Infant Mortality

When researching any UK family through the nineteenth century you cannot avoid the subject of infant mortality - that is the death of children within a few years of their birth. I believe that the CHRIMES and CRIMES families suffered less than many, due to their mainly rural existence, but there were nevertheless many cases of infant mortality.

If you are researching a typical UK family in the nineteenth century, you tend to rely on the ten-yearly census to tell you the composition of families, perhaps then using this information to find birth records and so on. Sad to say that many children were born and died between censuses, never appearing on one. My technique for this "One Name Study" has been different, in that I have checked the birth records first, before then attempting to link each child to its parents. If a child did not appear on the next census, I would look at the death records and all too often find that the child had died.

This research reveals at least 242 CHRIMES and CRIMES children who died in infancy after 1837 and there are more in the earlier Parish Records. These children are included in the estimates of the total number of CHRIMES and CRIMES who have ever lived - discussed elsewhere on this website.

There are three families who suffered worse than most. The first two were in the urban setting of Warrington, Lancashire and the third was in very unusual overseas circumstances:

  • Samuel CHRIMES was born about 1750, married about 1770 and lived with his wife Ann in Warrington. Samuel's occupation was variously Innkeeper, Groom, Servant, Weaver and Labourer. Samuel and Ann had nine children between 1774 and 1790, but six of them died in infancy. Their ages at death were 6,7,5,2,2 and 1.
  • Peter CHRIMES was born in 1747 in Warrington and married his wife Ann on 13 May 1770 in Warrington. Samuel's occupation was Slater. Peter and Ann had thirteen children between 1771 and 1788, but six of them died in infancy. Their ages at death were 4,0,0,1,0 and 2. Peter and Ann, having lost a child, would give their next born of the same sex the same name. Thus there were two attempts to raise a John before success, two attempts to raise an Edward before success but most poignant is their three attempts to raise a Robert, each of which failed.
  • John Thomas CRIMES was born in 1858 at Astbury, Cheshire and married Mary BROWN in 1881 at Salford, Lancashire. John Thomas served in the British army in India from 1883 to 1887, which is where four of his five children were born. Three of those four children died in India, all within six months of birth. In 1888 John Thomas, his wife Mary and their surviving child Mary returned to Salford in England, but sadly the child Mary died in 1889, aged 5 years. Hope now rested on the birth of a fifth child, named John Thomas, in 1889 at Salford, but sadly this child died in 1890 at the age of eighteen months. As if this total loss of their children were not enough, the family tragedy was deepened when the father John Thomas CRIMES died whilst his wife Mary was pregnant with their fifth child. He died following an accident at the Clifton Workyard of the Clifton and Kersley Coal Co. Ltd. where he was "Fatally crushed between the end of a railway waggon and the stage at the end of the corn store the waggon having spring buffers going apparently closer up than he expected". So within the space of seven years, Mary lost her husband and all five of her children. We can only hope that her subsequent re-marriage in 1891 brought her some happiness.

Revised May 2016 David Chrimes

Return to List of Stories