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View Full Version : Oooh, I hadn't realised that.....still births



Merry Monty Montgomery
07-10-08, 14:38
I was reading an article in The Times about a surgeon (Mr William John Coryn) who was fined for issuing a false certificate stating he had delivered a still born child when in fact the baby was born alive but died afterwards. He said he occasionally did this to save poorer parents the cost of an "ordinary burial". In this case the child had lived for 34 hours, but in his mind he considered it a still birth because the child couldn't live as it was premature.

Anyway, the point I was making is that I hadn't realised that still births got ANY recognition (something brought in by the Births and Deaths Reg Act 1874 apparently). So if a woman was delivered of a still born child she was supposed to take a medical cert to the register office to explain why she was not registering a birth following her pregnancy and confinement. I wonder what happened to those certs?

KiteRunner
07-10-08, 14:43
There's the Stillbirths Register, isn't there? But you already know about that, don't you?

Elaine ..Spain
07-10-08, 14:44
Stillbirth Register kept by GRO
Stillbirths: Introduction (http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/stillbirths/canichangethestillbirthrecordatalaterdate/index.asp)

- or are you talking about the actual certificates issued by the doctor?

Mary from Italy
07-10-08, 14:46
The stillbirth certificate had to be produced to the cemetery for burial; I think the cemeteries probably kept them.

In the case of my Amelia Inman (who forged a stillbirth certificate), I asked the Bradford Record Office if the certificates had survived (this was from the 1860s), but they said not.

Merry Monty Montgomery
07-10-08, 14:52
Didn't the stillbirth register come in at the same time as the adoption one (not connected as far as I know, but 1927?)

This newpaper report was from 1882 and the rules were introduced in 1874.

Maybe it stemmed from the time that registrars were responsible for ensuring all events were registered in their "patch". You would need to have some evidence of the result of all pregnancies, surely? Up to now I had assumed (oops) all still births went completely ignored until 1927.

Merry Monty Montgomery
07-10-08, 14:53
The stillbirth certificate had to be produced to the cemetery for burial; I think the cemeteries probably kept them.

In the case of my Amelia Inman (who forged a stillbirth certificate), I asked the Bradford Record Office if the certificates had survived (this was from the 1860s), but they said not.


That's interesting Mary. Amelia rings very vague bells!

Yes, it said in the paper that the cemetery official confirmed he had seen the cert from the surgeon.

Mary from Italy
07-10-08, 14:56
There was a thread about the case ages ago, and there's an article in the Magazine about it if you're interested:

The Death of Baby Gordon (http://www.ftfmagazine.lewcock.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=63&Itemid=&ed=1)

Mary from Italy
07-10-08, 14:57
Up to now I had assumed (oops) all still births went completely ignored until 1927.

Don't forget that many stillborn babies were buried in cemeteries, and cemetery registers often show their surname and parents' names.

KiteRunner
07-10-08, 15:00
It says in Anthony Adolph's book, "Until 1874, stillborn children did not have to be registered", but that's all he seems to say about it.

Merry Monty Montgomery
07-10-08, 15:05
Oooh, Mary - I remember reading the start of that article before! I got to the part where everyones names began with A and then I must have been interupted as I never got any further. A very interesting case.

I also remember the original thread now, proving that I did know about these early stillbirth certs before today. My memory must be failing!!

Guy
07-10-08, 19:04
Sections 18 & 19 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1874 covers the burial of still-born infants.

The Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1926 introduced the still-birth register.

It should however be noted that parish registers (sometimes) and graveyard registers (often) show details of miscarried foetus and still-born infants.
Cheers
Guy

Little Nell
07-10-08, 19:31
I would think very few of these early certs survived. My husband has a death cert from a doctor concerning his gt grandmother, which was for burial purposes, but its the only one I've seen apart from when my father died.

Bristol Boy
07-10-08, 21:26
Would a stillbirth have to be regitered in 1903? My G grandmother died in childbirth & there is no mentiod of the baby any where that I can find, The cemetery records were distroyed in a fire.
Mike

Merry Monty Montgomery
07-10-08, 21:36
No Mike,

Until 1927 (I think) there was no registration process for stillbirths. I think since then it has not been compulsory. Also, only the parents of the child have access to the stillbirth registers, so they are not really of any use to researchers.

These medical certs we are talking about here were issued by Drs to facilitate a burial for the stillborn child and also as proof of what had happened should the registrar ask about the result of a pregnancy (for many years it was the registrars responsibility to ensure all events in his district were registered.)

Olde Crone Holden
07-10-08, 22:03
Yes, I was very taken aback to see in a parish burial register (large church)

"Abortive infant"

which was of course the old term for a still born baby, or a late miscarriage.

Sadly, in this particular register, there were hundreds upon hundreds of such burials. This was before civil reg of course.

Now, I'm on shaky ground here, but I have a FEELING, that birth attendants such as professional midwives, were obliged to report stillbirths to the Registrar BEFORE 1875. In other words, when the Registrar came a-calling on the local midwife, she would tell him which babies had been born, and which had ended in stillbirth or miscarriage.

I can't back that feeling up with fact, just feel sure I read it somewhere!

OC

Guy
07-10-08, 22:22
No Mike,

Until 1927 (I think) there was no registration process for stillbirths. I think since then it has not been compulsory. Also, only the parents of the child have access to the stillbirth registers, so they are not really of any use to researchers.

These medical certs we are talking about here were issued by Drs to facilitate a burial for the stillborn child and also as proof of what had happened should the registrar ask about the result of a pregnancy (for many years it was the registrars responsibility to ensure all events in his district were registered.)

Not quite correct.
The still-birth register may be searched on request from parents or siblings of the still-born infant.
That however is not the complete story.
Anyone in the world may request a search on the still-birth register and the decision to allow or disallow that search depends on a decision made by the Registrar General after consideration of the specific request.
Cheers
Guy

Merry Monty Montgomery
07-10-08, 22:36
The still-birth register may be searched on request from parents or siblings of the still-born infant.


Sorry that's what I meant to say......also siblings......but only if the parents are dec'd.

I should know as I was told, as a half sibling, I had no right to access these indexes!!

That's very interesting that it's not cut and dried as that's not what I was told either two years ago or recently when I re-checked with the GRO.

Merry Monty Montgomery
07-10-08, 22:37
Is there something I can quote, Guy??