Advertisement

Workhouse Nurses

  • Melanie Reynolds
Chapter

Abstract

We saw in the previous chapter how mothers cared for their infants whilst working in factories and mills. The problem of combining work with child care is a continuing theme: this chapter will investigate how nineteenth-century workhouse nurses tended vulnerable pauper infants, in loco parentis whilst the babies were under the jurisdiction of the workhouse. It will begin by raising what is seen as the key problem for pauper infants, go on to investigate the welfare philosophy for them, and conclude by examining nurses’ duties and daily routine.

Keywords

Infant Mortality Infant Care Domestic Servant Female Inmate Charitable Institution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    P. Thane (1978) ‘Women and the Poor Law, in Victorian and Edwardian England, History Workshop Journal, 6, pp. 30–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    F. Crompton, (1997) Workhouse Children: Infant and Child Paupers Under the Worcestershire Poor Law, 1780–1871, (Sutton: Stroud), p. 37 and P. Thane (1978) ‘Women and the Poor Law’ p. 54Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    F. Crompton, (1997) Workhouse Children, chapters three and five and p. 202; P. Thane (1978) ‘Women and the Poor Law’, pp. 29–51 and p. 30–38 and J. Reinarz and L. Schwartz (2013) (ed.) Medicine and the Workhouse, (New York: Rochester), p. 6 and especially chapter 9, A. Negrine, ‘Practitioners and Paupers: Medicine at the Leicester Union Workhouse, 1867–1905’, pp. 192–211.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Quoted in B. Abel-Smith, (1979) A History, of the Nursing Profession (London: Heinemann), p. 5.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    S. and B. Webb, (1963) English Poor Law History, Part II, The Last Hundred Years, Vol. 1, (London: Cass), p. 305 and 310–11.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    S and B. Webb, (1963) English Poor Law, pp. 305 and 310–11.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    J. Reinarz and L. Schwartz (2013) (ed.) Medicine and the Workhouse, p. 6 and especially chapter 9, A. Negrine, ‘Practitioners and Paupers’, pp. 192–211.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    R. Richardson, (2013) ‘The Art of Medicine: A Dismal Prospect, Workhouse Health Care’, The Lancet, 6 July 2013, pp. 20–21.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    L. Twining, (1892) ‘Nursing in Workhouses: A Paper Read Before the Ladies Conference in Liverpool 1891’, (Liverpool), p. 7 and Florence Nightingale to her Nurses, (1914) A Selection from Miss Nightingale’s Addresses to Probationers and Nurses of the Nightingale School at St Thomas’s Hospital (London), p. 84.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    R. Richardson, (2013) ‘The Art of Medicine’, pp. 20–21, B. Abel-Smith, (1979) A History, chapters 1 and 3; F. Crompton (1997) Workhouse Children: and P. Thane (1978) ‘Women and the Poor Law’.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    S. and B. Webb, (1963) English Poor Law, pp. 310–11 and R. Richardson, (2013) ‘The Art of Medicine’, pp. 20–21.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    L. Twining, (1898) Workhouses and Pauperism, and Women’s Work in the Administration of the Poor Law, (London) p. 201 and L. Rose, (1986) The Massacre of the Innocents, Infanticide in Britain 1800–1939, (Routledge & Kegan Paul), p. 31.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    B. Abel-Smith, (1979) A History, p. 15 and L. Twining, (1898) ‘Nursing in Workhouses’, p. 7. Anne Digby made this remark was made in light of the Strand Union Workhouse, London. See A. Digby, (1978) Pauper Palaces (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul), p. 246.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    R. Richardson, (2013) ‘The Art of Medicine’, pp. 20–21.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    ‘Report on Metropolitan Workhouses’, PP, 1866, LXI p. 530.Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    B. Abel-Smith, (1979) A History, p. 10.Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    D.M. Saunders, (1982) ‘Sick Children’s Nursing’ in P. Allan and M. Jolley, Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting Since 1900 (London: Faber & Faber), pp. 141–50.Google Scholar
  18. 26.
