Sunday, 8 December 2013

Madness and Death in Edwardian England

Black sheep and family secrets are usually stumbled across unexpectedly in family history research. At least that's how it happened in my case. I have discovered a few intriguing secrets along the way and I'm sure everyone has there skeletons in the closet as it were. However, these stories are also often the hardest to tell. My story started with a discovery 16 months ago. Doing a series of random online searches for records of my paternal great-great grandmother Ada Radcliffe, I came across her probate record which unleashed a long-kept secret. Far from revealing that she had left a fortune after her death, the record claimed that she had died in the City of London-lunatic-asylum. Further digging at the London Metropolitan Archives confirmed that she had been an inmate at the London Hospital in Stone, Kent, and died of 'Chronic melancholia' and 'Pulmonary tuberculosis' there in 1906. She died just a couple of months after her husband left to make a new life for himself in Canada (and then New Zealand), leaving two sons and a daughter behind. The death was hushed up and family were told that she had been ill and died in hospital. This was stretching the truth. This is one of the saddest and heart-breaking life stories that I have come across and one that will stay with me for a very long time. 
Thank you for reading.

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