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12:13pm on Sunday, 2nd November, 2014:

Ancestral Woes


Although I have some very unco-operative ancestors in my family tree, some members of my wife's family seem to go all-out to frustrate her. Her maternal line in particular reaches a dead end with one Emily Heasman, who lived in a workhouse and made sure that her first six children were illegitimate so we'd never find out who their father was.

Ah, but hold on, workhouses had records! Some of those records weren't destroyed in floods, fires and air raids. There may be details hidden away in the minutes of the meetings of the workhouse management that reveal hidden truths.

So it was that we (well, I) spent £70 paying the West Sussex Records Office to go through their records for the East Grinstead workhouse, digging up what they could on Emily Heasman. They did a really good job, too, finding lots of documentation supporting what we had earlier surmised (including the explicit use of the word "illegitimate" on the children's records). We didn't get to push the family tree back another generation, but we did find out more about Emily Heasman.

Ah, yes, "more"...

What we discovered was that on Thursday, 2nd April 1868, the East Grinstead Union Board of Guardians spent £2 14s 3d (about £300 in today's money) conveying Emily Heasman to Bethlehem Hospital. Bethlehem Hospital was better known at the time by its popular nickname, Bedlam. Basically, she'd gone mad. She was back in the workhouse in the 1871 Census, so must have made a recovery.

Still, the more you find out with some of these ancestors, the more you don't want to find out...

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).