Welcome to the Parish of Addingham, in Cumberland (now Cumbria). My interest in the structure of Hunsonby Chapel, (initially part of the Penrith Wesleyan Methodist Circuit and later of the Kirkoswald Circuit) grew and grew until I became interested in the whole ecclesiastical parish of Addingham and its population.
While investigating the four townships, Hunsonby with Winskill, Gamblesby, Glassonby and Little Salkeld, from about 1800 until the start of the second world war, I trawled through all manner of archives produced by the Anglicans, the Methodists, the census, local government, criminal justice, the education and tax authorities, employers etc and produced a large database. The project then needed defining. I decided to investigate illegitimacy in the parish.
This website is one result.
It has two purposes:
It is designed to make my information, such as the census transcripts and those of the baptisms, marriages and burials, more widely available to help other researchers. I am trying to see what happened here, in Addingham, but hope that others may be able to use the work to investigate and compare with what happened elsewhere.
It is also intended to help those investigating their own family history. I have investigated almost 175 women who gave birth to an illegitimate child. The details of the individual stories would be indigestible en-masse but nevertheless, if this is your family, the account will be fascinating and perhaps illuminating, while the biographies are also helpful as illustrations of particular situations, such as bigamy or infanticide.
If any descendants of the women choose to get in touch with me and fill out the histories with personal knowledge, then that would be a wonderful bonus. I am also happy to check my database for particular individuals who lived in Addingham. I can be reached via the ‘Contacts’ page.
The work is not finished, the conclusions not final, but I think you cannot read these accounts without ending up with a degree of respect for many of these women and their families, who managed, somehow, to bring up their children – and also with compassion for some of the children and their uncertain childhoods. There is also, of course, a recognition that many men managed then, as now, to escape responsibility for their actions.