Whilst perusing through the parish registers for Stalisfield this weekend, I came across an unusual entry:
It says ‘William the Son of Thomas BOLDUC by Esther KINGSLAND his wifes daughter, his wife being then alive‘. William was baptised 23 Dec 1753 in Stalisfield, Kent.
A quick check through my records would indicate that I probably don’t have this Thomas (although his birthdate needs further research). The wife mentioned was Mary ELLETT who married John KINGSLAND on 6 Oct 1710 in Throwley, three and a half miles away. Esther (Hester) was baptised 21 Jun 1719 in Throwley. Mary married Thomas on 30 Sep 1747 in Throwley.
Therefore, Esther was probably around thirty-four when she gave birth to William, whose father was her own step-father.
I will probably never find out whether this family affair was desired by both parties, or indeed accepted by the family. I have not yet determined what happened to Thomas’s marriage thereafter. The fact that the parentage is mentioned in parish registers, even that of one over three miles away, would hint that they did not feel shame in admitting it, or that the knowledge was known outside the family.
Social historians would no doubt be able to indicate the commonality of such a union. I guess today we would judge by their appearance on the Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer shows!
- STALISFIELD St. Mary, composite parish register 1699-1812, CCA-U3-264/1/1, Canterbury Cathedral Archives.