What Happened to the Baby in Dickensian?

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Key Takeaways

  • The baby was born to Honoria Barbary and Captain Hawdon
  • Honoria’s sister Frances was present at the birth
  • The baby was said to be stillborn
  • Captain Hawdon learned of the baby’s death when he proposed to Honoria
  • The exact details and fate of the baby are unclear


What Happened to the Baby in Dickensian?

For fans of Charles Dickens’ classic novels, the BBC series Dickensian offered an intriguing glimpse into the lives of familiar characters before the stories we know. Set in 19th century London, Dickensian intertwined the tales of figures like Ebenezer Scrooge, Miss Havisham, and Fagin. While Dickensian took some creative liberties, it aimed to explore the origins of these iconic characters.

One particular plotline that sparked curiosity was the story of Honoria Barbary, her sister Frances, Captain Hawdon, and their child. Brief references are made to a baby born to Honoria and Captain Hawdon, but the fate of this child remains a mystery. What exactly happened to the baby in Dickensian? Examining the relevant scenes and dialogue provides some clues, but the full circumstances are open to interpretation.

This comprehensive article will uncover everything we know about Honoria and Captain Hawdon’s baby in Dickensian. Key questions around the birth, death, and unresolved details will be thoroughly investigated. For devoted fans seeking closure on this loose thread, a close look at the evidence may help make sense of what happened. Read on to learn the facts around this elusive baby’s origins and story.

Overview of Honoria Barbary and Captain Hawdon’s Relationship

To understand the context of the baby’s birth, we first need to look at the background of Honoria Barbary and Captain Hawdon. They were lovers who conceived a child out of wedlock – a scandalous situation in 19th century England.

Honoria was a steely woman determined to improve her station in life through strategic marriages. She had a history with Captain Hawdon but went on to marry a man named Godfrey Barbary. Captain Hawdon’s whereabouts prior to his return to Honoria’s life are unclear.

Their paths crossed again when Captain Hawdon found himself in debt and sought help from Honoria, believing she had married into money. This reconnection rekindled their affections. They recommenced their clandestine affair behind Godfrey Barbary’s back.

During this time, Honoria gave birth to Captain Hawdon’s child. But the details surrounding the pregnancy and birth remained closely guarded secrets.

When and How Did Honoria Give Birth?

What do we know about the timing and circumstances of Honoria’s childbirth?

The specific timing of when Honoria gave birth is not revealed in Dickensian. However, we know it must have occurred sometime while she was married to Godfrey Barbary and carrying on an affair with Captain Hawdon.

Godfrey remained unaware of the affair and illegitimate child. He was often away on business trips that gave Honoria the freedom to see Captain Hawdon in secret. So she likely gave birth during one of Godfrey’s absences.

The birth itself took place at home, as Honoria would have wished to conceal any signs of pregnancy and childbirth. Her sister Frances was the only one present for the delivery. This suggests that Honoria did not have assistance from a midwife or doctor, which would have been scandalous at the time.

Overall, Honoria seemed determined to hide any evidence of her adultery and illegitimate child. The clandestine circumstances point to her giving birth in secret with only Frances present.

Was the Baby Stillborn or Alive? Conflicting Accounts

What evidence suggests the baby may have been stillborn?

The most direct reference to the fate of Honoria’s baby comes from Captain Hawdon himself. When he proposes marriage to Honoria, she rejects him and says:

“I will not pay for your mistakes. Or for my own. Our child is dead.”

This blunt statement implies Honoria gave birth to a lifeless baby. Calling the child “it” rather than “he” or “she” also dehumanizes the baby, suggesting it never lived.

Additionally, Frances makes vague references to “losing something” that cannot be undone. This could point to a stillbirth that Frances helped conceal.

So Honoria and Frances’ words indicate the child was born dead. Declaring it stillborn would have enabled them to dispose of the baby’s body secretly, erasing evidence of Honoria’s adulterous pregnancy.

However, are there clues the baby may have lived?

Despite Honoria’s claim of a stillbirth, a few subtle details leave open the possibility that the baby was born alive.

