Arthur was born in the last quarter of 1880 in Greenwich, South East London (shown as Kent in the records). He was christened in Christ Church, Greenwich on 20th April 1881.
Arthur’s mother was Amelia (sometimes written Amelie) Elizabeth Brooks and she was born in 1857 in Mildenhall, Suffolk. She married Arthur George Blackmore on 15th February 1880.
Arthur’s father was Arthur George Blackmore, born in 1855 (2nd quarter).
He was the eldest of seven children and his siblings were:
John Alfred Blackmore born 1883
George Henry Blackmore born 1884
Henrietta Blackmore born 1887 (who seems likely to have been christened Hephzibah Jane and died in 1907)
Sarah Blackmore born 1889
Ellen Blackmore born 1892
Matthew Blackmore born 1896
The 1891 Census shows that Arthur George worked as a waterman, probably on the Thames as they lived in Billingsgate St (no 23), Greenwich which ran down to the Thameside Docks in that area.
Arthur George died at the young age of 42 in 1898 (first quarter). This left Arthur John’s mother a widow with as many as 7 children, most of whom were quite young.
Times must have been difficult and in the summer of 1900 Amelia remarried (in Greenwich). Her new husband was Adam Britton (or Briton), a boatswain from Essex.
In the 1901 Census, taken on 31st March 1901, the family was living in West Ham, Essex and Arthur John was by then an inmate in the Essex County Asylum (Brentwood Asylum/Warley Mental Institution).
In fact, Arthur John seems to have spent much of his short life in various institutions. There are gaps in the records but:
- The first record found is from 29th July 1897 when, aged just 16, he was admitted to the Greenwich Union Infirmary. This is less than a year before his father’s death. At the time the infirmary was in fact a workhouse and, I understand, the inmates were mostly ‘infirm’ men with able bodied men being housed elsewhere.
- On 9th March 1900 he was admitted to the Essex County Asylum and discharged on 12th June 1901 as ‘recovered’. (I am certain this is the same man but this date does not match with his admission to the Greenwich Union Infirmary).
- On 11th May 1901 he was transferred from the Essex Asylum to the Greenwich Union Infirmary. It is not known when or if he was discharged from Greenwich.
- On 12th August 1902 he was admitted to the Goodmayes Hospital Asylum in Ilford. Most patients there had been transferred from the Essex County Asylum but it’s not clear if this is what happened. He stayed at Goodmayes until 22nd August 1903 when he was discharged as ‘not improved’.
- On 15th June 1906 he was admitted to the LCC Epileptic Colony in Epsom.
- On 11th August 1906 he was discharged (‘not improved’) from the LCC Epileptic Colony and for some reason readmitted on the same day. I have no idea what circumstances gave rise to this.
- He remained in the LCC Epileptic Colony until he died on the 19th September 1913, aged just 32 years. He is buried in the Horton Cemetery in grave 763a.
In the 1911 census, his mother was using the name Blackmore again and the family had moved back to Greenwich. There is no sign of her second husband, Adam Britton, and I have not discovered what happened to him.
Amelia died in 1921 in Greenwich.
Firstly, although the 1901 census shows Arthur John had a sister called Henrietta I have not found any record of a birth under that name. There is however a Hephzibah Jane born in March 1887 whose mother’s maiden name was Brooks.
That child died in 1907 which would explain why she does not appear on the 1911 census with the rest of the family.
I have not been able to trace a death for Adam Britton or anything at all after the 1901 Census. On the 1911 Census Amelia is shown as a widow, with the family living back in Greenwich and she is using the name Blackmore again. Adam Britton was born in Ireland according to the 1901 census so perhaps he decided to return to Ireland or maybe he and Amelia separated or divorced. That is pure conjecture, though.
Arthur John seems to have had a sad time generally: for a good part of his short life he was living in institutions or asylums and history suggests inmates on the whole were not treated very kindly in most of them.
The Epilepsy Society website
(https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/what-we-do/about-epilepsy-society/history-epilepsy-society) says that Epilepsy Colonies seem to have been more pleasant places. Only people of ‘reasonable behaviour and mental ability’ were admitted to the colonies where they had plenty of outdoor space. Inmates worked on the land or in the houses as it was thought that the fresh air and hard work would be beneficial to the patients. This no doubt led to a much better life for the patients.