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COLLINS, John

b.1876 – d.1902

Highly possible but not certain (yet) story for John Collins

According to the GRO Death Index, John Collins was aged 25 when he died in Epsom, which would give him a birth year of ~1877.

Collins is quite a common surname, but we believe the following is a possible record of John’s life before being committed to the Bethnal House for Lunatics in 1900.

Early Life

The GRO Birth Index records that John Collins was born in the March quarter of 1876 in the Bethnal Green Registration District. His mother’s maiden name was recorded as McCarthy.

The 1881 census records 5-year-old John living at 95 George Walk in Bethnal Green with his Irish parents Daniel and Johanna Collins. His older siblings were recorded as being Ann aged 17, Johanna aged 14, Ellen aged 12, Daniel aged 10, and Julia aged 7. Their father worked as a Feather bed labourer to support his family. Previous censuses record that John also had three other older siblings. His brother John had been born in 1856 (who presumably died before John was born), brother Michael born in 1857 and sister Mary born in 1859.

Over the next few years two of John’s sisters married. On 29 October 1882 Ann married Frederick James Lesadd in St James the Less Church, Bethnal Green, and on 15 August 1883 Johanna married Francis Newton in St James’ Church, Shoreditch.

John’s father was aged 59 when he died in 1887, and in 1889 John’s sister Ann died.

The 1891 census recorded the remaining family as still living at number 95 George Walk. Widow Johanna was working as a domestic, while John’s sisters Ellen and Julia worked as weavers and his brother Daniel worked as a dyer. John himself was working as a Stay Maker.

Sister Ellen married Charles James Cates on 2 September 1894 in St Peter’s Church, Bethnal Green.

Bad times – late 1890s

On 3 August 1899, an entry about John was made in the Poor Law and Settlement Records. It stated that John was aged 23, single and that he had been in the infirmary for 6 weeks suffering from a ‘diseased hip’. It also stated that he lived at 95 Georges Gardens with his mother Johannah (sic) Collins and that he worked for Howard Wall [corset manufacturers]. There was a note made that “father died 12 years ago this December” and that John had a brother Daniel aged 28 and sister Julia, a weaver.

The following year, in the December quarter 1900, John’s mother died aged 63. Information from the UK Lunacy Patients Admissions Registers record shows that on 30 October 1900 John was admitted to the Bethnal House for Lunatics in Bethnal Green, Middlesex. We may never know for sure, but this may have been because his mother had died, and his siblings were unable to look after him.

Aged 24, John appears on the 1901 census as a patient in the Bethnal House for Lunatics and was recorded as being born in Bethnal Green around 1877. His brother Daniel and sister Julia were recorded in the census as living on their own at 6 Georges Gardens.

Horton Asylum Hospital

John was discharged into the care of Horton Mental Asylum in Epsom on 30 April 1902 and died there on 13 June 1902. His body was buried in grave 20 in Horton Cemetery on 19 June 1902.


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