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Transportation & Imbeciles

April 3, 2017

Following on from last week’s news that St Andrews are planning on taking on a cohort of mentally ill Bermudians as an exciting “new source of income”, today we learned that they have been taking mentally ill and learning disabled children from Ireland for many years. One part of this outrage is that the Irish authorities didn’t start keeping records of this transportation until late 2014, so they have no idea what became of those children prior to that date. How many were there? How many are still there? Who is looking into the care and treatment they’re receiving? We’ll never know. Another story in the history of lost children.

I’m not sure why but this is reminding me of the latest research I’ve been doing into my family history. I’ve now been able to flesh out quite a bit about the life of my great, great, great grandfather, William Worley. He was born in 1801 in Seer Green, which was basically nothing more than a very large farm. Like most men in the village, he started working as a labourer on the farm from the age of 11 and that was to be his lot, as far as his working life would go. He married Rachel in 1824 and in the same year, had his first son, John. John was an imbecile. It appears that it was quite a shock to this newly wed couple in their early twenties because they didn’t have another child for 5 years and when they did, their second child died at 6 months old. Then between 1831 and 1839, they had six more children in quick succession. Rachel died during childbirth of the 8th child in 1839. One of the reasons, I like William Worley is that he named his 8th child Rachel, after his late 33 year old wife.

Two years later, the 1841 Census, sees the family already dispersing. William is living in a 1 bedroom cottage with baby Rachel and 3 more of his children. Five year old George is living with Rachel’s mother. My great great grandfather, William junior, has been taken in by the local grocer. And John, the imbecile, is now 17 and living in a cottage with 7 other people who don’t appear to be related. But he is still in Seer Green.

Later that year, William is arrested for burglary and is sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. I’m not sure how he fell into crime but the reasons seem pretty obvious to me. Needless to say, his incarceration led to further dispersement of the family. John was admitted in 1843 to the recently opened Northampton Lunatic Asylum (now St Andrews) and died there in 1853, aged 29.

When William was discharged from prison, two other of his children had died, including Rachel at the age of 12. The other 4 had been scattered around the country. Most of the children died relatively young. In fact, when William died aged 72, he’d outlived all but two of his own children. After prison, William spent a couple of years in lodgings but by 1855 he was in the Amersham workhouse and stayed there until his death in 1873. It’s very difficult reading the Census details of a workhouse where so many people were crammed into one room. In the 1861 Census, next to William (next bed?) is 18 year old, George Barnett. George is classified as an imbecile. I can’t find any other Barnett’s in the record, so presumably George was there on his own, away from his family. In the ultimate irony, George’s place of birth is listed as Northampton. Whilst John Worley went one way, George Barnett went the other.

Bermuda, Ireland, Northampton, Seer Green. 200 years.

Our history. Our present.

From → Social Care

  1. This is a new form of globerlisation it does not appear to matter what the cargo is.

    But the big question not discussed anywhere, is why did it happen, and how much was paid and who paid it and why.

    And who oversees these contracts- here it is the NHS and why do they allow this service ?

    These are ours, and Ireland’s children and our and their public money.

    • Yes, the business motive and very high fees at St Andrew’s don’t deliver good care to patients but do deliver very good care for those in power.
      Bill’s death from constipation was totally unacceptable as staff clearly can’t manage basic physical health, never mind complex needs.
      It should be headline news, but lucky for St Andrew’s that Brexit is distracting everyone.

      But there are facts to clarify, as in Ireland, people with mental health or LD-related conditions are sent to prison if they don’t have specialist services to send them to .. that we supposedly have here in England. Ireland needs it’s own services.

      St Andrew’s inability to recruit enough or good staff must be partly to do with people not wanting to work in a depressing environment that many patients are not recovering in.
      It needs people like us to be involved at the highest level, and in just 24 hours we’d start seeing people have hope again.

  2. weary mother permalink

    The ‘Care’ circle is almost closed. Almost back where we older parents started.

    My son is 50 years old. He came into the world labelled a Mongol, the only option the State offered him and us was stigma. And, in the name of care, that he be hidden away in an institution. The offer was rejected by us, and nothing support was provided instead. For nearly a decade.

    Like so many other mums and dads at the time – I have fought unremittingly for better for him and for other families. And this battle was costly to us all, in so many ways. As now..we had our motives and our capabilities disrespected..and we had our successes obstructed – by the people paid to make life better for us. But we kept on…keeping on.

    I joined a face group of mothers of children with Downs recently. Mainly mothers with school age children. I found little to identify with there. For this group seems totally unaware of the hole their children will fall into post school age.

    We older mothers and fathers bartered our young and middle years, for the cash benefits, education and services, now being replaced with nothing or worse,

    It was heartening see the confidence, friendship and support these parents of school age children share. But it was also terrifying that they all seem so focused on the now.

    I was left wondering where is the future focus…where are the long headed campaigners and the fighters, now.

    With stigma and isolation or.the institution the favoured options.beckoning again for so many of our sons and daughters,

    younger mums and dads please look up and on to the future,.or all that we fought so blooming hard for……….will be completely lost…

    And the door and the circle – closed tight shut, on your boy and your girl.

  3. Pauline Thomas permalink

    My sentiments entirely Weary Mother.

    All the improvements made in the past forty years to make our loved ones lives better have been kidnapped and turned into money making businesses. Education and day centres were introduced and welcomed, and was a major change from sitting at home with stressed out parents or placed in institutions which were the only option open years ago. In the past parents were often advised by doctors to ‘send them away and forget about them’

    When the state allows, or even worse, encourages huge companies to profit from human misery then there is something seriously wrong with our society and the values we profess to live by.

    Institutions should be history. It is time we looked for better alternatives and to send these companies packing. Or is there a more sinister reason why the state still encourages them? Too many shareholders linked to the government maybe?

  4. techiebabe permalink

    This story was fascinating, mark – albeit somewhat sad.

    I’ve always turned away from the “who do you think you are” approach, although genetically i seem to be screwed, and it would be useful to know more… But my dad was adopted so when I’m asked about the ages of death of my genetic grandparents I only know one side of the story.

    I know he didn’t want to look for his birth parents and we never really spoke about it. Absolutely fair enough but I’m thinking I’ll definitely draw blanks as a result and so learn more about myself from science (my favourite school subjects) than history (which I hated, along with Latin). How long, expensive and difficult was it to find that out, mark? And did you do it online, or have to trot to inspect actual archives? I’m dammed if I’m going back to Plymouth to find my dad’s birth certificate (and adoption record if there is one? I don’t know his birth name…), Wincanton for his family home in the census, and I think he had some distant strict aunt in Otley. All I remember of the visit as a young child was being told they were Very Strict and I must Not Speak Unless Spoken To. So I have some starting points if that kind of thing is online, but haven’t readily found anything nor do I wish to pay ancestry £££ for a service I’ll only be well enough to use a couple of times a year. Hmm.

    But, y’see, you HAVE piqued my interest…

    I know you’re a busy chap – a simple answer is fine of course. It’ll give me an idea of whether it’s worth a try or even achievable…

    • I was surprised how quickly I got a lot of information online. Most of the sites offer a free 1 month trial and in that time you’ll probably have gone back several generations. I signed up after the free trial because I couldn’t bear losing all that information. I’ve also registered with a military and medical site since and both have been very useful. Apart from visiting my Uncle Frank’s grave, I’ve done it all without leaving the house, although I do want to visit some of the significant places I’ve discovered. Since December, I’ve managed to build up fairly meaty stories and timelines for all four of my grandparents’ families.

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