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ORPWOOD, Edith Annie

b.1881-d.1917

Edith Annie Orpwood was born in 1881 to Richard and Elizabeth Orpwood. At this time, the family lived at 10 Cambridge Road, Kilburn, London. Edith’s birth was registered at Hendon in the second quarter of 1881 (3a 169).

Richard is a bookseller’s assistant. Edith is their sixth child and she was baptised at St Augustine’s, Paddington, London, on the 14th of August 1881. At this time, both Richard and Elizabeth are 29 years of age.

Richard and Elizabeth have another little girl, Eleanor Charlotte, born on 10th April 1883, in Hackney. Unfortunately, Eleanor died in infancy on 23rd December 1884, in Hackney. RIP

Edith’s brother Gerald was born on 26th January 1885, in Chelsea. Edith is 3 years old at this time. Edith’s next brother was born on the 26th December 1886, also in Chelsea. Edith is now 5 years old.

The next sibling to arrive is also a brother, named Cecil Berkley, born 29th September 1889 in Chelsea. Edith is now 8 years old.

Edith starts school

Edith was admitted into Beethoven Street School, in Westminster on the 19th of June 1890. However, she does not seem to have completed her schooling, as I cannot find anything noted in her school register in the way that other children seem to have. Most of the other pupils have years entered that they have completed and a school leaving date. The entry for Edith appears not to have any of these details. Edith was 9 years old which seems late in life for our time, but was the norm in Victorian times.

Then, we come to Sunday, April 5th 1891. This was Census day when the population of the whole of Great Britain was counted. In 1891 the population of Great Britain was 33 million and a few hundred thousand.

At this time, Edith is 9 years old and living with her parents. Richard, who is listed as head of household, is still a bookseller’s assistant.

Her mother and four of her older brothers are still at home. Edgar is 17 years old and is a painter; Herbert is 14 years old and is a messenger; her brother Harold is 13 years old and is also a messenger. Richard is 11 years old and a scholar and Edith, the only girl child, is also a scholar.

I cannot find anything in the Census that would indicate that Edith has any problem with her health or any mention of her being an imbecile, lunatic, idiot or being deaf or dumb. Most of these are terms we would not use today but these are categories on the Census forms from her time.

An ever-growing family

Edith’s parents have an ever increasing family and on 17th of May 1891, Edith’s younger brother Sidney George is born.

On the 6th of April 1893, Edith sees the arrival of yet another sibling but this one probably quite excites Edith, as it is a little sister and another girl for her mother, after so many boys. Her sister’s name is Margaret. At this time, Edith is growing into an 11 year old young lady.

The next significant event in Edith’s life is yet another brother for her. This baby was born on the 11th of September 1894, when Edith was 13 years old. His name is Lionel J. Orpwood.

In 1897 when Edith is 16 years old, Edith’s mother Elizabeth gives birth to another son on the 7th of May. Unfortunately, the family joy was short-lived, as Leslie Orpwood only survives for just over one month. His death is listed as being the 12th of June 1897, in Paddington Middlesex, London. I don’t know why Leslie died but the infant mortality rate in Victorian England was very high. It could have been that he was a premature baby or for one of many other causes.

Maghull Epileptic Centre

Edith is admitted into the Paddington Poor Law School on the 2nd of April 1900, from the workhouse. It looks as though she is sent straight up to Maghull Epileptic Centre near Liverpool. On the same page [111], of the record, is written ‘to Home for epileptics, Maghull near Liverpool’.

Maghull is the first centre of its kind in this country devoted to just epileptics. It was set up by two local businessmen with their own money. They first went to Germany to look at a similar set up there. The entrepreneurs visited the Bethel Epileptic Colony, which was established in 1867, and by 1880, it housed a community of around 3000.

The German centre focused first on religion and medical wellbeing was secondary. Patients were encouraged to seek help in the next world and not this one.

The Liverpool Epileptic Centre or Maghull Epileptic Colony was set up by two local business men, Henry Cox, a wealthy Liverpool merchant and Dr. William Alexander. They were both involved with the Liverpool Central Relief Society, in the late 19th century. Maghull was established before the turn of the century and provided housing schooling and employment for the residents. After they had finished building Maghull, I believe there were eleven houses all well built and set up for accommodation of women and men, all taken care of by staff.

On Sunday 31st of March 1901, the country held the next Census. We find Edith residing in the Maghull Epileptic Colony. It appears that the residents lived in accommodation which was segregated into Males and Females, with carers and staff looking after them.

Edith is one of thirteen females in her accommodation, aged from 48 years down to 13 years. Several of the girls are in school and some are listed as workers. Only two are listed as having no employment. Is this because their epilepsy was so severe that they were unemployable. Or, was there nothing safe for them to do? Edith is one of the young ladies who has no employment; she is 19 years old.

In 1911, Edith was still a resident in Maghull, Liverpool. The 1911 census was carried out on Sunday the 2nd of April 1911, so anyone who spent that night on these premises was listed, including staff who were working the night shift. Edith is a 30 year old lady at this time. So, she has now been resident there for the last eleven years.

Edith moves to Long Grove

Edith was transferred from Maghull to Long Grove Asylum in Hook Road, Epsom, Surrey on Friday 4th August 1911.

There is no information about Edith’s time in Long Grove Asylum, such as family visits or next of kin etc. It does state that Edith died in Long Grove Asylum, Hook Road, Epsom Surrey on the 22nd of February 1917 and is buried in Horton Cemetery grave number 1380b.

Horton Cemetery is a small cemetery owned and run for the shared use of the five asylums in Epsom known as the Epsom cluster. This comprised Long Grove Asylum, Horton Asylum, The Manor Asylum, West Park Asylum, and Saint Ebba’s Asylum. All of the cluster used the cemetery for the burial of, I presume, any of the patients that were not claimed.

I do not know what the reason was for Edith being buried in this cemetery. Perhaps the family lost track of her over the last 17 years of her life. All I do know is that both her parents survived her, along with ten of her siblings. Such a sad ending. RIP


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