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Illegitimate births circa 1840 #germany


rich.meyersburg@...
 

I recently had some birth notices translated from old written German by members of this SIG, and I am very grateful.  However in two of the instances, both from Hebenshausen in 1840, the births were described as unehelich, which was translated as illegitimate.
For one of the births, the father acknowledged as father of the children (anerkannt als Vater des Kind) and the child was listed as having the father's surname.

In the second birth, in the same town and to girls with the same surname, less than a week apart, the child was listed as unehelich, and the father's name was not provided.

My questions are this:

1.  Was this common?

2.  Was this due to a difficulty in obtaining services for either a religious or civil marriage? (in the first instance)

3. How was this usually treated by the community?

Thank you for your assistance.
Rich Meyersburg
Laurel MD
rich.meyersburg@...


Susan&David
 

There were, at times, civil laws that only allowed the eldest Jewish son to marry.  The religious community recognized the marriage as legitimate but not the civil authorities.

David Rosen
Boston, MA

On 5/22/2020 8:41 PM, rich.meyersburg@... wrote:
I recently had some birth notices translated from old written German by members of this SIG, and I am very grateful.  However in two of the instances, both from Hebenshausen in 1840, the births were described as unehelich, which was translated as illegitimate.
For one of the births, the father acknowledged as father of the children (anerkannt als Vater des Kind) and the child was listed as having the father's surname.

In the second birth, in the same town and to girls with the same surname, less than a week apart, the child was listed as unehelich, and the father's name was not provided.

My questions are this:

1.  Was this common?

2.  Was this due to a difficulty in obtaining services for either a religious or civil marriage? (in the first instance)

3. How was this usually treated by the community?

Thank you for your assistance.
Rich Meyersburg
Laurel MD
rich.meyersburg@...


Reuven Stern
 

Please note that "unehelich" may mean illegitimate, but it also means out of wedlock
--
Reuven Stern, Kfar Vradim Israel


James
 

In this period the German peasant class couples often had several births out of wedlock during a very long courtship because there was a significant fee to get legally married. Once the couple was able to afford the fee and married, their children became "legitimate". My Catholic German research in this time period had several couples where the Priest would go back and note them as legitimate in the records.

James Castellan
Rose Valley, PA


Ernst-Peter Winter
 

Please note that "unehelich" may mean illegitimate, but it
also means out of wedlock
Sorry, what's the difference between "illegitimate" and "out
of wedlock"?

I understand "unehelich" to mean a child born outside a
legally constituted marriage. This means that the child has
no rights against the father, e.g. it cannot inherit
anything. In the case of a subsequent marriage, the father
must expressly recognise the child as having been produced
by him in order to grant him the same rights as the other
children of this marriage.

Ernst-Peter Winter, Münster, Hesse


rich.meyersburg@...
 

Thank you very much.I can understand why my ancestors wanted to come to the US.

Rich


peter.cohen@...
 

I do not know if it applies to 1840, but there were times when authorities in some German cities attempted to control the Jewish population by only allowing the oldest son to marry. This was largely unsuccessful because the Jews were not terribly concerned about civil marriage, as long as they were religiously married. But, this resulted in a lot of "illegitimate" births because the parents were not permitted to marry in a civil ceremony.


David Lewin
 

Are you certain about "only allowing the oldest son to marry" ?   I know of only the head of the family and the oldest son allowed to earn a living, but never heard of marriage prohibitioj

David Lewin,    London     <david@...>


At 18:55 23/05/2020, peter.cohen@... wrote:
I do not know if it applies to 1840, but there were times when authorities in some German cities attempted to control the Jewish population by only allowing the oldest son to marry. This was largely unsuccessful because the Jews were not terribly concerned about civil marriage, as long as they were religiously married. But, this resulted in a lot of "illegitimate" births because the parents were not permitted to marry in a civil ceremony.


Roger Lustig
 

Regarding births in 1840s Germany that were entered as illegitimate,
Rich Meyersburg asks:

1.  Was this common?

2.  Was this due to a difficulty in obtaining services for either a
religious or civil marriage? (in the first instance)

3. How was this usually treated by the community?

1: Yes. In my experience, between 5 and 8 percent of births were to
unwed mothers.

2: I don't think civil marriage existed in 1840s Hessen-Kassel, which is
where Hebenshausen was located. Among Jews, obtaining services was not a
problem, as any Jewish male could officiate, and in towns without a
rabbi, the schoolteacher or shochet or cantor (often all the same
person) was called upon for such tasks. In other towns, the head of the
congregation would officiate.

3: Unwed Jewish mothers weren't shunned, generally. Some later married,
some did not. Children of unwed mothers were treated like other children.

