarah's family.....possibly not.

The details of her first born were never generally known, in fact I don't believe the boy knew of them himself until he needed his father’s details for his own marriage certificate. It must have been a dreadful shock to him, and whether it was by accident or design he and his wife never had any children of their own.

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