Barling & Wakering Heritage - Mrs Cater the Midwife
Mrs Cater

Foulness Island – Mrs Cater

Extract from ‘The History of Rochford Hundred’ by Philip Benton of Wakering Hall [p.218]


Another well-known character was old Mrs. Cater, who, in consequence of the non-residence of a medical man,  was frequently called in to act in cases of mid-wifery, and her fee, as appears from the parish books in 1830, was 5s. for each case.


When sent for in haste, before the foot-paths were made, she used to mount on horseback behind the messenger.


Her usual dress was a red cloak, coal-scuttle bonnet, close cap, and she wore no stays. She died in her eightieth year, and was the mother of 19 children. At the time of her decease there were six sons and four daughters living. The eldest was in her sixtieth year, and the youngest in his thirty-sixth. There were 49 grandchildren, and 23 great grandchildren, numbering in all 82. Thirty-two of her descendants followed her to the grave, the fourth generation being amongst the number.


She lived in a house called the Dove Cote forty years, and then removed to Smoky Hall, and lived there thirty-eight more.


An anecdote is told of her, which shows her ready wit. Upon her tenth child being brought to the font for baptism, the minister (Ellwood) said as usual, "Name this child," upon which Mrs. Cater replied, she could not presume to do such a thing, as the child was his. “Mine," said Ellwood. "Yes, your reverence," retorted Mrs. Cater, "for he is your tithe, and you must name him." Upon this the parson named him Thomas, after himself.

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