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Feeling sorry for poor bloody Alice

(35 Posts)
Crikeyblimey Sat 30-Mar-13 23:19:17

My sis is researching our family tree (spurred on by our mum dying in the summer).

She showed me where she's up to today and our great great great grandmother Alice was married at 22 and for the next 16 years she had a baby every year! 16 babies. Unfortunately, only 8 of them survived beyond 15 years old sad. Oddly, 4 of them (3 who died as infants and 1 who survived) were called Alice. She also had 3 called James.

I just feel so sad for her. She lived to be 70 but by god, she must have been knackered physically and emotionally.

I know times were different and thank goodness women now have more control over their fertility.

I just can't get her out of my head. I feel really sad for her. Having said that, she might have been a right battle axe!

Anyway - just wanted to share.

mummydarkling Sat 30-Mar-13 23:25:12

yes we did something similar and I just wondered if I would have had the moral fibre to survive back then.

Shallishanti Sat 30-Mar-13 23:28:55

I think you are right to feel sorry for her. I think this would have been quite a ommon experience for women at that time, regardless of their class. And not uncommon for women elsewhere in thw world now. We should all be grateful for being here and now. Strange that she often called her children after previous ones who had died though, I wonder if that happened a lot? maybe they didn't have so many names to go round in the old days?

Crikeyblimey Sat 30-Mar-13 23:29:32

I'm knackered with just one ds and an untidy house (I have washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher). Clearly I'm a lightweight! ;)

Oh and I have no clue how this ended up in AIBU! I meant it to go in Chat. Ooops.

Shallishanti Sat 30-Mar-13 23:29:38

a common experience, sorry

Booyhoo Sat 30-Mar-13 23:30:53

wow! that is quite something to have gone through so much and lived til she was 70 way back then.

i definitely dont think could have coped with all that.

i do have a friend whose parents lost their first two children as infants and named one of their younger children the same as one of the babies that died.

HollyBerryBush Sat 30-Mar-13 23:32:09

My G G grandmother had 24, one set of twins in that and they all lived. But she was a farmers wife, so not as if she was exposed to the general filth, poor plumbing, general disease and pestilence of towns. No she wasn't Catholic either!

Footface Sat 30-Mar-13 23:34:52

I honestly don't know how people coped, my gran brought up three children in one room and access to a sink. No wonder she took no crisp from anyone

Footface Sat 30-Mar-13 23:35:39

*crap not crisp

Booyhoo Sat 30-Mar-13 23:36:18


i just cant imagine raising 24 children. not even today where we have all the conveniences of technology and home delivery etc.

well done to all those women who did that. i'd love even a tenth of their stamina!

onedev Sat 30-Mar-13 23:36:32

Amazing! I think it was v common to name children after previous children who had died. My nan was one of 12 & was named after an older sister who died the year before she was born.

Crikeyblimey Sat 30-Mar-13 23:36:39

Alice was a farmers wife too and not catholic! They also seemed to be fairly wealthy. Farmed 150 acres and employed several labourers. One of her sons took over the farm but it seems she went to live with one of her daughters after my g g g grandfather died.

It is fascinating but I'm just in awe of what women endured.

Booyhoo Sat 30-Mar-13 23:40:55

i wonder if it was something to do with keeping the farm a family business and having only family working on it? saving on having to pay lots of workers wages maybe?

HollyBerryBush Sat 30-Mar-13 23:42:35

You do dig up some awful shit when you start poking about though. What would be cousins of my GF ended up in the workhouse, I don't know how to go about finding out why, sad young deaths. I have poked about in the graveyard of the area but of course it will be paupers graves and unmarked.

You find the branches that do very well for themselves, and those that don't.

My fathers cousin has written a book over the past 150 odd years of our extended family - some of it is harrowing. He's pulled in a lot of letters and photographs and verbal reminisces.

G Grandmother, aged 7, had to carry the body of her sister, her father carried the other sibling body, for 2 days into a town to get them certified dead of scarlettina (sp) scarlet fever by any other name, brought by a travelling vicar. This vicar managed to wipe out 134 children within the community with his 'pox'

Ummofumbridge Sat 30-Mar-13 23:43:02

Yes when I researched my family tree I found several large (10+) families with children named after deceased earlier siblings. My mothers side were all northern coal mining families and some were huge and very tragic.

We don't realise just how fortunate we are really. I remind my dc of this regularly. My grandmother in her 80's recalls her mother begging the 'parish' for food as there were no benefits and her father had been injured down the mines and couldn't work. They managed but I can understand why she occasionally despairs at how wasteful my dc are.

