Monday, 5 January 2015

The Sovereign’s Sovereigns: a royal bounty for triplets

In August 1849 Queen Victoria, while on a visit to Ireland, established the practice of granting a sovereign, a one pound sterling coin, to the parents of triplets, one for each child. The bounty was "to enable the parents to meet the sudden expenses thrown upon them." Who benefited?

To qualify the births had to be live and in wedlock, the parents British subjects. Until 1938 the parents had to be "in necessitous circumstances."  The payment was by application which had to be made within four months of the birth, later relaxed to one year. Parents of quads and quints received proportionally more.

The program was suspended during the reign of Edward VII although a few payments were made. George V revived the program which continued until 1957. In that year Queen Elizabeth instituted several changes for the monarchy, including ending the presentation of debutantes at court. The Royal Bounty for triplets was replaced by provision for sending a congratulatory message instead. Unlike messages for 100th birthdays and 70th wedding anniversaries, which are available through application to the Governor General in Canada, greetings to parent of triplets are no longer advertised.

The program operated throughout the British Empire and Commonwealth. In Canada applications for the bounty relating to 167 cases exist, mostly consisting of letters of transmittal and acknowledgements can be found in archives of the Governor General at Library and Archives Canada.

Many parent did not qualify; in 1920 alone 99 triplets, 33 multiple births, occurred in Canada yet only two applications were considered. Often parents were unaware of the program or became aware too late to get the paperwork processed in time. Many parents were not in sufficiently needy circumstances.

The first Canadian case I found, in 1906 was for triplet girls Mabel, May and Marjorie born to John and Marguerite Matheson of East Nissouri, Oxford County, Ontario. The last, in 1970, additions to the Hjorleifson family of St Vital, Manitoba.

There were two cases of quads. In 1950 the Hargreave family of Sault St Marie, Ontario and in 1954 the Doucet family of Bathurst, New Brunswick. There was no record of an application or payment to the Dionne quintuplets.

The following cases are abstracted from three volumes in the Governor General’s files, RG7, at Library and Archives Canada in a few cases augmented by information from newspapers and miscellaneous sources.

