London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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St Pancras 1910

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for St. Pancras, London, Borough of]

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urge that some simple form of instruction in the best methods of
rearing infants might be provided for the mothers while they are
According to the Annual Reports of the Registrar-General for the years
1906, 1907 and 1908, there were 799 illegitimate births in the Metropolitan
Borough of St. Pancras. According to the Annual Reports of the Medical
Officer of Health, St. Pancras, during the same three years, the number of
births in the Workhouse and Infirmary was 406, and in the Home of Hope
102, making a total of 508, and in the Annual Report for 1908, page 28, the
following statements were made under the head of "Poor Law Maternitv
The number of indoor maternity cases in the Workhouse for the past three
years ending Lady-day was:—
1905-1906—169; 1906-1907—148; 1907-1908—129.

The number of outdoor maternity cases during the three years ending Lady-day was:—

Attended by Mid wives232519
Attended by District Medical Officers:—
Ordinary Cases7168
Difficult Cases318

The Report of the Medical Officer of the Workhouse as to the character of
the indoor maternity cases is as follows:—"Most are single women who are
admitted as destitute and pregnant. Concerning the married women, so far as I
know all are genuinely destitute. A few are sent in requiring special treatment
in the way of instrumental delivery, etc. Of the 442 cases, there were about
110 only legitimate as far as I can trace: particulars are given in all but about
a dozen cases. This proportion would thus be 1 legitimate to 3 illegitimate
Further inquiry elicited the fact that in twelve cases particulars were not
given, probably also on account of illeg timacy, and furthermore in some of
the remaining cases the statements as to marriage may be doubted. Therefore
the proportion of births in the St. Pancras Workhouse is probably considerably
more than three-fourths illegitimate, and all those occurring in the Home of
Hope are illegitimate. From this it would appear that more than half the
illegitimate births in the Borough take place in the Workhouse and the Home
of Hope.
During the last half of the year 1910 detailed inquiry was made into the
births occuring in the Workhouse. It was found that between the 1st July
and the 31st December, 1910, 60 births took place; that of these 48 were
illegitimate and 12 legitimate, a ratio of 4 to 1, or 80 per cent. illegitimate.
Of the twelve legitimate cases, 4 gave no address on going out, I lived in
another Borough, and 7 were investigated with the following results:—