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This section is to illustrate how the various dates in the time line affected our family's lives

" Everybody's got a life worth telling " - Tony Benn



Horrible London 1889 (George Sims)

More than one-fourth of the daily earnings of the citizens of the slums goes over the bars of the public-houses and gin-places. On a Saturday night, butchers, bakers, greengrocers, clothiers, furniture dealers, all the caterers for the wants of the populace, are open till a late hour; there are hundreds of them trading around and about, but the whole lot do not take as much money as three publicans - that is a fact ghastly enough in all conscience. Enter the public-houses, and you will see them crammed. Here are artisans and labourers drinking away the wages that ought to clothe their little ones. Here are the women squandering the money that would purchase food, for the lack of which the children are dying
The time to see the result of a Saturday night's heavy drinking in a low neighbourhood is after the houses are closed. Then you meet dozens of poor wretches reeling home to their miserable dens; some of them roll across the roadway and fall, cutting themselves till the blood flows. Every penny in some instances has gone in drink.

At some point during research into one's family history you may stumble upon the delicate subject of illegitimacy, which affects the way birth certificates were registered.
The Act of Parliament of 1836 states " And it be enacted that the father or mother of every child born in England shall within 42 days next after the day of every such birth give information upon being requested so to do by the Registrar according to the best of his her her knowledge and belief of the several particulars hereby required to be known and registered touching the birth of such a child provided always that it shall not be necessary to register the name of any father of a bastard child"
This was open to wide interpretation and some certificates entered the father's name even if they weren't married, while others omitted the father's name. In 1850 the situation changed and the law now said that " No putative father is to be allowed to sign an entry in the character of Father"
This lasted until 1953 when the social situation regarding illegitimacy had shifted and the father could be acknowledged outside wedlock.

This situation certainly affected our grandparents' and their childrens' lives on the Bird side.

Alastair and Janice's father, mother, grandmother and all of their maternal aunts and uncles were illegitimate, also some cousins, thus spanning three generations This has caused secrecy and untruths in the family, leading to the strained family relationships today
No law was passed in time to lift the stigmas for our family .....
- some examples of certificates -

Mazasitisz / Bird side

Mazasitisz / Bird side

Rothermel side

Rothermel side

Gertrude with Norman

Gertrude with Norman


This MAY have happened in our family between Dorothy and Gertrude - we do not have any proof of course - but may explain the closeness that Gertrude had with Dorothy's children and calling herself 'other mammy/mum'

A wet nurse is a woman who breast feeds a baby that is not her own.

Reasons for use
A wet nurse may be employed if the birth mother of a baby is unable to breast-feed her infant for reasons such as:

insufficient production of breast milk.

Some wet nurses are also trained to serve as a midwife during childbirth.

Historical use
Wet nursing was introduced in France by Louis the XIV in early 17th century, part of it was to encourage elaborate court life. In the past, members of higher classes would have their children wet-nursed. This is an outgrowth of an old tradition -- noblewomen would not breast-feed, and could become pregnant again sooner, to ensure an heir, if they were not nursing their infants.

Throughout history, mothers who could not (or chose not to) breastfeed their babies either employed the use of a wet nurse or, less frequently, prepared food for their baby, a process known as "dry nursing."Baby food composition varied according to region and economic status. In Europe and America during the early 19th century, the prevalence of wet nursing began to decrease, while the practice of feeding babies mixtures based on animal milk rose in popularity.
These complex formulas recommended that parents mix cow's milk, water, cream, and sugar or honey in specific ratios to achieve the nutritional balance believed to approximate human milk reformulated in such a way as to accommodate the believed digestive capability of the infant.
In parallel with the enormous shift (in industrialized nations) away from breastfeeding to home-made formulas, nutrition scientists continued to analyze human milk and attempt to make infant formulas that closer matched its composition. Maltose and dextrins were believed nutrionally important, and in 1912, the Mead Johnson Company released a milk additive called Dextri-Maltose. This formula was made available to mothers only by physicians. In 1919, milkfats were replaced with a blend of animal and vegetable fats as part of the continued drive to closer simulate human milk.This formula was called SMA for "simulated milk adapted."
In the late 1920's, Alfred Bosworth released Similac (for "similar to lactation"), and Meade Johnson released " Sobee". Several other formulas were released over in the next decades, but commercial formulas did not begin to seriously compete with evaporated milk formulas until the 1950's.