Last Name First Name Year Place Prov Birth Comment
Matheson John 1906 E Nissouri ON
Finklestein John 1907 Toronto ON Dec/11
Blair R J 1910 Finch ON Apr/20
King Harry 1910 Bathurst NB Aug/05
Tessier Maxime 1911 Warren ON Jan/01
Hardy R A 1911 denied
Hache Pierre P 1912 Robertville NB
Von Zuben Adolph 1912 Toronto ON
May James 1912 Earlscourt ON
Thomas Jessie Jackson 1912 Belleville ON
Primeau A de L 1913 Montreal QC
Couling A N 1913 Creston BC Nov/10 not pursued
Little 1914 Merriton ON
Matthews D A 1914 Prince Albert SK did not live
Watson William W 1914 Bathurst NB Dec/13 too late
Couture Charles 1916 Bathurst NB Feb/05
Bernstein M 1916 Montreal QC Jun/09
Wiener 1916 Langdon AB too late
Harrison G R 1916
Phelan Frank 1916 Rover View ON
Cloaks Howard Stuart 1917 Montreal QC
Miller Charles 1917 York Co, NB
Gilmour Joseph 1917 Montreal QC Aug/14 denied - not indegent
Tozer Norman J 1917 Toronto ON Dec/19
Thompson-Sawyer James 1918 Mount Pleasant QC Apr/25
Leboeuf Armand 1918 Valleyfield QC
Michaelis Daniel John 1918 McDougall ON Jul/30
Nicholson Adam Alexander 1918 St Catherines ON Dec/19
McLachlan Hugh Alexander 1918 Ramsayville ON Jul/01 Too late
Lynch William W 1918 Belleville ON Apr/30 Too late
Haines Ed G 1919 Elfree SK
Doris Albert B 1919 Peterborough ON
Paige George 1919 Trenton ON Aug/01
Coyetche M 1919 Petit de Grat NS Nov/11
Stevenson 1919 Birch Hills SK too late
Phaneuf J L 1920 Pointe Claire QC
Larocque James 1920 Perth ON Ineligible  lived 1 hour
L'Ecuyer Alfred 1921 Valleyfield QC 2 died
Williams W M 1921 Saskatoon SK Oct/20
McCarter W J 1922 Decker MN
Ashcroft John 1922 Birtle MB
Dunseith Frank 1923 Dublin ON Jan/22
McManus Bernard 1923 Smith ON Mar/04
Stanley Richard F 1923 Madison SK Jun/01
Rattray Norman J 1923 Picton ON Apr/26
Penner E F 1923 MB May/08
Pittman Thomas 1924 Kemptville ON request for $1000 for each baby
Mahaney T D 1924 St John NB
Calligan Peter 1924 Toronto ON Apr/23 denied - died
Primeau George 1924 Cornwall ON Feb/29
Tilley W A 1924 Toronto ON Mar/25 application not made
Bowers F C 1924 Oshawa ON
Jarvis 1925 Toronto ON not necessity
Dillon James 1925 Kerrobert SK
Theoret Osias 1925 St Telesphore QC
Lennox Wesley 1926
Patrey Adrien 1926 Montreal QC
Loiseau Joseph 1926 Montreal QC
Pitre Alexandre 1926 St Benoit de Matapedia QC
Kilbride Percy J 1926 Port Hill PEI
Keegan J T 1926 Kimberley BC
Schlamp Philip 1926 Regina SK
Kerr R Lindsey 1926 Mountain ON
Brunet 1926 Drummondville QC
McGill Clarence 1926 Englehart ON
Provost Marguerite 1927
Perras Thomas 1927 Thurso QC
Massicotte Joseph 1927 Montmayny QC
Kendall Walter 1927 Elgin Mills ON Aug/21
Reddall Joseph 1927 Toronto ON Sep/20
Pettman William 1927 Tillsonburg ON Sep/23
Tully J 1928 Edmonton AB Mar/19
Caswell J A 1928 Durham ON May/11
Guillemette Arsene 1929 St Dominique QC
Cameron W 1929 Toronto ON
Burling James 1929 Toronto ON Mar/13
Noble Lorne 1930 Penetanguishine ON Jan/06
Kelsey G S 1929 Walkerton ON
Thompson Thomas 1930 Toronto ON Dec/16
Scott Frank 1931 Brechin ON Jan/04
Williams C H 1932 Pennant SK
Guillemette Arthur 1932 Richmond QC Mar/15 too late
Thomas Ivor 1933 Mt Denis ON
McLaughlan John 1933 Grafton NB
Dick Kenneth 1933 Beaver Crossing AB Jul/30 too late
Latohman Philip 1933 Toronto ON
Aubin Charles 1933 Lisieux SK Nov/22
Chisholm W H 1934 New Glasgow NS
Lagace Joseph 1934 St Didace QC
McMurray Jack 1934 Toronto ON Sep/15
Cormier Arthur 1935 Upper Saskville NB Oct/01
Bouchard Amable 1935 St Pascal QC
Fleet Henry 1935 Kirkland Lake ON May/21
Malloff Adon 1935 Toronto ON Jun/07
Richmond Alex 1935 Toronto ON Sep/16
