Gransnet forums


My great aunt

(23 Posts)
mrsmopp Thu 19-Mar-15 18:33:33

I have a lot of great aunts and uncles. My grandfather was one of 12, that's without counting my other three grandparents. But I have just discovered one great aunt, she was a children's nurse in the 1901 census but by 1911 she was in a lunatic asylum. She was only 29 and i'm really saddened by this. She died two years later.
At least we live in more enlightened times now, but I can't help wondering what happened to her. Maybe a nervous breakdown or similar. From what i hear about asylums they would be enough to make anyone mad- use of strait jackets etc. oh dear, the poor girl .....

Starling Thu 19-Mar-15 19:39:14

People were put in asylums for all kinds of reasons - epilepsy, post-natal depression, etc etc. Have you discovered her cause of death?

Anne58 Thu 19-Mar-15 19:44:33

There was also a school of thought that meant anyone (well, women actually) that became pregnant out of wedlock was mentally deficient!

loopylou Thu 19-Mar-15 19:48:06

Also having an illegitimate baby (being considered morally feeble or corrupt), learning disabilities of even the mildest form, physical disabilities such as deaf/mute....the ghastly list is very long.
35 years ago I nursed a lady in a nursing home who'd had an illegitimate baby at the age of 16. She was allegedly deaf/mute and appallingly institutionalised. The real reason for not communicating was the horrendous treatment she'd had for 56 years before coming to us -we only found out when she started talking a day or two before she died aged 95. Very, very sad.

loopylou Thu 19-Mar-15 19:55:21

'It was twenty years of hell' | Society | The Guardian
› Society › Mental health

This gives some insight.........

Starling Thu 19-Mar-15 19:57:20

That is very sad loopylou and your lady would have been born around the same time as mrsmopp's great aunt - in 1880's.

loopylou Thu 19-Mar-15 19:58:39

Oh bum, that didn't work, try again....

'It was twenty years of hell' | Society | The Guardian › Society › Mental health
7 Apr 2002 - ... to a lunatic asylum and she's been in and out of institutions ever since. ... Now, as the old hospitals close down, they are telling their stories at ...


loopylou Thu 19-Mar-15 19:59:10

Give up confused............

MiniMouse Thu 19-Mar-15 20:01:47

Much like Joey Deacon, who lived in St Lawrence's hospital in Caterham from childhood. He wasn't "mental" in any way, but could only communicate by grunting noises. He wrote a book, with the help of two friends - one who understood his noises and one who could one-finger type. It was about his life before and during his life in hospital. I used to help at the patients' social club once a week when I was at school and it was incredible and very humbling to see the bond between them.

loopylou Thu 19-Mar-15 20:06:14

I googled 'Lunatic Asylum stories '....... Hideous stories and the last one only closed in 1985 sad sad sad

mrsmopp Thu 19-Mar-15 20:41:13

She died of pneumonia after being in the asylum for three years. She was also refusing to eat near the end. Terribly sad.

loopylou Thu 19-Mar-15 20:53:16

Poor lady and so young.
My FIL always stated he was the youngest of 13. Very recently we discovered there were 14. One of his sisters, age 19 drowned herself after becoming pregnant and being told she was going to the Asylum.

No one in the family (very strict Chapel brethren) ever spoke about her, she wasn't buried in hallowed ground because suicide was a crime and a sin.

We believe she was buried in a field beside the chapel they attended. The last remaining brother (age 103!) refuses to say a word about her and was very angry that she'd been 'discovered' - this was 80+years after her death.

trisher Thu 19-Mar-15 20:55:03

My mum is now 93 and her mum (my gran) was one of 13 children. My mother remembers one aunt who was a little strange and who was put into a lunayic asylum because when she was woken in the middle of the night she mistook my mother (who was about 3) for the cat and threatened to throw her downstairs. Her father then decided she was too dangerous to remain at home.
Women were put away for all sorts of reasons, even having an illegitimate child could get you locked up.

mrsmopp Thu 19-Mar-15 21:07:28

What surprises me is that she was never mentioned in any family discussions and it is only through doing my tree that I found out about her. I never knew she existed. But at least she is not forgotten any more.

loopylou Thu 19-Mar-15 21:17:15

Just the same here...... It's tragic that families can just block out someone like that. We were utterly shocked to discover Rose and even more so that FIL (who I spent hundreds of hours with, doing the family tree 20 years ago) never said a word so many years later. He didn't even have the excuse of being a chapel-goer, ceasing that as soon as his parents died many years ago.

mrsmopp Thu 19-Mar-15 22:16:04

You can apply for their records if they are more than 100 years ago. I have applied to find out more. I want to know what happened to her. I knew she was in an asylum from 1911 census and I googled asylum records.
I had an email back that I would hear from them in about three weeks. I cant wait. Like you, loopylou, i feel a connection with this person. I am desperately sorry for her. It happened to so very many innocent people.

Leticia Thu 19-Mar-15 22:30:00

Where do you apply to for the records mrsmopp?
I would like to find out more about a great aunt but the asylum has long gone.

mrsmopp Thu 19-Mar-15 23:03:26

It comes under the local authority archives department. I knew which asylum she was in so I googled the LA archive records and sent them an email. The asylum is long gone and derelict, but records are still kept. Good luck!

pinkprincess Fri 20-Mar-15 00:46:45

My mother had a close friend who was pregnant the same time as my mother was pregnant with me.
My mother's friend also had a daughter, but suffered from post natal depression after the birth. She was admitted to a mental hospital where she remained for many years. Her daughter was cared for by her husband's parents, her own parents were given only limited access to the baby because it was thought that they carried ''bad blood''.
This poor lady's husband, a church minister, divorced her on the grounds of insanity then quickly found another wife. This was 1944.

When I was researching my family history I found a Census record from 1911 listing listing a cousin of my grandfather's, a seven year old child as ''imbecile''.

Good old days?.

Leticia Fri 20-Mar-15 07:05:04

My great aunt was listed as an 'imbecile'. She was in the 'Royal Asylum for the lunatics of the 7 northern counties'. Thank you so much for that information mrsmopp -I will give it a try.

Leticia Fri 20-Mar-15 07:06:55

My friend found a great aunt in a mental institution, she was suffering from grief after her fiancé died in WW1 and was still there aged 92 yrs- so sad.

annsixty Fri 20-Mar-15 07:14:38

I am finding these stories so very sad. What awful lives some poor people had and I note it seems to be mostly women.

loopylou Fri 20-Mar-15 07:22:41

annsixty that's very much so, and it was men who ruled the decision-in those days women were regarded as 'chattels' and had absolutely no say in their lives.
Men were inmates but outnumbered several times over by females. Once incarcerated there wasn't any way out either.