Thursday, 18 June 2015

A Kid's Outing in 1881 by Lionel Edgar Laws

Lionel Edgar Laws, my great grandfather,  took to writing poems in his 70's in the 1940's.
In this one he is  remembering a sailing trip he took with some teenage friends down the Brisbane River.
My cousin Helen Butler found this 1906 map of the Brisbane River showing the location of Parker Island. In 2015 Parker Island is no longer on maps of the Brisbane River

A Kid's Outing

It happened way back in 1881
We were on a sailing cruise
A crew of five, all in their teens
We hadn't had any booze

The skipper was the oldest
Was related to an Earl
At handling open sailing skiffs
No doubt he was a pearl

We landed at a quarry
And when we got ashore
There was water at a deserted shack
And lemons there galore

We filled a bag with lemons
And with water filled two buckets up
Went across to Parker Island
Where we'd made up our minds to sleep.

We were greeted by the pelicans
They strutted in their walk
One of the crew said "I wonder what
These birds would say if they could talk"

They appeared to be quite friendly
Their pitch we didn't queer
Altho' we were only lads
We didn't interfere

Then we boiled the water
And without a woman's aid
Cut all the lemons up
And made some lemonade

We opened up the tucker box
And drank and ate our fill
?? might well give a ??
Before they passed their bill.

The wind was freshly blowing
When we hoisted up the sail
It came and went in heavy gusts
But nothing like a gale

When we got into mid stream
There was a sudden puff
He tried best to get her around
But ?? was slow stuff.

??? Unfortunately no matter how hard we try we can't read his writing in very,very faint pencil.

I'm not sure that this would win a literary prize but I felt it was  interesting to know he and his young friends sailed down the river and camped. Making lemonade without  a woman's aid must have been a feat for them then. Too bad we can't make out the missing words. Do you try to guess what he might have written? I didn't have his logic so can't think what he might have put in the ?? spaces. Anyone else hazard a guess?

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

More of Lionel Edgar Laws's "poems"

When my uncle Robin Laws was 12 years of age he asked his grandfather to write some poems for him. I'm now proud to be the publisher of some more of my great grandfather's poems. ( I don't really think that any other publisher will be miffed that they missed out on the job.)

A Reply

When the old bootmaker got up off his stool
He certainly showed he was a not a fool
With his cap and his head continually bobbin
He sold Magic Shoes to a boy named Robin

Who must have got terrible  pains in his knees
When each of his shoes went just where it pleased
And when he went out in the nearby lane
Was a source of discomfort to his carer Jane

Who had no experience of previous magic
What Robin accomplished was truly tragic
She found the nails had pulled out and left holes
Leaving Robin completely bereft of his soles

That didn't much matter as he was done with straddling
The weather being wet he could go on with his paddling
He learned when he bought, he was beautifully sold
And when he paddled in bare feet he'd never catch cold.

Not Perplexed 
When you hung old Granny's stocking up
You must have discovered a peg
Altho you sold Granny a pup
Don't try to teach her to suck an egg

Old Gran could teach you a great many things
Which I feel that you all should know
How to go through this world on springs
With an entertaining pal as Yom-so

Old Granny would find a use for the sticks
Without casting them into the mire
In the morning before reading the "Pix"
She would use them for lighting the fire

Then to make you a nice piece of toast
Fry you an egg she's forgotten to suck
Look after your comfort while she was your host
But to get a living don't trust too much to your luck

December 25 1946

I'm sorry great grandfather I don't think you will win any literary prizes with these but the family has enjoyed your poems to Robin especially as Robin very carefully kept the handwritten originals.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

William Camper Laws 1859-1911

This is a story of one of my not so full of life blossoms.

William Camper Laws was only 8 when his parents William and Sarah Laws left their home in England on  December 25 1867 to venture forth to this foreign land on the other side of the world-Australia.
However William Camper Laws was left in the care of his maternal grandparents Richard and Caroline Goodall in Fareham.  Then I found that Richard had died in 1874 and Caroline had died in 1878. So what happened to William Camper Laws?
In 1881 a William Lawes was found in the Fareham Workshouse, Hampshire. Was this William Camper Laws?  By 1891, 1901 and 1911 there was no record of a William Laws/Lawes in the Fareham workhouse. I took a punt on a death on the index for 1911 in Fareham. I purchased the certificate and found that a William Laws had died in the Fareham Lunatic asylum. Was this the correct William Laws?

