February 5, 2016

Woman of Courage Hannah Blanden

Because February is Women's History Month I wanted to share with my readers the story of strong and courageous women in my life. You will be able to follow along as you wish by choosing the label "Women of Courage" in the right side bar. I encourage my readers to join me in honoring women of courage in your own families.

Bastardy Examination 1791
When my 4th great-grandmother Hannah Blanden was 8 years old, her parents were ordered out of their home in from Bury, St. Edmunds  Suffolk and sent to Wenhaston Suffolk.  The year was 1778 and a Removal Order had been served on Thomas Blandon, Drummer in the Western Battalion Militia and his wife Mary and their children Mary, Elizabeth, Hannah, Thomas and Susannah. The youngest child was only one year old.

Removal orders meant that a family had become a financial burden on the parish they lived in, and could, by law, be ordered back to the parish the head of house had been born in. This was an incredible hardship on an already impoverished family, because often the birth parish was one the individual had never lived in for any length of time.

At the age of 20 Hannah had an illegitimate child and underwent a Bastardy Examination held by her parish in 1791.

Because parishes did not want to be responsible for the care of an illegitimate child, a pregnant woman or one who had just given birth, would be questioned by a midwife or other authority and the name of the child's father recorded. The father would then be ordered to provide financial support, either as a lump sum payment to the parish for the child until he/she reached the age of majority, or as a monthly sum (also payable to the parish for the child's welfare). In many cases the mother too would be ordered to make payments. This ensured that the child did not become a burden on the parish.

Bastardy Examination of Hannah Blandon 6 July 1791. Under Oath Hannah states that on Thursday 14 October 1790 she gave birth to female bastard child at Ephraim Lockwood’s house in Holton Parish, Blything Hundred, Suffolk Co. James King was the father.

Bastardy Order James King & Hannah Blandon 6 July 1791. Justices of Peace Eloazar Davy and Charles Purvis in Parish of Holton, Hundred of Blything, County of Sufoolk hear the case brought by Robert Smith, Guardian of the Poor in Blything. James to pay 1 shilling per week to John Robinson of Southwald or to Treasurer of the Poor, for maintenance of child as long as living in the parish. Hannah to pay 6 pence weekly. 

At some point after the birth of their daughter James and Hannah may have married because they had at least two sons - Lewis in 1793 and Thomas in 1796. I have not found a marriage record for them so it is possible they never formalized their union. 
What a brave woman I am descended from! To go from poverty, to be uprooted from friends and her home, be a single mom - that's a woman of courage to come through it all.

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