Cemeteries and graveyards, full of love, betrayal, tragic deaths, murder, and suicide. What will you find?

Friday 22 March 2013

Frances Mitchell - Baby Farmer and Almswoman

Taphophilia is a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries.

Broken monument to Frances Mitchell, All Saints Churchyard, Boyne Hill, Maidenhead, Berkshire.

"Frances Mitchell died June 22 1878 aged 90 years."

Frances Mitchell is a bit of a mystery woman, she was born Frances Stevens sometime arouns 1788 - 1791 in White Waltham, Berkshire, but I am unable to find any record of her birth.  In 1815 she marries Thomas Mitchell, an agricultural labourer, in Beenham, Berkshire.

She first appears on the 1841 Census aged 45 and living in Bray, Berkshire.  However her husband Thomas appears on the Census living in Foxley Green, Holyport, Berkshire.

In 1851 both Frances and Thomas are living in Holypport, Berkshire where Thomas is a garderner.  Frances has become a baby farmer to make ends meet.  Baby farmers were woman who took in illegitimate and unwanted children for a fee.  Some of the most infamous baby farmers, such as Amelia Dyer, found that it was far more profitable to simply murder their charge and pocket the fee.

Frances had two nurse children children living with her in 1851, Ruth Naomi White, aged 3 from Southampton, Hampshire and Emily Mary Halfarce aged 4 months from Bray, Berkshire.  I am unable to trace Ruth after 1851, but in 1861 Emily is living with the Adam family in Middlesex, where she is listed as an orphan.

In 1861 Frances and Thomas have moved to Boyne Hill Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire.  Lodging with them at the time is James Hicks, and agricultural labourer.

Thomas Mitchell passes away in 1863.

In 1871 Frances, then aged 83, is living in the Almshouses at All Saints Church, Boyne Hill, Maidenhead, Berkshire

"In 1858 through donation by Misses Lamotte, an almshouse designed by Street was built on the boundary of the site for 6 needy ladies of the parish over the age of 60. (In 1980’s converted to 4 flats)."

© Copyright Derek Harper
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

According to Frances's gravestone, she died on 22nd June 1878, however I have been unable to find any record of her death.

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1 comment:

  1. You have done so well in your research to find out all these facts about a long forgotten grave.


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