    The lack of knowledge as to the infants’ welfare experience may be due to the workhouse being mainly seen as an instrument of adult welfare which put the adult employed to work and cared as best it could for the adult sick. The infant experience therefore, has been little told and remains mainly an enigma to modern historians. This has left a knowledge gap in light of infant inmates and as such Levene may have a point as when looking to the history of welfare, or its iconic building the workhouse we can see an overemphasis on the adult inmate. For the shifts in sentiment towards the poor, which gave rise to the New Poor Law in 1834 which can be characterised as a desire to punish the indigent and indolent adult unemployed male pauper, see G. Himmelfarb, (1983) The Idea of Poverty, (New York: Vintage). This was to be achieved by curtailing outdoor relief and the use of the workhouse, as a mechanism of welfare delivery operating under the principal of less eligibility. For further information see S. and B Webb, (1963) English Poor Law; S. King, (2000) Poverty and Welfare in England, 1700–1850, A Regional Perspective (Manchester: Manchester University Press), and A. Brundage, (2002) The English Poor Laws, 1700–1930 (Basingstoke: Palgrave).Google Scholar
  19. 27.
    N. Longmate, (1974) The Workhouse (London: Temple Smith), p. 174.Google Scholar
  20. 28.
    A. Levene, T. Nutt, and S. Williams, (2005) Illegitimacy in Britain, 1700–1920 (Basingstoke: Palgrave), p. 36. This may be due to a lack of source material and the consequences of this have meant that documentation of any infant experience has had to be teased from adult testimony. This has left a knowledge gap in light of infant inmates and as such Levene may have a point as when looking to the history of welfare, or its iconic building the workhouse we can see an overemphasis on the adult inmate. For the shifts in sentiment towards the poor, which gave rise to the New Poor Law in 1834 which can be characterised as a desire to punish the indigent and indolent adult unemployed male pauper, see G. Himmelfarb, The Idea of Poverty. This was to be achieved by curtailing outdoor relief and the use of the workhouse, as a mechanism of welfare delivery operating under the principal of less eligibility. For further information see S and B Webb, (1963) English Poor Law; S. King, (2000) Poverty and Welfare in England, 1700–1850, and A. Brundage, (2002) The English Poor Laws.Google Scholar
  21. 29.
    K. Price, (2011) ‘The Crusade Against Out-Relief’, The Lancet, 19 March 2011, pp. 988–9 and T. Evans, (2005) ‘Unfortunate Objects’, Lone Mothers in the Eighteenth Century (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), p. 208.Google Scholar
  22. 30.
    Historians such as Levene et al., Hollen-Lees, Price, Rose and McDonaugh have acknowledged that this treatment of single mothers was Malthus’ favoured response to high bastardy rates. The role of the workhouse in policing bastardy is contested within the historiographical terrain and Arnot for example, has argued that bastardy in-and-of itself did not confer any degree of stigma on either mother or child, and therefore met with no specific welfare sanctions. Crompton, however, argues that the workhouse itself, in its New Poor Law guise, was formulated as a direct response to address the ‘problem’ of housing the progeny of unmarried mothers, and that attempts to confer the deserving status on infants did not come into effect until the 1870s. See F. Crompton, (1997) Workhouse Children; K. Price, (2011) ‘The Crusade against Outdoor Relief’, The Lancet, 19 March 2011, pp. 988–9; M. Arnot, (1994) ‘Infant Death, Child Care and the State: The Baby-Farming Scandal and the First Infant Life Protection Legislation of 1872’, in Continuity and Change, 9, pp. 271–311; A. Levene, et al, (2005) Illegitimacy in Britain; L. Rose, (1986) The Massacre; J. McDonaugh, (2003) Child Murder and British Culture, 1720–1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) and L.H. Lees, (1998) The Solidarities of Strangers: The English Poor Laws and the People 1700–1949 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 31.
    T. Evans, (2005) Unfortunate’, p. 208.Google Scholar
  24. 32.
    W. B. Ryan, (1862) Infanticide: its Law, Prevalence, Prevention, and History (London), p. 19 and p. 84–85.Google Scholar
  25. 33.
    W. B. Ryan, (1862) Infanticide, pp. 19 and 84–85.Google Scholar
  26. 34.
    T. Evans, (2005) Unfortunate, p. 146.Google Scholar
  27. 35.
    M.A. Crowther, (1981) The Workhouse System 1834–1929: The History of an English Social Institution (London: Batsford Academic & Educational), S. King, (2000) Poverty and Welfare, pp. 161–2.Google Scholar
  28. 36.
    L. Rose, (1986) The Massacre, pp. 46–7.Google Scholar
  29. 37.
    L. Rose, (1986) The Massacre, pp. 46–7.Google Scholar
  30. 38.
