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Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Sad Tale of Gertrude Titheridge


Village of Frogmore, Hampshire
where Gertrude Titheridge lived before 1909
 
Last week Ancestry.Co released some records on Lunatic Asylum patients from 1846 to 1912.  A quick search of the Lunacy Patients Admission Registers found 5 Titheridges and 1 Titheradge who had spent time in a lunatic asylum between these dates (4 women and 1 man).  These registers were kept by the Lunacy Commission.  In 1808 an act of parliament had provided money to build county asylums, although many poor people with mental illness or criminally insane were still  in prisons or workhouses.  It is was in 1845 that the Lunacy Act and County Asylum Act forced counties to build asylums for these individuals and these asylums were overseen by the Lunacy Commission.  By 1900 many lunatic asylums had around 1000 patients. 
 
The record that caught my eye, and made me sad, was the one below from Hampshire County Lunatic Asylum situated in Knowle, Fareham in Hampshire.

Gertrude Adelaide Titheridge admitted 13 July 1909 and died 21 December 1943

So who was Gertrude who spent 34 years in an asylum?

Our records show Gertrude Adelaide Titheridge was the youngest of 8 children born to Charles Titheridge and Ann Garrett.  She was born 20 years after her eldest sibling and 7 years after the nearest sibling.  Gertrude was baptised on 29 March 1897 at East Meon, Hampshire. Originally Charles and Ann had come from West Meon but around 1885 had moved to Frogmore a hamlet to the eastern side of the main village of East Meon.  Charles was originally an agricultural labourer but on the 1901 census he is a railway labourer.  In the 1901 census Gertrude was aged four and at home with her parents and 11 year old sister Ada in Frogmore.  Sometime between 1901 and1905 Gertrude’s mother died, and in 1905 her father Charles remarried to Hannah Gregory in East Meon.  It was four years after this marriage that 12 year old Gertrude was committed to the Hampshire County Lunatic Asylum where she spent the rest of her life.  It is hard to find an entry for a patient in a lunatic asylum on the 1911 census because they did not put the full name just initials, but knowing Gertrude was there we have now found the entry. The entry on this census states “lunacy from birth”.  We do not know the exact reason she was there.  Children could be admitted to an asylum for many reasons; according to an article on this, reasons could include epilepsy, mania, dementia etc.  By the time Gertrude was eighteen her father had died, as well as her elder brother killed in WW1.  How sad that a twelve year old should be placed in an asylum for the rest of her life.

Is anyone related to Gertrude and can tell us why she was in the asylum?

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