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HALEY, Samuel Thomas

b.1846 – d.1908

Samuel Thomas Haley died on 17th September 1908 and was buried in grave 201b of Horton Cemetery on the 24th September. The Lunacy Patients Admission Register records Samuel’s admission to Long Grove Asylum from the Shoreditch Workhouse Infirmary only a few weeks earlier on the 4th August.

The earliest record linking Samuel with the Shoreditch Workhouse is from nearly four years earlier and challenges his right to receive relief, or support, from the Shoreditch Guardians. Poor Law Removal and Settlement Records show that the Guardians of the Poor of the Parish of St. Leonard’s, Shoreditch had applied to the magistrates sitting at Worship Street Police Court for the removal of Samuel ‘aged about 61 years’ and his wife Susan ‘aged about 58 years’ to the Parish of Norwich on the grounds that he did not have legal settlement in Shoreditch and that the last place he lived and had settlement was Norwich. An order was made for their removal on the 12th December 1904 by the magistrate, A. R. Cluer . Samuel had been in the Infirmary and Susan was living in Moye Street, Haggerston. The Clerk to the Shoreditch Guardians wrote to the Clerk to the Norwich Guardians advising them of the order.

The initial reaction of the Norwich Guardians was to appeal the order. However, by 4th February they had agreed to accept responsibility. A letter from Henry Stone, Clerk to the Norwich Guardians, complained that it hadn’t been clear to him that Samuel had settlement and that he had doubts about the legality of the marriage. The file also includes a statement on oath by Berkley Roberts, the Assistant Clerk to the Shoreditch Guardians, that Samuel had been living at 9 Barnard’s Buildings, Stepping Lane, King Street, Norwich ‘for three whole years and upwards’ up until 1894 and that he had not done anything to gain settlement elsewhere.

Bristol Mercury 22 Aug 1894

A newspaper report from August 1894 of an earlier appearance by Samuel at Worship Street Police Court explains how Mr Roberts knew that Samuel had been living in Norwich and why the Norwich Guardians withdrew their appeal.

The report confirms that Samuel had left London in 1891 and had indeed been living in Stepping Lane, Norwich. He had fled to Norwich, at the furthest end of the Great Eastern Railway line from Liverpool Street Station, after embezzling funds that he had collected as the local secretary in London of the Dockers’ Union. He had turned himself in to the police because, he claimed, his wife, whose name is unfortunately not given but is likely to have been Susan, threatened ‘to put the police upon him’ every time they argued. He is described as a labourer aged 49. The amount that he had embezzled was £21 6s 10d (about £2,500 in 2021 values). He was sentenced to six weeks’ hard labour.

The Dockers Union, or more formally the Dock, Wharf, Riverside, General Workers Union, was very active at this time with a great growth of membership after a successful strike in 1889. It was based at 425 Mile End Road close to where Mile End Road crosses the Regent’s Canal.

Poor Law Removal Records seem to show that Samuel and Susan were removed to Norwich in March 1905 with a bill sent to the Norwich Guardians for £3 4s for the cost of 8 weeks in the Shoreditch Workhouse Infirmary for Samuel. However, they either didn’t go or returned to Shoreditch because the Worship Street magistrate made another order for their removal on the 5th October 1905. The order says that Samuel’s sickness will produce permanent disability.

The Haleys were still in Shoreditch when the magistrate made a further order for their removal on the 18th November 1905. This was accompanied by a further statement from Berkeley Roberts confirming that Samuel had settlement in Norwich. By now Susan had moved to Dunloe Street, Haggerston. However, the order included a provision that the order is suspended as Samuel is too unwell to travel.

Yet another order for their removal was made on the 16th November 1906 again by the magistrate, now sitting at Old Street Police Court which had replaced Worship Street Court.

What turns out to be the final order for their removal was made on 28th July 1908 but this was accompanied by a note from the Medical Officer of the Infirmary that Samuel was suffering from Locomotor Ataxy – the inability to precisely control one’s own bodily movements, often a symptom of tertiary syphilis – and unsound mind and was ‘unfit for removal to his place of settlement’. Susan had now moved to Scawfell Street, Haggerston.

On 31st July 1908 Samuel G. Porter JP, with the advice of George Ernest Froggett the Medical Officer of the Infirmary, ordered that Samuel should be admitted to Long Grove Asylum under the terms of the Lunacy Act 1890 on the grounds that he was ‘a person of unsound mind and a proper person to be taken charge of and detained under care and treatment.’ A ‘Statement of Particulars’ with the order records that Samuel is 63, that he is married and that his occupation is ‘Traveller’. His religion is ‘Congregationalist’. His illness is of eight months duration and its supposed cause is an injury to his spine 7 years previously. His wife Susan is living at 16 Scawfell Street, Hackney Road. Dr Froggett states that ‘He is quite lost, his memory is defective, he does not know where he is, rambles in his talk, cannot give a relevant reply to a simple question and mistakes people’s identity.’

