"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Friday, 2 August 2013

I may be a bit of a Curmudgeon*

I may be a bit of a Curmudgeon* when it comes to all things royal - but here's the thing. When it comes to all things historic, I am a sucker, even if they bear the 'royal' tag. And I really like birth, marriage and death certificates because of what they can tell us. Really interesting things, like whether parents were married before or after a certain person was born/conceived. Or - as in the case with some of my more disreputable ancestors - whether the certain person's parents were married to other people completely at the time.

Sometimes these certificates show that a person one might have known for years under a certain name was ever actually registered with that name at all. I had to sign all sorts of extra forms when dealing with my late mother's affairs because she hated her given name and used a different one, an 'aka' as the solicitor put it [also known as] Whilst I sighed at the extra this would add to the eventual legal bill I also made a mental note to tell my children that this process would have to be gone through when tidying up my legal affairs as I too am not known by the name by which I was registered.

My naughty great great grandfather had two women claim to be his widow on their death certificates [or rather the informants of their death claimed the women were his widow] although neither of them in fact were. His legal wife - whom he had left around thirty years earlier, eloping with her niece - died before him but still claimed to be his widow, a story she had probably told to her friends and neighbours to cover his absence. ['Yes he popped out for some bread and died on the way back'] The niece with whom he eloped - and who became my great great grandmother - outlived him and claimed to be his widow but wasn't because they never married. [It would have been illegal in both state and church law at the time due to the relationship between the two women] And both women used his incorrect given name, as the name he was known by not being the name with which he was registered.

And trying to trace the history of someone through tracing occupations of birth and marriage certificates or census returns is also fraught with pitfalls. Many fathers want to 'big themselves up' on their daughters' marriage certificates and have described themselves as farmers instead of agricultural labourers and shopkeepers instead of shopworkers. We never did find the Public House to which one of my great grandfathers claimed to have been the licensee although I did find one which employed him as a general servant and occasional barman. I am told that certain occupations on census returns denote that women of so called certain employments are really no better than they should be. Suffice to say, not in my family laddie and move on smartly to other things!

So although I really am not that interested in the new addition to the Royal Family I did think I would have a quick look at his birth certificate, courtesy of the Daily Telegraph [above]. Should have known better. Because I have come all over extra Curmudgeonly* [I am loving that word and think I will make it my word of the week]

So here are my moans. Does 'His Royal Highness Prince' really constitute part of the baby's name? Can anyone add it to their offspring's list of names? Is 'Prince/Princess of the United Kingdom' really an occupation?  - or does that just show one's perceived status rather than occupation? 

As used as I am to perusing such certificates, the one above really does tell me something new. It tells me that although all little babies are born in roughly the same way and have the same basic needs, they will not all be viewed equally right from the very start. They will never be addressed equally if one starts out on his very first piece of paperwork as 'His Royal Highness Prince'. They can never be equal if one has parents whose occupations are unachievable by his peers parents.

Baby George does not have a surname, as shown by his father on this piece of paper. Other children in history who have not had a father's surname on their birth certificates have not usually had the sobriquet 'Prince' attached to their name. Often their parent[s] went to great lengths to hide that missing surname and children suffered inequality all their lives.

So lets have a bit more equality, shall we. If we don't start off equal even in the paper work, we are a long way from being equal in real life aren't we? And all the excitement about the Cambridges being a modern, forward thinking family will be shown to be spin, won't it?

*Noun1.curmudgeon - a crusty irascible cantankerous old person full of stubborn ideas
Now does that sound like me?      Elizannie xx

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