Sunday, 6 September 2015

Honouring the "Action by a Farmer's Daughter"

After stumbling upon the Welsh Newspapers Online site a few years ago, I've become addicted to it - checking back often to see new editions, newspapers and content added. When I've hit roadblocks in my research or enter the research doldrums, it's a great diversion and often returns unanticipated treasures like the one I want to tell you about.

I've always wondered about the birth of William Spickett Ball, 1892-1982, the illegitimate son of Charlotte Ball, elder sister of my great-grandfather, Thomas Huxtable Ball. There also always seemed to be an air of mystery to him - at least for those of us in Canada - no name, no details. Late one night, on a whim, I entered the name of "Charlotte Ball" and hit enter and began scrolling through the list of entries.

Imagine my excitement when I came across this 15 July 1893 Cardiff Times article:

You can read the full article here.

Our Charlotte sued the father of her child for breach of promise and won in a Cardiff court in July 1893! And she was awarded a 350 GBP damages settlement, which in today's money amounted to nearly 34,600 GBP. Whether she ever received the settlement is another question and research query.

Charlotte had been living with her brother, John Ball, who farmed at Ty Gwyn in St. Andrew's Major, Glamorgan, when she met her suitor, William Howell Spickett of Cadoxton. On the 1891 census, she is shown living there with John and younger brother, Thomas.

On reading the article, I could not help but feel proud that she had taken Spickett to court. As a single mother in the late 19th century, there would have been some measure of public disapproval in her decision to keep her child. Despite the "fair damsel" description of her in court, she pursued Spickett for his breach of promise to marry her and to provide for their child.

Charlotte - you rock.

Cheers, K.


Jill Ball said...

Ball girls have gumption. Bravo Charlotte.

Karen Ball said...

Thanks, Jill. I think that Charlotte's story might explains the stubborn streak that we have inherited.

Cheers, K.