Samuel’s death certificate records his age as 63 which would make his birth year approximately 1845. The causes of death are given as ‘General Paralysis [final stage Syphilis] coupled with Broncho Pneumonia which brought on a seizure.’ His occupation is given as ‘Advertising Agent’. An inquest had been held, perhaps because he had died soon after admission.

The census for 1901 – the only record we have of Samuel for the period after he had served his prison sentence and before he entered the workhouse – finds that he and Susan are boarders in Chorlton cum Medlock in South Manchester. Samuel’s age is recorded as 56 which would make his estimated birth year 1845. His occupation is recorded as ‘Commercial Traveller’ and his birthplace as Truro in Cornwall. Susan’s age is also recorded as 56 and her birthplace is given as Yarmouth, Norfolk.

Tracing Samuel’s earlier life

Piecing together Samuel’s earlier life is challenging. No birth registrations can be found for a Samuel Haley in Cornwall in the 1840s and it is possible that Samuel may have not been telling the truth about his birth place in 1901.

The Islington-born Samuel Thomas Haley

Of all the records for people with his name the most likely candidate to be the man who ended up in the asylum is a Samuel Thomas Haley born in Islington to Thomas Haley, a coachman, and Hannah Watty nee Robins. The record of this Samuel’s baptism in St Mary’s, Islington on 10th May 1846 gives his date of birth as 5th April 1846. Hannah Watty Haley – Watty was her paternal grandmother’s maiden name – died in Q2 1850 when Samuel was aged 4, shortly after giving birth to his sister Harriet (registered as Hannah Emma). Hannah Robins was born in Cornwall. Her baptism was recorded in Mevagissy on 30th July 1815.

The Islington-born Samuel Thomas Haley appears aged 4 in the 1851 census living in Bath Place, Dalston with his father Thomas aged 33, his sister Harriet (her age is illegible but would have been about 1) and his paternal grandparents, Samuel aged 70 and Sarah aged 60. Thomas is a coachman and Samuel Snr is a gardener.

By the time of the 1861 census the family has moved to High Cross, High Road, Tottenham. Thomas Haley aged 44 is still a coachman, Samuel Jnr aged 15 is now a gardener and Sarah Haley aged 76 is their housekeeper. Samuel Snr has presumably died. Harriet is not with them and no further record has been found for her.

On 19th June 1864 Samuel married Amelia Bethia Furlong born on 7th May 1844. Samuel was 18 and Amelia was 20.

The 1871 census finds them living at 43 Exmouth Street, Commercial Road East, Mile End Old Town. Samuel is a Post Office sorter. Samuel appears on the Electoral Register in 1875 as a lodger renting two rooms a short distance from Exmouth Street at 67 Clark Street, Mile End Old Town where his occupation is again recorded as Post Office sorter.

Then on the 2nd November 1876 there is a report in the Chelmsford Chronicle of a Samuel Thomas Haley of 4 Globe Crescent, Forest Lane, Stratford being charged on remand with attempting to commit suicide, a criminal offence at the time. He had been found by his wife hanging by his braces from a bedpost and was committed for trial.

However, according to a later report the case was not taken further.

Essex Standard 01 Dec 1876

We can be sure that this was the Islington Samuel Haley as 4 Globe Crescent was the home of Amelia’s parents and her brother David, a GPO letter carrier or postman. His age is given as 30 making his birth year 1846. The second newspaper report describes Samuel as an Agent implying that he no longer worked for the Post Office. However, there are two further Electoral Register entries for 1876 and 1877 giving his Clark Street address and his occupation as Assistant Overseer, Post Office.

By the time of the 1881 census Samuel and Amelia are living apart. Amelia is living alone but still describing herself as married at 18 Foley Street, Marylebone with her occupation as ‘Dressmaker’. A possible record for Samuel Haley is someone of that name living at 34 Anchor and Hope Alley in Wapping with a woman called Elizabeth as his wife. Her birth place is Sandown, Isle of Wight. This Samuel’s occupation is Commercial Traveller (Printing).

