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Jane Burch - defying Victorian convention in Stowupland


Jane Burch - a most unusual matriarch.

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.

John Burch 1851 - 1927

Selena Burch 1864 - 1945

Mary Ann Burch 1859 - 1921

at his sister Selena's house in Battisford, Suffolk
Henniker Hipperson Burch 1862 - 1945

A very young Harry looking very dapper.
Harry Burch 1854 - 1889

Reuben Richard Burch 1869 - 1934 with his wife Kate.

Mary Ann married bargeman William Kitney and lived in Lower Halstow in Kent
Mary Ann Burch 1859 - 1921

Eva Jane 1872 - 1933 (Jane's youngest child)

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