    A. Levene et al, (2005) ‘Introduction’, Illegitimacy in Britain, p. 42.Google Scholar
  31. 40.
    L. Rose, (1986) The Massacre, p. 31.Google Scholar
  32. 41.
    F. Crompton, (1997) Workhouse Children, p. 35 and p. 47 and N. Longmate, The Workhouse (1974)Google Scholar
  33. 42.
    N. Longmate, (1974) The Workhouse, p. 173.Google Scholar
  34. 43.
    Dr. Edward Smith, Dietaries for the Inmates of Workhouses’, Report to the President of the Poor Law Board of Dr. Edward Smith, F.R.S., Medical Officer of the Poor Law Board, and Poor Law Inspector. PP 1867–8 c.3660.Google Scholar
  35. 48.
    D. Roberts, (1984) ‘How Cruel Was the Victorian Poor Law?’, Historical Journal, 6, pp. 97–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 50.
    R. Hodgkinson, (1967) The Origins of the National Health Service (London: The Wellcome Historical Medical Library), pp. 164–5.Google Scholar
  37. 54.
    J. Rogers, (1889) Reminiscences of a Workhouse Medical Officer (London: F.T. Unwin), p. 9.Google Scholar
  38. 55.
    J. Rogers, (1889) Reminiscences, p. 9.Google Scholar
  39. 57.
    Dr Edward. Smith ‘Dietaries’, PP 1866 c.3660, p. 19. See also M. Llewelyn Davies, (1978, first published 1915), Maternity, Letters from Working Women (London: Virago) mother no. one hundred and five, p. 137 and M. Llewelyn Davies, (1904) The Women’s Co-operative Guild, (Kirby Lonsdale) viz: http://www.hull.ac.uk/arc/downloads/DCWcatalogue.pdfGoogle Scholar
  40. 71.
    B. Abel-Smith, (1979) A History, p. 5.Google Scholar
  41. 72.
    Dr. Edward Smith, ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’, PP 1867–68, 4, p. 12.Google Scholar
  42. 73.
    Dr. Edward Smith, ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’, PP 1867–68, 4, p. 12.Google Scholar
  43. 75.
    B. Abel-Smith, (1979) A History, p. 11.Google Scholar
  44. 76.
    B. Abel-Smith, (1979) A History, p. 11.Google Scholar
  45. 77.
    Dr. Edward Smith, ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’, PP 1867–68, 4, p. 12.Google Scholar
  46. 78.
    For the aged female cohort in the workhouse see S. Ottaway, L. Botelho and K. Kittredge, (2002) (ed.) Power and Poverty: Old Age in the Pre-Industrial Past (Westport: Greenwood Press), pp. xii–294.Google Scholar
  47. 81.
    Pauper Phoebe Smith for example who was admitted to Bradford workhouse with two small children was put to nurse, see W.R. Wythen Baxter, (1841) The Book of the Bastilles: or The History of the Working of the New Poor Law (London: J Stephens), p. 129.Google Scholar
  48. 83.
    F. Crompton, (1997) Workhouse Children, pp. 110 and 148, WVS, (1861) XVI November, pp. 518–19. See G. Holloway for a further description of the duties of a domestic servant during this period: G. Holloway, (2005) Women and Work in Britain Since 1840 (London: Routledge), p. 21.Google Scholar
  49. 84.
    A Plea, (1861) ‘On behalf of the Workhouse Orphan’ (London), pp. 12–13.Google Scholar
  50. 85.
    Levine Clark’s work on Rye in Sussex suggests that the workhouse had to particularly cater to ‘out of work’ women. See M. Levine Clark, (2000) ‘Engendering Relief: Women, Ablebodiedness, and the New Poor Law in Early Victorian England’, Journal of Women’s History, 11, p. 121. See also D. Valenze who remarks on the problems women experienced gaining full-time employment during industrialisation: D. Valenze, (1997) The First Industrial Woman (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  51. 86.
    L. Maynard-Salmon, (1901) Domestic Service (London), p. 316. My emphasis.Google Scholar
  52. 87.
    L. Maynard-Salmon, (1901) Domestic Service (London), p. 316. My emphasis.Google Scholar
  53. 88.
    G. Holloway, (2005) Women and Work, pp. 21–23; J. Purvis, (2000) Women’s History: an Introduction (London: Routledge), pp. 66–7 and R.A. Smith, (1904) Baby: Its Treatment and Care (London), p. 99.Google Scholar
  54. 89.
