Louisa : A Desperate Woman?

From an affair with a married man to two illegitimate daughters born within the space of a year, Joseph and Mary’s second daughter Louisa lived a somewhat checkered life.

She was born on 15 November 1823 and on 20 April 1850 at Number 20 Carr Lane, Myton, Hull she gave birth to her first illegitimate daughter – Hannah Elizabeth Scotter Atkinson.

Purchase of the baby’s birth certificate – in the hope of finding her father – only served to create more problems.  On the certificate Louisa calls herself Louisa Atkinson, and the child’s father as John Atkinson, a Baker; however no marriage between a Louisa Scotter and a John Atkinson can be traced.  It can only be presumed for the sake of respectability that Louisa fabricated the marriage to save face and possibly even fabricated John Atkinson himself.

Research into John Atkinson found several such individuals living in Myton in 1851, but not one was a Baker by profession.

Whoever the child’s father was and despite having her parents alive and a large number of siblings she could have gone to, Louisa found herself in Charity Hall Workhouse with baby Hannah and pregnant with a second illegitimate child, who would be born in 1851 and called Emma.  She would have been desperate to introduce herself to the Workhouse; usually a place for the sick or destitute who had no home or employment and as an unmarried mother of two children with different fathers, it may be that her parents refused to support her. It would have been the choice of the Workhouse or the streets for Louisa and her daughters.

What we do know this time,however, is who Emma’s father was.   Emma was registered as Emma Scotter Horsfield, father Thomas Horsfield.   As it transpires, Thomas – at the time of Emma’s birth – was a married man living in Cherry Burton with his wife Harriett who gave birth to their son James less than a year before his illegitimate daughter was born.

Emma was born in Charity Hall Workhouse in early 1851 but this was swiftly followed by the death of her half sister Hannah on 12 August 1851, still in the Workhouse.

Louisa and Emma came out of the workhouse and by 1861 she has found gainful employment as a dressmaker.

In 1864 Thomas Horsfield’s wife Harriet died and he and Louisa must have kept some form of contact as he married her the following year (1865).  The marriage between Thomas and Louisa, however, last less than 10 years.

Louisa died aged 50 (although more likely this is an error and she was 52/53) on 25 July 1875.  Her obituary in the York Herald Newspaper states that she was a widow.  This does not however match records as Thomas was well and truly still alive (he died in 1882).  It could well be they were separated and again to save face; Louisa stated she was widowed.

As for her surviving daughter, Emma married but was widowed and childless at the age of 25 when her husband William Fugill died in 1878.

 

 

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