There is a series of Electoral register entries for a Samuel Thomas Haley living at 55 Broadway, Hackney from 1888 to 1891 but no obvious record for him in the 1891 census. However, there is a record of a Samuel Steele, aged 45 and born in Truro, living in Lane’s Buildings, Norwich with a Susan Steele, born in Great Yarmouth, as his wife and her daughter Ellen aged 13. Susan Steele’s maiden name was Sparrow and her father was a shoe maker. Her early years were spent in Norwich. There are records from 1871 and 1881 showing that she lodged under the name Steele at addresses in Haggerston with an older daughter, Mary Ann, and Ellen, who was born in Haggerston, and worked as a machinist sewing shoe uppers. Is it possible that Samuel Steele was Samuel Thomas Haley and that he had met Susan in London and had fled with her to Norwich under an assumed name at the time when the warrant had been issued for his arrest?

In the 1891 census Amelia is found living alone at 17 Upper Marylebone Street, St Marylebone. She is still a dressmaker and now describes herself as a widow.

By the time of the 1901 census Amelia is living in Belgrave Street, St Pancras. She again describes herself as a widow with the occupation of Mantle Maker. She has a boarder called John Swales who is a Brass Finisher.

The 1911 census finds that Amelia had moved to Nottingham and John Swales was still living with her as a boarder. She describes herself as married with the marriage having lasted 40 years. When she dies in October 1915 the Probate Calendar reveals that she has made John Swales her executor and we discover that his full name is William John Cavallier Swales.

1911 census for Amelia

Susan Haley also appears in the 1911 census. She is still living at 16 Skawfell Street, Haggerston and her place of birth is recorded as Yarmouth. She is an unemployed charwoman and she says that she is a widow and was married for 29 years. As Samuel was always married to Amelia he could only have married Susan bigamously: no record of a marriage can be found.

1911 census for Susan (possibly)

In 1918 and 1921 Susan appears on the Electoral Register at 16 Skawfell Street, Samuel’s final address as recorded on his death certificate, and there is a death registration for a Susan Haley in Shoreditch in Q1 1922.

Did the Islington-born Samuel Thomas Haley die in Long Grove Asylum?

Can we be sure that the Islington-born Samuel Thomas Haley is the same man that died in Long Grove Asylum?
We know that the birth date of the Islington-born Samuel Thomas Haley was 5th April 1846 from his baptism record.

Census returns confirm his birthplace as Islington.

The evidence we have for the age of the man who died in the asylum comes from the report of the embezzlement trial, the settlement orders, and the 1901 census. Based on these records his estimated birth year varies between 1843 and 1845. The age on his death certificate gives an estimated birth year of 1845. The 1901 census, which we know is for the man who died in the asylum because Susan also appears as his wife on the return, gives Truro, Cornwall not Islington as his birthplace.

What this means is that there is no positive evidence for the birth year of the man who died in the asylum that would help to link him to the man born in Islington in 1846. Mostly the suggestion is that it is 1845. However, the confusion about his date of birth is such that we cannot rule him out. But we also need to explain the birth place of Truro in the 1901 census.

We know that the Islington-born Samuel Thomas Haley was alive in 1876. There are two deaths registered for men with that name after that year: One in Q2 1908 aged 27 and another in Q3 1908 aged 63. The former was born long after 1846; the latter is the man who died in the asylum on 17th September. There is one man called Samuel Haley whose death was registered with an age that indicates his birth year falls within the range 1843-1845. This is in 1911 in Bramley, West Riding of Yorkshire, with age 67 (estimated birth year 1844). There is no indication the Islington-born Samuel ever had any connection with Yorkshire.

The only birth registration for a Samuel Thomas Haley between 1843 and 1846 is in Q2 1846 for the child born in Islington. There are no birth registrations for a Samuel Haley in Cornwall during those years. There are two registrations for Samuel Haleys in Bradford in 1844 and 1845 respectively and one in Whitechapel in 1844 which is earlier than the 1845 or 1846 birth years for Samuel Thomas Haley.

It seems reasonable to come to a provisional conclusion that on the basis of the evidence currently available the Islington-born Samuel Thomas Haley and the man that died in the asylum are the same man and that the circumstances of the latter led to confusion about his date of birth. Why he would give Truro as his birthplace in 1901 we can only speculate. Was it intentionally misleading or did he really believe that is where he was born? It was his mother’s birthplace. The only way to take this further would be to gather more evidence about the other Samuel Haleys identfied.

Other minor pieces of evidence that could tie the two men together include:

  • i) The use of the word ‘Agent’ in the second newspaper report of the 1876 suicide attempt. This reappears in the death certificate as ‘Advertising Agent’.
  • ii) Amelia and Samuel were separated at the time of the 1881 census but she states that she is married, implying that it is not death that has caused Samuel’s absence from the return. In 1891 and 1901 she does say that she is Widowed but in 1911 she reverts to Married.

[1] Albert Rowland Cluer (1852-1942) Magistrate 1895-1911. County Court Judge 1911-1934


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