    Mrs Warren, (1865) How I Managed My Children from Infancy to Marriage (London), pp. 25 and 34.Google Scholar
  55. 90.
    W. Cobbett, (1837) Advice to Young Men (London), p. 146, note 154.Google Scholar
  56. 91.
    W. Cobbett, (1837) Advice, p. 234 note 255.Google Scholar
  57. 92.
    J. Bailey, (2012) Parenting in England, 1760–1830: Emotion Identity and Generation (Oxford: Oxford University Press), p. 218.Google Scholar
  58. 93.
    C. Steedman, (2009) Labours Lost; Domestic Service and the Making of Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 228–54.Google Scholar
  59. 94.
    J. Bailey, (2012) Parenting, p. 28; A. Vickery, (1998) The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Victorian England (London: Yale University Press) pp. 110, 113, 114 and 142; Mrs Anne Barker, (1770) The Compleat Servant Maid, (London), passim. C. White, (1792) An inquiry into the nature and cause of that swelling in one or both of the lower extremities which sometimes happens to lying-in women; Together with an examination into the propensity of drawing the breasts, of those who give such, and also of those who do not give suck. 2nd ed. (London).Google Scholar
  60. 97.
    G. Reynolds, (1853) Mary Price, or the Memoirs of a Servant Maid (London), p. 12.Google Scholar
  61. 98.
    M. A. Baines, (1859) Domestic Servants, As They Are and As They Ought To Be, by a Practical Mistress of a Household, (Brighton) and M. Baines, (1862) ‘Excessive Infant-Mortality: How Can it be Stayed?’ A Paper Contributed to the NAPSS (London), pp. 6–7.Google Scholar
  62. 99.
    L. Maynard-Salmon, (1901) Domestic Service, (London), p. 316.Google Scholar
  63. 100.
    L. Maynard-Salmon, (1901) Domestic Service, p. 113.Google Scholar
  64. 102.
    T. Bull, M.D., (1861) Hints to Mothers for the Management of Health During the Period of Pregnancy and in the Lying-in Room (London), M.A. Baines, (1862) ‘Excessive Infant-Mortality’; L. Maynard-Salmon, (1901) Domestic Service, p. 253 and P. Jalland, (1986) Women and Marriage and Politics 1860–1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press), p. 137.Google Scholar
  65. 104.
    P. Crawford, (1986) ‘The Suckling Child, Adult Attitudes to Child Care in the First Year of Life in Seventeenth-Century England’, in Continuity and Change, 1, p. 38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 105.
    D. Dick, (1987) Yesterday’s Babies, A History of Baby Care, front cover (London: Bodley Head), p. 61.Google Scholar
  67. 106.
    D. Dick, (1987) Yesterday’s Babies, p. 62.Google Scholar
  68. 107.
    D. Dick, (1987) Yesterday’s Babies, p. 62.Google Scholar
  69. 108.
    J. Walkowitz, (1980) Prostitution and Victorian Society, Women, Class, and The State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 109.
    G. Reynolds, (1853) Mary Price, p. 12.Google Scholar
  71. 110.
    Mrs Anne Barker, (1770) The Complete Servant Maid, pp. 29–33.Google Scholar
  72. 112.
    F. Crompton, (1997) Workhouse Children, p. xv.Google Scholar
  73. 114.
    S. and B. Webb, (1963) English Poor Law, p. 304; M.A. Nutting and L.L. Dock, (2000) A History of Nursing (Bristol: Thoemmes Press), p. 502; J. Lane, (2001) A Social History of Medicine, Health, Healing and Disease in England, 1750–1950 (London: Routledge), p. 127; B. Abel-Smith, (1979) A History, p. 4 and 11 and The Leeds Mercury, 24 June 1865.Google Scholar
  74. 118.
    J. Rogers, (1870) ‘The Poor Law Medical Officers’ Assocation; An Address … at a General Meeting … November 29th’, (London).Google Scholar
  75. 119.
    J. Wilson, (1890) Nursing in Workhouses and Workhouse Infirmaries (London), p. 21 and J. Rogers, (1889) Reminiscences, p. 10 and passim.Google Scholar
  76. 120.
    M.A. Nutting et al, (2000) A History, p. 502.Google Scholar
  77. 123.
    B. Abel-Smith, (1979) A History, p. 14. Abel-Smith quotes that this figure has been calculated from information given in the Lancet Commission, (1866), p. 24.Google Scholar
  78. 125.
