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