Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Workhouse

As I have done my own family research, I have learned a great deal about those that have passed on before me. One of my great-great grandmothers Joan Taylor, lived in England in the 1800's. Her life had many challenges. She was married when she turned 21 years of age. Joan and her husband George Storey had 3 children, with the last one being born 2 years prior to the death of her husband. Joan remarried to a Joseph Carman  in 1833 and had 5 more children. Her second husband died at the age of 51 leaving Joan, age 50, with the task to raise the children. As far as I can tell, Joan never remarried. Near the end of her life in 1881 in the Morpeth Northumberland Workhouse. She was alone and without means to support her self and lived the remainder of her life in the Morpeth Northumberland Workhouse.

You may be wondering "What is a workhouse?" Simply put a workhouse was place that was under the jurisdiction of the government or parish, that provided room and board for vagrants and the poor. The workhouses seperated families as soon as they entered into the workhouse. The husband, wife, and/or children were not allowed to speak to each other and could be punished if they tried to communicate. The people that entered into the workhouse were segregated by age and sex. The workhouses provided homes for unwed pregnant women, elderly, or ill people would enter into the workhouse for assistance.

Some of the people that entered into the workhouses were there only for a brief period of  time and others would enter and leave the workhouses several times during their lives.  One such person was the famous actor, Charlie Chaplin. He lived briefly as an inmate of the Lambeth Union workhouse with his mother and siblings. If you would like to learn more about Charlie Chaplin's life in the workhouse system click Workhouse memories and then click on the picture of Charlie Chaplin.  I you would like to the site and learn more about the workhouse system, click on The Workhouse. If you would like to search for your ancestor, click  the Workhouse records.

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