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Kate’s parents

Catherine – or Kate as she would later be known – was the seventh of the eight children born to Joseph Young and his wife Elizabeth (née Noel).  

Joseph, born in St Pancras in 1817, was the son of bookbinder Timothy Young and his wife Lucy (née Goddard). Elizabeth was born in Hendon in 1819 to labourer Edward Noel and his wife Ann. Joseph and Elizabeth had married at Trinity Church in Marylebone on the 31st of July 1844. At the time of their marriage the couple were living at 34, Park Street in Marylebone and Joseph was working as a waiter.

1850 – a first child for Elizabeth and Joseph

When their first child William Joseph was born on the 17th of August 1850, Joseph and Elizabeth were living at 12, Park Road in Marylebone. William was the only one of the Young children whose birth was not registered in St Pancras. He was baptised in the Church of St Marylebone, Westminster on the 8th of September 1850.

However, by the time of the 1851 Census the family had moved to 20, Bayham Street in St Pancras. Joseph, now aged 33, was employed as deputy inspector at the Imperial Gas Company.

In the 1850s London was supplied with gas by fourteen companies, having twenty gas-making establishments in different parts of the city and its suburbs. The Imperial Gas Company was established in 1821. The company had three stations; one at Kings Cross, one in Fulham and one in the Hackney Road.

A growing family – and two tragic deaths

On the 30th of November 1852 Elizabeth gave birth to her second child, Edward Arthur, who was baptised on the 19th of December 1852 in Old Church, St Pancras. A third son, Alfred, was born in the 3rd quarter of 1854. Sadly, William Joseph, aged just 4, died in the 1st quarter of 1855.

The following year, on the 27th of June 1856, Elizabeth gave birth to her first daughter, Lucy Elizabeth, who was baptised in St Peter’s Church, St Pancras, on the 10th of October 1858 along with her younger brother Francis who was born on the 2nd of September 1858. (Although a death certificate has not been found, it would appear that Francis sadly died before the 1861 Census).

Another double tragedy for the family

A second daughter, Ellen Maria, was born in the 4th quarter of 1859. However, in the same quarter a double tragedy hit the family when 5 year-old Alfred and Lucy, aged 2, both died. (It is possible they died of cholera as we know there was an outbreak in London in 1859.) One can only imagine the overwhelming grief felt by the family at this time.

In the 1861 Census Joseph and Elizabeth are living at 50, Swinton Street, St Pancras, with their two remaining children, Edward, aged 8 and 1 year-old Ellen. Joseph is described as a gas inspector.

After our subject Kate was born in the 1st quarter of 1862, Elizabeth gave birth to one more child, a son called Harry, in the 2nd quarter of 1864.  

The onset of Kate’s mental health problems?

In the 1871 Census we find the family living at 34, John Street in Holborn with a 14 year-old servant called Clara Hampson. By 1881, they had moved to 13, St Ann’s Villas in Kensington, employing Emily Westwood, aged 16, as a domestic servant. Edward was lodging at a house in Margate and working as a bricklayer.

From the 1881 Census we learn that Joseph was still employed as a gas inspector while Ellen and Harry were both clerks. Kate, now aged 19, had no occupation. Could this be due to the onset of the mental health problems that would come to dominate the rest of her life?

Kate’s case notes from the Manor state that she was 20 when she experienced her first ‘attack’. A  Kate Young was, indeed, admitted to Banstead Asylum on the 14th of October 1882 and discharged ‘recovered’ on the 30th of March 1883 but, in the absence of more documentation, we cannot be certain that this was our subject. We do know, however, that Kate was admitted to Portsmouth Asylum on the 19th of April 1884 and discharged ‘recovered’ on the 15th of July 1884. At the time the family home was 139, Goldhawk Road in Shepherd’s Bush.

Admission to Horton

According to the Lunacy Admissions Register Kate was not admitted to Horton until the 3rd of November 1899. However, her case notes state that she was admitted on the 2nd of September 1886 – whether this means to Horton or refers to a readmission to Portsmouth is not clear from the documents available. However, we know that just two months earlier, on the 4th of July 1886 Joseph Young had died aged 69. Could it be assumed that the death of her father had had a detrimental effect on Kate’s already fragile mental health?

Kate’s mental state

On admission to the asylum Kate’s condition is ascribed in her case notes to ‘spinal disease’ and she is described as suicidal and dangerous to others. According to her doctor, “Elizabeth Young (mother) states she is in constant fear of her life when her daughter is at home as she has frequently threatened to throttle her. She spits in her face and uses filthy language.

About a fortnight ago her mother states she took some ‘Vermine Killer’ (sic) with a view to poisoning herself. While her father was dying she would shake the leg of the bedstead and would get underneath the bed and threaten to choke him… When her brother visited her on Sunday she was very violent to him…” When asked why she behaved so violently towards her mother Kate replied that she could not help herself at times.

The following year, in the 1st quarter of 1887, Elizabeth died aged 66. In the 1891 Census we find Harry and Ellen Maria lodging at 23 Camden Gardens in Hammersmith. Later that year, on the 2nd of June 1891, Ellen married William George Worssam, a sergeant in the Royal Engineers, at St Michael and Archangels Church in Ladbroke Grove.

Kate’s behaviour in the asylum

The following are typical of the comments made by Kate’s doctors during the course of her treatment:

“…does not know how long she has been here nor what her age is…”

“She is grossly demented and has marked impairment of memory, cannot answer the simplest questions intelligently.”

“At times spiteful and inclined to attack other patients…”

“She is demented, does not know the day of the week, nor what her age is. She pulls faces and behaves in an absurd manner.”

“…stares vacantly in front of her without making any reply.”

“Sullen, morose and spiteful. …oblivious to her surroundings…Dull, vacant and demented.”

“Hoards rubbish, eats tea leaves etc. Thinks she is 20 years of age.”

Kate’s mental and physical deterioration

On the 2nd of August 1916, thirty years after first being admitted to the asylum, Kate was transferred to Colney Hatch in Barnet while the Manor was functioning as a War Hospital. She was readmitted to the Manor on the 2nd of September 1919. However, her mental state had not improved and her physical condition had deteriorated. In one of his first reports on her return to the Manor Kate’s doctor says she ‘has cardiovascular degeneration and mitral murmur’.

On the 17th of February 1920 he writes ‘Last night there were traces of blood in the patient’s stool. This morning the abdomen is distended and there is some tenderness. Perforation has probably taken place.’

The following day he reports, ‘Patient much worse. Breathing become distressed’.

Kate’s death

Kate died on the 20th of February 1920 having spent more than thirty years of her life in asylums. On her death certificate the cause of death was given as enteric fever (also known as typhoid fever), perforation and general peritonitis. She was buried in grave 38b in Horton Cemetery on the 26th of February 1920. Her brother Harry attended her funeral.

Kate’s siblings

From the Manor visitors’ book we know that Harry and Ellen visited their sister a number of times during her stay in the asylum.

Ellen and her husband William had two children together, Dorothy Ellen May (born 1892) and Morvyn William Claude (born 1893). Ellen died in Brighton in the 1st quarter of 1912 aged 52.

Like his father, Harry became an inspector for the Gas Light and Coke Company. In 1893 he married Mary Anne Lloyd. The couple had four children, Victor Henry (born 1895), Christine Gladys (born 1896), Harold Dudley (born 1899) and Joseph William (born 1901). Harry died in Felpham, Sussex in 1934 aged 69.

Unfortunately it has not been possible to trace Kate’s brother Edward after the 1871 Census.

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