Jemima – a beautiful, happy sounding name. Yet Jemima’s is not a happy life and she, like so many others, spends most of her time reliant on the support of the local workhouse and then enters the asylum system. Some of the people we are researching touch our hearts and Jemima is one of those.
She spent most of her time in the Newington Workhouse, which stood on Westmorland St, Southwark. Initially intended as an industrial school, by this time it was housing paupers. Charlie Chaplin was briefly a resident in 1896 with his mother and his sister.
The suggestion is that Jemima was born in about 1859 but it has been very difficult to locate her. In evidence, there are several options between 1857 and 1861 but none have been solidly proved to be her.
What we do know is that she first appears in the workhouse records in 1862. Sadly, she seems to be alone and destitute. If her mother or another relative were also present at that time, unfortunately, it has not been possible to identify them.
Jemima enters the Newington Workhouse on November 4th 1862. At this time, she would have been just three years old and is described as destitute. There is no evidence of any other family members. Do we assume she is an orphan? Jemima enters the Newington workhouse again on April 18th 1863.
Of interest to us, there is another entry for Jemima without dates, for some time between 1866-1867. The entries have been brought forward into a new register. There is a Hannah Morgan on the same page, between 3 and 8 years old (as indicated by the class of diet) but it is not clear if they are related.
I assume that when researching a name in the workhouse records, I might not find all the entries. What is for sure is that Jemima is a regular visitor and for the coming few years, the records show that Jemima continues to go in and out. In all likelihood, the following are probably just some of the entries:
- On April 2nd 1864, Jemima discharges herself from the Newington Workhouse
- On April 8th 1864, she is admitted ‘destitution’.
- On May 10th 1864, Jemima is discharged ‘own request’
- On August 11th 1864, she is admitted.
- On October 8th 1864, she enters in time for supper.
- On October 24th 1864, she is discharged after breakfast. We know from the records that her meal ‘class’ is 5, which is the meal for a child aged 3 years to 8 years. Breakfast would have consisted of soup and oatmeal. Tea was usually served without milk. They might have had some workhouse broth which might have contained a few onions or turnips.
- On July 28th 1866, Jemima enters again.
- On April 7th 1867, just after breakfast Jemima leaves the Workhouse at her own request.
At 2.30pm on December 7th 1878, Jemima enters the Woolwich Road workhouse. Her occupation is ‘fieldwork no home’ by which we assume she is homeless. She is 20 years old.
On October 15th 1881, Jemima enters the workhouse as destitute and on the same day she transfers to the Kent Asylum at Barming Heath. Other records on the same page suggest that other people entered and left the same day.
One might assume that on arrival Jemima may have presented with aspects of her health or condition which led to her being sent to the asylum. What is interesting is that after twenty years of practically being resident at the Woolwich workhouse, she now begins her time in the asylums.
The county records indicate that Jemima stayed in Kent for twenty years and when she finally leaves on March 13th 1901, she enters the Bexley Asylum. She leaves there on November 2nd 1906 and goes all the way to York. There she stayed until October 7th 1907 when she was finally sent to Long Grove.
|Asylum||Date Admitted||Date of Discharged/Death||Discharged/Died|
|Kent||15 Oct 1881||13 Mar 1901||Rel’d|
|Bexlery||13 Mar 1901||2 Nov 1906||Rel’d|
|York||2 Nov 1906||7 Oct 1907||Not Improved|
|Long Grove||07 Oct 1907||28 Jan 1910||Died|
Quite often it would seem that patients move around the country, either for treatments or because of a lack of space or as new asylums opened. Whatever the reason, these poor unwell people travelled long distances.
Very sadly, on January 28th 1910, Jemima, the girl with the beautiful, happy sounding name dies. Four days later on February 1st 1910, poor Jemima is buried at the Horton Cemetery in plot 766a.