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Women and babies that is where it all started for new members of the adult club. 18th century women of all casts (this refers to stations-poor, merchant class, rich, filthy rich, street dweller) had children. It was in the contract, they had to expand the family and it was a rite of passage. In fact, having more than seven children was something that the upper classes were encouraged to do. Now, if the lower classes bred in that manner, well it was attributed to other things. In order to survive marriage you had to be able to cope with loss, and in order to survive childbirth you had to not only survive the birth, and pass the threshold of safety ensuring you did not have a fever of some sort-you also had to make sure that you were churched.
Marriage then comes baby
One of those disgusting transactions which were frequently mentioned in the newspapers, and which by a vulgar error, were imagined to be lawful. It was by many persons supposed that if a man became tired of his wife, he might take her to a public market with a halter round her neck, or (as in the present instance) a handkerchief round her waist, and there publicly sell her. Such proceedings were both illegal and immoral, whether the parties were or were not all agreed. Sometime the wife was sold against her will; but in this case, there was an agreement by all parties before they left the cottage at Speldhurst, in which they all lived.
Upper class women averaged 5-10 children in their lifetimes. At that time, they also tried to space them apart by extending breastfeeding, to stop frequent pregnancies. Women frequently died of complications, most commonly puerperal fever, leftover festering placenta lodged post-delivery in the womb. A mother who doesn't have milk was given a wet nurse, typically a woman from the local area set to nurse the baby. Then after the baby was born women were only allowed to be presented back into society after they were churched. Churching was a service to give thanks for a safe childbirth, sometimes with pomp, and official ceremony for the village or community.
Childbirth was the end for many women. Overcome with exhaustion and complications they passed away, leaving behind motherless children. Husbands frequently took on other wives, not necessarily because they wanted another woman, but because they needed a woman to educate their children, take care of the house and help wrangle the seven plus children under the roof....
What made a woman in the 18th century? Well, she certainly had a tougher skin.
men versus midwives
Most doctors in the 18th century were self educated and male. Midwives were still prefered by many women, and while Britain saw a rise in what they called "lying-in" hospitals, it was still up to the midwife to make the birth happen smoothly.
Dr.William Smellie published a book in 1752 that gave an account of deliveries, female repercussions, and anatomy. He details everything from cesarean sections to misshapen heads. I have to say the overview and his take on the procedures is interesting, and horrifying. Certainly one would not think to not tie off the umbilical cord on an infant post delivery for fear that their mishapen head would not go back to normal shape if not done.
"If the head is kept long in the Pelvis, and the child not destroyed by the compression of the brain, either before or soon after delivery, it commonly retains more or less the shape acquired in that situation, according to the strength or weakness of the child. When the bones begin to ride over one another in this manner, the hairy scalp is felt lax and wrinkled; but, by the long pressure and obstructions of the circulating fluids, it gradually swells and forms a large tumour [probably a cerebral haematoma]. In these cases, when the child is delivered, we ought to allow the navel string, at cutting, to bleed from one to two or three spoonfuls, especially if the infant be vigorous and full grown; and to provoke it by whipping and stimulating: for the more it cries, the sooner and better are the bones of the Cranium forced outwards into their natural situation…"
Please have a read of Smellie's work, for free here.
In many cases there were far many midwives that were forced into the job just because they needed a job. Some mostly figured that they would spend their time talking with others, comforting-sort of what a Doula does in the 21st century. But, when the time to came to deliver and a complication arouse, sources that I've read even stated that the midwives would beg for another to come and help, or blindly stick their hands into the womb to turn a child not sure even if they were doing it right. In 1793 some were calling for a school of midwifery to help to ensure that all were properly trained.
Then there was the scandal of having a male doctor attend to you!
During the 1940s slang was invented to talk about fancy officers who touted themselves above others with their attitudes and extra rations. Every generation has their own set of ways to talk about loose women, and fun places and if we listened we might hear some of them still. All-out was a 1940s soldiers term with vigor, and determination.
best military slang from the 1940s
If you are a BAM then you are most likely a big-assed female marine. I'm sure there was a lot of jostling, mostly by men scared out of their wits needing something to distract themselves in another way. Blow it out your barracks bag! means to shut the hell up-interesting. What abouts cat's beer? That would be a large glistening dram of milk. Meow!
