Ann Elizabeth Griffiths is my 3 x Great Grandmother and from what I can make out from the census returns and one newspaper account her story seems to be a sad one.
She is definitely in the 1861 census living in Wombourne, Staffordshire with her three children, Hannah Elizabeth aged 8 (my Great Great Grandmother), Sarah Ann aged 5 and George Henry aged 3, Ann Elizabeth is described as a farm labourer. Her marital status is difficult to read but I know from Hannah’s birth certificate that Ann was unmarried so all three children were illegitimate.
It seems that for whatever reason Ann Elizabeth found it difficult to cope. In August 1861 she and two of her children, George Henry and Sarah Ann are recorded as being in the workhouse (not sure where Hannah would be). A month later in 1861 a newspaper cutting reveals that Ann Elizabeth (Anne) was imprisoned for a month as a “rogue and vagabond” for abandoning her three children.
The term Rogue and Vagabond sounds rather dramatic but apparently beggars’, crimes were categorised in the following way from 1832 onwards and determined the compulsory prison sentence they received.
- First offence they were termed idle and disorderly – 14 days.
- Second offence they were a rogue and vagabond – one month.
- Third offence called an incorrigible rogue – three months.
So this was obviously Ann Elizabeth’s second offence and she received the correct sentence for her “crime”.
Ann Elizabeth cannot be found on any later censuses, it seems possible that she died in 1864, I will follow this up when I get hold of the death certificate. By 1871 George Henry and Sarah Ann are at the South-East Shropshire District School for paupers and Hannah is working as a servant, both Hannah and George Henry end up in Darlington and lived reasonably long and productive lives from such unfortunate beginnings, Hannah lived until the age of 78 and had eight children (plus two milk children who lived to a healthy old age), George Henry a brick layer lived to 68 and also had eight children, six of whom grew up to adults.