|Philemon & Mary's marriage record|
Philemon and Mary went on to have at least ten children……so the question is.... why did Philemon end his days alone, and without the support of his family, in a workhouse in the village of Clayton near Bradford?
|Leeds Mercury Article|
|Mary's Death Certificate|
|Former Clayton Workhouse Entrance|
The North Bierley Workhouse at Clayton was built in 1855-8 to accommodate the rapidly growing city of Bradford, which was starting to have to deal with large numbers of poor people, and was designed to accommodate up to 400 inmates. The building still exists today, although it has been greatly enlarged over the years. It was converted to a hospital called "Thornton View" in 1948, and eventually became a private girls school in 1991. Interestingly from 1904 onwards, the address given for all birth registrations was
'1 Highgate Road, Clayton' to protect children born there, from the shame of being registered as being born in a workhouse, so as not to stigmatise them in later life.
I wrote an article previously about life in another local workhouse at Keighley, describing the soul-deadening drudgery of daily life for anyone unfortunate enough to end up in one of these establishments. It can be read by clicking here
The following copy death certificate shows, he died of gangrene on 24th January 1873. Interestingly his name is mispelt as “Pelian” on the certificate. I had always though that his listed occupation at the time of death as a schoolmaster must also have been a mistake, and that it possibly referred to the informant who was the Workhouse Manager, but on further investigation it would seem that this was correct, because a few years later his son Edwin lists his deceased father’s occupation as this on his marriage certificate. Perhaps Philemon was a changed character after his time in prison and reformed his ways in later life!
|Philemon's Death Certificate|
I am grateful to Peter Higginbottom, and his website www.workhouses.org.uk for some of the information in this article.