Bet you never knew how cool your grandparents were.
I'm a descendant of the Rollo VIkings and their Frankish wives. They call my french, Norman French. No surprise that since they were conquerors they were a war-like people and they loves horse culture. The armies they commanded were experienced, disciplined, and above all dangerous.
They shaved their faces and kept their hair short. Their hair was cut short, shorn almost at the back of their head. DOing so allowed them to wear chainmail easily, without the hindrance of hair.
A few adjectives that I have stumbled upon to describe these conquerors include: adventurous, resourcefulness, cunning. They were skilled in war, weapons and oratory. But, today they have become the peoples that inhabit Normandy. They particularly married into the peoples that they conquered in order to inhabit a place permanently. But to many of us, transplanted across the oceans to Canada and then to New England there is an abjective loss of the culture of hte past. In French culture there is no culture-to speak of the places we reside in in the New World.
In general much of the culture is an adaptive version of French/gaul culture and viking culture. I'll be exploring these myths and histories in further articles as we go.
Interestingly enough I found this snarky video depicting the ways we would talk had the English won the Norman Invasion.
Ireland is known for many things, gaelic, green grass, bog people, and of course the people who make this place magical. While researching, my ancestors were named a million different things! I didn't realize that the fifty John O'Neills had other name parts as well.
Do you know these names?
Back in time O'Cleary was the first recorded Irish surname-O'Clerigh. It was seen in Lord of Aidhne, Tigherneach Ua Cleirigh, died in County Galway back in the year 916 A.D. In the beginning, names were not passed down from parent to child. It was usually someone's fathers name. So a person was first a "mac" than a fathers name. Mac meant "son of." Women were "nic"and then "o" was developed to say descendant of. The Normans and upper classes started the traditional family naming. Then there were descriptive surnames that mean different things about physical characteristics.
1. Murphy — The Anglicized version of the Irish surname Ó Murchadha and Mac Murchadha,meaning “sea warrior.”
2. Kelly — The origin of this Irish name is uncertain. An Anglicized version of the Irish name Ó Ceallaigh, it can describe a warrior or mean “white-headed,” “frequenting churches,” or “descendant of Ceallach.”
3. O’Sullivan — (Ó Súileabháin or Ó Súilleabháin in Irish). In 1890, 90 percent of the O’Sullivans were estimated to be in Munster. Many people agree that the basic surname means “eye,” but they do not agree whether the rest of the name means “one-eyed,” “hawk-eyed,” “black-eyed,” or something else.
4. Walsh — This name came to Ireland via British soldiers during the Norman invasion of Ireland and means “from Wales.” It’s derived from Breathnach or Brannagh.
5. Smith — This surname does not necessarily suggest English ancestry, as some think; often the surname was derived from Gabhann (which means “smith”).
6. O’Brien — This name came down from Brian Boru (941-1014) who was king of Munster; his descendants took the name Ó Briain.
7. Byrne (also Byrnes; O’Byrne) — from the Irish name Ó Broin (“raven”; also, descendant of Bran); this dates to the ancient Celtic chieftain Bran mac Máelmórda, a King of Leinster in the 11thcentury.
8. Ryan — This name has various possible origins: from the Gaelic Ó Riagháin (grandson or descendant of Rían) or Ó Maoilriain (grandson/descendant of Maoilriaghain) or Ó Ruaidhín(grandson/descendant of the little red one). Or it may be a simplification of the name Mulryan. It means “little king.”
9. O’Connor — From Ó Conchobhair (grandson or descendant of Conchobhar; “lover of hounds”).
10. O’Neill — Anglicized from the Gaelic Ua Néill (grandson or descendant of Niall). The name is connected with meanings including “vehement” and “champion.” The main O’Niall family is descended from the historic “Niall of the Nine Hostages.”
Courtesy of Ancestry.com
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