    Dr. Edward. Smith, ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’, PP 1867–68, 4, p. 12Google Scholar
  79. 126.
    Dr. Edward. Smith, ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’, PP 1867–68, 4, p. 12Google Scholar
  80. 127.
    L. Marks, (1993) ‘Medical Care for Pauper Mothers and Their Infants: Poor Law Provision and Local Demand in East London, 1870–1929’ Economic History Review, XLVI, 3 p. 527.Google Scholar
  81. 128.
    L. Marks, (1993) ‘Poor Law Provision’, p. 533.Google Scholar
  82. 129.
    L. Marks, (1993) ‘Poor Law Provision’, p. 528.Google Scholar
  83. 130.
    A. Sheen M.D., ST., M.R.C.S., Eng., D.P.H. Camb., (1890) ‘The Workhouse and its Medical Doctor’, (London), p. 60.Google Scholar
  84. 134.
    Dr. Edward Smith ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’, PP 1867–68, 4, p. 13.Google Scholar
  85. 136.
    S & B. Webb, (1963) English Poor Law History, p. 311.Google Scholar
  86. 139.
    Dr. Edward Smith ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr Edward Smith Medical Officer’, PP 1867–68 p. 105 and The Lancet, 29 July 1865, pp. 105 and 134.Google Scholar
  87. 140.
    Dr. Edward Smith, ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’, PP 1867–68 4, p. 105.Google Scholar
  88. 141.
    Dr. Edward Smith, ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’, PP 1867–68, 4, p. 105.Google Scholar
  89. 142.
    L. Twining, (1898) Workhouses and Pauperism, p. 201, L. Twining, (1892) ‘Nursing in Workhouses’, p. 7; L Marks, (1993) ‘Poor Law Provision in East London 1870–1929’, p. 529 and R. Hodgkinson, (1967) The Origins, p. 570.Google Scholar
  90. 146.
    L. Twining, (1898) Workhouses and Pauperism, p. 213.Google Scholar
  91. 148.
    Dr. Edward. Smith (1867–8), ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’ PP 1867–68 4, p. 105.Google Scholar
  92. 151.
    R. Hodgkinson, The Origins, pp. 566–7.Google Scholar
  93. 152.
    Dr. Edward. Smith ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’ PP 1867–68, 4, p. 21.Google Scholar
  94. 160.
    L. Twining, (1898) Workhouses and Pauperism, p. 201, and The Lancet, 1 September 1866, p. 236.Google Scholar
  95. 161.
    K. Morrison, (1999) The Workhouse: a Study of Poor-Law Buildings in England (Swindon: English Heritage), p. 34; BMJ, 6 October 1894, pp. 764–5 and BMJ, 28 September 1895, p. 796.Google Scholar
  96. 162.
    K. Morrison, (1999) The Workhouse p. 34; BMJ, 6 October1894, pp. 764–5 and BMJ, 28 September 1895, p. 796.Google Scholar
  97. 163.
    S. and B. Webb, (1963) English Poor Law History, pp. 305–6.Google Scholar
  98. 166.
    House of Lords, ‘Inquiry into Workhouses’ XXII, (216) p. 9.Google Scholar
  99. 168.
    Dr. Edward. Smith, ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’, PP 1867–68, 4, p. 103.Google Scholar
  100. 169.
    Dr. Edward. Smith, ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’ PP 1867–68, 4, p. 103.Google Scholar
  101. 170.
    Dr. Edward. Smith, ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’, PP 1867–68, 4, p. 116Google Scholar
  102. 171.
    Dr. Edward. Smith, ‘Provincial Workhouses. Report of Dr. Edward Smith’ 1867–68, 4, p. 118.Google Scholar
  103. 173.
    M. Pelling, (1995) ‘The Women of the Family’ Speculations Around Early Modern British Physicians’, The Society for the Social History of Medicine, 8, p. 383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. 174.
    S. Shaen, (1869) Workhouse Management and Workhouse Justice (London), pp. 6–8.Google Scholar
  105. 176.
    T.M. Dolan, (1894) Our State Hospitals, their Construction, Management and Organisation (Leicester), p. 36.Google Scholar
  106. 177.
    L. Marks, (1993) ‘Medical Care’, p. 529, n. 58.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Melanie Reynolds 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie Reynolds
    • 1
  1. 1.Oxford Brookes UniversityUK

Personalised recommendations