Hidden Lives Revealed. A virtual archive - children in care 1881-1981 * Image of handwritten text

Case 542

Case number: 542
Application year: 1885




Year of birth: 1876
Home: St John's Home For Girls, Mildenhall


F's father deserted his family about two years before this application. His whereabouts were completely unknown. Shortly after her husband left her F's mother gave birth to her fourth child in the Mildenhall Workhouse. She was doing her best to support her children, but her wages were very low, as she was unable to work regularly with such a young family. She received some outdoor relief [help given outside the Workhouse] but was unfortunately in "a most destitute condition". F. was described as "small for her age, owing to weakness of the joints in infancy". She was admitted to St John's Home, Mildenhall on 26 October 1885. On 2 March 1892 F. was sent to the Children's Convalescent Home at St Leonard's on Sea. A letter written in February describes her as being "in a very delicate condition". She was very small for her age and had a bad cough and did not feel like eating. She was thought to be suffering from "hysteria" and a change of air was recommended. On 11 March the Convalescent Home reported that the girl was so seriously ill that she was unlikely to survive. The Honorary Secretary, Miss Carter, expressed astonishment that F. had been allowed to make the journey from Mildenhall when she was so ill. It was felt by the Mildenhall Home authorities that F's health had been permanently damaged by the privations she had suffered when her family was rendered destitute by her father's desertion. Sadly F. died on 17 March 1892. [Death rates among children and young people were far higher at this time than they are today, with our improved medical care].

Keywords: Abandonment; Health; Poverty; Workhouses

Items: 1. Application to the Waifs and Strays' Society 3 October 1885
2. Letter from Revd B. enclosing the completed form 4 October 1885
3. Letter stating that F. will be allowed 1/- 6d a week by the Mildenhall Board of Guardians if she is admitted into a Waifs and Strays' Society Home 17 October 1885
4. Card from Revd B. asking about F's possible admission to a Home 21 October 1885
5. Letter from G.L. Lee stating that he feels F. should be accepted by the Mildenhall Home 22 October 1885
6. Letter from H.B. Coward accepting F. for the Home 22 October 1885
7. Card from Revd B. acknowledging F's admission 29 October 1885
8. Letter from Mildenhall about F's delicate health 23 February 1892
9. Telegram announcing that F. was to be travelling to St Leonard's on Sea 1 March 1892
10. Letter from the Convalescent Home about the severity of F's illness 11 March 1892
11. Letter from the Convalescent Home requesting that the Waifs and Strays' Society let F's mother know that her daughter is unlikely to survive 11 March 1892
12. Letter from Mildenhall giving the address of F's mother 13 March 1892
13. Letter from the Convalescent Home about F's death 17 March 1892

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