Roger Lustig

Princeton, NJ

Research coordinator, GerSIG


Eva Lawrence
 

Laws about only allowing the oldest son to marry were certainly believed
to be in existence in some areas and in certain jurisdictions, whether
that was the case or not.
It's the only explanation I can think of for the fact that my 4xgreat
grandfather and his older brother lied about their relative ages on the
former's civil marriage record in 1832 in Bonn, Regierungsbezirk Coeln.
which had become part of Prussia in 1815, after years of checkered
history and French rule.
Anselm Ungar brought a one-year-old child into the marriage, while his
older brother Leopold, a witness on the record, was still unmarried.
The discrepancy caused all sorts of difficulties
on the family's later civil records, and I've not yet disentangled all
the facts about the whole episode.

Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK
--
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.


Arline and Sidney Sachs
 

My g.g.grandfather wrote of his experience in the early and mid 1800s in Kastel (across the river from Mainz).  When he wanted to get married in 1829 he had to get permission from the town, community and state.  To do this he had to prove he would not be a burden on the community.  He was serving as a Chazen and had to have the entire community sign an official paper saying that they would continue to support him. ( I have this document if anyone wants to see it.)  One member of the small community did not sign it.  My ancestor  wrote in his journal that he returned to his room and cried, but the owner assured him that they would make sure he would get it.   Much later the mayor asked the person who would not sign, why he had not signed.  My ancestor wrote "He has yet to answer the mayor".

  Many years later when his daughter wanted to get married, he made the comment about his future son-in-law, who lived in Bischofsheim (now part of Mainz). " Thank goodness he received his permission to marry."
  Remember the early 1800s was a time of great immigration of Germans to America - both Jewish and Christians.

Arline and Sidney Sachs <sachs@...>

Signing your full name to all messages to the JGDG furthers the spirit of community and mutual assistance that our group depends on.



Frank Schulaner
 

One assumes the civil authorities had their reasons/excuses for the seemingly erratic laws on Jewish marriages that we've been reading about this weekend. I suspect, though, the basic not-always-subconscious rationale was "Just to show you Jews who's boss."

But I wonder about the eldest-son-only rule you mention: Whether the law's intent was practical, to increase the number of the "illegitimate" children of the other sons, children unable legally to inherit their father's property. Giving the government a chance to grab "intestate" property.


Ernst-Peter Winter
 

I think it is very dangerous to judge rules and laws without
knowledge of the exact wording, time and territory, or to
draw general conclusions from them.

The beginning of the 19th century in particular brought very
great upheavals in Germany - from the end of serfdom to the
entitlement to certain rights. Not to forget the changes
brought about by the French Revolution and the rule of
Napoleon. It should be noted that the individual countries
of Germany were autonomous and had their own legislation. A
completely different question is how the local authorities
applied the laws and whether it was possible to appeal
against them to a higher instance and perhaps obtain justice
there. Generalizations often lead to prejudices that are
then difficult to dispel.

The situation of the Jews in Germany has certainly improved
more slowly during this period than that of the rest of the
ordinary population. And as always: some worked for it,
others against it. In my place of residence, a Jewish woman
left money to poor Christians in her will. She said that she
had also received much good things from Christians.
Certainly an exception - but also a reality.

Ernst-Peter Winter, Münster, Hesse


Ernst-Peter Winter
 

My g.g.grandfather ...
... was serving
as a Chazen and had to have the entire community sign an
official paper saying that they would continue to support
him. ( I have this document if anyone wants to see it.)
I would be glad to get a scan of the document.
Unfortunately, such documents are very rare in the municipal
archives, although they were certainly frequent.

BTW: Since the Rhine became the border between Hesse and
Rhineland-Palatinate, all suburbs on the right side of the
Rhine were separated from Mainz. The stations in these
villages kept their names, so that the railway station is
still Mainz-Bischofsheim.

Ernst-Peter Winter, Münster, Hesse


Paul King
 

Limiting fertility was often a state or municipal (local) policy aimed at economically dependent or religiously undesirable populations and should not be considered as solely aimed at controlling Jewish demographics. Nevertheless, the Familiant Decree, introduced in Bohemia and Moravia in 1726 allowing only the eldest son of Jewish parents to marry, remained in force with various attenuations for some 125 years, and was honored more in the breach than in its observance. During and after the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), Protestants faced marriage constraints in Catholic jurisdictions; throughout the "second serfdom"  (16th-18th c.) serfs required highly-priced marriage licenses and faced monetary penalties, incarceration and deportation for marrying illegally. Political authorities sought to guard against pauperization of potential families without means. By and large, these punitive measures acted as a deterrent to marriage. Amongst the Jewish population, far less so, despite intermittent calls by guilds to expel Jewish competition.

 

Paul KING

Jerusalem  


ed.rosenblatt@...
 

This was very common. Weddings performed by Rabbis were not recognized by the government. I have found several birth records of my ancestors in Galicia that are all noted as illegitimate.

Ed Rosenblatt