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TRIGGS, George

b.1865(?)-d.1913

It has been impossible to determine the correct birth details for George as there are several George Trigg(s) born around the same time (approx. 1865 or 1866) and none of them fits exactly with what we know about our George.  Furthermore, nothing can be found for him on the censuses taken in 1871 or 1881.

However, what is certain is that he married Anne Child (or Childs) on 24th September 1889 at age 25 in Newington, Surrey.  This is the first information we have that can be verified.  

The 1891 Census – George and his family

In the 1891 census George Triggs (then aged 26) is living with his family in Luscombe Street, Lambeth and working as a railway porter.  Luscombe Street no longer exists but it was very near Vauxhall Railway Station.  George and his wife had 2 daughters by then:  Annie who was 4 and born before her parents married, and Alice who was only a few months old. 

Alice was born on 3rd October 1890 and christened on 23rd October 1890 in St Barnabas Church, Lambeth.  It has not been possible to find a birth record for Annie, born around1887, under either Child/Childs or Trigg/Triggs.

George’s mental health problems

On 29th December 1894 a George Triggs was admitted to Cane Hill Asylum, which at the time was the Surrey Pauper Lunatic Asylum.  This seems without doubt to be our George.  He spent over 5 years there being discharged “Not Improved” on 19th February 1900.  According to the UK Lunacy Register he then immediately transferred to Horton Hospital in Epsom.  He is shown on the Lunacy Register as ‘discharged’ from Horton Hospital on 3rd March 1902 but ‘readmitted’ on the same day.    

The 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901 and shows George living with his family in Barset Road, Camberwell.  This seems odd if he was still at the Epsom hospital.  Perhaps there was an error by the Census recorder in that he didn’t check that George was actually with his family that day.  Or perhaps George was just home for a few days.  We may never know.

The 1901 census entry shows George was 36, Annie (his wife) was 34 and there is only one daughter shown, Alice, who was then 10.  In Column 17 of the Census form George is described as “Imbecile, feeble minded”, but he was likely just epileptic. 

George’s daughter, Annie

The only information found about the older child, Annie, who was 14 in 1901, and on the assumption that she was probably working away from home, is an entry for an Annie Triggs on the 1901 census working as a farm servant in Bubnell Derbyshire. If this is the right Annie Triggs it would make sense for her to be working and living away from home.  Her mother was coping alone and George was an inmate in an asylum. She is the right age and has the right place of birth so it is probable this is our George’s daughter.

Epsom Hospital

George was again discharged from the Epsom Hospital on 24th October 1903 but must have been readmitted at some time as he is there on the 1911 census and stayed in Epsom until his death in 1913. 

George’s death in the Colony

In 1910 the George and Annie’s younger daughter, Alice, appears to have married a George J Reynolds in Camberwell and at the time of the 1911 Census Annie was living with her daughter and son-in-law in Camberwell.  

George was back in the Epsom Hospital by then but the date of his readmission to the LCC Epileptic Colony cannot currently be found. Perhaps he transferred from Horton Hospital on 24th October 1903 directly to the LCC Epileptic Colony without the Lunacy Register being updated.  He died there in 1913 and was buried in Horton Cemetery.  Once the Lunacy Register records from 1913 (and beyond) are transcribed we may find out.  

The following is based on assumptions made from the records located so may not be completely accurate:

  • Alice appears to have given birth to twins, Ivy Alice and Henry James George, in the 3rd quarter of 1911.  The girl died in 1917 aged just 6.  As far as I can see Henry survived but I have not found any more information about him.  Similarly, I cannot find anything further about Alice’s husband George, or her sister Annie Triggs.
  • Annie, George’s wife, appears to have died in 1919 at the young age of 42.

My thoughts:

I gave some thought as to why no birth record for George could be found.  Perhaps he was a foundling or was informally adopted and given a new name.

I also wondered why no record of the birth of George’s daughter Annie could be found.  Did she have a different father and took her birth father’s name at birth, changing to Triggs after her mother married? That doesn’t seem very likely though. 

George’s problems with mental health and/or epilepsy seem to have started, or a least got worse, when he was in his 20s and from then on he spent almost all of his years in asylums.  Did he have an accident at work involving a head injury that resulted in his epilepsy?  If so, then perhaps the railway company paid him some sort of pension which enabled his family to manage financially.  There is nothing in the census records to suggest his wife worked at all so how else would they have managed?

Even so, with George in asylums for many years it must have been difficult not only for him but also for his wife and young family.  They must all have had a difficult life and financial hardship would inevitably have followed.  It is not surprising that the eldest daughter moved away at a young age to work where accommodation was also provided.   


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