Hannah Hitchcock, Single Mum, possible father, respectable wife!
Having researched my own family: STREET, ASH, and HAWLEY in Derbyshire, ASHFORTH in Blackpool, and all the other in-between names, and my husbands family: KELLAND in Dartmouth, Devon, CROSSLEY in Lancashire, and HOLESGROVE in Chelsea, London, etc. I have not come across any illegitimate children! Some children were born quite soon after the parents marriage, but none openly as children of single women.
Today of course this is not something we consider abnormal, but in the past it was something to be ashamed of. In upper class families it was easy to send the young mother to be away, away from her friends and gossiping neighbours. In the poorer families, it just happened and it was either accepted or covered up with some story of it being a relatives child.
Great great uncle ALBERT STREETs wife was SARAH JANE HITCHCOCK. Her father brought her up while living with his in laws after his wife died within a couple of years of Sarah Janes birth. Her father THOMAS HITCHCOCK, maybe had a little more help and tolerance having seen his sister HANNAH HITCHCOCK, bring up three children as an unwed mother!
HANNAH was born in 1821 in Ockbrook, Derbyshire. The 1851 census lists her parents, JAMES and MARY with their son SAMUEL, unmarried, son THOMAS, unmarried, daughter HANNAH unmarried, but three grandsons, JOHN, AMOS and SILAS HITCHCOCK. It was only when a fellow genealogist sent me the All Saints Ockbrook list of baptisms that the relationships came to light.
JOHN, AMOS and SILAS (not many kids with those names so easy to trace!) were HANNAHs children and the baptism records note that she was a Single Woman. Where the fathers name is usually written, the name WILLIAM TWIGG was apparently crossed out! (The TWIGG family still a big name in Steel work in Matlock Derbyshire!)
One can imagine a one-off mistake, but Hannah had three children as a Single Woman with WILLIAM TWIGG noted and crossed out on the baptism record, as the father! All three were baptised on 21 September 1849, but from the 1851 census record JOHN was born in 1842, AMOS in 1844 and SILAS in 1846.
So who was WILLIAM TWIGG? Why did he not marry HANNAH HITCHCOCK? Was he already married!? Was he her boss at the Cotton Mill she worked at, and she felt obliged to do what he wanted to keep her job? Or were they both simply rebels? Quite the thing stories are made from!
In 1861, HANNAH was still with her parents and JOHN and AMOS, both boys now working. JOHN, 19 years, was an agricultural labourer and AMOS, 16 years, an operative in the cotton mill, probably the same one as his mother. SILAS was living in Shardlow and a cow boy, age 15.
The British Newspaper Archives can keep me occupied for hours, so with names like SILAS and AMOS I was sure I would find something in the Derbyshire papers. Sure enough, there was Amos, proving the need for the much disparaged UK Heath & Safety laws!!
Derby Mercury 18th February 1863.
On Wednesday last, Mr WHISTON held an inquest on the body of AMOS HITCHCOCK,, labourer, Ockbrook, who met with his death under very distressing circumstances. The deceased was employed at the mill of Messrs. TOWLE, of Borrowash, and on Tuesday was engaged with others in repairing the water wheel, which was out of gear. The water having previously been stopped by planks, the deceased was in the drum or interior part of the wheel, when the wheel began suddenly to revolve. It was soon discovered that the water was falling upon the wheel. Mr BILLINGS, the manager, was on the spot, and heard the unfortunate man cry out, Oh, dear! The wheel was at once stopped, and deceased extricated in an insensible state. He had received a deep flesh wound on the forehead, and a bruise on the temple, and though he rallied for a few hours, notwithstanding medical aid, death put an end to his sufferings. He was 19 years of age, and bore an excellent character for steadiness and sobriety. The jury returned a verdict of Accidental death. They were, however, of opinion that the planks were not sufficiently safe, and desired the coroner to recommend a permanent paddle for the prevention of similar occurrences. The coroner stated these facts to the manager, who said he had no doubt the recommendation would be complied with.
Poor young man. Oh, dear! ? Quite the English understatement!
The story did not end there! In 1864 HANNAH HITCHCOCK age 43 got married! She married BENJAMIN COOK a 49 year old widower also from Ockbrook. (It seems he got a 14day jail sentence for stealing a shirt & shift in 1855!)
HANNAH COOK died in 1881 and BENJAMIN COOK died in 1888.
But the real story of HANNAH HITCHCOCK will probably never be heard!