“CHILD FOUND”

 

child

You have to wonder what was the eventual fate of this unfortunate baby girl — though perhaps being given up was the best that could have happened to her, given the alternative that parents often chose.

Infanticide followed by disposing of dead babies around churchyards and other less salubrious out of the way places was common. Distasteful as it may seem, even throwing the little corpses in ‘night soil’ dumps or down sewers happened.

Judgement of such actions from the perspective of today is a nicety that only ‘statue removers’ can afford to make. Grinding poverty, social shaming and consequent loss of employment, coupled with the 19th century’s casual acceptance of child mortality (born of bitter experience) among all families, rich and poor, alters the perspective so greatly that we cannot begin to fathom our ancestors.

For me, I see her as growing up in an orphanage which was clean, healthful and provided her with some life skills. When her time to leave  came in about 1900 she was selected by the Dr Barnardos charity for emigration and a new life in Australia or Canada.

In fact she may even have been your great-granny, the one in the photographs from the 1950s.

New novelists start here…

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