Our family of course would not have endorsed these fomula feeds because of the animal fat content and the need for a physician's prescription.

Current use
Through the recent widespread availability of infant formula, wet nurses are not as necessary in developed nations and, therefore, are not common there. The use of a wet nurse is still a common practice in many developing countries.

Though it is not widely known in developed countries, a woman who has never been pregnant may produce milk. Through frequent stimulation of the areolae and nipples, a woman may begin lactating and, therefore, be able to nurse. This ability also enables women who have previously been pregnant to nurse children to whom they did not give birth


Various Education Acts affected our family, Gertrude for example wanted to go to university but school leaving age was 12 for girls in her day, she was 12 in 1898 by 1901 she was a Stationers Assistant possibly working for Harry Bird , we shall never know...........
Because of poverty children were sent out to work as soon as possible to help feed and house the family.

Rab Butler was the Minister of Education in the coalition government formed by Winston Churchill in 1940. Butler's 1944 Education Act was an attempt to create the structure for the post-war British education system. The act raised the school-leaving age to 15 and provided universal free schooling in three different types of schools; grammar, secondary modern and technical. Butler hoped that these schools would cater for the different academic levels and other aptitudes of children. Entry to these schools was based on the 11+ examination.

Florence Nightingale developed an interest in the social questions of the day, made visits to the homes of the sick in the local villages and began to investigate hospitals and nursing. Her parents refused to allow her to become a nurse as in the mid-nineteenth century it was not considered a suitable profession for a well educated woman. While the family conflicts over Florence's future remained unresolved it was decided that Florence would tour Europe with some family friends, Charles and Selina Bracebridge. The three travelled to Italy, Egypt and Greece, returning in July 1850 through Germany where they visited Pastor Theodor Fliedner's hospital and school for deaconesses at Kaiserswerth, near Dusseldorf. The following year Florence Nightingale returned to Kaiserswerth and undertook three months nursing training, which enabled her to take a vacancy as Superintendent of the Establishment for Gentlewomen during illness at No. 1 Harley Street, London in 1853.
Her greatest achievement was to raise nursing to the level of a respectable profession for women. In 1860, with the public subscriptions of the Nightingale Fund, she established the Nightingale Training School for nurses at St Thomas' Hospital. Mrs Sarah Wardroper, Matron at St Thomas', became the head of the new school. The probationer nurses received a year's training which included some lectures but was mainly practical ward work under the supervision of the ward sister. "Miss Nightingale", as she was always called by the nurses, scrutinised the probationers' ward diaries and reports.
Florence Nightingale's writings on hospital planning and organisation had a profound effect in England and across the world. Miss Nightingale was the principal advocate of the 'pavilion' plan for hospitals in Britain
Although she was bedridden for many years, she campaigned tirelessly to improve health standards, publishing 200 books, reports and pamphlets. In recognition of her hard work Queen Victoria awarded Miss Nightingale the Royal Red Cross in 1883. In her old age she received many honours, including the Order of Merit (1907), becoming the first woman to receive it. Florence Nightingale died at home at the age of 90 on 13 August 1910.

Florence outside St Thomas' Hospital

Florence outside St Thomas' Hospital

Entering the EU with all its regulations regarding Human Rights, Discrimination, Work and Equal Opportunities has greatly influenced our lives today.

Britain's entry into the EU in 1972 made a great difference to our lives. Our son was born in Italy of an Italian father. The immigration office would not allow me to put him on my passport, so I was unable to travel with my child without my husband which I felt was discrimination. Every year my husband had to report to the police like a criminal with all his documents, work permit etc and we had to wait for a few weeks in trepidation in case he was sent back to Italy. Consequently no employer would give him a permanent job. On buying our first home his income was disregarded when applying for a mortgage so we had to bow down to my parents for help.
This of course goes on still today, perhaps in an even more discriminatory form than in the late sixties.


There was a Housing Act about the same time which stopped people getting thrown out on the street with no notice....
These two acts really gave me hope as for seven years before the equal pay act I worked for less than half pay in the State and Private education sector.
When we were first living together we were thrown out of three flats in Nottingham in about three months because we got our post in different names ( not married) .This was very exhausting as we were both in our first teaching posts.
These dates really had an affect on my life.

On at the Haymarket London 1912 whilst our grandparents lived there

On at the Haymarket London 1912 whilst our grandparents lived there