A minister who doesn't mince words

+3 votes

Just came across this page in the 1753 baptismal registry for Stratton, Cornwall. Had to laugh at the frankness of it all, see top few entries on the left page: They're all a bunch of ...

in The Tree House by Rob Judd G2G6 Mach 9 (98.7k points)
I like the Scottish way of words: "natural", as opposed to "lawful".  But then, marriage wasn't always the be all and end all of everything.  Just look at Bastard William of Normandy.

The English word "bantling" (meaning  "brat" or "small child") comes from the German word that means "bastard, child begotten on a bench" (and I'm not going to try typing it as I don't have the right keyboard), yet nobody would blink at "bantling".

From about 1830-ish, though, it is most definitely a pejorative, meant to demean and belittle.
As a Genealogist the Golden rule is not to judge. For example, it is absurd to place today's standards upon those of the Victorian era. We see a fragment of the whole when we study records, and yet often we apply our interpretation (especially when writing biographies) and miss-colour the original information. Societies standards are constantly changing today, are we shocked that perhaps things did not always stay the same over a period of hundreds of years. It is best to compare like for like when looking at social conditions, and always provide a source so others can verify your information!

2 Answers

+2 votes
Best answer

Yes, that would be the proper description especially for the times and often used in certain cultures more than in others. This phrase was used predominantly by the old English. It was never a bad word, some people just made it out to be a word that was not to be used, especially as a child.

Thank you, Rob, for sharing it with us!yes

by Shaun Doust G2G6 Pilot (345k points)
selected by Susan Laursen
It is just a word that means illegitimate but I'm not sure it wasn't used in the registers derogatively. In the church's eyes the mothers had sinned,  and in the parish ratepayer' eyes the mother and offspring were a potential cost to the rates .Hence legal records include bastardy bonds, bastardy examinations and many women sentenced to gaol for bastardy. Some vicars used the alternative name baseborn.  I  know of one vicar who on the marriage register reserved the term spinster to those who were not obviously pregnant and had no child. The others he called  single women.

Any stigma though seems to be in the eyes of the church and the better off  rather than the majority. There was a large percentage of women , who married when already pregnant. (in many  rural. parishes in the late 18th and much of the 19th C  this was more than 50% and in some parishes much higher). There were also many women with one or more children who married a man other than the known (or at least named) father of their children.
And for a long time the betrothal period allowed the couple to see if they were fertile before the marriage itself was set in stone.  Of course, if the women were not pregnant within a year (in marriage or betrothal situations), it was always her fault.  Even when his subsequent wife/wives also failed to produce children .. and her subsequent marriage (if there were to be one) did.
I believe it was Charles Jenkins who wrote a book about his and other Americans' experiences defecting to North Korea. One of the defectors was assigned a Korean wife who's husband had divorced her for sterility, therefore, she was considered worthless. Well, she immediately conceived with the new man -- but of course it is we women who are barren! It's NEVER the man who's shooting blanks!
Thats interesting Melanie. When and where have you noticed this, I should like to see for myself. It would certainly change the way I viewed marriage records and childbirths around a marriage. I have often thought about Midwives and their impact on births, abortion is often overlooked in history too. If not for digitalised newspaper reports we might never even consider what goes on behind the scenes. Some of the young lasses were left high and dry by their lovers until the local coppers caught up and brought them to an understanding of their obligations.
I'm not sure I could put my hands on the information that easily.  It was stuff I was given years ago when newly ordained, because my mentor knew I was interested in history.  I remember trying to find some of it again some 20-plus years ago, but don't recall my success rate.  (Well, hey, lots has happened since then.)

You might also check the recent news, where in India (I think it is) men are getting into trouble by promising marriage just to get sex, then marrying someone else.  (Not the same as giving marriage and procreation a test run, but interesting nonetheless.)
+2 votes
That word was commonplace then, it just meant what we now call illegitimate. It definitely wasn’t a swear word.
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

Yes, quite a commonplace word. Sometimes language can take us by surprise when we look at it outside of its contemporary, cultural context. Genealogists need to always be wary of presentism.

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