Jane Burch - defying Victorian convention in Stowupland
This photo is of Jane Burch, my great-great-grandmother, she was born in Mendlesham in 1832, was single all her life, but had 9 illegitimate children. Most of her adult life was spent in Stowupland where most of her children were born and raised.
Like many people they were a family of agricultural labourers, and there were many Burch's, all related and living in Mendlesham and Stowupland at that time, and they have been my biggest project over the years. I've recently come to suspect I know the parentage of some if not all of her children, my theory from much research is that it was a married man and I think I know who he was.
Also in this post are pictures of some of Jane's children, Harry, John, Eva, Henniker and Selina, each has their own story too. Despite the difficulties of their situation, financial hardship and social stigma, and Jane not being literate, they never ended up in the workhouse so I believe there was some support around them, family and financial, although it is evident from census returns that Jane had to do field work and was a char woman (cleaner) at various time.
Many years ago I met with an elderly lady in Stowupland who remembered knowing Jane briefly when she herself was a child. She told me that the story was that Jane had her babies behind hedges, and that she used to visit someone in London.
Her family seem happy souls too. Jane died in 1916 at the age of 84.
If you're interested in your own family, and would like someone to help my contact details and more info are on this site.