Lahaye Real 1936 Cap de la Madanline QC not qualified
Tavara Joseph 1936 Lauzon West QC Apr/18
Erich 1936 Torquay SK too late
Case Charles 1936 Vancouver BC Dec/12
Wild John W 1936 Cedar Springs ON Oct/19
Jean J Antoine 1937 St Pascal QC Apr/22
Salyha P N 1937 Hairy Hill AB
Bull Stuart J 1938 Minden ON
Kundsgaard Laurine O 1938 Rossland BC
Lynds Crawford 1938 Emerson NB
Beettam H G 1938 Toronto ON Dec/17 dropped - not needy
Biron Emmanuel 1939 Ottawa ON
Letourneau Rene 1939 Clarenceville QC
Herbert Jacques 1939 Napierville QC
Salteric Josephine 1939 Prince's Lodge NS
Person E 1939 Melfort SK
Racicot Sophie 1939 Fassett QC
Vogt George 1939 Waterloo ON Jun/29 dropped - not needy
Robbins Mrs Ivan 1940 Corunna ON Feb/05
Smith Rev and Mrs Stanley 1940 Middleville ON Nov/12
Flyer Leading Seaman Frank 1940 Nov/07
Robbins Ivan 1940 Corunna ON
Savard Mrs Fernand 1941
Thiffault Mrs Leo 1941
Wettlaufer Mrs Ezra 1942 Neustadt ON Mar/24
Thompson Mrs R G 1942 Belleville ON Feb/25
Morrison Mrs A A 1942 Collingwood ON Oct/17
Griffin Mrs J F 1942 Not needy
Peeler Mrs M 1943 Not needy
Hardwick Mrs C A 1943 Toronto ON Jul/09
Strachan Mrs Donald S 1943 Norwich ON Sep/07
Starr Mrs Clinton E. 1943 East York ON Oct/29
Brown Mrs M A 1944 Haney BC Oct/14
Hatt Mrs Roy F 1945 Tobermory ON Mar/07
Staskow Mrs 1945 St Catharines ON Aug/29
Sciarra Mrs Louis 1946 Thorald ON Jul/20
Losier Mrs Exhibe 1946 Tracadie NB
Hersikorn Mrs A G 1946 Doncrest SK Mar/09
Holtz Mrs Wallace A 1946 Powassan ON
Kelly Mrs Grace 1946 Winnipeg MA May/03
Hislop Mrs J O 1946 Verdun QC
Bond F W 1946 Toronto ON Sep/02
Levasseur Albert 1947 Mont-Joli QC Jun/28
Lamontagne Roger 1947 Iberville QC Sep/30
Jones Morton H 1948 Toronto ON Apr/04
Miller T J 1948 Lakeburn NB Mar/18
Dimmock Percival S 1949 West Hill ON Aug/31
Mercille Adrien 1950 Cap de la Mad QC Jul/30
Hargreave Ozzie 1950 Sault St Marie ON Oct/13 quads
Kenny Mrs Margaret 1951 London ON Apr/12
Baker Mrs D Roy 1951 Hamilton ON Feb
Hester E N 1951 Toronto ON
Martin Mrs Arthur 1952 Lac Megantic QC
Herder Mrs L W 1953 South Burnaby BC
Delmaire Mrs Andre 1953 Wauchope SK
Robitaille Mrs Jean-Paul 1954 St Jean QC
Baker Mrs R A 1954 Petawawa ON
Hamilton Mrs D 1954 Pickering ON
Zubko Mrs Peter 1954 Sturgis SK
Poplar Mrs John 1954 River Herbert NS
Bauer Mrs Arthur Walter 1954 Trochu AB Dec/04
Charter Mrs Norman A. 1954 Three Hills AB Oct/15
Perron Mrs William 1954 Mountain BrookNB
Doucet Mrs Laurent C 1954 Bathurst NB Oct/18 quads
Cockell Mrs W B 1954 Montreal QC Apr/30
Johnson Mrs John D 1954 Hitchcock SK Oct/07
Mueller Mrs E H 1955 Champion AB Jun/05
Palidwor Mrs Gloria 1956 New Westminster BC Apr/03
King Mrs A F C 1956 Chippawa ON Jun/26
Oulton Mrs Ralph G 1958 Jolicure NB Feb/08
Reeve Mrs Harry 1959 Morden MB Nov/06
Hjorleifson Mrs Ray William 1960 St Vital MB Feb/01

Documents for the volumes 1 and 2, to 1941, are located on microfilm reel T-1171 available as a digital microfilm via Canadiana–Héritage at starting at page 562. Subsequent years are from hardcopy in RG 7 G-26 Volume 107, File 3450-B KING'S BOUNTY FOR TRIPLETS - APPLICATIONS 1941-1960 at LAC.


turner said...

Fascinating, John. I commend you!

Anonymous said...

Amazing that any of these triplet parents applied for the sovereigns.Taking care of newborn triplets who are most likely premature babies and/or low birth weight babies and recovering from what was likely an arduous pregnancy would not leave any time to apply for money and/or to prove neediness. I would think that most all triplet parents would be financially needy.
Anne(mother of twins)