Unwed Mothers in French Records

Unwed Mothers in French Records

Here we go again with the French women 😉

One of the most interesting things I have found in these French records is the amount of unwed mothers being recorded in birth records.  They use the terms Fils Naturel and Fille Naturelle, meaning a male or female child born out of wedlock.

In the records the women are listed by their full name.  And, in many cases their Father is the one who has presented the information to the recorder.  Isn’t that intriguing?  No one seems to be hiding the fact that Jeanne Marie has had her third child out of wedlock.  Yes, 3!  And, sometimes 5.

I’ve learned from a relative that in this region it was common for a couple to hold off getting married until they had the money to do so.  I didn’t really see evidence of this in the records from 1800, but I do in the 1780s.  In these records, after fils naturel, the fathers name is listed too!  In this period it is more rare to see a child unclaimed by the father than claim by him.  I have found a couple, not many, couples marrying several years later.

My own 4th great grandmother gave birth to at least two children out of wedlock.  One was my 3rd great grandfather, Augustin.  Her mother was the one who reported the births to officials.  I believe her father was deceased by the time they were born.

I suspect where there is poverty people do what they need to do.  It cost money to get married officially–even in 1780.  I imagine that more often than not, the situation was the same for everyone so it wasn’t such a shocking thing to be done.  Of course, Queen Victoria hadn’t yet made it on the scene and Victorian morals hadn’t spread across the globe.

Sure shakes up my notions about my seriously Catholic ancestors.  I’ll need to revise my stereotypes once again.

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