Tag Archives: census

What the 1901 census taught me about mental illness

7 Apr

Yesterday I posted about the discovery of my 2x great grandfather George Thomas GASSON at the East Sussex County Asylum in the 1901 census. The 1901 census was really my first insight into mental illness and asylums, and several things struck me as I looked at the census page.

There wasn’t a lot of information about each individual, only their initials, marital status, age, sex, occupation and condition. From these few facts it was clear to see that mental illness didn’t discriminate.

There was a mix of ages, ranging from a girl aged seven, up to a 60 year old woman, the majority however were in their forties. You have to wonder what became of that seven year old girl, was she cured? Did she spend her entire life in an asylum?

Many of the individuals on the page were married, so my thoughts turned to the family left behind, would they struggle without a mother or father, wife or husband? Were they safer without them? Did they miss them? Did they visit them in the asylum?

Then there were the occupations: a sailor, two clerks, a grocer’s assistant, and several labourers and domestic servants. Clearly some of these individuals had been well enough to hold down jobs before, and most probably were doing some sort of work in the asylum now.

What really struck me was that each of those sets of initials represented not only an individual, but almost certainly a family suffering in one way or another, a family like my own ancestors, whose life had to carry on without a loved one, for better or worse.

More MITCHELL research

4 Mar

Today I was finally able to locate where my 2x great grandparents were living at the time of the 1861 census. Sure, I knew where they were before now, at “Blue Anchor” in Sheet, Hampshire (RG9/700 folio: 77, page: 14) however until today I didn’t know where that was.

I guessed with a name like Blue Anchor it was probably a pub, but Google didn’t provide any results for Blue Anchor pub in Sheet. The answers could be found by examining their neighbours. Firstly, Blue Anchor was a pub, my 2x great grandparents were one of several families living there, not sure if it was actually in pub or in seperate properties next to it.

The addresses either side of the pub were Rams Hill and Broad Bush, well Rams Hill, Petersfield was easily found on Google Maps, and using that I was able to jump over to www.old-maps.co.uk and find the same location on an 1870 Ordnance Survey map, and sure enough there was “The Blue Anchor (P.H.)”, not a very clear map, but there it was. Looking back at Google Maps aerial view it appears that The Blue Anchor is no more, and the whole are has changed quite radically.

I searched for a better quality copy of the map on British History Online (www.british-history.ac.uk) which is a fantastic resource for all sorts of subjects, but it’s strong point is it’s topgraphical material. They have similar Ordnance Survey maps and I was able to locate a slightly better copy of the map (http://www.british-history.ac.uk/mapsheet.aspx?compid=55119&sheetid=3803&ox=4675&oy=2734&zm=1&czm=1&x=482&y=151). The Blue Anchor is in the middle of the large “T” in Petersfield. When I finally get to the Hampshire Record Office I should hopefully be able to get a better copy from them.

The moral of the story (if you need to be told), don’t take your ancestors in isolation, remember the people and places around them.

Of course this leads to more questions, such as how long did they live there ? or were they just staying the night? where did my 2x great grandfather actually work as an agricultural labourer? did the pub actually have a farm attached like several others I have researched? can I find a picture of what it looked like? Always more questions than answers!

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