Adoption in the 1840's?

Discussion in 'Adoption Pre 1918' started by Bookworm, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. Bookworm

    Bookworm Now in the arms of the Angels

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    I'm trying to help a friend in USA whose family were born in the Dudley area and them emigrated to America.

    The 1841 Census shows a James Green living with Joseph & Ann Skidmore in Five Ways, Rowley Regis - James shown aged 15 working as a Stone Miner.
    Ann died abt. 1843 so Joseph emigrated to Pictou, Nova Scotia (haven't found out when yet) then according to my friend, Joseph emigrated to America in 1850 with his son Joseph Henry Skidmore and also James Skidmore.

    So it looks as if Joseph 'adopted' James as his son after wife Ann died - would this be possible in the 1840's and if so how would I find out? Or did Joseph just alter James' surname?

    Any help appreciated - thanks
     
  2. PeterG

    PeterG Well-Known Member

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    Presumably there's some evidence that James emigrated as a Skidmore?

    But by the time they emigrated, James would have been a young man, not a child and wouldn't need to be adopted. He may just have changed his name for some reason.

    Was James Green related in some way?
     
  3. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    Might James Green merely have taken the name of Skidmore (if it's he), to match the name of the man with whom he travelled & lived? May have been easier for Mr Skidmore when arranging travel.
    I had a relly who travelled to Canada with his Mother & he new Husband, he used that new husbands surname while travelling but arrived under his own name. Age 19.
    This was later in 1913
     
  4. Bookworm

    Bookworm Now in the arms of the Angels

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    Hi - this is what I've been told, James was the son of Ann Green so Joseph Skidmore would have been his step-father after marrying Ann in 1826.

    After Ann died, Joseph Skidmore emigrated with his children to Pictou, Nova Scotia to work in the coal mines - have no idea when he emigrated.
    Then in 1850 Joseph Skidmore, Joseph Henry Skidmore and James Skidmore emigrated from Nova Scotia to Providence, Rhode Island.

    My friend wondered if I could get details of the 'adoption' but as you both say perhaps James just altered his surname from Green to Skidmore at the time he emigrated. This is the first time I've come across an adoption and had no idea where to start looking, especially as it would have been in the 1840's.

    Thank you both for your help and comments. :)
     
  5. PeterG

    PeterG Well-Known Member

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    If James was Joseph's stepson it would have been fairly normal for his surname to change.

    On a general point, I really wouldn't advise accepting other people's statements without supporting evidence.
     
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  6. Bookworm

    Bookworm Now in the arms of the Angels

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    Sorry Peter, I totally missed your reply.

    I quite agree with you about 'supporting evidence' - I think the person I'm helping will just have to accept that James changed his surname to that of his step-father.

    Thank you for your advice.
     
  7. MargaretMarch

    MargaretMarch Member

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    Formal adoption in the UK did not start until 1927 and prior to that people sometimes had a legal agreement drawn up about a child that was to be adopted by another couple but it was not general to do so.
    I would say that in 1840 people just passed a child to whoever would look after it and that was that.
    In this case it seems very straightforward that James Green was with his mother and step father and as such simply changed his name to make life simple. No paperwork would have been needed.
     
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  8. Bookworm

    Bookworm Now in the arms of the Angels

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    Thanks for the above info - after working on this for some months, the lady in America (who I'm helping) and I have also come to that conclusion :)
     

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