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Genealogy – Will syphilis work in your family tree?

2019-04-30 Home&Family No comment

Recently, I watched the Martin Freeman episode in the BBC series "Who Do You Think You Are?" The concept of the whole thing is very appealing, and various celebrities are helped to track their genealogy. For genealogists, this series helps to learn how and where to find the information you need to bring together the history of your ancestors.

However, this episode stands out in all other shows, because the dramatic discovery in the later stages reveals that his great-grandfather Richard was born blind and lived in Martin's grandfather Leonard's later years.

The researchers dig a variety of evidence and tell us about Richard's story. Richard became a church organist in Worthing, gave birth to six children for a wife, they died, and the other six were him. The second one. A notice from the parish magazine then mysteriously mentioned that he left work and town, suggesting some sort of scandal.

A few years later, Richard and his third wife appeared again in Hull, but this time, she was blind. When Richard died, at the age of 70, they successfully raised six children [including Martin's grandfather Leonard].

After further investigation, they found that they had let Ada have assumed that Richard was not six children, but 12 living children, and with the birth certificate of four children who did not survive, Martin sought from the experts of the Great Ormond Street. Suggest. Together they said that the four people were born and died in some form of "failed to thrive" in six to eight years.

In the years before and after the 20th century, the most common cause was congenital syphilis, which also causes blindness, whether at birth or in the first few years, due to glazing of the glass. cornea.

It is understood that Ada is not born blind, but lost sight when she was three years old, and her brother's death certificate showed that he died a month before he was pregnant as "constitutional syphilis" at the age of three. Months. This means that he has undeniable symptoms and can't just be classified as “not growing up”, which confirms that Ada's most likely cause of blindness due to children is the same disease.

The common feeling is syphilis, which is fatal in those days, experiencing various symptoms, including a terrible facial rash that eventually causes your nose to fall off before you go crazy.

The consensus among the experts is that Ada was born with congenital syphilis [that is, captured from the mother and spread during pregnancy] and recovered without treatment because in some cases the disease may be “far away” system". In four to six years.

However, having this disease does not mean that you will always exist after immunization. She was then reinfected by her husband, Richard, and transmitted to her fetus in the womb. She managed to recover for the second time and continued to give birth to more children who were not affected by the disease.

Obviously, if a woman who has several healthy children suddenly experiences a period of 6 to 8 years, she has a series of miscarriages, still giving birth or neonatal death, then syphilis is the most likely cause.

The 1875 law of Kassowitz determines the "spontaneous reduction of the syphilis transmission intensity". Therefore, many births will be abortions, then stillbirths, then unhealthy children who die quickly, unhealthy children who survive, and then return to healthy children.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that first appeared in the 1490s in southern Europe and quickly spread throughout the African continent, where it is also known as French disease. It is as worrying as the plague because of its extreme contagious and terrible symptoms.

Many people say that Henry VIII suffers from this disease, which can be confirmed by the evidence of ulcers in his legs and the inability to give birth to healthy children. However, this is not entirely evidence-based – based on the Kassowitz law. Catherine of Aragon was pregnant six times. She gave birth to four boys who had lived for a few months or had a stillbirth. Then she had a healthy daughter, the woman who became bloody Mary, and then another daughter who died a few weeks later. During that time, Henry also gave birth to the Duke of Richmond, Henry Fitzroy, who died at the age of 17. Anne Bolin’s first child was Elizabeth, followed by two abortions. Jane Seymour's first and only pregnancy produced Edward VI, although not the strongest child, but he did survive to 16 years old.

It was not until 1928 that the cure was discovered by the advent of penicillin.

In the late 1890s/early 20th century, syphilis was very common and highly contagious. Most people don't even know that they have it and pass it. Whether the disease or its contraction method has anything to do with Richard’s sudden departure from his respectable work and lifestyle in Worthing, we will not know, but it will certainly produce some erotic conjecture.

Statistics show that one in ten people in the UK had the disease. Therefore, as the sex health expert said: “At least 10% of all people who participate in genealogy searches currently have the opportunity to find syphilis in their family.”

This is of course a very thought-provoking idea.

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