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Births

 Mother and childThere is a saying that  there are only two things  certain in life, death and taxes but the first certainty of life is that we are all born by a woman.History has tended to focus on powerful men and family histories used to follow the paternal line but the availability of information on-line and the change in attitudes has made following the female line more common. DNA analysis can extend family research to before the historic records. The maternal, or mitochondrial DNA, can reveal family links back to the stone age. The records show how dangerous giving birth was and the high death rate for children. It is common to find parents having two or three children baptised with th ame name in close succession as a child is born and baptised only to die young. Mothers were also frequent casulties.The image selected to illustrate birth, and by extension, childhood, is sculpture called ‘mother and child’ by Kate Newlyn.
 Queen Elizabeth passed a law in 1569 making it compulsory to maintain parish registers of births, deaths and marriages in a consistent manner. Some of these Tudor records for the villages in the area still exists but the older records are difficult to read and there are large gaps in the records where the documents were lost or no records were kept. The poor laws was introduced by Elizabeth I created records about the children that were supported by the parish. Frequently these were orphans or illegitimate children.
 The 17th century records are easier to read but this was also the time of the Puritans when transgressions of morality were severely punished.
 The 18th century vestry records provide details of the children supported by the parish including where they were placed in work. Lucretia Plenty (nee Brice) holds the unfortunate record of childbirth in the history of Chewton Mendip. She had nine children, eight of whom who died in infancy. She died aged 33, probably in childbirth.
 The Victorian school registers and census information provide information about the role of children.
 The picture of the Peppard family used to illustrate the People page show how large families were.
Quads pictureThis extract from a local newspaper shows Norah Weeks (nee Speed) who was involved in delivering the Good quadrouplets in Bristol. Norah is the second nurse from the left in the top picture.
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