First, Honoria delivers her line about the baby emotionlessly and matter-of-factly. Her cold demeanor could be an attempt to hide guilt over a living baby she needed to hide.

Additionally, Frances notes she has “sinned” and seeks forgiveness from Reverend Crisparkle. If the baby was stillborn through natural causes, it’s unclear what sin Frances believes she committed.

Finally, Honoria’s reaction to Captain Hawdon’s proposal hints that it triggers an upsetting memory regarding their child. If the baby was stillborn, the proposal itself should not evoke such raw emotion.

While not definitive proof, these nuances suggest Honoria and Frances may have covered up the birth of a living baby and possibly its death later. Their words cannot be taken as absolute fact.

If Alive, What Happened to the Baby Afterwards?

What might have happened if the baby survived birth?

If Honoria’s child was born alive, its fate afterwards would have been precarious given the need for secrecy. As an illegitimate child in 19th century England, it would have faced serious social obstacles.

One possibility is that Honoria or Frances arranged for the baby to be smothered or drowned shortly after birth. Though drastic, this would have permanently erased evidence of Honoria’s affair.

Alternatively, Honoria may have handed the baby off to someone like Mr. Jaggers or Mrs. Bucket to discreetly send it to an orphanage or workhouse. However, even in a different setting, there was still chance the child’s identity could be discovered.

There are also clues suggesting the baby may have lived with Honoria for a short time before dying of natural causes. She insists that Godfrey not enter the nursery, which could be prepare for the baby. A sudden infant death could explain her grief when Captain Hawdon proposed.

The existence of an illegitimate child posed great risks to Honoria. So permanently concealing the baby through whatever means necessary would have been her priority if it was born alive.

Why Does the Fate of Honoria’s Baby Remain Unresolved?

What factors may contribute to the ambiguity surrounding the child’s story?

Several aspects help explain why the full circumstances of Honoria’s baby are never made explicit in Dickensian:

  • Secrecy – As an affair and illegitimate birth, the entire matter was shrouded in secrecy. Honoria and Frances confided in no one else.
  • Deception – To preserve Honoria’s reputation, deceit about the baby’s fate was likely. Their claim of a stillbirth cannot be fully trusted.
  • Discretion – As a BBC period drama, Dickensian had to be discreet about sensitive topics like infanticide. Directly implicating characters was avoided.
  • Plot Pacing – The baby’s story was not central enough to warrant detailed explanations that would slow the main narrative.
  • Ambiguity – Some ambiguity leaves room for interpretation and debate among fans, generating interest.

By leaving the details tantalizingly uncertain, Dickensian created intrigue around this plotline. Honoria and Frances’ evasive answers invite speculation as viewers try to fill in the gaps. But ultimately, the blurred truth reflects the secretive circumstances surrounding the child’s birth and death.


The story of Honoria Barbary and Captain Hawdon’s baby in Dickensian presents a puzzle for avid viewers, with crucial pieces of the puzzle missing. While Honoria claimed the child was stillborn, subtle clues suggest it may have lived briefly before possibly meeting a grim fate at her hands. With much left unsaid, the full truth of what happened to the baby is impossible to definitively determine.

Dickensian’s writing shows that even peripheral characters had complex backstories affecting their motivations and relationships. While the ambiguous loss of her illegitimate child was not Honoria’s main storyline, it added emotional depth to her arc. Her cold reaction to Captain Hawdon’s proposal carried extra poignancy and pain with the weight of this secret tragedy implied. Overall, the haunting uncertainty around the baby’s fate gave dark undertones and realism to Honoria’s characterization.

For fans invested in piecing together the lives of their favorite Dickensian figures, the sparse crumbs of the baby’s story are compelling but unsatisfying. The full picture will forever be incomplete. Yet sometimes, the mysteries and possibilities are more tantalizing than any concrete answers Dickensian could have provided. Honoria and the Captain’s child giving new perspective on familiar personalities demonstrates Dickensian’s success in bringing Victorian-era London to life

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