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Mary Eaves, midwife

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Foxcote
Warwick
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1 of 9  Sun 21st Oct 2012 2:24pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2012  Total posts:910

I have found a notable lady - she was an angel-of-mercy in the streets of Coventry, attending to delivering of children to the working class women, a sort of Sarah Gamp, but this lady had an excellent survival rate, especially in the Spon St area with the mucky Sherbourne to cope with and the Puerperal fever to contend with. I will refer to a thesis on her in a mo but as usual, I have forgotten to 'copy' it first Roll eyes and will forward the link. She kept journals (kept in the Coventry Records) which started only when she was 41 years old and had eight children of her own, she was remarkable I think and very successful, she only had 22 deaths in all her years and only five were children. She was based in Spon end with her husband and children but would travel near and far to deliver the children of the watchmakers, etc who lived in the court around the town. The thesis describes the social history of it all very well and after the 'midwifery' bit, it's worth reading more for the historical description of the area. I haven't confirmed yet on the census, but she may have been living at 97 Spon Street or Spon End? Hope someone will help to check it out.
Coventry People - Mary Eaves, midwife
dutchman
Spon End
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2 of 9  Sun 21st Oct 2012 2:38pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:2999

There's a weaver by the name of Eaves listed at 97 Spon Street in 1874. I forget the exact clinical reason but working-class women who could not afford a doctor actually had a much higher survival rate after giving birth than middle-class women who could afford a doctor. It had something to do with the very poor training of doctors at the time.
Coventry People - Mary Eaves, midwife
Foxcote
Warwick
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Thread starter
3 of 9  Sun 21st Oct 2012 3:55pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2012  Total posts:910

That's the one, her husband was a weaver. In 1851, she was listed on the census as a midwife but I checked on later ones as she seems to be described as weaver as well. She died in 1875. Interesting topic. She must have been one of many but she appears to stand out in her profession for her success rate and her journals. Not forgetting, many a forum's ancestor may have been brought into the world with the help of Mrs Eaves Cheers
Coventry People - Mary Eaves, midwife
Jaytob
Derbyshire
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4 of 9  Sun 21st Oct 2012 4:20pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2012  Total posts:52

Foxcote, this is a fascinating insight into childbirth in the 19th century. Mary Eaves was very hard working and seemed to travel the length and breadth of Coventry on a daily basis. That was an incredible achievement with the transport available in those days. I wonder if she was selective about recording deaths though as the figures she gives seem very low.
Coventry People - Mary Eaves, midwife
Foxcote
Warwick
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5 of 9  Sun 21st Oct 2012 4:25pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2012  Total posts:910

I agree about the figures seeming amazingly low for the era. I can't believe the travelling either, surely there would have been loads of local women capable of helping at the births. She seemed to be extremely sought after. The lady requires more studying. I shall read that thesis again. She also had her own large family to look after as well.
Coventry People - Mary Eaves, midwife
DBC
Nottinghamshire
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6 of 9  Sun 21st Oct 2012 6:40pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:169

On 21st Oct 2012 2:38pm, dutchman said: I forget the exact clinical reason but working-class women who could not afford a doctor actually had a much higher survival rate after giving birth than middle-class women who could afford a doctor. It had something to do with the very poor training of doctors at the time.
And, according to this link : The reluctance of middle class women to breast feed their babies. Poor hygiene with feeding bottles and teats, and unpasteurised cows-milk contributed to high infant mortality.
Coventry People - Mary Eaves, midwife
Foxcote
Warwick
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Thread starter
7 of 9  Mon 22nd Oct 2012 8:20am  
Member: Joined Jan 2012  Total posts:910

Thanks for that link DBC, it was very informative. Maybe it was Timewatch but a few years back, there was an extremely good documentary on the subject and I can't find the details at the mo.
Coventry People - Mary Eaves, midwife
Midland Red
Cherwell
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8 of 9  Sun 17th Sep 2017 10:44am  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:5024

Our good friend Robthu Wave has pointed out that Mary Eaves deserves to be included in our list of "Famous Coventrians" Thumbs up and her name has now been added
Coventry People - Mary Eaves, midwife
Wearethemods
Aberdeenshire
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9 of 9  Mon 18th Sep 2017 9:19am  
Member: Joined Jun 2013  Total posts:374

On my family's maternal side, my grandmother's maiden name, great uncles and aunts were all surnamed Eaves (as are some of my second cousins today still in the city) and all lived in the Spon End area. Most were brought up in Hope Street. I wonder if Mary was an ancestor of mine, or was it a common name in Coventry?
Coventry People - Mary Eaves, midwife

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