Booyhoo Sat 30-Mar-13 23:43:52

although there seems to be a thing for having large families in certain religions nowadays. and even some who aren't necessarily religous. i'm thinking of those shows that are on tv at the minute.

Booyhoo Sat 30-Mar-13 23:46:16

"This vicar managed to wipe out 134 children within the community with his 'pox' "

that is so sad. my son is 7. i couldn't imagine asking him to carry his brothers or any body for that matter. just awful. sad

nailak Sat 30-Mar-13 23:47:06

my great grandmother had 16 children who survived. When I go back home to the area she lived in i get randoms coming up to me saying i look like my mum and asking me if i know who they are.

I always say "yes you're my mums cousin" and I am always right! lol

Crikeyblimey Sat 30-Mar-13 23:52:16

Oh my Holly that is so sad. Poor kids. sad. We really don't know we're born sometimes do we.

I know infant mortality was higher back in Alice's day but my sister did admit that when she kept coming across these babies having died, she wondered if Alice was smothering them cos she could t cope with having yet another baby!! We did conclude that she probably wasn't. There could be a million reasons why only half her babies survived.

HollyBerryBush Sat 30-Mar-13 23:55:33

G G'ma had a hard life, she eloped as well! married for love and I suppose quite well, they were pillars of the community - same cant be said for her children who were all a bit 'iffy'. She lost two brothers in a tragic sea accident as well, they had to lie and say they found remains just to allow her a funeral to attend.

One of her daughters is my grandmother, who didn't bring up my father, he was passed back a generation. G'ma herself just went from abusive to abusive relationship shelling out kids. I have found her daughter, still alive, over in the USA but she's just not giving information I want - dunno whether she thinks I'm like the rest of the family, who managed to go from relatively well-to-do to absolute nair'do'wells in a two generations. All I actually want is a date and place of death because I cannot track her down. She had a shit life in this country and everyone needs to be remembered and have flowers laid somewhere.

garlicbrunch Sat 30-Mar-13 23:58:54

Yes - you only have to go back a few generations to find extreme hardship. My grandparents were all born around 1900 and their lives were so fucking hard. That is, they look hard to my eyes ... and they were tough; too tough, hard around the edges, you know? The more I learn and think about how life must have been for them, the less surprised I am that they were pretty fucked up.

They would have said they were happy enough, and of course they did have happy times. All humans do. But I get irate about all those 'positive' FB updates about how material things don't matter, love is all you need <sings>, anyone can appreciate a rainbow, yadda yadda. Anybody can appreciate the rainbow/flowers/smiles but, when you have to appreciate them because 90% of your life is a miserable slog, nobody should be wanking on about that being all you need.

... and breathe ... for my grandparents, your Alice, all those whose lives are still so hard, and those of us whose lives are heading back that way pdq sad

LottieJenkins Sat 30-Mar-13 23:59:03

Despite *17* pregnancies Queen Anne had no surviving children.................. This is so sad

HollyBerryBush Sun 31-Mar-13 00:10:00

Men had it hard too, often highly physical labour. Most of the men back then, in my family, were dead before 50, whereas the women went on until their late 60's.

I have a highly complex family, we are all still in touch through about 7 generations, which does make for about 2,000 spread far and wide (and yes we really are all still in touch).

Odd thing is, with the electronic age, we don't seem to be in touch as we once were. Letter writting is a dying art, no one wants to spend every night on emails, FB/twitter is jus t one liners and 'likes'.

Elefant1 Sun 31-Mar-13 00:11:41

Was I the only one who saw the thread title and thought "Alice, who the fuck is Alice" must be because I found the cd recently! sorry back on topic-
I have found several ancestors in the workhouse and the deaths of lots of children, I have a piece of paper which says that one child died on the day of his siblings funeral sad I do wonder if the death of a child was less traumatic back then because so many did die and it was quite normal to lose at least 1 child.

HollyBerryBush Sun 31-Mar-13 00:16:32

Death back then was an everyday occurrence. Multiple siblings, war, work accidents, no vaccination, no contraception.

I did see a very eye opening documentary regarding Edwardian children in the east end - it was quite normal to get one or two children past the infant mortality stage, have subsequent children, insure them, and smother them to get the insurance money to pay for schooling for the older ones in an attempt to get out of poverty. No viable autopsy - and who would care anyway?

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