At this stage it got too hard and I put the research aside until a cousin said  "We have never followed up on what happened to William Camper Laws, have we?"  I took that to mean "you should find out what happened to him"
Off to friend Google and searched for "Fareham lunatic asylum". Susan Burt (1)in the UK had studied the asylum for her thesis. She also kindly offered family historians her contact details as she had a database of all the inmates. The thesis was written in 2006 so I was a bit doubtful that the contact details would be the same but I took a punt and the next night there was her reply.
Fareham Lunatic Asylum- Knowle Hospital-now apartments (4)

A William Laws was admitted on February 2 1876 to the Fareham Lunatic asylum and discharged in 1879 to the workhouse but readmitted in 1887 and stayed there until he died in 1911. This was looking good but still nothing definite to go on.
Susan had given me all the required archive reference numbers for the archive records and suggested that I really needed the admission records.

Being in Australia  I thought I would write to the Hampshire record office but being slack didn't get around to it straight away. At Christmas my cousin contacted a relative in the UK and told her that I'd found this information but really needed the archive records. She very kindly offered to visit the record office for us. What a Christmas present that was.
William Laws aged 18 was admitted to the Fareham Lunatic Asylum February 5 1876 from the Fareham Workhouse where he had been for three weeks. Mr Saplin, the master of the workhouse said he was mischievous, dirty in his habits and unmanageable. He also said that William had lived with his grandmother Mrs Goodall near the Old Turnpike and that his father and mother were in Australia . William's cousin Thomas Goodall of North Rd Fareham was listed as his closest relative. Sarah Ings, Mrs Goodall's sister, said he was troublesome and inclined to be violent to old people in the workhouse and that he had no brothers or sisters in the country.
At last we knew we had the correct William Laws in the Lunatic Asylum.

Now to continue his sad story.
February 12 1876  (2)
From his case notes-This boy is has a very small amount of intelligence. When 
spoken to his only reply is a sound resembling “I”. He has since admission been tractable but dirty in 
his habits. Appears at present incapable of employing himself.
March 8 1876:
The same. He has been tried at picking hair and other employment but does not seem capable of any 
occupation. He is very helpless and cannot even dress himself.

Through 1876 to1879 he continues with little change and on December 16 1879 he is discharged to the workhouse.

He is readmitted to the Asylum on April 13 1887. (3) 
The notes from Charles Edward Radcliffe, JP are as follows

William Lawes (No 1), a pauper and a person of unsound mind.
Male, aged 29. First attack? No.
Previous care:  Workhouse and from 5/2/76 to 16/12/79 in Hants County Asylum.
Nearest known relative: Mrs Anne Johnson, aunt to patient. Lives at 50 Ray [I think] Crescent, Tollington Park, London N.
Surgeon’s report: An idiot.
Facts indicating insanity: Head small, vacant stare or expression, slavering mouth, defect in speech, taste and smell. Staggering gait.
Other facts communicated by others:  I am informed by Geo. Shepeard (an inmate of the House) that on Good Friday he rushed at him kicked him, hit him with his fist and was going to throw the iron spittoon at his head but was prevented.
The porter tells me that he often has fits at meals and is not safe to let him have a knife and fork as he has more than once injured himself when in a fit.   W.F. Brook 12 April 1887

What a sad story as he then stayed there until his death on April 25 1911 from tuberculosis.

Why wasn't he registered in the 1891, 1901 and 1911 census. Asylums were allowed to  put initials instead of names on their long lists for the census. 
(1)    "Fit Objects for an Asylum"
The Hampshire County Lunatic Asylum and its Patients, 1852-1899.
Doctor of Philosophy, Faculty of Social Sciences
Susan Margaret Burt, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, August 2003

48M94 B6/25 Reception Order Hants County Asylum 3766, Hampshire Records Office
48M94 B6/36 1887 Reception Order Hants County Asylum 5895, Hampshire Records Office