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 Scottish, Local, and Social History
 Was it a rumour??
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25 Posts

Posted - 11 December 2010 :  21:05:25  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I heard a few years ago that particulaly on the 1841 Scottish census that if your relative was down as a dressmaker or seamstress on the census this could of been a cover up for a 'woman of ill repute' or a prostitute. I have a dressmaker/seamstress relative in 1841 who had 4 illigitimate children all with the same man but he went on to marry someone else and not her, can anyone shed any light on this please.

Edited by - hunbun on 11 December 2010 21:44:55

Harry D. Watson

93 Posts

Posted - 12 December 2010 :  01:22:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I can't shed any light on your ancestor, but I had a female ancestor in Wilton parish, Hawick, who was described as a seamstress in the censuses and who had 6 illegitimate children, all with different surnames. And she never married.

Her life story is quite a sad one. Her father was a former soldier who became the coachman to a gentleman in Hawick. Having received his wages at the Martinmas term of 1807, he skedaddled with his fancy woman and was last seen at Leith docks in Edinburgh, "seeking a passage for the north". His family were thrown on the parish, and were reliant on charitable handouts from then on.

If you wonder how I know all this, the answer is that I found a reference in the Wilton kirk-session records to the fact that this man had been "advertised" in the Kelso Mail and the Edinburgh Evening Courant, and I managed to find the relevant newspapers for July 1808 with the Wanted notice giving his details, including age, height, appearance, etc.

It's useful to have an ancestor who was a bit naughty, as you can get so much information about them from the records, whereas people who kept their noses clean are more or less invisible!

My ancestor Martha is mentioned frequently in the Wilton kirk-session records as being "starving", "in great want", etc., and the Wilton kirk-session even paid for her to indulge in sea-bathing - believed to be good for you (it would either cure you or kill you!), and there are references to payments for shoes, a Bible etc. to her son (my great-great-grandfather).


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