Total Pageviews

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The UK Lunacy Patients Admission Registers, 1846-1912

There are several Gidleys in the asylum Admission Registers published on Ancestry, and, although some patients recovered after some months or years of treatment, there are some sad stories to tell.
The saddest story has to be that of Richard Gidley who spent over 50 years incarcerated in Colney Hatch Asylum, near Barnet in North London. He was admitted in October 1861, a pauper male (as opposed to being a fee-paying private patient) and, presumably, in those unenlightened days never left its doors until his death in January 1912. So who was this Richard Gidley? I think he must be Richard William Gidley, born on 16 February 1827 and christened at St Marylebone in London on 17 June 1827. His parents were Richard and Sarah Gidley and I have no idea where or when they married. I haven't find any trace so far of a Richard Gidley in that area of London at that time, nor any likely burial. According to the baptismal register Richard senior was in trade, residing at Augustus Street, St Pancras. But the family unit was broken up by the 1841 census when Richard junior was found in the St Pancras Workhouse. I haven't found a burial for his mother Sarah between 1827 and 1841 in London, so possibly Richard junior's illness had started to manifest itself by then and he wasn't able to live with his family. It's possible that his mother Sarah was in Shoreditch, described as Independent, in 1841, and in 1851 a widow, born in St Olave's, Surrey, living with her niece and her family, and with the same niece and a nephew in 1861, although whether this is the correct Sarah who was the mother of Richard is pure conjecture. This Sarah was buried in Abney Park cemetery in North London in 1866, aged 75.
To return to Richard Gidley, inmate of the Asylum, I couldn't find him in 1851, but he is living on his own in 1861 in Brunswick Street, St Pancras, working as a grocer. Only a few months later he was admitted to Colney Hatch.
Another sad story was the admittance of two brothers to Devon County Asylum in Exminster in the 1870s, where both died as teenagers. The two oldest sons of Richard Coulton Gidley of Beenley Farm in Diptford, Devon, were admitted as pauper males. This is strange, as their father was one of the better-off Gidleys of that time, being a farmer in the 1871 census of 175 acres, employing three men, two women and one boy. He continued to prosper locally, acting as Relieving Officer to several parishes, and by the time of his burial in 1930 in Totnes, he was the oldest resident of that town at 98 years of age. But his two oldest sons - there were ten children in the family altogether, although only two survived their father - George and Walter William Gidley, entered the asylum aged 14 and 12 years old respectively. Sadly, both only lived for another ten months to one year after their admittance, and died in the asylum in December 1877 and January 1879.
Mary Colman Gidley of the Bovey Tracey Gidleys was another sad case. She was christened in West Teignmouth in Devon in 1832, the elder daughter of George Gidley and his wife Sarah Colman. The family had moved to Dover, Kent by 1841, where George was a fly proprietor in Town Wall Lane. A fly was a horse-drawn public coach or delivery wagon, especially one let out for hire, or possibly a light, two-wheeled cab. The family stayed in Dover for several years, but had moved on to Limehouse in London by 1861 where George continued as a cab proprietor. Mary was still living at home then, described as a needlewoman. But by 1870 there were family difficulties. George died in 1872 in East London, but in 1871 his wife Sarah was working as a cook in Marylebone, West London, and was described as a widow. Their daughter Mary was admitted to Peckham Asylum in 1870, then moved to Hanwell Asylum (a place I knew well from the outside under its later name of St Bernard's, as it was near my childhood home) a few months later in 1871, described as "not improved". Hanwell prided itself on its up-to-date treatment of the mentally ill, but Mary was moved on again in 1877 to Banstead Asylum in Surrey. In 1881 she is probably enumerated as "M.C.G., imbecile, unable to follow any ocupation". She died in Banstead three years later, in 1884.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The eighteenth century three John Gidleys problem

