Transportation & Imbeciles
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