There are three separate trees which begin with a John Gidley of approximately the same age - all born between 1758 and 1765.
The Bovey Tracey tree begins with John Gidley who married Elizabeth Purday in Bovey Tracey in 1789. John died in December 1842 aged 77, making him born about 1765.
The Brixham tree begins with John Gidley who married Hannah Earle in 1789 in Brixham and who was buried there in 1841 aged 83. He was therefore born about 1758.
The Marldon tree starts with John Gidley who married Mary Gale in 1792 in Kingsteignton. Marldon was at that time his place of residence. He died in 1818 in Marldon, aged 56, so was born about 1762.
So we have three different John Gidleys who have moved away from their place of birth. There is no possibility that any of them are the same person as all are producing children at approximately the same time in their separate places of abode.
I have four possibilities for them, and probably only DNA testing will be able to sort them for certain. There are two possible John Gidleys on the Winkleigh tree, who vanish after their baptisms. First cousins, they must have been almost exactly the same age, one being christened in February 1760 and the other in March 1760. Then there are two John Gidleys, also first cousins, of approximately the right age on the Dean Prior tree who don't seem to have been buried there.
John Gidley number 1 of Winkleigh was the son of Richard and Mary Gidley. His cousin John Gidley number 2 was the son of John Gidley and his wife Mary. There is a possible link for number 2 with Brixham, as the parish apprenticed his brother Samuel in 1773 to John Ash of Brixham, for husbandry. The whole family was destitute, having been subject to a removal order from South Tawton to Spreyton that same year. This order mentions John and his wife and names three children, Samuel, Mary and Joanna all under 10. (Father John was possibly the same John Gidley of South Tawton committed to gaol for sheep stealing in 1763). So had John number 1 died? Or had he already set off for pastures new? If he was still living at the time of the removal order in 1773, he may have been deemed independent at the age of 13 and capable of earning his own living.
There is also a possible link with the Brixham family for John Gidley number 1 of Winkleigh. John & Hannah's children's names bear distinct similarities with those of Winkleigh families. The Brixham children were called Mary, Elizabeth, John, Ann, Hannah, and, most tellingly, Richard (given to two sons, so it was obviously important), Fanny and Samuel. There had been an earlier, probably unrelated family, of Gidleys in Brixham in the 17th and 18th centuries, which originated with Hercules/Archilaus Gidley of Churston Ferrers but this family seems to have died out with the deaths of Nicholas Gidley and Elizabeth Gidley in 1772 and 1792 respectively. However, both the earlier and the later families used the then rather unusual first name Allen - Allin Griffin Corde Gidley christened in 1766, and Allen Herbert Gidley just over a hundred years later. Was this a popular name in Brixham?
A correspondent a few years ago had employed a researcher who had come to the definite conclusion that the John Gidley of Brixham was one of the Winkleigh family, although my correspondent could not pin her down on evidence, just that "it is all there in the Record Office". The year of birth derived from John's age at burial in Brixham is a couple of years out from 1760, when both John Gidleys of Winkleigh were christened, but I think that's a reasonable margin of error.
The Bovey Tracey John Gidley married Elizabeth Knapman in 1789. The names of their children don't give many clues - George (twice), Mary, Elizabeth, John and possibly William who founded the Kenton Gidley family. There is, however, a second marriage in Bovey Tracey in 1798, nine years after John's, which could just possibly be significant.
The two John Gidleys of Dean Prior I shall call John number 3 and John number 4. John Gidley number 3 was the son of George Gidley and his wife Joan, who died at John's birth - they were buried and christened respectively on the same day. Father George then married again and had two more children, George and Dorothy, until he too died when John was only eight. One thing has been very evident as I drew up Gidley family trees: those who emigrated or who moved some distance away from their place of birth were very often those who were orphaned or who had step-parents and obviously felt they had less stake in their native locality. John number 3 fell into that category. Did his half brother George follow him to Bovey Tracey to marry there in 1798? This is pure speculation on my part, especially as John of Bovey Tracey's date of birth derived from his age at burial is 1765, some way out from John number 3's christening in 1758. His death, however, was officially registered by a non-family member, so may have been a guess.
John number 4, first cousin of number 3, was the son of Henry Gidley and his wife Lucy Collins. He was born in 1768, and his mother died when John was a teenager, his father also marrying again. His age would therefore fit the Bovey Tracey John Gidley better. There are no clues for the John Gidley of Marldon who married in 1792. His children were called Samuel, Mary, Jane and Tryphena. Samuel was a common name in the Winkleigh family and not in the Dean Prior family, but it may have come from his wife's side. This John was buried at the age of 56 in 1818, which would make his year of birth 1762, a fairly reasonable fit for three of the John Gidleys.
So you could mix and match any of the four John Gidleys to the three available trees and unless a descendant takes a DNA test, I don't think it can be unravelled. And of course there could be yet more John Gidleys whose baptisms weren't recorded and who I'm not even aware of!

Friday, 3 April 2015

A small family of Gidleys in Woodland, near Ipplepen, Devon

Note the capital letter for Woodland - it's a very small parish in South Devon, near the village of Ipplepen - and I've just discovered in the Devon parish records now available on FindMyPast a small family of Gidleys in Woodland in the eighteenth century. Not that they are going to be of much use to anyone wanting to trace their family further back, as the main family consisted of six daughters, and their parents were John and Mary, probably the most common names you could have. So there is no clue as to their origin.
The first mention of a Gidley in Woodland is the baptism of a son William Gidly (it is noteworthy that the surname was always spelt without with the "e" throughout the Woodland parish registers) in 1696 to William Gidley and his wife Mary. Her maiden name was Fox and the couple were married in 1695 in Woodland. But this family comes to an abrupt end there. A Jane Gidley married John Paine in 1697 in Woodland.
The next mention of a Gidley in Woodland is in 1720, when a daughter, Elizabeth Gidley, is baptised in 1720, her parents being John Gidley and his wife Mary. I don't have a marriage for them. Further daughters Mary, Ann, Agnes, Jane and Margaret followed in succession until 1736. Father John Gidley was buried in 1767, and mother Mary Gidley in 1780, both in Woodland. I had hoped that these children would provide parentage for the Gidley marriages in Kingskerswell not yet attached to a tree. They took place between 1756 and 1774. Four brides, Ann Gidley, Elizabeth Gidley, Mary Gidley and Jane Gidley married, respectively, John West, Thomas Jago, Samuel Neck and John Hill, but it seems more likely that Jane Gidley of the Woodland family married Richard Butchers in Woodland in 1756, and her sister Elizabeth Gidley married John Tapper in 1750, also in Woodland.
There is a burial record for a Margaret Gidley, possibly the youngest daughter, in 1760 in Woodland. Fourth daughter Agnes Gidley apparently moved the seven miles or so to Marldon, Devon, where she had an illegitimate son John Gidley (again spelt without the "e") who was born and died in 1758. Agnes herself died the following year in Marldon.
Just who John and the earlier William Gidley of Woodland were, I can't guess. Woodland is only five or six miles away from Buckfastleigh and Dean Prior, where there were of course large numbers of Gidleys. But Ipplepen, so close by, was also where two of my own family married in the early nineteenth century, having travelled the 25 miles south from Spreyton.